Taco Salad with crisp lettuce, seasoned ground meat, and all your favorite taco fixings tossed in a fantastic ranch salsa dressing. It’s great for quick lunches, potlucks or family picnics!
Taco Salad is my go-to for easy weeknight dinners. It’s so simple to put together and makes for a truly satisfying meal without a lot of effort.
It’s great for quick lunches and always a hit at potlucks or picnics. You may also want to check out my trash bag version if you’re planning to serve a large crowd.
How to Make Taco Salad
This taco salad recipe has four parts, the seasoned meat, the crisp tortilla strips, the veggies and toppings, and the special dressing. The steps are so easy and simple; you can have dinner ready in thirty minutes or less.
Step 1: Cooking the Taco Meat
- After browning the ground beef, make sure to drain the grease very well as it will harden to an unsavory film of fat when the meat cools.
- To season one pound of ground beef, I use 1-ounce packet of taco seasoning but feel free to use homemade if you like.
- Allow the taco meat to cool a little as the steam and heat will wilt the lettuce.
Step 2: Frying Crispy Tortilla Strips
- Days-old corn tortillas are best for making fried tortilla strips. To help fry them into a nice crisp, leave them out uncovered overnight or arrange them in a single layer on a baking sheet and bake in a 200 F oven for about 8 to 10 minutes to dry out.
- Use oil with a high smoke point such as canola, safflower or grapeseed oil. Make sure the oil temperature is at 350 F to 375 F. Too hot, and the chips will brown too quickly, too low and they’ll absorb more grease.
- Remove the chips from the oil a shade lighter than you like as they will continue to brown in the residual heat. They’ll be a little flexible in the middle but will crisp up as they cool.
- Want to skip the frying? Brush the corn tortillas with oil, cut into wedges, and arrange in single layer on a baking sheet. Bake in a 350 F oven for about 8 to 12 minutes, rotating the pan at the 8-minute mark, until crispy and dry.
- If you want to forgo making the tortilla strips altogether, you can find crispy strips in small packages at the salad section of major grocery stores. You can also use crushed corn chips or Doritos if you prefer.
Step 3: Preparing Lettuce and Salad Toppings
- I prefer romaine lettuce over iceberg as I find it sturdier and holds up better when tossed with the meat and the assorted toppings.
- To prevent the avocados from browning too quickly, lightly drizzle with lemon juice.
- If you want to add a smoky layer of flavor, pan roast the thawed corn kernels in a lightly-oiled skillet over medium-high heat until nicely charred.
Step 4: Making the Taco Salad Dressing
- You can use Catalina, French, Italian, Ranch or any of your favorite dressing but I especially love the zesty flavors of this ranch-salsa dressing with a simple mix of Ranch dressing, salsa, and chopped cilantro.
- You can prep all the ingredients ahead of time, but I suggest to store them separately and assemble the salad and toss in the dressing when ready to serve.
With crisp romaine lettuce, seasoned ground beef, buttery avocados, and delicious taco fixings, this ultimate taco salad a smorgasbord of flavor and texture. It’s a hearty and satisfying meal everyone will love!
Give it a try for dinner tonight and let me know what you think in the comments below. Enjoy!
Ultimate Taco Salad with Ranch Salsa Dressing
- 1/2 cup canola oil
- 2 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
- 1 small onion, peeled and chopped
- 1 pound ground beef
- 1 package (1 ounce) taco seasoning mix
- 3/4 cup water
- 2 romaine lettuce, dark outer leaves removed and chopped to 1-inch size (about 6 cups)
- 4 corn tortillas, cut into short, thin strips
- 2 avocados, pitted and sliced
- 1 cup frozen corn, thawed
- 1 cup garbanzo beans
- 1/2 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
- 1/4 cup pitted olives, sliced
- 1/2 cup Cheddar Jack cheese, shredded
For Ranch-Salsa Dressing
- 1 cup Ranch dressing
- 1/4 cup salsa
- 1 tablespoon cilantro, chopped
- In a large skillet over medium heat, heat about 1 tablespoon oil. Add onions and garlic and cook until softened.
- Add ground beef and cook, breaking apart with the back of the spoon, until browned. Drain meat well.
- Add taco seasoning and water and stir to combine. Bring to a boil.
- Lower heat, cover, and simmer, stirring occasionally, for about 15 to 20 minutes or until meat is cooked and liquid is mostly reduced. Allow to slightly cool.
- In a pan over medium heat, heat the remaining oil. Add tortilla strips and stir to prevent from sticking. Fry for about 1 to 2 minutes or until crisp and golden. With a slotted spoon, remove from pan and drain on paper towels.
- Place lettuce in a large serving bowl. Layer taco meat on top.
- Arrange tomatoes, garbanzo beans, corn, sliced olives, and over avocados over meat. Sprinkle cheese.
- When ready to serve, garnish with fried tortilla strips and drizzle with dressing. Toss to combine and serve immediately.
For the Ranch-Salsa Dressing
- In a bowl, combine Ranch dressing, salsa, and cilantro. Stir until blended.