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In my kitchen, busy days equal easy, one-pan dinners that avoid the oven and don’t require keeping the stove on for too long. Salads are perfect for checking those boxes, but of course you still need some protein in there to make it a full meal. That’s where this easy and healthy taco salad recipe with ground beef comes in. It’s so fresh, flavorful, and uses simple ingredients — you’re going to love it!
Why You’ll Love This Taco Salad Recipe
- The best ground beef salad (it’s my most popular salad recipe!)
- Healthier take on tacos
- Totally customizable
- Ready in 20 minutes
- Naturally low carb and gluten-free
- Quick and easy one-bowl dinner
Ingredients & Substitutions
This section explains how to choose the best taco salad ingredients, what each one does, and substitution options. For measurements, see the recipe card below.
- Ground Beef – I prefer 85/15 for a ground beef taco salad, but you can use any kind you like. If you don’t like beef (or have any on hand), you can also replace this with ground turkey, ground chicken, or even chorizo or shredded chicken. I’ve also made this recipe before using barbacoa for the meat — just omit the taco seasoning.
- Avocado Oil – Just a bit for browning the beef. Olive oil works fine as well.
- Taco Seasoning – I like to make homemade taco seasoning and use 2 tablespoons per pound of meat. (It takes just 5 minutes to make with chili powder, cumin, salt, pepper, smoked paprika, dried oregano, garlic powder, onion powder, and cayenne pepper.) But, a store bought packet of taco seasoning saves time and is convenient. Check labels to avoid fillers and sugar if you can. I like this store bought seasoning, but it does not contain salt, so you’ll need to add 1 teaspoon of salt if your seasoning is unsalted.
- Romaine Lettuce – Romaine is my go to for taco salad recipes, but you can use any kind of greens you like. Iceberg lettuce is another classic option, though you could do something different with kale, arugula, or spinach if you want to.
- Grape Tomatoes – Served halved in the salad. I’ve also made this salad using cherry tomatoes, or chopped up larger tomatoes, such as Roma tomatoes. Pico de gallo also works well.
- Shredded Cheese – I usually use cheddar cheese, but you can also try a Mexican cheese blend, or pepper jack if you like a kick. You can omit if you want to avoid dairy.
- Avocado – Avocado is a must for a healthy taco salad! You can also swap this with guacamole if you like.
- Onions – I use green onions most often, but any kind you like will work. Diced red onions (the most classic option) or white onions both work great. You could also just throw in some fresh cilantro leaves instead if you’re not a fan of onions.
- Salsa – I like this pre-made one, which has medium heat and clean ingredients! Choosing different kinds is an easy way to get creative without adding complexity. Use mild salsa if you want it mellow, spicy if you want a kick, or go outside the box with more unique flavors like green chile or peach. You can totally make your own, too — try simple fresh tomato salsa, green salsa verde, or creamy avocado salsa verde.
- Sour Cream – Salsa and sour cream stand in lieu of a dressing here, which works out surprisingly well. Why spend time creating a complicated taco salad dressing, when these work just as well? When you mix it all up, it tastes like there’s dressing in there. If you need a dairy free option, swap the sour cream with coconut cream, a splash of lime juice, and a bit of salt.
How To Make Taco Salad
This section shows step-by-step photos together with the instructions, to help you visualize the recipe. For full instructions, including amounts and temperatures, see the recipe card below.
- Brown the beef. Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add ground beef and cook until browned. (You can drain grease if you need to, but I often find that the extra fat cooks away when using 85/15 ground beef.)
- Add the taco seasoning. Stir seasoning into the ground beef until combined. If you like, you can also add 1/4 cup of water when adding the seasoning and let it simmer a bit.
- Assemble the salad. Place the lettuce, tomatoes, cheese, avocado, onions, salsa, and sour cream into a large bowl. When the taco meat is done, add it to the bowl. Toss together and enjoy!
My Tools To Make It
- Heavy Bottom Skillet – One of my favorite sets! The larger one is the perfect size to make this recipe for taco salad, and has a heavy bottom for browning the beef evenly.
- Nesting Bowls – This set of bowls includes all different sizes. I used the large from this set to mix the salad in the pictures above.
Tips & Variations
- Drain the beef if needed. I don’t usually need to if using 85/15 or 90/10 ground beef, but you’ll probably want to if you use 80/20.
- Customize it to your liking. Ultimately, what goes in a taco salad is very much up to you. Feel free to throw in any other veggies you have on hand, or omit anything you don’t like. That’s one of the great things about simple salads — you don’t have to be that precise!
- Add crunch. Try adding tortilla chips if you want some crispy texture in there. (I make these low carb tortilla chips!)
- Want to make it more hearty? To make the salad more filling, add canned black beans, sweet corn, or black olives.
This taco salad recipe makes a generous amount — 6 large servings to feed even a larger family. But if you don’t need that many, don’t worry. It’s also super easy to adjust it to fewer servings if you need to, or store it for later if you plan ahead.
- Store: Keep leftovers in the fridge for up to 2-3 days. If you know you’ll have them, set extras aside without the sour cream, salsa, and avocado, as these are best added fresh. The beef is also best stored separately so that you can reheat it later.
- Reheat: Warm up the taco meat in a hot skillet or in the microwave before adding to the salad.
- Meal prep: Brown the meat with taco seasoning and chop all your taco salad ingredients. Store in meal prep containers, with the sour cream, salsa, and beef stored separately. Don’t cut the avocado ahead of time. Right before serving, heat the meat and add to the salad. Top with sour cream, salsa, and freshly cut avocado, and toss together.
More Healthy Mexican Recipes
If you have Mexican night (or Taco Tuesday!) at your house, this taco salad will fit right in. We rotate it with these other dishes, or sometimes even combine them with the salad:
- Wraps & Tacos – Made with my low carb tortillas or crispy cheese taco shells!
- Dips – Serve tortilla chips or veggies with layered taco dip, creamy queso, or fish ceviche.
- Fajitas – Choose from shrimp fajitas (the fastest!), chicken fajitas (my personal favorite!), or steak sheet pan fajitas (for a hands-off option).
- Stuffed Veggies – Like taco stuffed peppers or stuffed poblano peppers.
- Soups – For a soup and salad combo, try chili verde (inspired by one I had in Mexico) or Mexican chicken soup.
But this easy taco salad recipe is even simpler than all of those — and it’s still packed with all my fave Mexican flavors — so I make this one most of all. Don’t forget the skinny margaritas!
Taco Salad (Healthy & Easy!)
Learn how to make taco salad in just 20 minutes, using common ingredients! The whole family will love this EASY, healthy taco salad recipe.
Like this video? Subscribe to my YouTube cooking channel for healthy recipes!
Tap on the times in the instructions below to start a kitchen timer while you cook.
Stir taco seasoning into the ground beef until well combined. If you like, you can also add 1/4 cup of water when adding the seasoning and let it simmer a bit.
Meanwhile, combine all remaining ingredients in a large bowl. Add the ground beef. Toss everything together.
Did You Like It?
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Serving size: 1/6 of entire recipe
Recipe from The Easy Keto Carboholics’ Cookbook.
Nutrition information is estimated based on 85/15 ground beef and typical tomato salsa.
Nutrition facts are provided as a courtesy. Have questions about calculations or why you got a different result? Please see our nutrition policy.
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