A delicious and easy taco salad recipe that’s made in just 20 minutes! Filled with chopped greens, taco meat, rice, corn, beans, tomatoes and your favorite salad dressing.
I’ve shared a few different variations of taco salad (like my favorite BBQ chicken salad or shredded chicken taco salad), but today I wanted to share one of my family’s favorite QUICK dinners. We’re talking done in 20 minutes!
Weeknights can be crazy with after school activities and homework to finish. When the days are long, I’m sometimes tempted to pick up fast food. Let’s be honest, occasionally I just give in…but I often make this easy taco salad recipe when looking for a quick and simple meal.
My kids love being in the kitchen with me and this recipe is the perfect meal for them to help with. They place all the taco salad toppings in separate bowls and layer their salads with all the ingredients they like. So easy and customizable. They gobbled them right up too! Surprisingly my kids love salad and this recipe never disappoints.
Tips for the best taco salad
- Make the meat ahead. For convenience, make the taco meat ahead of time. I like to make it the day before so that I can assemble my salad in just 5 minutes! If I don’t have time to cook taco meat, sometimes I’ll use rotisserie chicken instead.
- Grilled corn. Adding grilled corn instead of microwave corn on the cob makes a big difference in flavor. If you have the time, I highly recommend it.
- Lime juice. Add a squeeze of fresh lime juice over top of your taco salad for an extra fresh taste.
- Taco seasoning. If you don’t have any on hand, make your own homemade taco seasoning with just a few simple spices (that I bet you already have in your pantry).
- Taco salad dressing: I love using homemade salsa or a cilantro lime dressing to add additional flavor.
- Meal prep. This salad also makes a great meal prep lunch or dinner. Layer the ingredients into meal prep containers (keep the dressing separate) and then drizzle on top right before serving.
- Leftover meat. Sometimes I’ll double the taco meat recipe so that I have leftovers the next day. Use the extra meat to make a totally new lunch or dinner the next day, like stuffed bell peppers or these easy taco pockets.
- Healthy swaps. Feel free to make healthier swaps, like using ground turkey instead of beef, loading on extra veggies and using salsa as your dressing.
- Taco salad shell. You can serve your salad in a crispy taco shell like they do at an authentic Mexican restaurant. Simply spray a flour tortilla with cooking spray, then place the tortilla in an oven safe bowl. Bake the tortilla until crispy, about 10 to 15 minutes. Then layer the salad ingredients into the crispy tortilla.
- Doritos. Instead of serving over lettuce, add your taco salad ingredients inside a mini bag of Doritos or Fritos to make walking tacos. My kids love those too and they are just as easy! You can also crush up some Doritos and mix them in with your salad.
- Vegetarian. Omit the meat to make this a vegetarian dish. Double up on rice and beans or add extra toppings like avocado and more chopped veggies.
Favorite salad toppings
One of the best parts about making a taco salad is that you can layer on as many toppings as you’d like. The more the merrier, in my opinion. :) Below are some topping ideas to add to your salad:
- Shredded cheese
- Sliced avocado or guacamole
- Tortilla strips or crushed tortilla chips
- Pico de gallo
- Sour cream
- Chopped onion
- Fajita veggies
- Mango salsa
- Pickled onions
- Sliced black olives
- Salsa verde
- Chopped jalapenos
Other easy Mexican dinners:
For the Salad
- 8 cups chopped romaine lettuce
- 1 cup cooked rice
- 1 cup corn
- 1 cup black beans
- 1 cup cherry tomatoes , halved
Optional toppings: avocado, tortilla strips, shredded cheese, lime
Dressing: cilantro lime dressing, salsa or ranch
- Heat a large skillet over medium heat. Add the ground beef and onion and cook until browned, stirring occasionally breaking up any large pieces. Once browned, drain off any extra grease. Then add in the taco seasoning, salsa and water. Bring to a light simmer. Add more water as desired.
- In a bowl, layer the lettuce, meat, rice, corns, beans and tomatoes.
- Then top with desired toppings. Squeeze fresh lime juice over the top if desired. Drizzle your choice of dressing over top.