My homemade Taco Salad is going to become your go-to easy dinner recipe. Made with our mouth-watering taco meat, you cannot beat the combination of flavors in this easy light dinner.
As you may have noticed, tacos are my love language. Chicken tacos are my go-to comfort food, and one of my favorite recipes on Simple Joy is our Pork Tacos. But, I will take a taco in almost any form. From casseroles to pizza and soup, I love a good taco dinner.
But maybe at the top of that list is Taco Salad. Made with homemade taco meat and then layering in lots of veggies, this is such a light and healthy meal. This makes a great workweek lunch since it is delicious cold, but it is also the perfect nutritious dinner.
Homemade Taco Seasoning
Taco Salad Ingredients
These are the key ingredients for making taco salad. For the full recipe with all of the ingredient measurements, see the recipe card at the bottom of the post.
- Ground Beef: Read below on replacing the beef with ground turkey or ground chicken.
- Homemade Taco Seasoning: This is made with chili powder, paprika, kosher salt, onion powder, garlic powder, cumin, and cayenne pepper. The spice breakdown is listed in the recipe card, but you will want to go to the post on making your own so that you can get the measurements for a big batch to always have it on hand.
- Tomato Sauce: This is what rounds out the taco meat and makes it delicious and saucy.
- Romaine Hearts: Read below on how to make quick work of prepping these.
- Roma Tomatoes: These hold up really well in the salad, but you could use any kind of tomato.
- Black Beans: This adds another burst of protein to the salad. If you are using canned beans, you will want to make sure that you drain and thoroughly rinse the beans.
- Corn: If it is in the summer months, you could use fresh corn cooked and cut from the cob. Otherwise, canned corn works very well.
- Tortilla Chips: I love the crunch these bring, but you could leave them out to make the dish a little lighter. You could also use Doritos and make this a Dorito Taco Salad.
- Olives: These are optional of course, but I love them on my taco salad.
- Green Onions: These add flavor, crunch, and color, but you could also use pickled red onions.
- Salsa and Sour Cream: The combination of these two works like a great dressing on the salad, but see below for other great dressing options.
Taco Meat Recipe
How to Make Taco Salad
This is a brief overview of how to make this delicious and easy dinner. For the full recipe with all of the measurements, be sure to see the recipe card at the bottom of the post.
- Make the taco meat. Cook the ground beef in a large skillet, breaking it up as you go. Once cooked, drain the beef from the skillet. Then add in the taco seasoning and the tomato sauce. Let the sauce simmer for five minutes.
- Prepare the rest of the ingredients. While the taco meat is cooking, chop up the lettuce and the rest of the fresh vegetables.
- Put the salad together. Add the lettuce to the bowl, then top with the taco meat and the rest of the ingredients. Serve with sour cream and salsa on the side.
Cutting Romaine Lettuce for Taco Salad
I love using Romaine lettuce hearts as the base for my salads. When I do that, I usually use two to three hearts, depending on how many I’m serving. To prepare them:
- Wash the Romaine hearts.
- Cut the heart in half length-wise as seen in the bottom left photo. I don’t cut through the stem at the bottom to make it easier to work with as I cut.
- Turn the heart over 90 degrees. Then cut it in half again length-wise so it is cut into four equal parts (length-wise).
- Cut down the heart width-wise as seen in the bottom right picture, stopping before you get to the tough stem at the base.
Healthy Taco Salad
This is already a pretty light and healthy meal, but let’s talk about a few things you can do to make it healthier.
- Swap the ground beef out for low-fat ground turkey or ground chicken. You will need to add a little olive oil to cook the meat or cook it in a nonstick skillet with a little cooking spray. Otherwise, you can follow the recipe as written.
- Leave out the tortilla chips and the corn. Without them, this recipe could be considered low-carb.
- Use light sour cream. I notice almost no difference between light sour cream and regular, but the light has less fat and less calories.
Taco Salad Dressing
In this recipe, I’m using just light sour cream and salsa for the dressing. You could use store-bought salsa, but my Blender Salsa is fantastic and easy to make. Here are some other ideas:
- Use my Jalapeño Ranch Dressing. The flavors would be perfect on this.
- Make my Ranch Dressing, but add in some taco seasoning. Since we already decided you are making a big batch of taco seasoning, you can spare two teaspoons to mix into some ranch for a great spin on a classic.
- My Creamy Garlic Dressing would be amazing on this.
- Instead of adding dressing, add another salsa or two. My Pico de Gallo or my Corn Salsa would be fantastic on this.
- Use my Fish Taco Sauce. It is a sauce that is meant to go on Fish Tacos, but would be delicious on this as well!
Variations and Substitutions
One of the things I love about salads is how easy they are to change up. As mentioned above, I am using ground beef, but you could just as easily use ground turkey. Here are some other ways to mix this up:
- Make it a vegetarian salad. Take out the black beans listed above, and replace the meat in the recipe with the filling from my black bean tacos.
- Take out the turf and make it all surf. Instead of using ground meat, make the filling from my shrimp tacos.
- Go with chicken instead. Finally, another great alternative to beef is my crockpot taco chicken.
- Bulk it out while keeping it healthy. Adding my Cilantro Lime Quinoa to this salad will stretch it out, keep you fuller longer, and bring additional great flavor.
What to Serve with Taco Salad
This is a great meal to eat on its own. It will leave you feeling full and satisfied. That being said, if you are serving a crowd or want to just round this out further, here are a few good ideas.
If you make this amazing Taco Salad or any of my other recipes please leave me a comment and let me know what you think!
- 1 tablespoon chili powder See note
- 2 teaspoons paprika
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 teaspoon onion powder
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 1 pound ground beef I used 80/20
- 8 ounces tomato sauce
- 3 Romaine hearts chopped
- 2 Roma tomatoes sliced
- 1/2 cup black beans drained and rinsed
- 1/4 cup corn
- 1 avocado sliced
- 1/4 cup olives sliced
- 2 green onions sliced
- sour cream for serving
- salsa for serving
- tortilla chips optional
- In a small bowl, mix together the spices. (Or use 3 tablespoons of my homemade taco seasoning.) Set aside.1 tablespoon chili powder, 2 teaspoons paprika, 1 teaspoon kosher salt, 1 teaspoon onion powder, 1 teaspoon garlic powder, 1 teaspoon ground cumin, 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- In a frying pan over medium heat, cook the ground beef, breaking it up as you cook. When the beef is no longer pink, drain the fat from the skillet. (Read here for how to make this a healthy taco salad.)1 pound ground beef
- Stir in the tomato sauce and the taco seasoning. Turn the heat to low and let simmer for five minutes.8 ounces tomato sauce
- Chop the lettuce (see photos in the post for reference) and fill a large serving bowl with it.3 Romaine hearts
- Top with taco meat and remaining ingredients. Serve with chips, sour cream, and salsa on the side, allowing guests to top their own salads. (Read here for some alternative Taco Salad Dressing ideas.)2 Roma tomatoes, 1/2 cup black beans, 1/4 cup corn