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April 11, 2022

Taco Salad

The best taco salad recipe starts with seasoned beef and gets better from there, with toppings piled high—beans, corn, cheese, avocado and chips. Finish it off with taco salad dressing and DIG IN!


Homemade taco salad on a plate with ground beef, avocado and tortilla chips

TMP Presents—The Ultimate Taco Salad Recipe

Firmly in the realm of Tex-Mex cuisine (as opposed to authentically Mexican), classic taco salad—loaded with beans, taco meat (chicken or beef both work!), cheese, corn and yes, a little lettuce in the mix, too—is a form of comfort food for a lot of us. It’s kinda retro—taco salad as most of us know it seems to date back to the 1960s (and, more specifically, to Disneyland!)—and it’s just really gosh-darn satisfying. Taco salad is not what we’d call a health food, but hey, it has the word salad in it so it can’t be all bad (right?). And most of all, it’s so, so easy to make and just good to eat. Everything delicious in the world piled onto a bed of lettuce with the best taco salad dressing ever—hint, it starts with sour cream and salsa—well, there’s not a soul on earth who would turn down a dinner this yummy.

taco salad ingredients, romaine, cilantro, salsa, tortilla chips, jalapeno, sour cream ground beef, shredded cheese and corn

A Little Spicy, a Little Creamy, and a Lot Awesome. Meet the Best Taco Salad Dressing Ever

Honestly, this taco salad dressing recipe is downright fancy compared with what we grew up eating. The “classic” taco salad dressing is basically just salsa (store-bought, of course) and sour cream stirred together until a dressing-like consistency is achieved. And you know what?! That is actually pretty darn yummy. But we really wanted to be sure that we were making the ery best taco salad ever, and that meant really nailing this dressing recipe. So we dressed up the classic just a bit. It’s a little herby-er, a little spicier and, well, honestly a little better than the old school way of making taco salad dressing. We feel that it’s very true to the spirit of taco salad, it’s just better. To make this taco salad dressing, blend together:

  • Sour cream

  • Taco seasoning (this can be store-bought, but also you should really make it yourself because it’s so easy and so good.)

  • Lime juice

  • Salsa (this salsa recipe is our favorite for taco salad, but store-bought is fine! Use any degree of spiciness that you prefer).

  • Fresh jalapeño

  • Cilantro

Ground beef cooked in a skillet with taco seasoning

Ultra Classic Taco Salad Ingredients = Ultra Classic Taco Salad

Alright, you’ve whipped up the greatest taco salad dressing in the history of taco salad dressings (a history that you have some familiarity with now, yahoo!). And now it’s time to start actually making the taco salad. You decide if you’d rather make it with ground chicken or ground beef. Or, you could even leave the meat off and make it a vegetarian taco salad, if you’d like to! In addition to that, you’ll just need:

  • Black beans

  • Corn (canned corn is fine, but if you’ve got a few extra ears of grilled corn, cut the kernels off and use that! It’s a serious taco salad upgrade.)

  • Avocado

  • Shredded cheese

  • Romaine lettuce

  • Red onion

  • Tortilla chips

sour cream, taco seasoning, lime juice, salsa, minced jalapeño, cilantro and salt in food processor for taco salad dressing
sour cream, taco seasoning, lime juice, salsa, minced jalapeño, cilantro and salt in food processor for taco salad dressing

How to Make Taco Salad (With Beef or Chicken!)

A lovely, light, elegant composed salad this is not! Taco salad is not about pretty—it’s about deliciousness, period. You’ll assemble all of the components and toss it all together with a good amount of dressing until maximum stuffy-salad has been achieved. Each perfect bite will have a little bit of everything—beans, corn, avocado, a bit of cheese—and will be perfectly dressed in that sour cream-salsa dressing. And it’ll be heaven in a bowl. Here’s how to make the best taco salad you’ve ever had:

  1. Make the taco salad dressing! Whip up that dressing and pop it in the fridge until you’re ready for it. You could make it up to an hour or two ahead of time.

  2. Make the taco meat! Sauté the ground beef or chicken with taco seasoning and salsa until the meat is cooked through.

  3. Toss it all together! Let the meat cool to at least room temperature while you prep the rest of the taco salad ingredients, then toss everything together into one glorious, loaded taco salad!

  4. Dig in!

homemade taco salad recipe with corn, beans, tortilla chips, avocado and sour cream

What Goes With Taco Salad?

Taco salad is so full of protein and veggies, it’s a pretty complete meal all on its own—yet another thing to love about taco salad! But you can definitely round it out into a full Tex-Mex meal! Because our taco salad recipe is not served in a taco shell bowl, it’s definitely a good idea to serve some chips on the side for those who’d like them (aka everyone) and margaritas are always a good idea. Here’s our dream menu for taco salad night:

homemade taco salad recipe with corn, beans, tortilla chips, avocado and sour cream, cheese and ground taco meat
best taco salad recipe with on a plate with creamy sour cream salsa dressing.

Tools You’ll Need

More Salad-for-Dinner Recipes

Homemade taco salad on a plate with ground beef, avocado and tortilla chips

Please the Crowds! Make Taco Salad!

We won’t beat around the bush—this one is a slam-dunk. Try our taco salad recipe, and let us know how much everyone loved it, OK? Share a photo and tag us on Instagram using @themodernproper and #themodernproper so that we can see your stuff! Happy eating!

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Taco Salad

  • Serves: 6
  • Prep Time:  20 min
  • Cook Time:  15 min
  • Calories: 655


  • 1 large head romaine lettuce or 2 hearts, cut into bite-sized pieces
  • 3/4 cup shredded Mexican cheese blend, pepper jack cheese, or cotija
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped red onion
  • 1 (14 oz) can black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 cup cooked corn, from 2 ears, frozen or canned, drained
  • 1/4 cup cilantro leaves
  • 1 avocado, diced
  • 1 (3.5 oz) bag tortilla strips or tortilla chips, broken into bite-sized pieces
  • 1/3 cup pepitas

Creamy Salsa Dressing

  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 1 Tbsp taco seasoning
  • 1 Tbsp lime juice
  • 1/3 cup salsa
  • 2 Tbsp minced jalapeño (about 1/2 jalapeño) seeded
  • 1/4 cup loosely packed cilantro
  • sea salt to taste


  1. In a large skillet set over medium high, heat the olive oil until glistening. Add the ground beef or ground chicken and cook, breaking it up with a wooden spoon, until browned, about 8 minutes. Add 2-3 tablespoons of taco seasoning, 1/4 cup fresh salsa and 2-4 tablespoons of water depending on how much fat was in the meat. Stir to combine and cook until slightly thickened, 2-3 more minutes. Remove from heat to cool before adding it to salad.
  2. In the base of a food processor add all ingredients for the dressing and blend until fully combined.
  3. In a large bowl toss the romaine, taco meat, cheese, red onion, black beans, corn, cilantro with desired amount of dressing until fully combined. Top with the avocado, tortilla strips and pepitas.

Nutrition Info

  • Per Serving
  • Amount
  • Calories655
  • Protein44 g
  • Carbohydrates59 g
  • Total Fat28 g
  • Dietary Fiber14 g
  • Cholesterol88 mg
  • sodium351 mg
  • Total Sugars3 g

Taco Salad

Questions & Reviews

Join the discussion below.

  • Kelly

    Does the dressing work with Greek yogurt or a dairy free alternative?

    Totally, you can swap Greek yogurt for the sour cream. Hope you enjoy!

  • Megan

    This was delicious! My husband and I always try to decide if restaurant worthy! This was totally restaurant worthy... thank you for the dressing... I’m useless at making dressings but I followed the recipe and it was amazing. I made my own black beans which is easy especially if I am cooking for 2 and don’t want to open a can of beans. I used chicken as well... so good!

    Thank you Megan! Great job making the dressing and we are so glad you enjoyed it!