The Best Easy Taco Salad Recipe

Learn how to make the best easy taco salad recipe with fun ingredients like Thousand Island dressing and Nacho Cheese Doritos. This salad is perfect for potlucks, especially when you need to feed a crowd. Looking for a great easy main dish salad recipe to serve at your next gathering? You’re in the right place!

My Taco Salad Backstory

When I was growing up, my dear mom always tried to get me to eat tossed salads. I’m still not a big fan, but there are a few tossed salads I will always eat. One is the berry mandarin tossed salad I wrote about, and the other is taco salad. Over the years, the recipe has been refined, and today I’m offering the latest version to you. Read on to learn the secrets to making the best easy taco salad recipe.

The Best Taco salad Recipe you will ever make Pinterest image

***Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links, which means as an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases at no additional cost to you.*** Already know what you’d like to get from Amazon? Here’s a handy way to get to the website, linked to an easy and fun camping cookbook. Just click on the link, then browse around and do your shopping.

Take Me To Amazon!

Family Camping Tradition

We would often eat taco salad when camping. It was easy to prepare, and the ingredients were simple. Fast forward to when I had kids, and it became a family favorite. I still like to make it when camping, but now I’ve added a few simple shortcuts. I’ve also adjusted the recipe to fit individual preferences. This easy taco salad can be customized to fit a variety of preferences.

Ingredients

1/2 to 1 pound ground beef, browned, or leftover taco meat

1 head of lettuce, chopped

2 or 3 medium-sized tomatoes

1 15-ounce can kidney beans

1 cup grated cheddar cheese

8 ounces (about half a bottle) of Thousand Island with Bacon salad dressing (more or less to taste)

1 9 and 3/4 ounce bag of nacho cheese-flavored tortilla chips (Doritos is our favorite brand), crushed and divided (yes, the whole bag)

How to Make Taco Salad

Brown ground beef in a skillet, drain off fat and set aside. Alternatively, you could just add a container of pre-cooked ground meat mix, thawed. I wrote about cooking meat ahead of time and you’ll find the ground meat mix in my favorite kitchen shortcuts post.

Cooking the ground beef for the best easy taco salad
I had some meat mix ready to use, so I just warmed the meat up in the skillet.

If you do need to brown ground beef, put the other salad ingredients together while it’s cooking to save time.

Chop one head of lettuce into bite-sized pieces. Put the lettuce into a large salad bowl.

Chop the tomatoes and add them to the salad bowl.

Open the can of kidney beans, rinse and drain in a colander. Add to the salad bowl.

Add the cooked ground beef or ground meat mix.

Grate the cheddar cheese and add to the salad bowl.

Open the bag of Doritos tortilla chips and crush them in the bag. Keep squeezing the bag until chips are the size you want.

easy taco salad tortilla chips divided
The best easy taco salad recipe includes dividing the tortilla chips. Some go in the salad, some are on the side.

Add one half of the bag to the salad bowl. Reserve the other half of the bag in a separate bowl for topping the salad later.

easy taco salad ready to be tossed
The best easy taco salad ready to be tossed

Toss all of the ingredients together until mixed. Add the salad dressing and stir until all of the salad has been coated.

best easy taco salad recipe complete
Completed taco salad: When making it for the photo shoot I omitted the beans. It just works out better that way in our family.
The Best Easy Taco Salad Recipe You Will Ever Make featured image

The Best Easy Taco Salad

The best easy taco salad recipe you will ever make has simple ingredients and some shortcuts to cut down on prep time. It can be ready in 20 minutes!
5 from 6 votes
Prep Time 20 mins
Total Time 20 mins
Course Main Course
Cuisine American
Servings 8
Calories 280 kcal

Ingredients
  

  • ½-1 pound ground beef browned, or leftover taco meat
  • 1 head lettuce chopped into bite-sized pieces
  • 2-3 medium tomatoes chopped
  • 1 15-ounce can kidney beans rinsed and drained
  • 8 ounces Thousand Island with Bacon dressing more or less to taste
  • ounces bag of nacho cheese-flavored tortilla chips crushed and divided

Instructions
 

  • Brown ground beef in a skillet, drain off fat and set aside. Put the other salad ingredients together while it’s cooking to save time.
  • Chop one head of lettuce into bite-sized pieces. Put the lettuce into a large salad bowl.
  • Chop the tomatoes and add them to the salad bowl.
  • Open the can of kidney beans, rinse and drain in a colander. Add to the salad bowl.
  • Add the cooked ground beef.
  • Grate the cheddar cheese and add to the salad bowl.
  • Open the bag of tortilla chips and crush them in the bag. Keep squeezing the bag until chips are the size you want.
  • Add one half of the bag to the salad bowl. Reserve the other half of the bag in a separate bowl for topping the salad later.
  • Toss all of the ingredients together until mixed. Add the salad dressing and stir until all of the salad has been coated.
Keyword easy recipes, salads

How to Save Time When Making Taco Salad

I already noted my shortcut of adding in ground meat mix. Another favorite shortcut is to use pre-shredded cheese. If you are very short on time, you could use a large container of pre-washed salad mix instead of the head of lettuce.

What is the Best Dressing to Use With Taco Salad?

I made this discovery by accident. In a hurry, as usual, I went to the store to buy Thousand Island dressing, and grabbed the Thousand Island dressing with bacon by mistake. I realized it after I arrived home and didn’t feel like driving back into town, as we live a few miles out. Oh my goodness! That was one of the best mistakes I ever made. If you haven’t ever tried it, I encourage you to give it a whirl. Some people use Catalina dressing in taco salad, but my very favorite is now Thousand Island with Bacon. Of course, if you can’t find Thousand Island with Bacon, regular Thousand Island dressing is fine as well.

What Goes Well with Taco Salad?

The best easy taco salad recipe goes well with garlic bread. If you like to make homemade rolls, it’s great with those as well. If you prefer regular French or Italian bread without the garlic, those are excellent choices.

Should Taco Salad be Warm or Cold?

Usually, when I make taco salad and serve it for dinner, it gets eaten immediately. It’s usually warm because we can’t wait to eat it. However, if there is some left, it’s delicious cold as well when eaten as leftovers.

Making Taco Salad For a Crowd

The recipe can be doubled, but I would recommend mixing it in two large salad bowls. The one I usually make our taco salad in is the Tupperware 26-cup capacity size, marked with a “V” on the bottom.

 

If you decide to double the recipe, it would be easier to mix each salad separately. In fact, if your crowd is very large, you can do as many bowls as you wish. After you mix the salad, you could always combine the separate bowls into a huge serving bowl if needed.

Can Taco Salad be Made Ahead of Time?

You can definitely make this best easy taco salad recipe ahead of time. If you make it a few hours in advance, the lettuce should still be fairly crisp. That’s why it’s so nice to take to summer picnics and potlucks. It holds up well in transport, and everyone seems to like it. As long as you reserve some tortilla chips in a separate container for topping when served, the salad will retain its crunch.

Variations to Please Family Members

Originally, when I was growing up, we only crushed about half of a bag of Doritos tortilla chips. We added them all to the salad. They were still crunchy when we ate the salad right away. When we ate the leftovers the next day, the chips were soggy. This bothered some of my family members. They did not like soggy chips. That’s when I started using the whole bag of chips and reserving half for each person to add as a topping if desired. You can never have too many Doritos tortilla chips, right? Everyone was happy!

The next variation is to leave the beans out. Sometimes we serve them on the side for people to add as they wish. Sometimes we forget about them entirely. The nice thing about this recipe is that it does lend itself well to customization.

You can also customize the cheese blend or tortilla chip flavor. Monterey Jack cheese is tasty, and if you ever see taco-flavored chips, you might want to try those.

Are You Now Craving the Best Easy Taco Salad Recipe?

Are you thinking of making it sometime soon? I am going to make it tonight. If you have any favorite salad recipes, I’d enjoy knowing about them. Maybe I will become a salad eater after all. If you try this recipe, I’d appreciate it if you let me know how it went. I’m always interested in your variations, ideas, and suggestions.

More Meal Inspiration

It’s always nice to have a plan when it comes to meals. If you’re looking for a way to get more organized with your menu ideas, I’ve got something for you. Free, editable meal planners! The templates can be used over and over, as often as you need them. You can make as many duplicates as you like, and you’ll be able to save old meal plans for future reference. I hope it simplifies things for you.

editable meal plan templates free offer

Get my digital, editable, printable templates!

 

 

If you would like even more recipe ideas, consider following my Easy Recipes board on Pinterest. Have a fabulous day, and have a good time making salads.

First Name Signature Conclusion

 

More Easy Salad Recipes

25 thoughts on “The Best Easy Taco Salad Recipe”

  1. 5 stars
    Tacos are a favorite in our home. I’ve tried taco salad before with broken shells, but now I have this recipe to rely on!!! I know it will be a hit. Thanks for sharing.

    Reply
    • You are most welcome! I would love to know what your family thinks of this family favorite.

      Reply
  2. 5 stars
    Great recipe! So easy to make and the whole family will love it! Thank you

    Reply
    • You are most welcome! I love to make this taco salad recipe for many occasions.

      Reply
  3. 5 stars
    Thanks for sharing this easy taco salad recipe, Lisa! I love tacos but have never thought about a salad. I love your tips and meal recipes!

    Reply
    • Oh, thank you so much. This taco salad recipe is the one salad my kids would look forward to eating.=)

      Reply
  4. I love taco salad, one of my go-to meals when I was hungry for salad. Can you substitute dressing for this recipe, My son is a picky eater.

    Reply
    • Yes, if there is a certain dressing your son prefers, definitely substitute his favorite dressing. You could also serve the salad without dressing and have everyone add their own.

      Reply
  5. Yum! Tacos seem to show up on our dinner table several times every month. We like Taco Tuesdays. They are easy, and delicious! No one at my house can say no to a good taco or taco salad.

    Reply
    • I share in your enthusiasm for all things taco-related!

      Reply
  6. I love tacos! We recently made some at home. We branched off and got more adventurous. Instead of buying an easy and ready to go kit, we bought all the ingredients separate and purchased taco seasoning. We used black beans in place of meat and had a vegan cheese. The idea of a taco salad sounds really fun and easy! We will have to try this next!

    Reply
    • Great! If you ever want to share your vegan adaptations of this recipe or any recipe, just let me know and I’ll link back to your blog.

      Reply
  7. I love Mexican food! Can’t wait to try this recipe! Thank you!

    Reply
    • You’re welcome! Thanks for the enthusiastic response.

      Reply
  8. This sounds good and so easy to throw together! This is the one type of salad my kids can get into. Thank you for sharing your recipe. I’m always looking for something the whole family will enjoy.

    Reply
    • I hope they will enjoy it. Thanks for the kind words.

      Reply
  9. 5 stars
    Taco + salad = perfection! Thanks for sharing this recipe! This is the best of both worlds.

    Reply
    • You are very welcome! I’m glad you like the post.

      Reply
  10. Love Taco Salads! It is one of my favorite Keto meals. I skip the chips and the salad dressing to lower my carb count. Great macro nutrients! Thanks for sharing!

    Reply
    • Thanks for the keto tips! I’ll have to try your keto version sometime.

      Reply
  11. 5 stars
    We love taco salad! We’ve never tossed it in pre-crushed chips before or used thousand island dressing! Love those ideas! Pre-crushed chips are also the best way to eat chili pie too! This is so easy and sounds delicious- we will definitely try it!

    Reply
    • Great! If you do try it, I’d love to know what you think.

      Reply
  12. This looks fantastic. I would have never thought to put Thousand Island dressing in a taco salad, very interesting! I will have to give this one a try.

    Reply
    • Thank you for the positive words! You share awesome recipes, so your praise means a lot to me.

      Reply
  13. 5 stars
    Such an easy recipe! I know I will make it often.

    Reply

Leave a Comment

Recipe Rating




This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Skip to content