Taco salad is a quick, and healthy salad recipe perfect for summer! It’s loaded with crisp vegetables, seasoned ground beef, and taco classics such as homemade salsa, cilantro and avocado. Enjoy classic Mexican flavors in a lighter, veggie-heavy meal.
While you all know I love my tacos, you also know I love my greens. That’s why this taco salad recipe can’t be beat, it’s truly the best of both worlds.
All you need to do is add classic taco ingredients onto a bed of chopped lettuce – that’s it! Just make sure to prep everything ahead of time so it makes the assembly quick and easy.
What Goes Into A Taco Salad?
Protein options can include shrimp, pulled pork, carnitas and carne asada. But today, we’re keeping it simple using ingredients from a classic ground beef taco. Below I’ve listed out the essentials, as well as ways to make this a smidge more fancy.
Start with a green base
Since you’ll be adding a heap of toppings, a sturdy and crunchy base is ideal. Romaine or iceberg lettuce are my go-to’s. But other hearty greens such as radicchio or green leaf lettuce work as well.
Then comes the meat
A pound of ground beef tossed in my homemade taco seasoning results in that spiced flavor we all love. If you want something a bit lighter, ground chicken or turkey is just as good.
Finish with fresh toppings
It’s not a taco salad without tomatoes, black beans, avocado, homemade salsa, and shredded cheese. While those are the classics, feel free to improvise here.
Top your salad with corn, radishes, jalapeños, bell peppers or crumbled tortilla chips. And to add a bit of creaminess, dollop sour cream (vegan cashew sour cream) or drizzle lime crema.
How To Make A Taco Salad
Now that you have your ingredients prepped, the rest comes easy.
- First, cook the meat. In a pan over medium-high heat, add in the ground beef. Break it up into small bits and sauté for about 8-10 minutes until it’s mostly browned. Then drain the fat.
- Season the meat. Add in the taco seasoning and mix everything together for another minute or two.
- Assemble the salad. Add the chopped lettuce at the bottom of the bowl. Then layer the ground beef, beans, tomatoes, cheese, red onion, and avocado on top. And for the final touches, dollop the homemade salsa, sour cream, a squirt of lime juice and a few leaves of fresh cilantro.
Customize Your Own Taco Salad Recipe
Like all salad recipes, you can customize it to your liking. I’ve mentioned a few tasty additions above. But if you have dietary needs, just swap or exclude a few ingredients.
- Paleo: Simply remove the beans and add in more vegetables such as bell peppers or radishes.
- Vegan: Instead of ground beef, create your own:
- Mushroom walnut taco meat– Just sauté diced mushrooms and walnuts in a pan for 4-6 minutes. Then stir in some tamari and taco seasoning. This will give it a savory and smoky flavor.
- Lentil taco meat– First, cook 2 cups of lentils. Sauté diced onion in a pan and add the lentils in with a bit of water. Toss everything in taco seasoning until it’s all well coated. Add in a bit more water if the lentils start to dry out.
- Keto: Lucky for you, this recipe is pretty much keto. Just remove the tortilla chips.
- Whole30: Keep this Whole30 by leaving off the chips, and cheese. Then, swap sour cream for cashew sour cream.
Can I Prep This In Advance?
Absolutely! You can prep many of the ingredients in advance and create a buffet-style salad bar as well. Ingredients you can prep ahead of time include the beef, salsa, taco seasoning, diced red onion, and beans.
Those items can be stored in the fridge for 4-5 days in separate containers. The rest can be pulled straight out of the fridge and prepped in under 10 minutes.
Taco Salad Recipe Video
Want to see how I make all the components of this salad and assemble it? Watch the video below!
More Summer Salad Recipes
Taco salads are just one way to introduce summer. Here’s a few other salads to enjoy the warmer days ahead.
- Ultimate Chicken Salad
- Broccoli Salad
- Caprese Salad
- Israeli Salad
- Berry Spinach Salad
- Greek Salad
- Smoked Salmon, Avocado, And Arugula Salad
Taco Salad Recipe (Easy & Healthy!)
For The Beef
- 1 pound ground beef
- 2 tablespoons taco seasoning
- salt and pepper, to taste
For The Salad
- 1 head romaine lettuce or iceberg lettuce, chopped
- 1 cup grape tomatoes, chopped
- 1 cup black beans, drained and rinsed
- 1 avocado, diced
- 1/2 cup shredded cheese, optional
- 1/2 cup salsa
- 1/4 cup red onion, diced
- 1/4 cup freshly chopped cilantro
- 1 lime
- In a pan over medium-high heat, add the ground beef and break it into small pieces with your spatula. Cook for about 8 minutes or until it starts to brown. Then drain the fat from the beef.
- Add in the taco seasoning, give everything a stir and cook for another minute or two.
- In a large salad bowl, layer the chopped lettuce with browned beef, black beans, tomatoes, avocado, red onion, and cheese.
- Dollop some salsa, sour cream, a squeeze of lime juice and cilantro leaves on top.
- The nutrition info above is for four large and hearty portions. But you could easily get six smaller salads out of this recipe.
This was SO good! My family of six loved it, thank you! We did the lime crema – that was delicious,too!
Happy to hear the whole family enjoyed this taco salad Robin!
This is really TASTY! I thought my taco recipe was good this blew it out of the water, Thank you so much for sharing this incredible recipe,
Very good. My family really enjoys this taco salad.
Just made the taco salad and lime crema today… wow! I have really been enjoying all the videos. Who knew cooking healthier could be so tasty. Thank you.
Glad you’re loving the taco salad with a drizzle of lime crema :)
I’ve made this twice so far and it’s sooooo good!!! I’m new this site but have been loving all the recipes and videos. Thank you for the wonderful recipe.
So glad you love this recipe Kathy!
Made this and it was actually the first recipe I ever made from downshiftology . This how I got hooked !! So easy to make and delicious. Just didn’t add the chips cause I try to stick to low carb . Love love this salad 🥗
Glad you enjoyed your very first recipe on the site! This one’s definitely a keeper for your salad rotation :)
Thanks Lisa! My family loves it. It’s very healthy and tasty. All your recipes have been very helpful and amazing.
Glad to hear that Sarah! :)
Wonderful! Glad you loved these :)
Сool recipe. I like when there are so many lettuce leaves!
I agree! The more greens the better :)
Made this for some hungry teenagers and got rave reviews. I love the pick and mix concept of taco’s. And I love it even more that it is fresh and healthy. This recipe will be on repeat!
Wonderful! Such a great recipe too for a large crowd :)
I can’t believe how good this was. I used the mushroom/nut mix for a vegetarian option. If I didn’t know better, I would swear it was ground beef! Delicious, thank you!
Hi Sally- So glad you loved the mushroom option! :)
No surprise that I loved everything about this! I made the mushroom and walnut “meat” option and I’ll be using this on actual tacos or anything else that calls for ground meat whenever I feel the need to take a meat break.
I’m looking forward to the leftovers.
Hi Alan- So glad the walnut meat option turned out to be a success!
Delicious!! Taco seasoning recipes is outstanding! Loved this
Wonderful! Glad you enjoyed the taco seasoning along with it :)
Made this for lunch today and loved it! Thanks for the great idea!
Wonderful! Glad you enjoyed this taco salad Leslie :)
We made a version of this using what we had and it turned out so good.
Hi Lesli- This is the best kind of recipe for leftover ingredients in your fridge :)
We made this recipe tonight for dinner and it was delicious.
Wonderful! Glad everyone enjoyed this hearty taco salad for dinner :)
Definitely perfect for summer! I love all that color and the flavors sound absolutely incredible.
Hi Tara- If you love taco flavors, this one’s not to be missed :)
Perfect for a quick and easy dinner! My whole family loved it, even the kids. PS- your pictures are gorgeous.
Hi Michelle- Thanks so much! Happy that everyone loved this salad recipe :)
That is one beautifully presented taco salad and how perfect for Taco Tuesdays! Love the many layers of flavors here, too!
Hi Abigail- This will definitely be a fun way to celebrate Taco Tuesday! :)
I love a good taco salad! I can’t wait to try this!
Can never go wrong with a taco salad :)
I’ve recently found your site through a friend of mine, I am so glad! My kiddos and I made this together! We have been spending a lot more time in the kitchen lately and its so fun. They really enjoyed making this recipe but they enjoyed eating it even more! Thanks for this delish creation, we are adding it to our “make again” list!!
Hi Cindy- So glad you discovered Downshiftology and that you enjoyed this recipe with your kids :)