Everyone needs a simple Homemade Taco Salad Recipe in their menu arsenal. It’s packed with all your favorite taco flavors but easy enough for a weeknight dinner.
Tacos are always a hit in my house. In fact, we’ve been known to go rogue and eat them any day of the week. I mean, why limit yourself to Taco Tuesdays?!
But sometimes I want a dish that is a little easier to assemble and a bit healthier.
Enter yummy Taco Salads! This recipe is going to be a hit with everyone in your family.
Homemade Taco Salad Recipe
This is one of those meals every mom loves. Not only is it delicious, it’s a quick meal that offers many serving options.
Serve it up buffet style so each family member can assemble his or her own perfect salad. Having each person make their own salad means you are less likely to have a family member complain about an ingredient you tried to sneak into the meal (tell me I’m not the only one who does this).
There are so many options to create this recipe to suit your family and their preferences for flavor. With hundreds of combination possibilities, everyone should be happy with this easy dinner.
That versatility is just one of the reasons you should add this to your meal plan regularly.
Taco Salad is a fun addition to a taco bar party, too. With similar ingredients, it’s a no fuss way to amp up the offerings. And your low carb friends will thank you!
What Meat Should I Use for Taco Salad?
Ground beef is a popular option for my homemade taco salad recipe. It’s a traditional choice and also one of the most affordable meats. That said, there are many other protein options for a taco salad.
You can easily substitute ground turkey, ground chicken, or even ground pork with this recipe
If you prefer, switch things up a bit by cooking down a beef roast and using the shredded meat. Additionally, using a shredded pork roast will create a carnitas style taco salad.
Cooked chicken breast is another protein option. Use this handy tip for how to shred chicken easily, and add the shredded meat to your taco salad.
For those who prefer seafood, you can easily use shrimp or your favorite white fish in this taco salad recipe.
Make this a vegetarian or Meatless Monday dinner by substituting with black beans, pinto beans or even tofu.
As I mentioned, this is a truly versatile recipe choice for every family. And all the different protein options ensure you’ll never get tired of this meal!
Once you’ve selected your protein, all you have to do is liberally sprinkle this homemade taco seasoning onto the meat for that awesome taco flavoring.
Can I Add a Dressing for Taco Salad?
Yes! While you can skip the dressing, one of the most appealing parts of the homemade taco salad (or any salad, am I right?!) is the salad dressing. You can use something as basic as ranch or even a zesty Catalina or French dressing.
I’ve included a super simple homemade taco salad dressing recipe you can try. Mix ranch dressing with a little taco sauce for a kicked up version of the popular salad topping.
Whatever dressing you choose, serve it on the side for make your own individual salads. If you’re serving the salad family style, add the dressing to the salad right before serving, give it a good toss and your all set.
Ingredients for Homemade Taco Salad
You’ll find the full recipe details, including measurements & directions, in the printable recipe card at the bottom.
As mentioned above, you can use ground beef as suggested in the printable recipe, or any protein you prefer.
- Protein of choice
- Homemade taco seasoning (none of yucky stuff you find in the store bought packets)
Optional Topping Suggestions:
- Fiesta corn
- Black beans
- Sour cream
- Shredded cheese
- Black olives
- Green bell pepper
- Diced onions
- Lime wedges
- Pico de Gallo
How to Make Taco Salad
The best part of this recipe is just how easy it is to prepare. All you have to do is cook the meat until it’s done. Then mix in the seasoning and water and stir to combine. Simmer for a few minutes and your protein is done.
While the meat is cooking, you can prepare the vegetables and toppings you’ll be serving. Slice, dice, chop, and set aside all of your veggies. Then pull out the refrigerated items like salsa, sour cream, and cheese.
Time Saving Preparation Tips
- Cooking your protein in advance makes this an even quicker weeknight meal.
- Purchase convenience items if you’re short on time: bagged shredded lettuce, pre-cut veggies, pico de gallo and pre-made guacamole can be found in the produce department.
- If you don’t need large quantities of toppings, hit the salad bar and purchase only what you need.
Can I Make This Salad Ahead of Time?
Yes! You can prepare the protein choice up to 2 days ahead and store in the refrigerator.
The veggie toppings can be prepped earlier in the day and stashed in the frig for freshness.
If you are serving buffet style, set out the ingredients in individual containers in an assembly line fashion. Let everyone create their own bowl of delicious taco salad!
For family style service, combine all the ingredients in a large bowl, top with salad dressing and toss right before serving.
Taco Salad is also a popular recipe for potluck meals. I always bring back an empty bowl.
Helpful Tools to Make This Easy Taco Salad Recipe
- The Chop & Stir is a must-have when cooking ground meat.
- A vegetable chopper is the quickest way to prep your veggie toppings.
- Divided serving trays are a fun way to present the toppings if you are serving buffet style.
- If serving family style, use a pretty bowl for a fun presentation.
More Taco Flavored Recipes:
Homemade Taco Salad Recipe (Better Than Takeout)
- 1 lb ground beef
- 2 tbsp homemade taco seasoning
- 1/2 cup water
- 1 head lettuce
- 1/2 cup Ranch dressing
- 2 tbsp taco sauce
- Fiesta Corn
- Black Beans
- Shredded mild cheddar cheese or Mexican blend cheese
- Sour cream
- Fresh Cilantro
- Black olives, sliced
- Green pepper. Diced
- Jalapeno Pepper, sliced
- Red or green onions, sliced
- Brown ground beef until no longer pink. Drain if necessary.
- Add 2 tablespoons taco seasoning and ½ cup water to cooked ground beef. Cook until the liquid is absorbed.
- Serve seasoned ground beef mixture on lettuce.
- Add desired toppings and dressing.
- Whisk together Ranch dressing with taco sauce until thoroughly mixed.
- Recipe serves 4-6.
- Additional meat options: ground turkey, shredded chicken, pork or beef. May also use meatless protein.
- Salad dressing options: Catalina or French dressing.
- Make ahead tips:
- Cook the meat ahead of time & store in the refrigerator.
- Prep & chop the toppings earlier in the day. Refrigerate as needed.
- Serving suggestions:
- Set up buffet style for “make your own” salads.
- For family style service, combine all ingredients in a large bowl. Add dressing before serving and toss to combine.
- Optional toppings are not included in the nutritional information. The nutritional information will vary based on toppings selected.
- Nutritional information is provided for informational purposes and calculated using an online calculator. We recommend verifying the nutritional information independently.