This fresh and easy Taco Salad is loaded with juicy beef on a bed of crisp lettuce with all of your favorite toppings. Don’t forget to drizzle it with our amazing lime crema taco sauce.

For a fun and authentic Mexican restaurant vibe, serve this in a Tortilla Taco Bowl. Watch the easy video tutorial and get ready for your next taco night!

Taco Salad drizzled with dressing and served in taco salad bowl

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We love tacos, from our famous Fish Tacos to Breakfast Tacos and even Taco Soup – Tacos are a fun menu item to make and taste just as good as going out for tacos (except fresher and with better ingredients).

Taco Salad Video

A taco salad is a deconstructed taco and it’s a great way to change up traditional tacos. They are so satisfying and super easy to make. Watch Natasha make this Taco Salad with the best dressing!

Ingredients

  • Tortilla Bowls – You can use storebought tortillas or Homemade Soft Flour Tortillas to make crispy Taco Salad Bowls! If you’re looking to cut calories, you will still love this salad in a regular salad bowl.
  • Ground Beef – we use lean ground beef and be sure to drain the excess fat.
  • Taco Seasoning – you can use storebought but we highly recommend Homemade Taco Seasoning for the best flavor (it’s also not too spicy which our kids love).
  • Iceberg Lettuce – this is our top choice for a taco salad – it’s crisp, fresh, and classic.
  • Toppings – you can use any of your favorite taco salad toppings. See the list below for ideas and inspiration.

Pro Tip: If you are looking to substitute beef, just about any ground meat will work here. Try ground turkey for a turkey taco salad or ground chicken.

salad ingredients with lettuce, ground beef, taco seasoning, pico, cheese, avocado

The Best Taco Salad Dressing

Here’s our little secret: We are using our famous Fish Taco sauce (minus sriracha since the kids don’t like spicy foods), and it’s the perfect dressing for salad. Drizzle it over the top using a spoon or put it in a squeeze bottle for easy serving. Since it has garlic powder in it, I like to stir it together and let the flavors meld for at least 10 minutes. Here’s what you’ll need to make the taco salad dressing:

  • Sour Cream – regular or low fat will work
  • Mayonnaise – get the real one so it doesn’t change the flavor
  • Lime Juice – always use freshly squeezed (not concentrate)
  • Garlic powder – we love dried garlic powder because it adds great flavor while keeping the sauce super smooth and not too garlicky.

How to Make Taco Salad

If you have made Ground Beef Tacos in the past, you already know how to make the salad. The process is very similar.

  1. Make the Tortilla Taco Salad Shells: These are optional but highly recommended. While they bake and cool, you can work on the taco meat and salad toppings.
  2. Cook Beef: In a large skillet over medium heat, brown your beef, breaking it up with a spatula until no pink remains. Drain off excess fat, add taco seasoning and water, and cook for another 3-5 minutes.
  3. Make the Dressing: Stir the dressing together and set it aside for the flavors to meld for 10-15 minutes.
  4. Assemble: Chop lettuce and divide into serving bowls. Top with ground beef.
  5. Serve: Add remaining desired toppings and serve with a drizzle of dressing and a squeeze of fresh lime juice over the top.

Pro Tip: If your beef has released any excess fat, tilt the pan for the fat to pool at the corner of the pan then spoon off the excess fat. If you don’t skim it off, the fat will solidify on the meat when it cools and you don’t want that.

Step by step how to make taco salad recipe

Taco Salad Toppings

We love the classic toppings but you can change up Taco Tuesdays with these fun taco bar options:

  • Pico de Gallo
  • Black beans, rinsed and drained
  • Cherry tomatoes, halved
  • Tortilla Strips (or crushed tortilla chips)
  • Black olives
  • Cheese such as cheddar or Mexican
  • Red onion, diced
  • Chives or green onion, chopped
  • Guacamole
  • Grilled Corn on the Cob
Taco Salad toppings over a bed of iceberg lettuce

To Serve

  • Taco Bar – you can arrange all of the ingredients in separate bowls and let your guests build their custom taco salads. We love this option when there are gluten-free or keto dinner guests. P.S. You can get gluten-free taco seasoning.
  • Layered Salad – if you want to serve this as one large salad for a party, you can assemble it in a 9×13 glass casserole as a layered taco salad (similar to a 7-layer dip) starting with the lettuce then beef, and sprinkle the remaining toppings evenly over the top.
  • Taco Salad Bowls – serve this as a side salad or as a main course. Divide lettuce between bowls, add ground beef, and desired toppings.

Pro Tip: If you prefer, you can toss the salad together with the dressing and then put it into the taco salad shells. If you go that route, make sure to do that just before serving so the dressing doesn’t make the lettuce or taco bowl soggy.

Taco Salad with all of the best toppings served in a Tortilla Shell

Make-Ahead

Meal planning with taco salad is genius – all of the ingredients keep well and taste just as good when made ahead in a meal prep container and you can combine all of the ingredients just before serving. Pack a lime wedge to squeeze over the top before serving.

  • Pack your lettuce into sandwich-sized plastic bags for max freshness and place it into a meal prep container.
  • Arrange toppings in strips: taco meat, cheese, and avocado (squeeze fresh lime juice over avocados to slow down the browning process).
  • Pico and Dressing keep best stored in small lidded containers or zip bags.
  • Pack tortilla strips separately since those will soften.
Meal prepped taco salad in to-go container

Taco Salad is a quick and easy meal. You can use this basic recipe over and over changing up the toppings to make dinner exciting.

More Taco Recipes for Taco Night

If you make tacos on your regular rotation, you’re sure to find several new favorites in this list. Can you tell we love tacos? We can’t get enough!

Natasha's Kitchen Cookbook

Easy Taco Salad Recipe with the Best Dressing

5 from 33 votes
Author: Natasha Kravchuk
Taco Salad Recipe served with dressing and lime wedges
A taco salad is basically a deconstructed taco served in a bowl. If you want to re-create a Mexican restaurant experience, serve this salad in a crispy Tortilla Taco Salad Shell for a fun twist.
Prep Time: 25 minutes
Cook Time: 5 minutes
Total Time: 30 minutes

Ingredients 

Servings: 4 people as a side salad

Ingredients for Taco Salad:

  • 4 Tortilla Taco Salad Bowls, optional
  • 1 lb lean ground beef, 90/10
  • 3 Tbsp Taco Seasoning, or 1 packet
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 iceberg lettuce, medium head, chopped
  • 1 avocado, peeled, pitted and sliced
  • 1 cup pico de gallo, or to taste
  • 1/2 cup Mexican cheese blend, or to taste
  • 1/2 cup tortilla strips or chips
  • 1/4 cup cilantro, chopped
  • 1 lime, cut into wedges to serve, optional

Ingredients for Taco Salad Dressing:

  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 1/3 cup mayonnaise
  • 2 Tbsp lime juice, freshly squeezed
  • 1 tsp garlic powder

Instructions

  • Make Crispy Tortilla Bowls if using. While they bake and cool, proceed with the recipe.
  • In a large skillet over medium heat, brown your beef. When there is no pink left on the meat, spoon out all of the excess fat then add taco seasoning and 1/2 cup water. Cook, stirring occasionally, for 3-5 minutes. Remove from heat and cool until it’s lightly warm or room temperature.
  • In a small bowl or measuring cup, add the dressing ingredients and stir to combine. Refrigerate and let the flavors meld while you prepare your toppings.
  • Chop lettuce and place into serving bowls (serves 6 as a side salad or 4 as a main course). Divide ground beef between the bowls over the lettuce.
  • Add remaining toppings as desired then garnish with cilantro drizzle with the dressing and serve with lime wedges to squeeze over the salad.

Notes

*Nutrition label does not include the optional tortilla taco salad shells. 

Nutrition Per Serving

569kcal Calories25g Carbs30g Protein41g Fat12g Saturated Fat10g Polyunsaturated Fat15g Monounsaturated Fat1g Trans Fat105mg Cholesterol885mg Sodium914mg Potassium6g Fiber9g Sugar1470IU Vitamin A21mg Vitamin C187mg Calcium4mg Iron
Nutrition Facts
Easy Taco Salad Recipe with the Best Dressing
Amount per Serving
Calories
569
% Daily Value*
Fat
 
41
g
63
%
Saturated Fat
 
12
g
75
%
Trans Fat
 
1
g
Polyunsaturated Fat
 
10
g
Monounsaturated Fat
 
15
g
Cholesterol
 
105
mg
35
%
Sodium
 
885
mg
38
%
Potassium
 
914
mg
26
%
Carbohydrates
 
25
g
8
%
Fiber
 
6
g
25
%
Sugar
 
9
g
10
%
Protein
 
30
g
60
%
Vitamin A
 
1470
IU
29
%
Vitamin C
 
21
mg
25
%
Calcium
 
187
mg
19
%
Iron
 
4
mg
22
%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Mexican
Keyword: taco salad
Skill Level: Easy
Cost to Make: $$
Calories: 569

Natasha Kravchuk

Welcome to my kitchen! I am Natasha, the blogger behind Natasha's Kitchen (since 2009). My husband and I run this blog together and share only our best, family approved and tested recipes with YOU. Thanks for stopping by! We are so happy you're here.

Read more posts by Natasha

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Recipe Rating




Comments

  • Lena
    February 13, 2024

    Yum yum yum yum yum! Every part of this dish was sooo good. The beef was perfectly juicy (I used your recipe for a taco seasoning too), the sauce was tangy and fresh. The taco bowls came out a little soft, but we just ended up using them as giant taco shells. There were no leftovers with this meal.

    Reply

    • NatashasKitchen.com
      February 13, 2024

      That’s great to hear, Lena!

      Reply

  • maritza villarreal
    July 19, 2023

    gm your a great chef love everything you cook. I want to make this great taco salad I need to know what size bowls you used to put the taco shells in. thank you have a great day.

    Reply

    • NatashasKitchen.com
      July 19, 2023

      I used a variety of different-sized bowls and even a measuring cup for molding the tortilla shells. I like using a 3-4 cup bowl such as an oven-safe Pyrex bowl (affiliate link), preferably with a flatter base so the salad doesn’t easily tip over on your plate. If you don’t have 4 oven-proof bowls, you can bake these in batches.

      Reply

  • Mary V.
    June 17, 2023

    Hi Natasha!!
    I did see sharky in your video, he’s so cute!!! I enjoy cooking and baking and your Taco Salad looks awesome!!! I will have to make that someday for my husband and myself. I preordered your Cookbook!! I can’t wait to get it. Congratulations on your New Cookbook Natasha!!!

    Reply

    • NatashasKitchen.com
      June 17, 2023

      Hi Mary! Thank you so much for pre-ordering my cookbook.

      Reply

  • Carol Doctor
    June 12, 2023

    I substitute plain Greek yogurt for the sour cream…makes it more healthy!

    Reply

    • Natashas Kitchen
      June 12, 2023

      Thank you so much for sharing that with us, Carol!

      Reply

  • Nancy
    June 12, 2023

    I am having a luncheon for woman but do not want to stay in kitchen long. Can you make the shells a day ahead and will they stay crispy? Also, can I prepare all other ingredients in advance and refrigerate?

    Reply

    • NatashasKitchen.com
      June 12, 2023

      Hi Nancy! Yes, see my “make-ahead” notes in the taco shell blog for storing instructions. Once the shells are cooled to room temperature, cover them loosely and store them at room temperature (in a low-humidity environment) for up to 2 days. You can make the ground meat in advance and reheat it. You can make the pico de gallo one day in advance and refrigerate it. I would not cut the avocados until closer to serving the taco bowls are will turn brown.

      Reply

  • Sanari
    June 11, 2023

    Hi Natasha I made this taco salad bowl twice. It’s superb everybody at home enjoyed it.I just like to try this with chicken filling without ground beef.just give me a idea for a chicken marinating.

    Reply

    • NatashasKitchen.com
      June 12, 2023

      Hi Sanari! That sounds great. You can use the same taco seasoning to season the chicken meat. You can also search my website for other chicken recipes and ideas like my chicken fajitas recipe.

      Reply

      • Sanari
        June 12, 2023

        Thanks Natasha for sharing your ideas.I will marinate the chicken meet with taco seasoning and try and see. Also I will try with chicken fajitas. I am going to have a tarco night. For that I am going to make your Nachos also because both the marinations are with ground beef I want to have something different. Thanks again for sharing your ideas and lovely recepies. I have tried out lot of your recepies and they were all very great.

        Reply

        • NatashasKitchen.com
          June 12, 2023

          You’re very welcome, Sanari! I hope they turn out great!

          Reply

  • Alexis
    June 3, 2023

    Natasha and Family,
    Just ordered your cookbook, can’t wait to try every recipe. Ignore the TROLLS, you have an army of fans. YOU are #1 on Amazon for cookbooks, not them !!!!! LOL

    Reply

    • NatashasKitchen.com
      June 3, 2023

      Hi Alexis! Thank you so much for your love and support. I appreciate it more than you know.

      Reply

  • Mo
    May 31, 2023

    Hi Natasha, I finally made this tonight.

    All the ingredients inside the shell were amazing.

    I baked the tortilla shell according to instructions and I’m wondering if I did something wrong?

    The shell looked perfect, I layered all my ingredients….

    But the shell to me was a little bit on the chewy side. This is the first time I’ve had a tortilla shell baked versus deep-fried for a taco shell salad.

    Do you have any advice? An inclination of what I might’ve done wrong?

    I put the tortilla shell in the skillet and slightly browned it on both sides to make it pliable, then put it in the tortilla mold and into the oven in the appropriate amount of time.

    Great recipe and delicious!

    Mo

    Reply

    • NatashasKitchen.com
      June 1, 2023

      Hi Mo! I’m glad you loved the recipe. You could try frying the tortillas a little while longer to give them lift, and color, and a coat of oil so they can continue to crisp up in the oven. Make sure to use enough oil that they are coated well, this is what helps them get crisp. Was your oven fully preheated before you started to bake them? You can bake them a little longer to reach the desired level of crispness. I hope that helps.

      Reply

      • Mo
        June 17, 2023

        Oven was fully preheated. I will try your tips and techniques of browning them a little bit longer in the skillet and coating with oil before putting them into the mold.

        Do you have an oil type recommendation? Canola? Olive oil? Etc..

        Reply

        • NatashasKitchen.com
          June 17, 2023

          You can use any high-heat oil. I will often use light olive oil, it has a higher smoke point than virgin olive oil.

          Reply

  • Terry Barnes
    May 30, 2023

    Thank you for showing me how to make a tortilla bowl! I’ve always wanted to learn how to make one.
    I can’t wait for your book this fall. I ordered mine in March. Yay!!

    Reply

    • NatashasKitchen.com
      May 30, 2023

      You’re very welcome, Terry! Thank you for pre-ordering my cookbook. That means so much to me.

      Reply

  • Cynthia
    May 28, 2023

    We had this for our first time and it was amazing with the homemade sauce. Never had anything so delicious. Will be making these again! Keep up all the great recipes. We love them.

    Reply

    • NatashasKitchen.com
      May 28, 2023

      Hi Cynthia! I’m so glad to hear that. Thank you so much for sharing.

      Reply

  • Keith Peterson
    May 28, 2023

    Hello, Natasha!

    I like all forms of Mexican food, so I would like to offer a tasty suggestion for those who may want to have add exciting authentic taste to your scrumptious recipe.

    I like to substitute the ground beef with picadillo – a tasty shredded beef.

    Recipe:

    1 to 2 lbs. Chuck roast or round steak.
    1 Walla Walla Sweet onion (small), diced finely.
    1/2 cup beef bullion
    3 large poblano peppers – peeled, dried and seeded, sliced into thin strips

    1 tablespoon chili powder
    scant salt and pepper.

    In a cast iron skillet, fry onions until clear sear the meat, 2 minutes each side.

    Place meat and onions in a slow cooker on high for 3 hours. Afterward, the meat will broken down then take two forks and shred until the meat is in small pieces.

    Add the pepper slices, chili powder, beef bouillon, salt and pepper. Stir and cook on “Low” for 1 more hour.

    Whether in a taco shell or in a salad, the picadillo really brings out the “Mexican” in the dish.

    Reply

    • NatashasKitchen.com
      May 28, 2023

      Hi Keith! Thank you for sharing that with us. It sounds delicious!

      Reply

  • Melinda
    May 28, 2023

    Hi Natasha,
    I am going to make this taco salad tonight, it looks simple to do. I saw Sharky and he ate your lime:) 🙂
    Love All Your Recipes & You Too!!!!

    Reply

    • NatashasKitchen.com
      May 28, 2023

      Hi Melinda! Thank you! So glad to hear that. I hope you love this recipe.

      Reply

  • Sharina
    May 27, 2023

    We had this for our movie night and my fam loved it! This taco salad is packed with flavors! Yummy!

    Reply

    • NatashasKitchen.com
      May 27, 2023

      What a great idea for movie night! Thank you for sharing. I’m so glad your family loved it.

      Reply

  • Taffy girl
    May 27, 2023

    I feel the need to apologize for the unkind comments you must read from time to time. I love your recipes and so enjoy your videos. You are a joy! Could I please have the name of the juicer you used. Thanks.

    Reply

    • NatashasKitchen.com
      May 27, 2023

      Thank you for your love and support. I appreciate it! This is the link for the citrus juicer (affiliate link).

      Reply

  • Olivia
    May 26, 2023

    This taco salad was so delicious and the dressing was amazing too!! Everyone in my family loved it, thanks!

    Reply

    • NatashasKitchen.com
      May 26, 2023

      Hi Olivia! Thank you for trying the recipe. I’m so glad you loved it.

      Reply

  • jess
    May 26, 2023

    this was everything that I was looking for and more! thank you for adding in a taco salad dressing, becuase I would usually just use ranch, but this dressing made it so much better! thank you so much for sharing!

    Reply

    • NatashasKitchen.com
      May 26, 2023

      Hi Jess! You’re very welcome. I’m so happy to hear that.

      Reply

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