This taco salad recipe combines ground beef, lettuce, beans, cheese, tomatoes, tortilla strips and avocado, all tossed in a zesty dressing. A fun and festive salad that’s perfect for a lighter main course or as a side dish at a potluck.

I’m a fan of anything Mexican food, we eat plenty of white queso dip and burrito bowls in my house! This hearty taco salad is a family favorite, it’s colorful, fresh and super easy to make.

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Taco salad made with ground beef, romaine lettuce and vegetables, topped with sour cream and tortilla strips.

We eat a LOT of Mexican food around here – it’s typically quick to make and easy to customize to the kids’ taste. We kind of got into a burrito rut and I was trying to think of something to change it up a bit which is how I came up with this taco salad. This salad is absolutely loaded with toppings, and everyone can mix and match the ingredients which makes this recipe perfect for picky eaters.

This is one of my favorite hearty salads. If you want more hearty salads you should try my antipasto salad, panzanella salad or Mexican Caesar salad. There are plenty of salad options for every meal!

How do you make taco salad?

This recipe starts with ground beef which is browned in a pan and coated in taco seasoning. The ground beef goes into a bowl of lettuce along with tomatoes, avocado, corn, beans, cheese and tortilla strips. Everything gets tossed together in a tangy dressing, then you’re ready to eat.

A pan of taco meat made with ground beef.

Tips for taco salad

  • I use pre-made crispy tortilla strips in this recipe, which are sold in most grocery stores near the croutons. If you can’t find them, feel free to use crumbled up tortilla chips instead.
  • I use 90% lean ground beef for this salad, it’s got plenty of flavor without all the grease.
  • You can use fresh, frozen or canned corn, they all work great.
  • I like to dice all my ingredients to about 1/2 inch size pieces, it makes the salad easier to eat.

Ground beef, tortilla strips, beans, tomatoes, olives, corn and avocado over lettuce.

What kind of dressing do you put on taco salad?

This particular recipe calls for catalina dressing, which is a sweet and tangy tomato based dressing. If you’re not a fan of catalina dressing, I recommend using classic ranch dressing instead. You can also mix your salad with red or green salsa as a dressing to save a few calories.

Catalina dressing being poured over taco salad.

Taco salad variations

There are so many different ways to customize your taco salad to your preferences.

  • Protein: Use ground turkey or grilled chicken breast instead of beef.
  • Cheese: Use pepper jack or a Mexican 4 cheese blend instead of cheddar.
  • Avocado: Omit the diced avocado and instead add a scoop of guacamole on top.
  • Lettuce: Try iceberg lettuce, butter lettuce or shredded cabbage instead of romaine.
  • Beans: Use pinto beans, or add a layer of refried beans at the bottom of your salad bowl.

A bowl of taco salad with ground beef, lettuce, tomatoes, cheese and olives.

I love to set up a taco salad bar at parties. Simply put out bowls of chopped lettuce, meat and all the toppings, and let your guests assemble their own creations. Add a few choices of salad dressing at the end of the buffet and you’ve got a simple yet satisfying meal to feed a crowd!

More Mexican food recipes

5 from 10 votes

Taco Salad

AuthorSara Welch
Taco salad made with ground beef, romaine lettuce and vegetables, topped with sour cream and tortilla strips.
This taco salad recipe combines ground beef, lettuce, beans, cheese, tomatoes, tortilla strips and avocado, all tossed in a zesty dressing. A fun and festive salad that's perfect for a lighter main course or as a side dish at a potluck.
Prep Time20 minutes
Cook Time10 minutes
Total Time30 minutes
Course Salad
Cuisine Mexican
Serves 4


  • 2 teaspoons olive oil
  • 1 pound ground beef I use 90% lean
  • 1 packet taco seasoning
  • 4 cups romaine lettuce
  • 3/4 cup black beans rinsed and drained
  • 1/2 cup corn kernels
  • 1/2 cup diced tomato
  • 1 avocado peeled, seeded and diced
  • 3/4 cup cheddar cheese shredded
  • 1/4 cup sliced olives
  • 1 cup tortilla strips plus more for garnish
  • 2/3 cup catalina salad dressing can also use ranch dressing
  • 1/4 cup sour cream
  • cilantro leaves for garnish optional


  • Heat the olive oil in a large pan over medium high heat. Add the ground beef and cook, breaking up with a spatula, for 3 minutes.
  • Add the taco seasoning and 2 tablespoons of water. Cook for another 3-4 minutes or until meat is done. Cool for 5 minutes.
  • Place the meat, lettuce, beans, corn, tomato, avocado, cheese, olives and tortilla strips in a bowl.
  • Add the dressing and toss to coat.
  • Add the sour cream on top of the salad along with additional tortilla strips and cilantro leaves for garnish, then serve.


Make Ahead: The chicken, cilantro sauce and beans can all be made a day in advance.


Calories: 451kcal | Carbohydrates: 40g | Protein: 33g | Fat: 19g | Saturated Fat: 13g | Cholesterol: 103mg | Sodium: 712mg | Potassium: 964mg | Fiber: 9g | Sugar: 15g | Vitamin A: 5325IU | Vitamin C: 13.9mg | Calcium: 222mg | Iron: 5.1mg

Hello! I’m Sara!

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Recipe Rating


  1. 5 stars
    Wow was this good! I made it for a shower and everyone loved it! I used ground turkey and it still was very good.

  2. 5 stars
    Oh wow! Looks so good! I will make this soon. My bowl will have lots of beans (which I totally love). I will have to offer two kinds of dressing though. My youngest son is not very fond of catalina dressing.

    1. I’ve been fixing Taco Salad for 40 years or more. Originally, it was iceberg lettuce, chopped tomatoes, chopped onions, black beans, kidney beans, garbanzo beans, chopped Serrano peppers (jalapeños if desired), olives (optional), grated cheddar cheese, & crunched up corn tortilla chips. Mix most of the ingredients together, reserving a cup of chips for the top. Serve with bowls of guacamole, sour cream and your favorite salsa. Salsa has NO oil or many calories, & makes a wonderful, healthier alternative for salad dressing! When we had guests, I would also make a large (5-6 tomatoes) of pico (fresh salsa). Then, instead of using chopped tomatoes, I would use some of that in the base, & serve the rest as another topping. Don’t forget to sprinkle your reserved chips on top! (Ask me why I’m reminding you)! Blessings!!!

  3. There are certain days off and on when I love to have only salads.Taco salad looks very nice & also easy to make. Would try this out.

  4. Taco salads are a weekly meal in our home. They are a favorite for us because we can all choose to add what we like.

  5. 5 stars
    Not only does this Taco Salad look wonderful, I just needed to say that your photography is amazing!! Thanks for sharing!

  6. 5 stars
    Now that looks amazing! I’d swap out the meat and use black beans for the protein since I’m a vegetarian, but everything else looks spot on for me! Yummy!

  7. We use ground beef almost exclusively for tacos and I’m really not sure why. Especially when the chicken is as moist and flavorful as yours. Also, love the bowl! Definitely trying this soon!

  8. The edible bowls sound easy enough to make and we love Mexican foods at our house too so I’m going to have to try these!

  9. OMG this looks so amazing. I am literally drooling at the screen. I am totally making this!

  10. I just love these little bowls! We do a lot of tacos and burritos around here too, so this is a fun way to spice things up. Definitely going to have to give your beans recipe a try.

  11. Oh goodness, these look so very very good. It makes me want to experiment with a gluten-free/corn-free taco option and make these.

    1. Mandi, this would work with corn tortillas but you’ll probably want to warm them first to make them pliable so that they don’t break when you try to push them into the bowls.