The Ultimate Taco Salad Recipe (2024)

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The ULTIMATE Taco Salad recipe! My recipe makes an easy dinner in under 30 minutes! Loaded with all of your favorite taco ingredients as well as a simple, three-ingredient dressing. This recipe is great for customizing with your favorite taco add-ins!

The Ultimate Taco Salad Recipe (1)

One of the greatest strains on my marriage is Zach’s complete and utter lack of respect for Taco Tuesday.

“They’re too much work”, he complained the first few Tuesdays of our marriage, revealing the heart of a man who clearly prefers his dinner assembled before it reaches the table.

So Taco Tuesday in our house is now more of a Taco-every-third-Tuesday thing, and even though we just celebrated 12 years together, sometimes I’m not even sure how we made it this far with priorities so clearly misaligned.

Fortunately, there is one saving grace that we can both agree on, and that’s Taco Salad.

Even though I don’t mind the chance to assemble my own tacos, I do have to admit that there’s something really nice about just throwing everything together in a bowl and chowing down, no additional assembly required.

The Ultimate Taco Salad Recipe (2)

What You Need

  • Cooked ground beef. You may substitute ground turkey or ground chicken, I typically use ground chicken.
  • Lettuce. Iceberg lettuce would work, but I prefer to use romaine.
  • Tomato. I use halved cherry or grape tomatoes. Chopped up romas or any tomato from your garden would work, though.
  • Onion. Red onion is recommended for best flavor but you can use your favorite variety.
  • Avocado(or top with some guacamole!)
  • Cilantro. I hate saying this, but if you’re one of those people who can’t stand cilantro, yes, you can leave this out.
  • Cheese. Sharp cheddar is great, but I’ve been dying to try with cotija cheese.
  • Jalapenos. Fresh or pickled will be fine, add according to the spiciness of your peppers as well as your own heat tolerance.
  • Taco seasoning. You may make your own or use store-bought. If using store-bought, keep in mind this recipe uses the seasoning for both flavoring the meat and for flavoring the dressing, so you’ll need two standard sized packets.

These are my staples for taco salad. Sometimes I will also mix in corns and or black beans, but I left them out of the base recipe because I don’t consider them to be quintessential taco ingredients.

If Zach had it his way, there would always be olives in it as well, but I’ll pass on the olives every. single. time (we have a very hostile border right down the center every time I make pizza or taco dip, no olives on my side!). It’s taking every ounce of restraint and every bit of my maturity to not put a grossed-out emoji right here right now.

The Ultimate Taco Salad Recipe (3)

An Easy 5-Second Dressing

My Taco Salad Dressing is made with just three ingredients:

  • Salsa. Use your favorite variety, or even my favorite homemade salsa.
  • Sour Cream. You can substitute plain Greek yogurt to make this a bit healthier.
  • Taco Seasoning.

I use a 1:1 ratio of salsa to sour cream as well as a spoonful of taco seasoning. I recommend using a medium salsa and one that’s not terribly thick.

The Ultimate Taco Salad Recipe (4)

More Recipes to Try:

  • The Best Chili Recipe
  • Texas Caviar
  • Broccoli Salad
  • Avocado Salsa


Let’s cook together! Don’t forget to watch the how-to VIDEO in the recipe card!

The Ultimate Taco Salad Recipe (5)

Taco Salad (Easy 30 Minute Dinner Option!)

How to make the ULTIMATE Taco Salad! So easy, ready in less than 30 minutes, this is a great and filling easy weeknight dinner option!

5 from 29 votes

Print Pin Rate

Course: Salad

Cuisine: American

Prep Time: 15 minutes minutes

Cook Time: 10 minutes minutes

Total Time: 25 minutes minutes

Servings: 8 servings

Calories: 331kcal

Author: Sam Merritt


  • 1 lb (455 g) ground beef
  • cup (155 ml) water
  • 1 packet (35 g) (or 3 Tablespoons) taco seasoning*
  • 6 cups (285 g) chopped romaine lettuce
  • 1 pint (185 g) cherry tomatoes halved
  • 1 avocado diced
  • cup (45 g) finely diced red onion
  • 1 ½ cups (170 g) sharp shredded cheddar cheese
  • cup (13 g) cilantro chopped
  • Jalapeno slices optional, use more or less depending on how hot you like things. I only used half of a sliced jalapeno for this recipe. You may use fresh or pickled.


  • ½ cup (120 g) sour cream
  • ½ cup (135 g) medium salsa
  • 1 ½ Tablespoons taco seasoning
  • broken corn chips optional**


  • Heat a medium-sized skillet over medium-high heat and add ground beef.

    1 lb (455 g) ground beef

  • Cook until browned and drain.

  • Add water and taco seasoning and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer until thickened.

    ⅔ cup (155 ml) water, 1 packet (35 g) (or 3 Tablespoons) taco seasoning*

  • Remove from heat and allow ground beef to cool for at least 15 minutes while you prepare the rest of your taco salad.

  • Combine chopped romaine lettuce, halved cherry tomatoes, diced avocado, diced red onion, cheddar cheese, cilantro, and jalapenos (if using) in a large bowl.

    6 cups (285 g) chopped romaine lettuce, 1 pint (185 g) cherry tomatoes, 1 avocado, ⅓ cup (45 g) finely diced red onion, 1 ½ cups (170 g) sharp shredded cheddar cheese, ⅓ cup (13 g) cilantro chopped, Jalapeno slices

  • Add (cooled) ground beef and toss ingredients together until well-combined. Meanwhile, prepare dressing.


  • Combine sour cream, salsa, and 1 ½ Tablespoons taco seasoning in a bowl and whisk until well-combined.

    ½ cup (120 g) sour cream, ½ cup (135 g) medium salsa, 1 ½ Tablespoons taco seasoning

  • Pour dressing over salad ingredients and toss until well-combined.

  • Serve, topped with crushed corn chips if desired. If not serving immediately, cover and keep refrigerated until ready to serve.

    broken corn chips


Feel free to add your favorite add-ins! We've added ½ cup of frozen sweet corn, half a can of (drained, rinsed) black beans, and olives to suit our flavor preferences!

*Please note that this recipe calls for taco seasoning for both cooking the ground beef and for making the dressing, so if you are using packets of taco seasoning you will need two packets

**Do not add the broken corn chips to the bowl of taco salad, just add it as a topping to individual servings. The corn chips will get soggy if left in with the other ingredients


Serving: 1serving (does not include corn chips) | Calories: 331kcal | Carbohydrates: 11g | Protein: 17g | Fat: 25g | Saturated Fat: 11g | Cholesterol: 70mg | Sodium: 712mg | Potassium: 588mg | Fiber: 4g | Sugar: 4g | Vitamin A: 4290IU | Vitamin C: 21mg | Calcium: 206mg | Iron: 3mg

Nutritional information is based on third-party calculations and should be considered an estimate only. Actual nutritional content will vary based upon brands used, measuring methods, cooking method, portion sizes, and more.

Tried this recipe? Show me on Instagram!Mention @SugarSpun_Sam or tag #sugarspunrun!

Recipe originally published July 20th 2018, updated to include more information and a video on July 29th 2020.

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Reader Interactions


  1. Christine Benakovich

    The Ultimate Taco Salad Recipe (6)
    Loved the salad!!! Can’t wait to try another recipe!!!


    • Sam

      I’m so glad everyone enjoyed it so much, Christine! 🙂


  2. Kelly

    The Ultimate Taco Salad Recipe (7)
    Really good! I had to adapt mine to be GF/DF.
    I used Siete brand mild taco seasoning packets, and their nacho cheese chips.
    Omitted the tomatoes, honestly, I forgot about them.
    Used chopped ice burg lettuce and a little cilantro.
    Used Violife shredded chedder cheese.
    For the dressing I used Kite Hill DF sour cream…love the dressing! Totally completes the salad!


  3. Pat

    The Ultimate Taco Salad Recipe (8)
    This taco salad is delicious! There’s only two of us so I keep the elements separate and make ‘fresh’ salads throughout the week. My husband and I just loved it. Very customizable too! Thank you yet again Sam for another delicious recipe!


  4. Cece

    The Ultimate Taco Salad Recipe (9)
    Yummy!!! My husband said it was the best taco salad he has ever had!!


  5. Zoie Penick

    The Ultimate Taco Salad Recipe (10)
    Hi Sam! My sister and I made this recipe today for dinner. It was delicious! The dressing was so good 😋Everything in the salad was great. The only thing we did differently, was we made our own taco seasoning. But overall everything else was great! My family is starting to fall in love with your recipes 🤪🤪🤪

    • Sam

      I’m so glad you enjoyed it so much, Zoie! Great job making your own taco seasoning as well. 🙂


    • JoMarie Burns

      That dressing was everything! The salad itself was good, but the dressing took it to another level! And it’s so simple! My vegetable aversion husband even loved it and asked me to please make it again. Thanks!


      • Sam

        I’m so glad you enjoyed it so much. 🙂

  6. Lakshmi Srirama

    How can I substitute beef with something vegetarian.


    • Sam

      Hi Lakshmi! You can use whatever you would typically place in tacos. 🙂


  7. Etta Mae Milhoan

    The Ultimate Taco Salad Recipe (11)
    I made this and my picky husband said now you can put this recipe in “favorite” recipe book. It was so very good. I shared it with y daughter and she loves it. She is a nurse and after a long day at the hospital, she enjoyed the leftovers. Fact is I do believe I will fix this for supper tonight. Thanks for this great recipe.


    • Sam

      I am so glad everyone enjoyed it so much! 😊


  8. RuthDetroitArea

    The Ultimate Taco Salad Recipe (12)
    I can tell you first-hand that there’s a lot of ‘wiggle room’ in this recipe!

    I decided to have a go at it without hitting the groc store first, so instead of romaine I used finely chopped iceburg, instead of cut-up cherry tomatoes I used well-drained & squeezed ‘diced fire roasted tomatoes’, and the freezer yielded a pound of ground turkey – no beef or rotis chicken to be found. Debated about adding olives/corn, which we both love, but I already had loads of salad.

    It would’ve been even more delicious if I had had some cilantro and avocado.

    I was able to make a dbl batch of that delicious dressing, and it makes a terrific dip with the left-over fritos.

    Thanks for another winner! ~ ruth

    p.s. I gave a copy of the recipe to my granddaughter, who leaves for an off-campus apartment in a few days, so maybe she’ll fix it when it’s her turn to cook for the roommates.


    • Sam

      That is one of the best parts of about this recipe, it’s so versatile! I’m glad you enjoyed it so much. 🙂


  9. Kay Pickering

    The Ultimate Taco Salad Recipe (13)
    Really, really good Sam!!! We are here in 115 degree Phoenix Arizona and the whole family said the word “refreshing”. Hubby is retired Phoenix Fireman and they always have taco salads…..this one is more than a winner!!!YUM, YUM.. Thank you. I used ground turkey, it was just so good and not to complicated in this hot weather to make!!!!!!


    • Sam

      I am so glad everyone enjoyed it so much, Kay! 🙂


  10. Debbie K

    I almost always use chopped rotisserie chicken instead of ground meat in taco salad. And we are definitely on the side of adding thawed frozen corn and black beans! My dressing is usually a mix of ranch dressing and salsa, which makes your dressing sound like a nice change. I will definitely give it a try next time! Thanks.


    • Sam

      Your salad sounds delicious too! I hope you love this version. 🙂


  11. Sarah

    This looks delicious and comes at a time when I’ve recently been craving a great taco salad! I look forward to trying this and am adding the ingredients that I’m currently out of to my next grocery list! You have no idea how many times I’ve been craving something but haven’t gotten around to making it or researching a good recipe and, lo and behold, you send me a recipe to my inbox. Perfect timing!


    • Sam

      What perfect timing indeed! I really hope you love it, Sarah! Thank you so much for commenting <3


  12. Cynthia garcia

    just tried this recipe me and my boyfriend just can’t get enough! it’s the best taco salad ever thanks for the recipe!


    • Sam

      I’m so glad you and your boyfriend enjoyed, Cynthia!! Thank you so much for commenting, I appreciate it 🙂


  13. Me

    The Ultimate Taco Salad Recipe (14)
    I’ve always made tacobsaladvlike this since my husband doesn’t like crunchy taco shells OR tortillas (crazy but I love him) but the salad dressing is so yummy and I never thought of that! Thx!! I do make my own salsa instead of store bought and it’s easy in a food processor! Use canned or fresh tomato’s, celery, onion, jalapeno deveined, garlic clove, fresh cilantro, tbsp taco seasoning, half jar of taco sauce or small can tomato sauce. I sometimes add extra cumin. Blend it up. Yum!


    • Sugar Spun Run

      Thank you. I am glad that you enjoyed it. 🙂


  14. Amy Ramadan

    The Ultimate Taco Salad Recipe (15)
    This is by far the BEST taco salad I have ever had!!!! I serve it in baked tortilla bowls and the whole family loves it!! We double the recipe and never have leftovers!! Thank you for a great recipe!!!


    • Sam

      I am so glad everyone enjoys the taco salad so much, Amy! 🙂


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The Ultimate Taco Salad Recipe (2024)


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