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  • Taco Salad

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    This quick and easy taco salad recipe is a healthier way to enjoy Mexican food. It comes together in less than 20 minutes, so it’s a great option for a quick weeknight meal. Seasoned ground beef is served with a fresh salad and finished with a tangy sour cream dressing for one delicious dinner.

    taco salad bowl from top

    We love Mexican food and have it at least once a week. Some dishes can feel quite heavy, so every now and again I love to serve up this healthier beef taco salad.

    Loaded with all of your favorite flavors, this salad is a great lighter option full of fresh and healthy ingredients. It’s still perfectly filling, but I love the freshness of it. This is simply the best taco salad recipe!

    Great for an easy dinner, or a quick lunch, this is a great recipe to have up your sleeve!

    Be sure to try my Shrimp Tacos and Blackened Salmon Tacos too!

    Why you will love this Taco Salad Recipe!

    • Quick and easy: This Mexican beef salad comes together in less than 20 minutes, so it’s a great option after a long busy day.
    • Simple ingredients: If you love Mexican cuisine, you will be very familiar with all of the ingredients listed, and it’s likely that you’ll have lots of things to hand already.
    • Make ahead: The taco beef can easily be prepared ahead of time, so this taco salad with dressing is a great option for quick lunches and dinners.
    close up image of taco salad in a bowl

    Taco Salad Ingredients

    • Beef: I like to use either lean or extra lean ground beef in this salad. It’s a great source of protein and lower in fats than regular.
    • Salsa: Use your favorite store-bought tomato salsa.
    • Seasonings: Chili powder, cumin, garlic powder, kosher salt, and ground black pepper. You could also add paprika, oregano, and onion powder.
    • Salad: For the salad, I like to use Romaine lettuce or iceberg lettuce, pinto or black beans, tomatoes, red onion, avocado, Mexican cheese or Cheddar cheese, and fresh cilantro.
    • Taco Salad Dressing: The tangy dressing is made with sour cream, tomato salsa, lime juice, and homemade taco seasoning.
    • Optional: Tortilla strips for garnish.
    ingredients for taco salad
    ingredients for taco salad dressing

    How to make taco salad

    • Heat olive oil in a 12-inch large skillet over medium-high heat.
    • Crumble the beef in chunks. Let sear until browned on bottom, about 3 minutes then turn and break up beef and continue to cook until cooked through.
    • Drain fat from beef then stir in salsa, chili powder, cumin and garlic powder. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
    • Remove taco meat from heat and stir in cilantro.
    • Add chopped lettuce to individual plates. Top with beef mixture, beans, Roma tomatoes or pico de gallo, red onion, avocado, cheese, and sour cream dressing. Serve in a serving bowl immediately.
    process images of making taco salad and dressing

    Can you make this salad without beef?

    I love the rich flavor of beef in this healthy taco salad recipe, but you can easily swap it out for another ground protein. Chicken, ground turkey, pork, and bison all work great and the method and recipe remain the same. For a meat-free option, you can use plant-based ground ‘meat’, like Beyond Meat or similar.

    Can you make it ahead of time?

    This salad is best built just before serving so that the lettuce doesn’t wilt, but elements can be made ahead of time. Once cooked, the ground beef will keep well in the fridge for up to 4 days – it can be quickly reheated on the stovetop or added to the salad cold. The dressing will also keep well in the fridge for 4 to 5 days.

    The taco ground beef also freezes well and will keep for up to 6 months. Thaw it in the fridge overnight before reheating.

    taco salad and dressing in a bowl from above

    What else can you add to the salad?

    This ground beef taco salad bowl is easy to adjust to suit your tastes, or use up bits and pieces you have iThis ground beef taco salad bowl is easy to adjust to suit your tastes, or use up bits and pieces you have in your fridge! Other salad ingredients like bell peppers, corn, black olives, or fresh jalapeños can be added in, and if you like things spicy, try adding in a little cayenne pepper or hot sauce when you cook the ground beef. Cotija cheese or nacho cheese also makes a great substitute for the shredded cheese blend. Serve it with tortilla chips.

    TIPS FROM NELI’S KITCHEN

    Recipe Notes and Tips

    • Do drain the fat from your skillet once you’ve browned the beef. If you don’t, the taco bowl salad can turn out quite greasy.
    • Wash and dry your salad ingredients well before using. I love using my salad spinner to really dry off the lettuce, otherwise dab it well with some kitchen paper.
    • For a lighter dressing, you can swap the sour cream for Greek yogurt. It will still have that tang, but it is lower in fat and calories.
    taco meat with vegetables in a bowl

    More Salad Recipes

    If you loved this recipe for taco salad, be sure to check out some of my other salad recipes:

    Taco Salad

    This quick and easy taco salad recipe is a healthier way to enjoy Mexican food. It comes together in less than 20 minutes, so it's a great option for a quick weeknight meal. Seasoned ground beef is served with a fresh salad and finished with a tangy sour cream dressing for one delicious dinner.
    Prep Time 10 minutes
    Cook Time 10 minutes
    Total Time 20 minutes
    Servings 4 servings
    Calories 605kcal

    INGREDIENTS

    Beef Filling

    Salad

    • 1 head romaine lettuce or iceberg lettuce, chopped (about 6 cups)
    • 1 can pinto or black beans, drained and rinsed
    • 1 cup grape tomatoes, halved
    • 1/4 cup chopped red onion
    • 1 avocado, diced
    • 1 cup Shredded Mexican cheese blend
    • 1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro

    Dressing

    • 1/2 cup sour cream
    • ½ cup tomato salsa
    • 2 tablespoons lime juice
    • 1 teaspoon taco seasoning

    INSTRUCTIONS

    • Heat olive oil in a 12-inch skillet over medium-high heat.
    • Crumble the beef in chunks. Let sear until browned on bottom, about 3 minutes then turn and break up beef and continue to cook until cooked through.
    • Drain fat from beef then stir in salsa, chili powder, cumin and garlic powder. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
    • Remove from heat and stir in cilantro.
    • Add chopped lettuce to individual plates. Top with beef mixture, beans, tomatoes, red onion, avocado, cheese, and sour cream dressing. Serve immediately.

    NUTRITION

    Calories: 605kcal | Carbohydrates: 34g | Protein: 46g | Fat: 33g | Saturated Fat: 13g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 3g | Monounsaturated Fat: 14g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 129mg | Sodium: 1966mg | Potassium: 1622mg | Fiber: 12g | Sugar: 9g | Vitamin A: 2180IU | Vitamin C: 20mg | Calcium: 346mg | Iron: 7mg
    Course Main Course, Salad
    Cuisine Mexican
    Keyword beef taco salad, how to make a taco salad, taco salad dressing
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