This Taco Salad is loaded with all your favorite taco toppings and tossed in a homemade chipotle ranch dressing. It's everything you love about tacos in one bowl!
Ready to switch up taco night? Taco Tuesday is a regular occurrence in my household, but it's always nice to switch things up. This Taco Salad is the perfect one-bowl weeknight meal and is also the perfect dish for a potluck party. What really sets this Taco Salad apart from others is the homemade chipotle ranch dressing that adds a hint of kick and tons of flavor!
What You'll Need
One of the things I love about tacos (there are many) is the fact that there are so many topping options to choose from. I've selected my family's favorites here, but feel free to add other ingredients such as corn, bell peppers or even jalapenos!
- Romaine lettuce - my favorite salad lettuce. Iceberg could also be used.
- Beef taco meat - you can make your own taco seasoning or use a store-bought packet. I love Gimme Some Oven's Taco Seasoning recipe when I want to make my own, but sometimes the 29 cent packet at the grocery store is just too easy to pass up.
- Black beans - for some extra protein. To make this salad vegetarian, omit the ground beef and season the black beans with taco seasoning.
- Grape tomatoes - a traditional taco topping. Larger tomatoes diced up could also be used.
- Red onion - red onions have a little more sweetness than a white onion and I love the color they add to the salad
- Black olives - my kids eat them like grapes so they are must have in our Taco Salad
- Cheddar cheese - a different type of cheese such as Monterrey Jack or even Pepper Jack would be great options
- Avocado - another taco must-have!
- Nacho cheese tortilla chips - a.k.a. Doritos. For a cheesy crunch.
- Optional - extra cilantro and lime wedges for garnish
The Chipotle Ranch Dressing comes together by throwing all the ingredients together in a food processor or blender. The base for this dressing is my popular Homemade Ranch Dressing recipe made with low-fat mayo, Greek yogurt and tons of fresh herbs. To this you will add cilantro, the juice of a lime and some chipotle peppers. The chipotle peppers in adobo sauce come in a small can and bring some heat! I would suggest adding them one at a time and testing the dressing until it has reached your desired level of spice. I add 2 peppers and it's the perfect amount of spice for my family, but feel free to add more or less.
How to Make Taco Salad with Chipotle Ranch
This Taco Salad is a one-bowl dish that's so easy to throw together. If you are looking to save some time, the elements of this salad could be made ahead of time and assembled at the last minute.
- Make the taco meat - brown hamburger and season with taco seasoning. Allow to cool to at least room temperature. The taco meat could be made ahead of time and stored in the fridge for a couple days.
- Prep all the toppings - Chop the lettuce and gather the rest of the salad toppings. Store them separate if prepping in advance. Dicing the avocado needs to be done at the last minute to prevent it from turning brown.
- Make the dressing - the chipotle ranch dressing can also be made a couple days in advance and kept in the fridge. I love keeping homemade dressings like this in mason jars.
To assemble, add the lettuce and all the toppings to a large bowl. Add the dressing and toss well to coat. At the last minute, add the crushed nacho cheese tortilla chips and serve. If you are planning to bring this Taco Salad to a party or potluck, you can assemble the lettuce and toppings ahead of time, only leaving the dressing and chips to add right before serving. Adding the chips at the last minute will prevent them from getting too soggy.
If you are serving fewer people or would like to eat this Taco Salad as a quick lunch throughout the week, you can keep all the ingredients separate and assemble as smaller or even individual salads. This recipe would also be fun served buffet style. That way, everyone can pick and choose their toppings. The options are endless!
Other salad recipes:
Taco Salad with Chipotle Ranch
- 1 # beef taco meat* see note below
- 6 cups romaine lettuce chopped
- 15 oz. can black beans drained & rinsed
- 1 cup grape tomatoes halved
- ⅓ cup red onion chopped
- ½ cup black olives sliced
- 1 cup cheddar cheese shredded
- 1 avocado diced
- 3 cups crushed nacho cheese tortilla chips
- 1 batch Homemade Ranch Dressing see note below
- 1-3 Chipotle peppers in adobo sauce depending on spice preference
- ¼ cup cilantro
- juice of 1 lime
- Cook ground beef over medium-high heat until no longer pink, breaking into small pieces. Drain any excess grease.
- Add the taco seasoning* and stir well. Remove from heat and allow to cool.
- While the meat is cooling, add the lettuce and the rest of the salad ingredients to a large bowl.
- When taco meat has cooled to room temperature, mix into the rest of the salad.
Chipotle Ranch Dressing
- Combine the ingredients for Homemade Ranch Dressing (recipe link below) along with chipotle peppers, cilantro and lime juice in a food processor or blender. Blend until smooth.
- Mix the dressing into the taco salad and toss to coat well.
- Add crushed nacho cheese tortilla chips and mix well. Serve immediately.
Helpful Equipment & Ingredient Links
- Using a packet of taco seasoning works great to make the taco meat for this salad. If you like to use your own, I love the Taco Seasoning recipe from Gimme Some Oven. I've used both options and they both work great.
- Ground turkey or even shredded chicken could be substituted for beef.
- The base for this dressing is my Homemade Ranch Dressing.
- The amount of chipotle peppers in adobo sauce added will depend on your spice preference. I would recommend adding them one at a time and tasting until you reach the perfect spice level. I'm not a huge fan of spicy and usually add 2.