This flavorful main-dish salad, ready in just 30 minutes, makes a great alternative to traditional tacos.
There's no need for a dressing (although you could certainly add some if you wish). Simply mix in salsa, guacamole, and sour cream.
When you crave tacos and don't feel like making cheddar taco shells, this tasty salad is a great option. You get all the wonderful flavors, sans the shells. I truly don't think you're going to miss them at all - this salad is so rich and satisfying.
One of the best things about this salad is the gorgeous presentation. I do end up mixing everything together in a huge bowl, but I highly recommend bringing it to the table first in all its glory, its ingredients artfully arranged on a large serving plate, then taking it back to the kitchen to mix.
The exact measurements for making this tasty salad are included in the recipe card below. Here are my comments and tips about a few of the ingredients you'll need:
Lean ground beef: I like to use an 85/15 mixture. I have experimented with lower-fat meat (90/10) and have determined that it's too dry and not as flavorful.
Taco seasoning: You can make your own or use store-bought seasoning - just make sure it doesn't contain sugar.
Condiments: Salsa, guacamole, and sour cream. They are so rich and flavorful when mixed into the salad that there's truly no need for a separate salad dressing.
Taco salad makes a quick, tasty weeknight dinner. And it's very easy to make. Simply sauté the beef with onions and spices, then build your salad.
The detailed instructions are listed in the recipe card below. Here's an overview of the steps:
Cook the beef in some oil, then add the garlic and the seasonings. That's it for the cooking part!
Now, on a large serving plate, arrange the cooked seasoned beef with the remaining ingredients. That's it! Your tasty salad is ready.
Bagged salad greens and store-bought salsa and guacamole make this recipe especially quick. And you can obviously use store-bought taco seasoning instead of mixing your own spices.
Frequently asked questions
It's up to you! I like to make a layered salad, as shown in the photos - it's just so pretty. After I present it, I take it back to the kitchen and mix everything together.
But if you prefer, you can put everything in a big salad bowl and make a mixed salad.
I actually don't use dressing. The toppings - salsa, guacamole, and sour cream - work beautifully as a tasty dressing when mixed into the salad.
If you would like to make a dressing, I suggest whisking together 2 tablespoons olive oil, 2 tablespoons lime juice, 2 tablespoons sour cream, 1 teaspoon minced garlic, ½ teaspoon ground cumin, and ¼ teaspoon sea salt.
You can use whatever you like! A bag of mixed salad greens is fine and very easy. If you prefer to buy a head of lettuce and shred it yourself, you can use iceberg lettuce for its crispness and mild flavor.
Romaine is another good option, and while it's not as crispy as iceberg lettuce, it's more flavorful.
Here are a few ideas for you for varying the basic recipe:
- Use chicken instead of ground beef. You can bake a couple of large chicken breasts, then shred them and briefly saute them in oil with taco seasoning. Or use ground chicken or turkey.
- Vary the cheese you use - two good options are crumbled queso fresco and manchego.
- Use baby spinach leaves instead of lettuce.
- Replace the guacamole with sliced avocado.
- Use chopped green onions instead of red onions.
This is a main-dish salad that makes a full meal, so there's really no need for any sides. As mentioned above, you can serve it with a salad dressing if you wish. You can also serve it with thick slices of almond flour bread or with these cheese muffins.
You can't really keep leftovers from this salad, unfortunately. The problem ingredients here are the lettuce and the avocado. Both do not do so well as leftovers, so it's best to finish them up right away.
What you can do is keep the cooked ground beef separately if you made more than you need for the salad. Keep it in a sealed container in the fridge for up to 3 days, and reheat it in the microwave on 50% power.
Another option, if you'd like to make this salad as meal prep, is to prepare everything in advance except for the lettuce and guacamole and add those at the last minute.
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Easy Taco Salad
- 1 teaspoon Diamond Crystal kosher salt or ½ teaspoon sea salt
- 1 tablespoon chili powder
- 1 teaspoon onion powder
- 1 teaspoon coriander
- 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 1 tablespoon avocado oil
- 1 lb. lean ground beef
- 1 tablespoon minced fresh garlic
- 5 oz shredded lettuce
- ½ cup cherry tomatoes halved
- ¼ cup red onion thinly sliced
- 1 jalapeno seeded and sliced
- 1 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese
- ⅓ cup salsa
- ⅓ cup guacamole
- ⅓ cup sour cream
- Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat for about 2 minutes. Add the beef and cook, stirring and breaking up the meat as you cook, until it's browned, about 5 minutes. Drain, then return to the skillet.
- Add the garlic and the taco seasoning. Cook, stirring, for 2 more minutes, until the meat is well-coated. Turn the heat off.
- To make the salad, arrange the ingredients on a large serving plate as shown in the video and in the photos. Start with a layer of shredded lettuce, then arrange the remaining ingredients on top of the lettuce as shown.
- After presenting the beautiful salad, you can take it back to the kitchen, dump everything into a huge bowl, mix, and serve.