A protein-packed medley of fresh lettuce, juicy ripe tomatoes, savory cheddar cheese, crispy corn chips, topped with savory ground beef crumbles for a hearty and flavorful salad experience. Make a double batch of the refreshing tomato vinaigrette to drizzle over this ground beef salad and for many other dishes.
Taco Salad is an incredibly flavorful dish that brings together the bold flavors of Mexican cuisine into a single, mouth-watering dish.
🥗Why You'll Love This Ground Beef Salad
- Satisfying flavors. Ground beef salad is a delicious dish that combines all flavors of classic taco with fresh vegetables and a zesty homemade dressing. Everyone will love all the great flavors and this salad is sure to become a hit with anyone who loves Mexican-inspired cuisine.
- Easy meal for a crowd. Serve it at your next Taco Tuesday party to share or serve in individual taco salad bowls.
- Simple to make ahead and meal prep. Chop the veggies, make the dressing, and cook the beef with taco seasonings. Keep it refrigerated and assemble it on the day in just 5 minutes. This makes a great takeaway lunch for work or picnics.
- Lean ground beef - the leaner the better, less fat to drain later. For a low-calorie option use turkey or chicken.
- Tangy tomato dressing - otherwise known as Catalina dressing, is a simple combination of ketchup, vinegar, and citrus that goes well with many dinner salads and can be served as a tasty veggie dip. Feel free to adjust the measurement according to your taste (moe sweet, sour and etc).
- Corn tortilla chips - I prefer using unflavored and usually go for low-carb tortillas. I love how much-needed crunch they add here, but once mixed in salad has to be consumed right away. They tend to become soggy rather quickly. Alternatively, serve these on the side without stirring them into the salad.
- Seasonings - Make your own homemade taco seasoning or as a short cut opt for a pre-mix taco seasoning (use a low sodium one though if possible). You can make your own by combining a few spices together to give the beef some needed Southwest flavors. Salt, black pepper, cumin, chili powder, chipotle powder, garlic powder onion powder, smoked or normal paprika powder, and oregano are all great to mix together.
- Avocado - thanks to it being a nutrient-rich superfood I am really loving adding it in all my Mexican recipes. Don’t hold back and add more than 1 avocado here, it will add a creamy element and make this salad more satisfying. If you have some leftover Guacamole, this can go instead of freshly chopped avocado too!
- Corn - use freshly cooked corn either grilled, boiled, steamed or made in an air fryer. I’ve used just a little for a hint of sweet crisp flavor.
- Lettuce - I like to use a variety of different greens: romaine lettuce, iceberg, and butter lettuce combinations.
- My favorite but optional toppings - are cilantro, green onions, chives, scallions, parsley, and lots of lime, jalapeno, and sour cream.
- You can definitely add or replaces some of the veggies in this ground beef salad. Red or yellow bell pepper, grated or matchstick carrots, cucumber.
For the full list of ingredients, please scroll down to where you'll find the recipe card.
✅EXPERT TIP If using avocado in your salads, add it last, right before serving as it will start going brown rather quickly. To slow down the process, you can drizzle it with lemon or lime juice right after slicing.
Taco Salad Dressing
We like to use a simple sweet and tangy tomato vinegary Catalina dressing here.
Similar to vinaigrette, it complements all the veggies in this salad without overpowering heavy flavor. For a healthier choice, use no-sugar-added ketchup and no sweetener altogether.
I highly recommend trying this salad next time with other luscious salad dressings that just work with any taco or beef salads:
- Spicy, mild or creamy Salsa dressing
- Avocado Dressing - avocados just work with tacos!
- Yogurt Lime Dressing
- Guacamole - as a topping and no need the dressing!
- Thousand Island Dressing - classic combination that works with fulfillign meaty salads.
- Ranch Dressing
- Honey Lime Dressing
- Russian Dressing
In a large skillet over medium-high heat add oil and once hot and sizzling, brown the beef (for about 6 minutes).
Drain the excess fat if any and season with taco seasoning, ½ teaspoon paprika, salt, and black pepper. Cook for 1 minute more.
Remove the ground beef mixture from the heat and let cool.
Meanwhile, mix all the dressing ingredients in a small bowl or mason jar.
If you have time, chill the dressing for 30 minutes in the fridge to allow the flavors to blend better.
Assemble the salad.
In a large bowl or serving platter, add the first layer of lettuce, followed by crushed corn tortilla chips, and cooked ground beef.
Here I like to add a little drizzle of the dressing on the beef too.
Complete the taco salad with all the toppings (red onion, tomato, olives, corn, avocado, cheddar cheese) and the rest of the salad ingredients.
Dress with the zesty tomato dressing, garnish with fresh cilantro and drizzle some lime juice on top (optional). Serve immediately.
This salad serves 3 dinner salad portions. Or about 6 as a side.
✅ EXPERT TIP Ground beef taco salad is best served fresh as it comes. Once the ingredients are combined it will not last long and will loose it's freshness and become soggy.
What is Taco Salad?
Essentially, it is a ground beef salad made with various taco seasonings, cooked beef, cheese, and lots of veggies and dressed with tangy homemade dressing, salsa, vinaigrette, or creamy ranch dressing.
Is Taco Salad Healthy?
It will depend on what ingredients are used in the recipe. To make it more healthy taco salad, you can make a few modifications by using:
- lean ground turkey or chicken
- plain or homemade tortilla chips or leave them out completely for a low-carb version
- use low-fat cheese or use it less
- make the salad dressing from scratch such as homemade salsa and avoid highly processed sauces or ingredients
- A dollop of sour cream can add dimension and creaminess which goes well with deliciously seasoned browned beef.
- Make it spicy - add fresh or pickled (canned) jalapenos or green chilies as an extra topping.
- For a fun twist replace some of the fresh veggies toppings with fresh homemade chunky fresh salsa.
- Don't skip the tortilla chips, they make a lot of difference and add a nice crunch to the salad.
Once you add the dressing the salad will retain its best flavor within 1 hour of making it. Make as much as you’d consume (you can change the number of servings in the recipe card below).
What I recommend: If you know you’ll have leftovers, don’t combine all the ingredients in one bowl. Serve in individual portions instead and the rest refrigerated.
- 🍱To Store. Deconstructed ingredients of salad can be kept in separate airtight containers in the fridge for 1 day. This way the salad can be kept for 2 days in the fridge. You may want to add more fresh lettuce to the salad when serving again.
- 🔥To Reheat. Reheat just the ground beef in a skillet over medium heat for a couple of minutes until warmed through. Add fresh lettuce and the rest of the ingredients. For best results, keep all the salad fixed separately so you can reheat the beef when needed. The salad can be enjoyed cold as well, but it is just not the same flavor.
- Leftovers. Once mixed together, this salad should be eaten within 1-2 hours. Whereas any leftover Catalina dressing will be delicious as a dip for veggies, chips, meat sauces, french fries or asparagus fries.
- Make ahead. All the veggies can be cut 2 days in advance and stored in individual containers in the fridge. Cook the beef and refrigerate, on the day, reheat it on the stovetop or in the microwave. This is ideal if you want to enjoy work lunches during a busy week. Store salad dressing in the fridge for even longer, 3-5 days thanks to its acidic ingredients.
What goes with taco salad? Anything you love with tacos and any Mexican Cuisine-inspired dish!
Recommended Side Dishes
- Meat Substitutions - Alternatively this salad will taste delicious if you want to make it meat-free yet with plenty of protein. Try Vegan Taco Meat, kidney beans, black beans, lentils, cooked firm tofu, or buy plant-based meat crumbles in the grocery stores (usually made with seitan or soybeans). Also very delicious!
- Swap the dressing for a regular store-bought salsa or make your own from scratch.
- Sneak in more vegetables. It’s easy to add more veggies to your salad. For extra picky eaters, we like to sneak in shredded zucchini and carrot when cooking the beef. They hardly can tell the difference!
- Don’t like lettuce? Skip the iceberg lettuce altogether or sub with green cabbage (coleslaw style). Don’t skip the tortilla chips though.
🤷Frequently Asked Questions
This comes down to personal preference. I prefer the meat to be warm but to do this, it needs to be eaten soon after the salad is made or it can make the lettuce lose its crispness. If you are making a large tossed-style salad, it may be best to serve it cold.
Most of the ingredients in this taco beef salad are naturally gluten-free. However, some of the ingredients (mostly store-bought ingredients) may contain hidden gluten. Tortilla chips, seasonings, salad dressings. You can either buy these ingredients with certified Gluten Free labels or make your own at home very easily.
Yes, you can easily make it low-carb taco salad by removing the tortilla chips. However, be sure to go through the nutrition of each other product used in the recipe (such as dressings and seasonings).
For serving drizzle Catalina dressing over the taco salad, stir to combine (or add the dressing only to individual serving plates) and enjoy warm or cold!
You sure can if you keep all the salad fixed separately (dressing, beef, and veggies). Cook the beef and refrigerate, on the day, reheat on the stovetop or in the microwave, and assemble it. This is ideal if you want to enjoy work lunches during a busy week. Store salad dressing in the fridge for even longer, 3-5 days thanks to its acidic ingredients.
More Mexican-Inspired Recipes
❤️Did you make this recipe? Please be sure to leave a rating and a comment below. Thank you!❤️
Easy Ground Beef Taco Salad With Dressing
For Ground Beef Salad
- 10 oz ground lean beef
- 2 teaspoon oil
- 2 tablespoon taco seasoning
- 5-6 cups romaine lettuce or iceberg
- 1 cup Roma tomatoes diced
- 1 cup corn kernel or sweet corn
- ½ teaspoon paprika
- 1 cup sharp cheddar grated
- 1 3.8 oz can of black olives
- ¼ cup red onion diced
- ½ pack corn chips Doritos plain flavor or flavored
- 1 large Avocado diced
- 5 tablespoon olive oil
- 4 tablespoon ketchup
- 2 teaspoon honey or brown sugar or white sugar
- 4 tablespoon red wine vinegar
- ½ teaspoon paprika I like to use smoked
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- In a large skillet over medium-high heat add oil and once hot and sizzling, brown the beef (for about 6 minutes).
- Drain the excess fat if any and season with taco seasoning, ½ teaspoon paprika, salt, and black pepper. Cook for 1 minute more.
- Remove the ground beef mixture from the heat and let cool.
- Meanwhile, mix all the dressing ingredients in a small bowl or mason jar.
- If you have time, chill the dressing for 30 minutes in the fridge to allow the flavors to blend better.
- Assemble the salad.
- In a large bowl or serving platter, add the first layer of lettuce, followed by crushed corn tortilla chips, and cooked ground beef.
- Here I like to add a little drizzle of the dressing on the beef too.
- Complete the taco salad with all the toppings (red onion, tomato, olives, corn, avocado, cheddar cheese) and the rest of the salad ingredients.
- Dress with the zesty tomato dressing, garnish with fresh cilantro and drizzle some lime juice on top (optional). Serve immediately.