This Quick Taco Salad Recipe is filled with seasoned ground beef and pinto beans on top of corn chips and lettuce with all your favorite taco toppings. It’s great for busy weeknights!
Taco Salad is probably our most favorited, and go-to dinner when we’re camping. It’s super quick, my kids LOVE it and it’s so easy to make.
The biggest debate in our house is whether the corn chips go on the bottom or the lettuce? I’m all about making it more of a salad with the lettuce on the bottom, but my husband enjoys more of a corn chip base.
I think with a corn chip base, it’s leaning more towards a “Frito Pie” or “Walking Taco” situation. Either way you dress it up, this Taco Salad is supreme!
Taco Meat for Quick Taco Salad
Let’s talk about the hearty meat base to this simple taco salad.
I’ve taken my ground beef taco mixture and bulked it up with a can of pinto beans and little extra kick of chili powder. Here’s what you’ll need to make it…
- Lean Ground Beef – you can also use ground turkey for a lighter version
- Diced Onion
- Taco Seasoning – try my homemade version! It’s the best!
- Tomato Sauce – gives the meat a great flavor while keeping it nice and moist.
- Pinto Beans – you can also use any other sort of canned beans you like (black beans, white beans, kidney beans)
- Chili Powder – the beans will soak up a lot of flavor, so the chili powder helps to season the mixture
- Water – again, the beans will absorb more liquid, so this will keep the meat mixture nice and moist
Growing up my Dad would sometimes make us Taco Salad for a quick dinner. His version included plain ground beef, kidney beans and Italian Dressing… I’m not sure why we ever called it “Taco” Salad, but that’s what I knew it as. I still shudder a little when I think about it.
Now that I’m the parent, I get to load up our TACO SALAD with all the good stuff!
I’m telling you, this taco meat mixture will blow your mind. It’s so flavorful and delicious. Not only can you use it to top some lettuce, but you can also wrap it up in large flour tortillas for a quick burrito. It’s also fantastic on top of nachos.
What Is The Best Lettuce For Taco Salad?
Another big debate in our household is which type of lettuce to use as the base for our taco salads. I’m a fan of chopped Romaine lettuce. I’ll even buy the bagged Romaine Salad mix (with shredded carrots and cabbage in it) for convenience.
My husband, on the other hand, is a big fan of Iceberg lettuce, particularly the bagged Iceberg Salad Mix.
He likes the crunchy Iceberg lettuce, while I prefer the more subtle texture of the Romaine lettuce.
Bottom-line, either one works well! Just make sure you chop it small enough so it is bite-size.
Tortilla Chips Or Corn Chips?
We’re die-hard corn chip fans here. We love using the corn chips because they’re nice and small and are easy to eat with the salad.
If you’re using tortilla chips, you’ll want to pre-crush them with your hands before placing them on your plate.
PRO TIP: Those leftover crumbs in the bottom of a tortilla chip bag are great for taco salad!
When it comes to the taco salad toppings, the sky is the limit. We tend to stick with our favorite taco toppings, here’s a quick list to give you some ideas.
- Shredded Cheddar Cheese
- Diced Tomatoes
- Guacamole or Avocado slices
- Sour Cream
- Sliced Black Olives
- Fresh Pico de Gallo
- Restaurant Style Salsa
What Goes Well With Taco Salad?
We typically serve Taco Salad as the whole meal for our family, but if you’re serving a crowd and want to stretch it a little further, here are some great side options….
- Cilantro Lime Rice
- Instant Pot Refried Beans
- The Best Black Beans
- Mexican Grilled Corn
- Creamy Mexican Grilled Corn Salad
Slow Cooker Option –
This moist and delicious taco meat is also fantastic for making in large batches for a crowd.
What I’ll typically do is triple the recipe and let it simmer in the slow cooker on low for a few hours. The flavors really deepen and become even more delish! If you find that it’s looking a little dry, just add in a little more water or beef broth if you have it, and give it a stir.
I hope you enjoy this simple Taco Salad recipe as much as we do! It’s a great family dinner!
Quick Taco Salad Recipe
- 1 ½ lb. lean ground beef
- ½ onion, diced
- ¼ cup taco seasoning
- 8 oz tomato sauce
- 15 oz pinto beans, drained
- 1 tbsp chili powder
- 2 tbsp water
- ½ tsp salt
- To prepare the meat mixture, brown the ground beef and onion in a large skillet over medium heat, breaking up the ground beef as it cooks. Drain any excess fat and return skillet to stove top over medium heat.
- Add in the taco seasoning, tomato sauce, drained pinto beans, chili powder, water and salt. Stir mixture and bring to a small simmer to allow flavors to blend.
- Meanwhile, prepare your salad ingredients. Serve taco meat mixture over salad and corn chips, with any of the desired toppings you like. Enjoy!
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