When it comes to dinner salads, none are more hearty than a good taco salad. Load it up with veggies, cheese, and ground beef for an extra satisfying weeknight dinner. We love this classic version, but if you want to get fancy check out some easy substitutions and additions below.

The Base

Since this salad has some rather hefty toppers, we prefer a sturdy, crunchy green for our base. Romaine or iceberg lettuce are the obvious choices, but other hearty greens like endive or butterhead would work just as well.

The Meat

Ground beef is the classic, but if you’re looking for something lighter, ground chicken or turkey would be just as good. Alternatively, if you’ve got some rotisserie chicken on hand (or perhaps some leftover roasted chicken) you could shred it and toss it with some taco seasoning instead.

The Veggies

Again, we stuck with the most classic veggie choices. That doesn’t mean you can’t improvise and clean out your crisper drawer! Bell peppers, pickled jalapeños, fresh or frozen corn, or chopped red onion would all be great additions.

The Crunch-Factor

We happen to think the best part of this salad is the crunchy fried corn tortillas on top. If you prefer flour tortillas, you can totally use those instead! If you want to go a healthier note, toasted pumpkin seeds would be a delicious substitute. (Though, can you call it a taco salad if it doesn’t have chips?) Or, if you’re lazy (we don’t judge) you can use Fritos!

Have you made this recipe? Let us know how you liked it in the comments below!

Yields: 4 servings

Prep Time: 20 mins

Total Time: 35 mins


  • 1 lb. ground beef
  • kosher salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 tbsp. taco seasoning
  • 2 tbsp. tomato paste
  • Vegetable oil
  • 2 corn tortillas, cut into 1/4” strips
  • 2 heads romaine lettuce, chopped
  • 1 pt. cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 1 (15-oz.) can black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 c. shredded cheddar
  • 1 c. Pico de Gallo
  • Sour cream
  • 1/4 c. freshly chopped cilantro


  1. In a large cast-iron skillet over medium-high heat, brown beef, breaking up meat into small pieces using a wooden spoon. Season with salt and pepper and add taco seasoning, 2 tablespoons water, and tomato paste. Cook through, about 5 minutes. Turn off heat and set aside.

  2. In a sauté pan, add about 1/2” of vegetable oil. Heat until hot but not smoking, then fry tortilla strips until golden brown. Transfer strips to a plate lined with paper towels and season with salt just after removing from hot oil.

  3. Assemble salad: In four bowls, layer romaine, tomatoes, black beans, and warm taco meat. Top with cheese, pico de gallo, and sour cream, then garnish with cilantro and crisp tortilla strips.

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