Healthy Taco Salad Recipe is a lean and mean Tex-Mex salad, combining lean ground beef, homemade taco seasoning, fresh veggies, tortilla chips, and a chipotle ranch dressing. Super tasty and lightened up too!
When you’re on a mission to save the world from boring salads, you make them on the regular. For some other green salads, try my Fried Goat Cheese with Strawberry Dressing or my recent Shrimp Avocado Salad. My Summer Pasta Salad is a huge crown pleaser and is perfect for all the backyard parties we’ll soon be attending!
Best Taco Salad Recipe
My husband and I are originally from Iowa, born and raised. We’ve lived in Texas for over 28 years now, almost half of our lives. So it may be no surprise to you when I say that we LOVE Tex-Mex. Gimme all the Grilled Shrimp Tacos, Mexican Chicken Burritos, Green Chili Chicken Enchiladas, The BEST Chunky Guacamole, and Classic Skinny Margaritas. I like it spicy, while Mike is more of a medium taco lovin’ guy.
If you look below at the nutritional content, you’ll see that ONE LARGE TACO SALAD comes in at under 600 calories, and has lots of protein and fiber. That’s pretty remarkable, considering that it tastes like one big taco. It’s a salad that fills you up, and leaves you thinking about eating another one the following day (which I often do)!
What I love about Taco Salad
- The taste of the homemade taco seasoning that makes the meat so flavorful (without a bad aftertaste).
- The fresh veggies that provide the perfect crunch.
- A creamy, yet healthy chipotle ranch dressing, and that little hit of spice.
- Saltiness from the chips which are optional, but yummy.
- The flavor bomb of ALL of these ingredients together! 😀
Healthy Taco Salad Ingredients:
We LOVE taco night, and it’s especially fun when you can tailor each salad to everyones tastes. So if you have picky eaters, you can go light on the veggies and go heavy on the meat, cheese, and chips. So many things to choose from!
- Taco Meat – Use lean ground beef or turkey, plus diced onions and jalapeños. I often double the meat and use some in quesadillas or just regular tacos.
- Homemade Taco Seasoning – My homemade seasoning won’t leave a bad after-taste, and it’s great to keep a large stash on hand for all the taco things. I highly recommend that you keep it on hand!
- Fresh veggies – Lettuce, cherry tomatoes, and avocado. I like to buy a variety of salad greens each week and change up the combination each time I make this salad. I love using red and green lettuce, spinach leaves, bib lettuce, and even kale.
- Canned veggies – Black beans and Mexicorn are the perfect salad toppers. You could also use frozen (thawed) corn.
- Cheese – Shredded Mexican Cheese, or your favorite cheese works too.
- Chips of any kind. We’ve been on a blue chip lately but also love the new flavors in the stores (like spicy queso)!
- Chipotle Ranch Dressing – My favorite Tex-Mex topper for salads, tacos, enchiladas, and so many other things! This is key to this salad and keeps for several days in the refrigerator.
I topped this salad with chipotle ranch, but any of the toppings below would be delish! Because I believe it’s ALL ABOUT the salsas and dressings (and sides). It’s called FLAVOR!
- Mexican Street Corn Salad – Oh this one is a keeper. You’ll love some zesty corn salad on this salad.
- Homemade Salsa Verde – Roasting the veggies is key for flavor.
- Easy Homemade Salsa – A classic salsa made better with garden fresh tomatoes!
- Pico de Gallo – Simple to make all year long.
- Creamy Avocado Dressing – One of those dressings you never get tired of. It’s good on salads, bowls, tacos, burritos, and just anything Tex-Mex!
How to make Taco Salad
- Make dressing. In a mixing bowl, combine the dressing ingredients – the yogurt, mayo, diced chipotles, cilantro, seasonings, and fresh lime juice. Add cold water to thin to your desired consistency. Spoon dressing into a mason jar and store in the refrigerator.
- Make taco meat. In a medium stock pot over medium-high heat, add the ground meat (either beef or turkey), the diced onions and diced jalapeños. Cook until meat is completely cooked through and browned. Then add the taco seasoning, and cook another five minutes. Remove to cool slightly.
- Prepare salad ingredients. Prepare the lettuce, onions, tomatoes, beens, corn, avocado, and shredded Mexican cheese.
- Assemble taco salads. In individual salad bowls, combine the salad ingredients listed above. Then add warm taco meat and top with the chipotle ranch dressing. Top with crushed chips, if desired.
- Enjoy! Serve with cheese quesadillas and a margarita!
How to make easy quesadillas
If you’re feeding EXTRA picky eaters, go ahead and make up some easy cheese quesadillas too.
- Lay a large flour tortilla on countertop.
- Sprinkle cheese on half of it.
- Fold it over and press down.
- Heat some olive oil in a skillet.
- Lightly brown both sides of tortillas, until the cheese is all melty.
- Cut into wedges, and serve with these taco salads.
Healthy Taco Salad Recipe
For the taco meat:
- 1 pound lean ground beef – or ground turkey
- 1/2 medium yellow onion – diced
- 1 medium jalapeno – diced (half with seeds, half without), optional
- 2 Tablespoons homemade taco seasoning – on my site (or use store-bought)
For the salad:
- 12-16 cups romaine lettuce (or other fresh greens) – chopped
- 1 cup cherry tomatoes – halved
- 1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese
- 15 oz. black beans – rinsed and drained
- 8 oz. Mexicorn – drained
- 1 large avocado – diced
- handful of tortilla chips – optional
For the dressing:
- 5.3 oz. plain Greek yogurt
- 3 Tablespoons light mayo
- 1 Tablespoon chipotle peppers in adobe sauce – finely chopped
- 3 Tablespoons finely chopped cilantro
- 1 medium lime – freshly squeezed
- 1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
- kosher salt & freshly ground black pepper – to taste
- Mix up the dressing by combining the yogurt, mayo, chipotle peppers, cilantro, lime juice, smoked paprike, and salt and pepper. Store in refrigerator until ready to serve.
- Heat a skillet to medium high heat. Add olive oil, ground beef, diced onions and jalapeños – and cook until meat is browned and cooked through. Add seasoning and cook for another few minutes. Set aside.
- Assemble the salads in four bowls by arranging the lettuce, tomatoes, cheese, black beans, corn, and avocado. Add the taco meat and a drizzle of the dressing. Serve immediately, with tortilla chips and quesadilla wedges (optional).
- Use my homemade taco seasoning for best results.
- Either ground beef or ground turkey work great in this.
- Adjust the veggies to your liking. Slices of bell pepper are great in this salad as well.
- The chipotle peppers add the kick. If you don’t like a little spice, use a creamy ranch dressing instead.