Always a crowd favorite, this Taco Salad recipe is topped with tomatoes, corn, beans, taco meat, onions, cheese, and easy-to-make creamy salsa dressing.
What I love about Taco Salad is that there is no right way of making it! You can add more ingredients or less, you can swap out taco meat for chicken, or you can make it spicy or mild. No matter how you choose to make it, one thing is clear…taco salads are well loved and so delicious.
How To Make Creamy Salsa Dressing
We chose a simple creamy salsa dressing for this recipe. If you prefer using bottled salad dressing that works too! Other popular choices include ranch, catalina, thousand island, and cilantro lime dressing.
Put salsa, sour cream, mayonnaise, and powdered ranch dressing mix in a small bowl and stir to combine.
Cover the creamy salsa dressing or transfer it to a container. Place in the fridge until ready to serve.
How To Make Taco Salad
Start by making the taco meat. You can find my recipe for taco seasoning here. This step can be done ahead of time. You can store the taco meat in the refrigerator and reheat when needed. Or if you are making this recipe for a party, you can put the taco meat in a slow cooker on low to keep it warm while serving.
What kind of meat is in a taco salad?
For this taco salad recipe, we went with the traditional taco meat. It is easy to prepare, readily available, and full of flavor. You can also use chicken, steak, pork, fish, or seafood depending on what kind of taco salad you want to make.
Chop or tear the romaine into bite sized pieces. Then, rinse and drain and put it in a large bowl. If you are using bagged romaine, I would suggest rinsing and draining it. You may have to cut or tear large pieces into bite sized pieces.
What kind of lettuce should I use?
We choose to use romaine because it is crisp and sturdy. It holds up well with the taco salad ingredients on top. Any type of lettuce can be used from iceberg to spring mix so go with what your family likes or what is easily available at your grocery store. Or you can use a combination of your favorites.
Now it is time to add the taco salad toppings. Start with the juicier ingredients such as diced tomatoes so that any excess liquid will drain through the lettuce to the bottom of the bowl.
Next add the warm taco meat and black beans.
Should taco salad be served cold or warm?
The taco meat in a taco salad can be warm or cold when served. We typically use warm taco meat and add it right before serving. But you can also allow the taco meat to cool, mix it into the salad, and serve it cold.
Now add some shredded cheese and sliced black olives.
Here are some additional toppings ideas:
- diced green chilies
- sliced green onions
- jalapeno slices
- diced avocado
- pinto beans
- diced bell peppers
- pineapple salsa
Top with crushed nacho doritos, chopped cilantro, cotija cheese, and minced onion. Plan to add the chips close to serving time if you want to keep them crunchy.
What chips are used for taco salad?
Any variety of tortilla chips can be used in a taco salad from the plain salted ones to lime and sweet chili to cool ranch. We went with nacho cheese Doritos for this recipe. Original tortilla chips are a popular choice making the taco salad more similar to eating to a hard shell taco. You can also use corn chips such as Fritos instead of tortilla chips.
Drizzle with salad dressing before serving or allow each person to add their own dressing.
What To Serve With Taco Salad
A taco salad can be served as a side dish or as the main dish. The additional dishes will vary depending on how you plan to serve it. Taco salad can be served as a side dish for grilled chicken, burgers, steak, seafood, or kabobs.
When taco salad is served as a main dish, you can serve soup or chips and queso as a starter. For a side dish try refried beans, cowboy caviar, flatbread, or cilantro rice. Desserts such as spicy chocolate ice cream, elephant ears, or strawberry nachos would work well.
How To Prepare Taco Salad Ahead Of Time
If you want to prepare taco salad ahead of time there are a couple of ways to go about it. One option is to prepare the salad in layers but wait to add the crushed chips, dressing, and warm taco meat before serving.
Another option is to serve the taco salad buffet-style allowing each person to add what they want to the salad. Put each salad ingredient in a separate bowl or dish. Keep the taco meat warm in a slow cooker. Salad dressing options can go at the end of the buffet.
Want more taco recipes? Try these next:
This Walking Taco recipe for a convenient meal on the go without the need for a plate! Taco In A Bag is a popular choice for camping, parties, and picnics.
Indian Tacos, also know as Navajo tacos, are a Native American taco made on tender, crispy fry bread topped with taco meat, lettuce, cheese, and tomatoes.
This Slow Cooker Taco Soup recipe is so easy to make and so flavorful. Just brown the meat, put everything in the crockpot to cook, and then just stir!
Tater Tot Taco Pizza is a mouthwatering combo of two of your favorite eats: tacos and pizza! The tater tot crust makes this dinner recipe even more fun.
- 1 lb ground beef
- 3 tablespoon taco seasoning
- ¾ cup water
Creamy Salsa Dressing
- 1 cup salsa
- ½ cup sour cream
- ¼ cup mayonnaise
- 1 tablespoon powdered ranch dressing mix
- 6 cups chopped romaine lettuce
- ¾ cup diced tomatoes
- ¾ cup corn kernels
- ¾ cup black beans rinsed and drained
- ¾ cup shredded cheddar cheese
- ½ cup sliced black olives
- 9.75 oz bag nacho cheese Doritos crushed
- ¼ cup chopped cilantro
- ¼ cup minced onions
- ¼ cup cotija cheese
- Brown the ground beef over medium-high heat and drain the excess grease. Add taco seasoning and water and simmer for 3-4 minutes until thickened.
Creamy Salsa Dressing
- Mix together salsa, sour cream, mayonnaise, and powdered ranch dressing mix. Cover and store in the refrigerator until ready to use.
- Layer romaine lettuce, diced tomatoes, corn kernels, taco meat, black beans, shredded cheese, and black olives.
- Top with crushed Doritos, chopped cilantro, minced onions, cotija cheese, and creamy salsa dressing.
- To prepare ahead of time, layer salad ingredients but wait to add warmed taco meat (can be served cold as well), crushed Doritos, creamy salsa dressing before serving.
My family of 5 exclaimed all that and more while trying this for the first time tonight. I made a few slight changes: I didn’t have Doritos on hand, so I used a box of Old El Paso Nacho Cheese taco shells.
Skipped the cilantro because my family doesn’t like that.
And the store didn’t have cotija cheese, so I used some shredded Parm I had on hand.
And everyone LOVED the Salsa Dressing. My husband asked me to make more dressing to keep on hand for other stuff.
The only problem….. I didn’t make enough 🙂 Everyone wanted more, so next time it will be doubled.
I should add, my youngest ( 9) does not like many salads, he called this his favorite.