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This Classic Taco Salad recipe is a quick 30-minute dinner loaded with all of your favorite taco ingredients. Make it healthy with lean ground beef or turkey and load up on the veggies. Get my step by step instructions and make it tonight – It’s fresh, fast, and delicious!

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taco salad in bowl.

EASY Weeknight Taco Salad Recipe

I love to make a big ground beef taco salad for dinner and this easy recipe is better than the Taco Bell salad or Wendy’s taco salad! It’s one of my favorite healthy recipes that’s not only healthier but also so filling and loaded with flavor. 

This is what I make when the family is craving tacos but I want to keep things lighter, easier, and fresher. They don’t miss the tacos when I make it – it’s got all the same flavors and textures but made easy.

I like to call it fiesta taco salad because it’s full of fresh ingredients and has so many colors, lots of flavor, and great textures going on – like a fiesta for your tastebuds! 

It’s a really easy taco salad recipe that’s ready in 30 minutes so it’s perfect for an easy meal during the week. For me, it’s faster than picking up a Taco Bell taco salad and it’s a whole lot healthier, too!

It’s great for family gatherings, summer picnics, and potlucks too. You can easily double the recipe to serve more people.

A great thing about this simple salad is that you can serve the whole thing for a family meal or make it for meal prep. It’s easy – just prep all of the ingredients and store them in separate containers in the fridge. When you’re ready for lunch or an easy dinner, assemble the salad.

This recipe for taco salad can easily be adapted to your personal preference. Any of your favorite taco toppings will work and you swap out different kinds of meat to switch it up. Or, leave out the meat – it’s up to you. Every time I make it, I think about ways to switch it up the next time! It really is versatile.

This is such a classic recipe and it’s always a hit with the whole family! If you’re looking for taco salad recipes to lighten up taco night, give this one a try. 

ingredients in taco salad

Taco Salad Ingredients

  • Lean ground beef or lean ground turkey
  • Taco seasoning – pick up a packet at the store or use homemade taco seasoning with chili powder, onion powder, cumin, and other spices.
  • Chopped romaine lettuce or iceberg lettuce (or mix them up together!).
  • Tomatoes – I like diced Roma tomatoes or halved grape tomatoes or cherry tomatoes
  • Sliced black olives
  • Pickled jalapenos
  • Shredded cheddar cheese
  • Guacamole
  • Salsa – use your favorite brand!
  • Tortilla strips – crushed tortilla chips or fried corn tortillas work, too.
  • Chopped cilantro
taco meat in skillet

How to Make Taco Salad

  1. Brown the beef (or turkey if using) in a large skillet over medium heat to medium-high heat. Break it up as it cooks and then drain off the excess fat.
  2. Add the taco seasoning and amount of water called for on the package. Stir to combine and cook the seasoning and beef as directed on the packet. Take the pan off the heat so the meat mixture can cool.
  3. Place the chopped lettuce in a big bowl and top it with the taco meat, tomatoes, olives, and cheese.
  4. Top the salad with guacamole and salsa, and then toss the salad to combine. Garnish with the tortilla strips and cilantro for serving.
taco salad ingredients in bowl.


One of the best parts about this recipe is how adaptable it is. I think the best ingredients are the ones I’ve shared, but there are so many directions you can go with it. It’s a salad so of course lettuce is a must, but the rest of the ingredients can easily be changed to make it your perfect salad.

I use lean ground beef or ground turkey, but you can easily make it vegan or vegetarian by omitting the meat and using beans. Red kidney beans, pinto beans, and black beans are great. Or use your favorite plant-based meat substitute! 

You can also make it a low carb or keto taco salad by omitting the tortilla strips and using keto-friendly taco seasoning.

If you love Dorito taco salad recipe, you can swap the tortilla strips for crushed Doritos. Everyone I knows loves when I make it a Doritos taco salad.

Make it a chicken taco salad and toss it with my easy salsa chicken or brown ground chicken with taco seasoning.

Use your favorite toppings! Try some sour cream, sliced green onions, chopped red peppers, green peppers (or other bell peppers), fresh lime juice, or diced red onion. Mix and match your favorite ingredients to make it your best taco salad recipe.

Swap out the cheddar cheese for pepper jack, Monterey jack, or try Cotija – a Mexican crumbling cheese.

For the dressing, I just toss guacamole and salsa into the salad to create a taco salad dressing but feel free to use your favorite salad dressing. Catalina dressing, ranch dressing, or a jalapeno ranch would work great. 

Or whisk up your own dressing in a small bowl. Olive oil, lime juice, and some taco seasoning mixed up would be an easy one to try.

taco salad on plate.

What goes well with taco salad?

Want to add some side dishes? Here are some good options we always like:

  • We always love it with some chips and salsa.
  • Make some cheese quesadillas.
  • Make taco Tuesday a soup and salad night and add black bean soup or chicken tortilla soup on the side.
  • Pair it with Mexican rice and beans.
  • For BBQs it goes great with grilled corn on the cob or other grilled veggies.
taco salad on plate with fork.

I hope you add the ingredients for this healthy taco salad recipe to your shopping list this week! It’s such a favorite of mine, and I think you’ll really love it. 

Other Recipes To Try:

taco salad in bowl.

Simple Taco Salad

5 from 5 votes
Taco Salad is an easy 30 minute meal that's perfect for a weeknight meal that's healthy.
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes
Yield 4 servings
Serving Size 1 serving


  • 1 pound lean ground turkey or beef
  • 1 package taco seasoning
  • 1 head romaine lettuce chopped
  • 1 roma tomato diced
  • ½ cup sliced olives
  • ¼ cup pickled jalapenos
  • ¼ cup shredded cheddar cheese
  • ¼ cup guacamole see note
  • ¼ cup salsa
  • Tortilla strips for garnish
  • Cilantro for garnish


  • Place ground turkey in a medium sized skillet over medium heat. Cook, breaking up the meat to small pieces, until no longer pink. Drain any excess fat.
  • Add taco seasoning and water called for on pouch (usually ¾ cup). Stir to combine and cook as directed on package. Remove from heat and set aside to cool slightly.
  • Add romaine to a large salad bowl. Add cooked meat, tomato, jalapenos, olives, and cheese.
  • Top with guacamole and salsa then toss to combine. Garnish with tortilla strips and cilantro. Serve immediately.

Recipe Nutrition

Serving: 1serving | Calories: 260kcal | Carbohydrates: 5g | Protein: 24g | Fat: 17g | Saturated Fat: 5g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 4g | Monounsaturated Fat: 7g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 91mg | Sodium: 659mg | Potassium: 442mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 2g | Vitamin A: 1227IU | Vitamin C: 5mg | Calcium: 95mg | Iron: 2mg
Nutritional information not guaranteed to be accurate
Course Main Course, Salad
Cuisine American
taco salad in bowl with words on photo.

Classic Taco Salad is an easy 30 minute meal that’s healthy – make this salad recipe with ground beef or turkey – it’s better than Taco Bell taco salad! Use your favorite dressing too!

Dorothy Kern

Welcome to Crazy for Crust, where I share recipes that are sometimes crazy, often with a crust, and always served with a slice of life.

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1 Comment

  1. We loved it. I do use my own dressing, equal parts thousand island and smooth taco sauce, but the guacamole and sour cream sound delicious too. Thanks for a delicious recipe.