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This Classic Taco Salad recipe is a quick 30-minute dinner loaded with all of your favorite taco ingredients. It’s kind of like a Taco Bell Taco Salad but made at home so it’s cheaper and healthier than fast food. Its my favorite dinner we have at least once a week.

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! 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 Taco Bell’s 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!

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 store bought tricolor or red tortilla strips
  • 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 use lean ground beef or ground turkey, but you can easily make it vegan or vegetarian by omitting the meat and using beans. Refried beans, pinto beans, and black beans are all great. Or use your favorite plant-based meat substitute! 
  • 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. Or turn it into a steak salad.
  • 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 in bowl.

Simple Taco Salad

5 from 6 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
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  • 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

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.

5 from 6 votes (6 ratings without comment)

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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.