This Classic Taco Salad is loaded up with all sorts of delicious things! We’ve got crisp lettuce, taco-seasoned beef, fresh corn, bright cherry tomatoes, zippy red onion, avocado slices, black beans, and a little cheese and some tortilla strips to top it all off. And, for a ‘lil something extra – the cilantro lime dressing is a 2-minute dream to whip up!
This salad is SO good – it’s healthy, quick + easy, and so filling! Plus, it’s easily customizable for anyone with a gluten or dairy restrictions (just leave the tortilla strips and cheese separate!). You can serve this in a big bowl like I did (pictured) or you can set out all the ingredients in separate bowls and let people build their own taco salads! Either way, it’s a delicious and easy recipe that everyone should have in their back pocket.
What’s in a Classic Taco Salad?
Here’s everything I used in my taco salad AND some ideas for ingredient swaps!
- Lettuce – Obviously a must! Fresh, crisp greens are the base of our salad.
- Ground Beef – Seasoned with a flavorful taco seasoning, this is a key component of any taco salad. You could also use steak or chicken strips, or ground turkey.
- Corn – I definitely recommend fresh sweet corn when it’s in season, but canned or frozen corn works as well.
- Avocado – Avocado goes soo well with all the other components of this salad – guacamole would work as well, if you prefer it.
- Black Beans – A must! If you’re not a huge fan of beans, you can leave these out or swap them for another kind.
- Red Onion – Adds a little flavor punch, but again, this can be left out if you’re not a red onion lover.
- Cherry Tomatoes – Again, these little juicy bites are fabulous when they’re in season, but you can use any type of tomatoes that you enjoy.
- Cheese – I love a good sprinkle of cheddar cheese on a taco salad. This can be left off if you want to keep things dairy free.
- Tortilla Strips – A little crunch is the perfect way to finish off this salad. This can be anything you like – doritos, fritos, tortilla strips, or a handful of crushed tortilla chips. Yum!
However you build your salad, it’s sure to be ultra delicious! You just can’t go wrong with a taco salad.
Zippy Cilantro Dressing:
Oh, and let’s talk dressing! This is so easy to whip up – it takes less than 5 minutes. Add a few handfuls of cilantro to a food processor, along with some olive oil, salt + pepper, a clove of garlic, and even a squeeze of lime juice. Blend it all up and voila – a bright, flavorful dressing to top your taco salad with.
For best fresh-ness, I don’t recommend assembling + dressing the salad ahead of when you plan to serve it. You can certainly get all the components ready – like cooking your meat, making the dressing, chopping the veggies, etc. But, wait to assemble + dress your salad until just before serving.
If you’re making this for more of a meal-prep type of situation to have for lunches + dinners throughout the week, I recommend keeping any components that you want to warm up in one container – for me, that’s the corn, beans, and beef. That way you don’t have to open 3 different containers when you want to warm those things up to add to the rest of your salad ingredients. The other veggies could be combined in a second container with chopped lettuce, and that way you just have to get out two containers to make your salads!
So, to recap – taco salad is a gift to humankind, and you should absolutely make yourself a batch of taco salad to enjoy all week long.
(Also, can we just chuckle at the fact that I forgot to add the black beans until the very end of this photoshoot, so only one photo of the salad has them, hah.)
Classic Taco Salad with Zippy Cilantro Dressing
For the Taco Meat
- 4 tsp chili powder
- 5 tsp paprika
- 5 tsp cumin
- 1 and 1/2 tsp garlic powder
- 1 tsp oregano
- 1 tsp salt more or less to taste
- 1/2 tsp black pepper more or less to taste
- 2 lbs lean ground beef
- 1 tsp all-purpose flour See note
- 1/2 cup water
For the Salad
- 1 large head of romaine lettuce, chopped
- 2 cobs sweet corn
- 2 cups cherry tomatoes, halved
- 1-2 large avocados, sliced
- 1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
- 1/2 a medium red onion, thinly sliced
- cheddar cheese
- tortilla strips
For the Cilantro Dressing
- 1 cup cilantro
- 1 large clove garlic
- salt and pepper, to taste
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- A squeeze of lime juice
- Prep: Prep all veggies as noted in the ingredient list. If using corn on the cob, cook the corn using your favorite method, and slice the cooked corn off the cob. Substitute canned or frozen corn if desired.
- Make the Cilantro Lime Dressing: Place all cilantro lime dressing ingredients in a food processor and blend until combined. You may need to add an extra splash of water or olive oil to help it blend up.
- Season + Cook the Taco Meat: Mix together the taco seasonings Add the ground beef to a skillet over medium heat, and begin breaking it up with a wooden spoon. Cook the meat until browned through. Combine the water and flour in a small jar and shake until mixed together. Add this to the taco meat, and cook, stirring, for another 4-6 minutes. This will make the meat nice and saucy. Once the meat is done, remove from the heat, and add to your salads!
- Assemble: You can put all the ingredients out in individual bowls for a build-your-own taco salad situation, or you can build the salad in a serving bowl (pictured) and serve it that way!
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