This simple Taco Salad is a classic and always a dinner favorite. Fresh lettuce is topped with perfectly seasoned ground beef, cheese, tomatoes, avocado, crunchy tortilla chips, and MORE! Make a big beautiful taco salad or let everyone assemble their own!
We LOVE taco night at our house, but sometimes we mix it up and make Taco Salad. Everyone needs a good taco salad recipe, it’s a classic!
This recipe is the very best because it’s loaded with LOTS of fun toppings. It is colorful and the flavors are outstanding! It is the perfect salad for a quick weeknight dinner or it’s a good one to make when you have guests over because you can make it a party and have everyone build their own salad.
My boys always add very little lettuce and lots of meat, beans, cheese, and chips, ha! I go the vegetarian route and leave off the meat, there are still so many fun and filling toppings to choose from. Everyone wins when taco salad is on the menu!
Table of Contents
Taco Salad Ingredients
- Ground beef– seasoned with chili powder, cumin, salt, paprika, garlic powder, onion powder, and oregano. You can use ground turkey or ground chicken.
- Romaine lettuce – I love romaine but you can use any greens you prefer!
- Black beans – Canned beans work great! Just rinse and drain them first. You can also use pinto beans or even refried beans.
- Shredded cheese– Mexican blend, cheddar, Monterey Jack, or pepper jack are all good options.
- Grape tomatoes – I cut them in half so they’re easier to eat with a fork. You can also chop up large tomatoes.
- Avocado – Peel, pit, and chop! Or you can add a big scoop of guacamole!
- Fresh cilantro – You can roughly chop these with a knife or use kitchen scissors to cut the leaves into the salad.
- Onion – I love using red onion for a pop of color. Green onions are also good!
- Tortilla chips – Use your favorite brand. I recommend breaking them up a bit so they are easier to eat in the salad. If you want to use Doritos, go for it. I know lots of people love Doritos taco salad.
- Dressing– I like to use my Creamy Cilantro Lime Dressing, but ranch is another good option. And sometimes I just use pico de gallo or salsa for my dressing.
This is where you can really have some fun! All of these toppings are optional but can make your salad more flavorful, filling, and fun.
Feel free to add sour cream (or plain Greek yogurt), shredded cheese, jalapeño slices, black olives, corn, grilled veggies or roasted veggies, salsa, mango salsa, pineapple salsa, pico de gallo, avocado or guacamole, pickled red onions, queso fresco, hot sauce, lime wedges….the options are endless!
And make sure you don’t forget the tortilla chips! You will love the salty crunch!
How to Make Taco Salad
Taco Salad is SO easy to make that I rely on it for weeknights regularly! Plus, everyone can build their own according to their personal preference.
You can make one big bowl or let everyone build their own!
- First, make the taco meat. In a medium skillet, heat the oil over medium-high heat. Brown the ground beef for about 5 minutes, breaking up the meat into small pieces using a wooden spoon.
- Season the meat with chili powder, cumin, salt, paprika, garlic powder, onion powder, and oregano. Pour in the water and let simmer for 5 minutes or until thickened. Turn off heat and set aside.
- Now, it’s time to assemble the salad. In a large serving bowl or on a serving platter, add the lettuce, taco meat, beans, tomatoes, avocado, cilantro, onion, and chips, and whatever other toppings you want. Drizzle with creamy cilantro lime dressing or use your favorite dressing. I always like to add salsa too!
Should Taco Salad be Warm or Cold?
This comes down to personal preference, but I usually say to go room temperature or cold! Serving the meat hot will cause the lettuce to wilt quickly, so you’ll want to let it cool to room temperature or even refrigerate it before putting it on your salad.
How to Store
For the best leftovers, store your salad ingredients separately and then build them when you’re ready to enjoy. We like to build one bowl at a time for the tastiest results every time!
You can chop most of the ingredients in advance so when it’s dinner time, everything is ready to go!
If you want to add a few side dishes, here are a few good options.
- Fruit Salad
- Fresh Corn Salad
- Mexican Rice
- Cilantro Lime Rice
- Best Bean Dip
- Easy Refried Beans
- Watermelon Feta Salad
More Taco Recipes
- Black Bean Tacos
- Ground Beef Tacos
- Easy Vegetarian Tacos
- Steak Tacos
- Fish Tacos
- Easy Chicken Tacos
- Turkey Tacos
- Cauliflower Tacos
For the taco meat:
- 2 teaspoons olive oil or avocado oil
- 1 lb lean ground beef
- 1 tablespoon chili powder
- 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
- 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
- 1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
- 1/2 cup water
For the salad:
- 1 head romaine lettuce, chopped
- 15 ounces black beans, rinsed and drained
- 1 cup shredded Mexican blend or cheddar cheese
- 1 1/2 cups grape tomatoes, halved
- 1 large avocado peeled, pitted, and chopped
- 1/3 cup loosely packed cilantro leaves
- 1/4 red onion, thinly sliced
- 6 ounces tortilla chips, slightly broken
Optional toppings for serving:
- Pico de gallo
- Sour cream
- Sliced black olives
- Jalapeno slices
- Red onion slices
- Lime wedges
- Hot sauce
- Creamy Cilantro Lime Dressing, optional
- To make the taco meat: In a medium skillet, heat the oil over medium-high heat. Brown the ground beef for about 5 minutes, breaking up the meat into small pieces using a wooden spoon. Season with chili powder, cumin, salt, paprika, garlic powder, onion powder, and oregano. Pour in the water and let simmer for 5 minutes or until thickened. Turn off heat and set aside.
- To assemble the salad: In a large serving bowl or on a serving platter, add the lettuce, taco meat, beans, tomatoes, avocado, cilantro, onion, and chips. Top with desired toppings and drizzle with creamy cilantro lime dressing, if using.
- You can also build the salad on individual plates. Set out all of the fixings and let everyone make their own taco salads!
Have you tried this recipe?
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Hi! Garlic and onion powder are missing full measurements!
Fixed! Thanks for letting me know!
This is our go to dinner here in the summer time. Where we live it get really hot and who wants to cook and eat a hot meal……….not us. I make the meat in the morning and will warm it up just a little before we want to eat. This salad is go great, full of flavor, very good, and good for you, looks so beautiful and you will get full. I make mine with everything, sometimes I will use chicken, sometimes I will use hamburger meat, sometimes I will use Salmon and just sprinkle it with a pack of taco seasnoing. It is so good. I will change up my veggies just a little but not really. We love this salad. Thank you for this Beautiful delicious recipe.
Our new favorite!
This dish was super delicious and quick to prepare.
The optional toppings seem endless so that one could reinvent this dish every time they prepare it.
We prepared as is and topped it with roasted chipotle salsa. Next time, we’ll try adding corn and cotija cheese.