Taco Salad Recipe – WellPlated.com

This easy Taco Salad recipe is everything you love about taco night, transformed into a wholesome meal! Start with seasoned ground turkey or ground beef, pile on your favorite taco toppings—crisp lettuce, black beans, cheese, avocado, and crunchy tortilla strips—then drizzle on the best creamy taco salad dressing.

a large bowl of taco salad with toppings

Why You’ll Love This Easy Taco Salad Recipe

  • You Love Tacos. From the lean ground meat, to the homemade taco seasoning, to all of the best taco fixin’s, this Mexican-inspired recipe has it all, just in a different (salad) form.
  • It’s Legitimately Satisfying. No wimpy salads here! High in protein and fiber, it packs a wide array of filling ingredients like ground turkey (or ground beef), cheese, avocado, and black beans. This salad is a main dish in its own right.
  • Better (and Better for You!) than a Restaurant. Most classic restaurant taco salads are doused in heavy, high-calorie dressings and overdo it on the high-fat toppings (the giant fried taco shell doesn’t help either). When you make your own homemade taco salad, it’s better, fresher, and can be legitimately healthy.
  • Meal Prep Dream. In addition to its nutritious ingredient lineup and robust flavor, the components of this taco salad last well in the refrigerator, making it ideal for meal prep.

Whether you’re looking to add more satisfying salad recipes to your repertoire or just love tacos (or both!), this healthy taco salad bowl will quickly become a favorite.

a bowl of easy taco salad with toppings

5 Star Review

“Love this taco salad! The seasoning is low in salt which I was looking for and so yummy and super easy to make for a busy mama!!”

— Whitney —

How to Make Taco Salad with Dressing

The Ingredients

For the Taco Salad

  • Spices. Skip the packet of taco seasoning, which is usually high in sodium. Instead, make a homemade taco seasoning that combines salt, pepper, chili powder, cumin, and garlic powder to season the ground turkey meat.
  • Ground Turkey. To create a lower-calorie taco salad recipe that still packs restaurant-worthy satisfaction, I used ground turkey. It’s equally as delicious here as seasoned ground beef! The best taco meat!

Substitution Tip

Other healthy protein swaps include ground chicken or plant-based meat crumbles if you’d like to make a vegan or vegetarian taco salad; or try this vegetarian Mexican Salad recipe. Leftover Crockpot Mexican Chicken is also a delicious and easy way to make chicken taco salad.

If you prefer ground beef taco salad, a lean ground beef works well here (don’t miss this line up of more easy Ground Beef Dinner Ideas!).

  • Romaine Lettuce. The crisp and fresh base for our salad.
  • Black Beans. A true super food! Making taco salad with beans gives it a creamy element and make it more satisfying. (My Instant Pot Black Beans would be perfect here; canned work too, of course.)

Substitution Tip

A can of low-sodium pinto beans could be swapped for the black beans if you prefer their taste and texture.

  • Corn. I use convenient canned Mexican-style corn and loved the additional flavors it adds to the salad.
  • Tomatoes. A handful of cherry tomatoes, grape tomatoes, or chopped Roma tomatoes adds bursts of flavor.

For the Taco Salad Dressing

  • Salsa. So simple but so delish! To make the BEST taco salad dressing, start with your favorite salsa, then add a creamy element.
  • Greek Yogurt. A healthy swap for sour cream, it makes this easy taco salad dressing creamy.

Taco Salad Toppings – Use Some or All!

  • Tortilla Strips. One of the secrets to making a really great taco salad is adding crunch. In place of fried tortilla chips, I use oven-baked strips of tortillas.
  • Doritos. In a hurry? Want to add some extra flavor? Make this taco salad recipe with Doritos!
  • Avocado. The creamy, nutrient-packed ingredient that we all love! Or, add a scoop of the best Homemade Guacamole.
  • Jalapenos. Use fresh for the most kick or Pickled Jalapenos for a more mellow experience.
  • Green Onions. Or swap chopped red onion or Quick Pickled Onions.
  • Cheese. I love sharp cheddar. Queso fresco is a great option too.
  • Black Olives. These give me complete taco joint feels!
  • Other Vegetables. Pico de gallo, fresh corn, mushrooms, Roasted Sweet Potatoes, sliced jicama, or bell peppers would all be delish.

Market Swap

Tacos salads are endlessly versatile. Feel free to change up the topping with the seasons and toss in whatever you enjoy and have on hand.

The Directions

baking tortilla strips for taco salad
  1. Bake the Tortilla Strips. Make sure they’re crispy!
browning ground turkey for healthy taco salad
  1. Cook the Ground Turkey. Brown it with the spices.
taco salad dressing recipe
  1. Dress the Lettuce. Stir together the dressing ingredients, and top lettuce with part of the dressing.
healthy and filling taco salad ingredients in a large bowl
  1. Combine. Add the salad ingredients.
taco salad with turkey, corn, and beans
  1. Finish. Toss to combine, sprinkle with tortilla strips, and serve. ENJOY!

Storage Tips

  • To Store. Once assembled and dressed, the salad is best eaten within a few hours of serving. However, the deconstructed elements of this salad may be stored separately in airtight containers for 2-4 days in the fridge. Even dressed, this salad isn’t too bad the next day.
  • To Reheat. Leftovers of the seasoned ground turkey may be warmed in the microwave, in a covered container, until steaming.

Meal Prep Tip

  • To make ahead, chop the veggies and cook the turkey in advance, storing them individually in the refrigerator.
  • You can quickly assemble individual portions and add any other toppings you desire throughout the week.
  • If your plan is to prep this salad for lunches throughout the week, I recommend storing the salad in divided meal prep containers and then tossing everything together with the dressing when ready to serve.
easy and healthy bowl of taco salad with turkey and toppings

What to Serve with Taco Salad

  • Baking Sheets. These are an invaluable tool for your kitchen. I use them to bake up the tortilla strips in this recipe.
  • Measuring Cups. An ideal way to measure AND mix your ingredients for salad dressing, without getting another bowl dirty. Plus, they can go in the microwave and dishwasher.
  • Skillet. For cooking up all of that perfectly seasoned ground turkey.

Recipe Tips and Tricks

  • Make Sure the Tortilla Strips Are Evenly Coated With Oil. The oil is what makes them crispy and delightful! I use my hands to toss the tortilla strips with the oil because I find it’s much more effective than trying to use a wooden spoon or spatula.
  • Let the Taco Meat Cool Just a Touch. You don’t want it cold, but you don’t want to turn off the heat and dump the meat directly onto the lettuce either. If the taco meat is super hot, the lettuce will wilt and lose all of its texture. You want a happy medium here so the ground meat warms up the salad without cooking all of the other ingredients.
  • Adjust for Picky Eaters. Instead of tossing all of the ingredients together, you can put together a taco salad bar and let everyone assemble their own salads with their choice of ingredients.
fresh and filling taco salad recipe in a large bowl

For the Taco Salad:

  • 2 fajita-size flour tortillas (or swap for corn tortillas to make gluten free)
  • 2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil divided
  • 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt divided
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper divided
  • 1 pound 93% lean ground turkey
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 head romaine lettuce roughly chopped
  • 1 (15-ounce) can reduced-sodium black beans rinsed and drained
  • 1 (11-ounce) can Mexican-style corn drained
  • 2 cups cherry tomatoes halved
  • 1 medium ripe avocado peeled, pitted, and diced
  • 1 cup loosely packed cilantro leaves chopped
  • 1/2  cup reduced-fat sharp cheddar cheese shredded
  • 1/4 cup green onions thinly sliced

For the Salsa Yogurt Dressing:

  • 1/4 cup salsa (store-bought or homemade)
  • 1/4 cup nonfat plain Greek yogurt

  • Place a rack in the center of your oven, and preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. Coat a large rimmed baking sheet with nonstick spray.

  • Stack the tortillas and cut them in half, then slice each half into 1/2-inch strips. Scatter the strips in the middle of the prepared baking sheet. Drizzle with 1 teaspoon olive oil, then sprinkle with 1/4 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Toss to coat, then spread them into a single layer.

  • Bake until golden brown and crisp, about 8 minutes, turning halfway through. Set aside to cool.

  • Meanwhile, in a large, nonstick skillet, heat the remaining 1 teaspoon olive oil over medium-high. Add the turkey, chili powder, cumin, garlic powder, and remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Break up the meat and stir with a spoon until it is cooked through; about 5 minutes.

  • In a small bowl, stir together the salsa and Greek yogurt to make the dressing.

  • Place the romaine in a large serving bowl. Top with 1/4 cup of the salsa-yogurt mixture, the turkey, black beans, corn, tomatoes, avocado, cilantro, cheese, and green onions. Toss lightly to combine, then sprinkle the tortilla strips over the top. Serve immediately with remaining salsa-yogurt dressing as desired.

  • GLUTEN FREE OPTION: To make the recipe gluten free, swap corn tortillas in place of the flour tortillas. Check the baking time a few minutes early, as the corn tortillas may crisp more quickly.
  • MAKE AHEAD: Store the cooked ground turkey in the refrigerator for up to 4 days, the corn and black beans in a separate container for up to 4 days, the dressing in a container for up to 4 days, and the chopped tomatoes in a container for up to 3 days. Washed, chopped lettuce can also be stored in the crisper drawer for 2 to 3 days. Warm the turkey and assemble the salad just before serving.
  • TO STORE: Once assembled and dressed, the salad is best eaten within a few hours of serving. However, the deconstructed elements of this salad may be stored separately in airtight containers for 2-4 days in the fridge.

Serving: 1(of 4) without dressingCalories: 596kcalCarbohydrates: 65gProtein: 40gFat: 23gSaturated Fat: 5gPolyunsaturated Fat: 5gMonounsaturated Fat: 11gTrans Fat: 1gCholesterol: 87mgPotassium: 1699mgFiber: 18gSugar: 9gVitamin A: 15204IUVitamin C: 42mgCalcium: 236mgIron: 8mg

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