This Easy Taco Salad recipe is a quick and easy weeknight meal that is super versatile and everyone looks forward to. Add your favorite taco meat, toppings, and crunchy tortilla strips or chips then top with a drizzle of Southwest ranch dressing.
Easy Taco Salad Recipe
The next time taco Tuesday rolls around, give this easy Taco Salad recipe a try. It’s full of seasoned ground beef, sauteed corn, romaine lettuce, shredded cheese, black beans, and veggies then topped with crunchy tortilla strips and creamy Southwest ranch dressing.
Besides being delicious, one of the best parts of this recipe is that it’s super versatile. You can add in any of your favorite taco toppings, or whatever you happen to have around. Leftover chicken or beef works great, and feel free to substitute tortilla chips for the strips.
Taco Salad is also the ultimate meal prep recipe. You can easily prepare each topping at the beginning of the week, store separately, and toss together for a quick meal whenever you need it.
Easy Taco Salad Ingredients
- Ground Beef - I prefer to use either 80/20 or 85/15 lean ground beef. You could also replace it with ground turkey, shredded chicken, or skip the meat altogether and make this a vegetarian salad.
- Taco Seasoning - you can purchase store bought taco seasoning, or make your own Homemade Taco Seasoning.
- Water - you need just a touch to cook the ground beef in.
- Olive Oil - you can use a little olive oil or butter to cook the corn.
- Corn - frozen corn works great, or you can use fresh corn if it’s available.
- Salt and Pepper
- Romaine Lettuce - I love romaine for salads, but you can use iceberg lettuce or any kind of greens that you’d like.
- Shredded Cheese - I like to use shredded cheddar cheese or pepper jack cheese.
- Diced Tomatoes - canned diced tomatoes work great. Or, you can dice fresh tomatoes.
- Black Beans - make sure to rinse and drain the beans before using. You could substitute pinto beans, chickpeas, or really any kind of beans that you like.
- Red Onions - you’ll want to chop these into small pieces so that no one gets a huge bite.
- Avocado - you can dice this into smaller pieces, or add slices to top the salad with.
- Tortilla Stips - these add great crunch, and complete the “taco” part of the salad. You can also use broken or whole tortilla chips.
Taco Salad Dressing
- Ranch Dressing
- Salsa - use your favorite kind.
More Topping for Taco Salad
How to Make Taco Salad
- Cook the taco meat. Heat a large skillet over medium heat, then add the ground beef, taco seasoning, and water. Cook until there is only a little pink left, breaking up the beef with a wooden spoon or spatula. Remove from the skillet and drain on a paper towel lined plate.
- Saute the corn. Heat a separate pan over medium heat and add the oil. Once hot, add the frozen (or fresh) corn and cook, stirring frequently, for about 5 minutes or until lightly sauteed and warm. Remove from the heat and season with salt and pepper. Set aside to cool.
- Assemble the salad. In a large bowl, add the chopped lettuce. Layer on the cooked beef, sauteed corn, cheddar cheese, diced tomatoes, black beans, onions, and avocado.
- Make the Taco Salad Dressing. In a small bowl, mix together the ranch dressing and salsa until well combined, then drizzle over the taco salad.
- Serve. Top with tortilla strips before serving. Enjoy!
Recipe Variations for Easy Taco Salad
Whether you're a meat lover, vegetarian, or seafood enthusiast, there's a taco salad variation out there for everyone!
- Chicken Taco Salad: Switch things up by using grilled or shredded chicken instead of ground beef. Marinate the chicken in a flavorful blend of spices, such as cumin, chili powder, and garlic, to give it a delicious Mexican twist. Top with corn, black beans, avocado slices, and a squeeze of lime for a fresh and satisfying meal.
- Vegetarian Taco Salad: For a meat-free option, try substituting the ground beef with plant-based alternatives like textured vegetable protein (TVP) or tofu crumbles. Load up on colorful veggies like bell peppers, onions, corn, and cherry tomatoes for added crunch and nutrition.
- Seafood Taco Salad: If you're a seafood lover, consider making a taco salad with shrimp or fish. Season the seafood with lime juice and spices like paprika, cayenne pepper, and cilantro for a zesty kick. Combine it with a bed of mixed greens, diced mango, cucumber, and a tangy dressing for a refreshing twist.
- BBQ Taco Salad: Add pulled pork or barbecued chicken as the protein, then toss in some grilled corn, diced red onions, and a drizzle of your favorite barbecue sauce. Serve it over a bed of romaine lettuce or coleslaw mix.
- Asian-Inspired Taco Salad: Add an Asian twist to your taco salad with ingredients like sesame ginger marinated chicken, crunchy cabbage, shredded carrots, sliced cucumbers, and chopped peanuts. Drizzle with a soy ginger dressing or a spicy sriracha mayo for a unique fusion of flavors.
- Breakfast Taco Salad: Start your day off right with a breakfast taco salad. Use scrambled eggs as the protein base and top with crispy bacon or sausage, diced avocado, cherry tomatoes, and shredded cheddar cheese. Serve with a side of salsa or hot sauce for an extra kick.
Frequently Asked Questions
Whether you want to warm the taco meat for the salad or not is completely up to you. I prefer to serve it slightly warm, but it tastes great either way!
You can certainly prep all of the components ahead of time, however it’s best to store them all separately. You can store them all in the fridge for up to 2 days, then assemble just before you want to serve.
Since Beef Taco Salad is already a complete meal in itself, you don’t absolutely need to serve anything with it. However, it would taste great with a simple side of fresh fruit or this Easy Homemade Cornbread.
Storing and Reheating
- Refrigerator: store components separately in the fridge for up to 3 days. Do not cut the avocado ahead of time, or it will turn brown.
- To reheat: to reheat the taco meat, you can either microwave or add to a hot skillet.
Easy Taco Salad Recipe
Beef Taco Salad Meat
- 1 lb Ground Beef 80/20 or 85/15 fat content
- 1½ Tablespoons Taco Seasoning
- ¼ cup Water
- 1 teaspoon Olive Oil
- 1 cup Corn Kernels frozen or fresh
- ¼ teaspoon Salt
- ⅛ teaspoon Pepper
- 8 cups Romaine Lettuce washed and cut into 1" pieces
- 1½ cups Cheddar Cheese shredded
- 1 cup Diced Tomatoes
- 1 cup Black Beans rinsed and drained
- ¼ cup Red Onions chopped
- 1 Avocado diced
- 2 cups Tortilla Strips or crushed tortilla chips
- ¾ cup Ranch Dressing
- ¾ cup Salsa
- Heat a large skillet over medium heat, then add the ground beef, taco seasoning, and water. Cook until there is only a little pink left, breaking up the beef with a wooden spoon or spatula.
- Remove from the skillet and drain on a paper towel lined plate.
- Heat a separate pan over medium heat and add the oil. Once hot, add the frozen (or fresh) corn and cook, stirring frequently, for about 5 minutes or until lightly sauteed and warm. Remove from the heat and season with salt and pepper. Set aside to cool.
- In a large bowl, add the chopped lettuce. Layer on the cooked beef, sauteed corn, cheddar cheese, diced tomatoes, black beans, onions, and avocado.
- In a small bowl, mix together the ranch dressing and salsa until well combined, then drizzle over the taco salad.
- Top with tortilla strips before serving. Enjoy!
More Tex-Mex Recipes
- Walking Tacos
- Crispy Ground Beef Tacos
- Carne Asada
- Green Chili Chicken Enchilada Soup
- Cheesy Bean Dip
- Chipotle Chicken Burrito
- Slow Cooker Chicken Burrito Bowls
- Homemade Taco Pizza
- Crispy Bean Burritos
- Red Chicken Enchiladas
- Green Chile Taquitos
- 7 Layer Bean Dip
- Steak Fajitas
- Crockpot Chicken Fajitas
- More Salad Recipes
- More Tex-Mex Recipes
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This easy Taco Salad is quick, easy, versatile, and perfect for meal prep. Use your favorite taco toppings along with tortilla strips and our easy Southwest ranch dressing.