Try this ground beef taco salad for a mess-free Tex-Mex meal!
Normally, the idea of salad does NOT excite me. But if the word salad is preceded by “ground beef taco…”
Ground Beef Taco Salad
Well, now, that’s a different story.
This salad is just tacos in a bowl! It has all the necessary ingredients, including savory beef, lettuce, and cheese- the works. Plus, Catalina dressing.
But it’s so much less messy. I like my tacos in my mouth, not on the table!
Every bite is delicious. How could it not be? With ingredients like seasoned ground beef, tortilla chips, and all your favorite taco mix-ins.
Even picky eaters won’t mind eating this salad for lunch or dinner. It’s just so darn good!
Plus, you can customize the ingredients. Just like a taco!
You’re free to customize your taco salad as you please with your favorite Mexican toppings and mix-ins.
But don’t skip these essential ingredients:
Ground Beef: Any kind works, but my ground beef of choice is 85/15. I find it has a nice balance of lean and fat.
You can also use ground turkey or chicken for a leaner salad.
Taco Seasoning: The seasoning is for the beef. You can make your own taco seasoning, but store-bought taco seasoning is also great!
Use low-sodium seasoning to help control how much salt goes into the dish. You can always season the beef with more salt if necessary.
- To make your own taco seasoning, you’ll need several spices:
- They are paprika, cumin, chili powder, coriander, dried oregano, onion powder, salt, and pepper.
- Add cayenne pepper or red chili flakes for heat!
Iceberg Lettuce: While you can use leafy greens for this salad, I prefer iceberg or romaine lettuce. Their distinct crunch gives the salad more character.
Be sure to chop them up into small bits for a better bite. You can also shred it if that is easier for you.
Cheddar Cheese: I like to shred the cheese myself because it’s more flavorful. But pre-shredded cheese works in a pinch.
I use cheddar, but I imagine a Mexican cheese blend will taste fantastic. You can try pepper jack for a nice kick. And queso fresco is absolutely delicious!
Nacho-Flavored Tortilla Chips: Chips give the salad a nice crunchy element reminiscent of hard-shell tacos. Pick any brand and flavor you like! My go-to for this recipe is Doritos.
Catalina Salad Dressing: This dressing features ketchup, sugar, vinegar, oil, Worcestershire sauce, ground mustard, and cayenne pepper.
It has a lovely balance of sweet, tangy, savory, and spicy.
You can make it yourself, or get a bottle from the grocery store.
How to Make Ground Beef Taco Salad
The best thing about ground beef taco salad is it only takes 20 minutes to make! Once the ground beef is ready, it’s just a matter of assembling the salad.
You’ll find detailed instructions at the bottom of the post, but here’s the highlights:
1. Cook the ground beef.
- Add the ground beef to a skillet over medium heat. Stir the meat to break it into pieces and cook until no longer pink.
- Drain the liquid and mix in taco seasoning and water.
- Let the mixture simmer until the sauce is thick. Set aside to cool.
2. Prepare the salad accouterments.
- Chop the lettuce, crush the tortilla chips, shred the cheese, and ready the dressing.
3. Assemble the salad.
- Toss together chopped lettuce, shredded cheese, crushed tortilla chips, Catalina dressing, and taco beef.
- Top with your favorite Mexican mix-ins.
Enjoy it as a light meal. Or pair it with chicken fajitas, Spanish rice, elote, or any Mexican dish. Serve it with chips for a delicious, scoopable treat!
Recipe Tips & Tricks
- Make the salad your own. Add corn salsa, black beans, avocado, sour cream, or pico de gallo.
- Change up the protein. This is one of my go-to shredded beef recipes, but it also works with chicken or turkey.
- Use pre-washed salad greens. It’ll speed up the prep and give you more variety.
- Add some heat. A few chopped jalapeños will do the trick.
- Make it veggie-friendly. Skip the cheese and replace the ground beef with 2-3 cups of beans.
How to Store
Ground beef taco salad is best served right away. But if you already know you’ll have leftovers, don’t toss the components together just yet.
Instead, assemble only what you can finish and store the ingredients in separate containers.
That way, the lettuce will stay crisp and the tortilla chips crunchy. It also makes reheating the beef easier.
To Store: Place individual salad components – beef, lettuce, tortilla chips, dressing, etc. – in separate airtight containers. Be sure the meat has cooled before storing.
Store everything but the tortilla chips in the fridge for up to 4 days. The tortilla chips can be stored at room temperature.
To Reheat: Reheat the ground beef on the stove at medium-low heat until warmed through. Or microwave for 1 minute.
Allow the meat to cool slightly before assembling the salad.
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