Healthy Taco Salad
This Healthy Taco Salad is the universal delight of taco night, transformed into a wholesome package you can feel great devouring for nutritious lunches and dinners. From the juicy meat, to the Southwest spices, to the best taco fixin’s, this Mexican-inspired recipe has it all, even the tortilla crunch!
Adios wimpy salads. This is a ground turkey taco salad that satisfies. It’s high in protein and fiber packs a wide array of taco toppings like cheese, avocado, corn, and beans. It’s a fully loaded, filling fiesta.
This salad is inspired by classic taco ingredients, done lighter so you can enjoy it more often. It’s also far easier to eat than regular tacos. Instead of attempting to cram all the good stuff into a shell that shatters the moment you take a bite, I piled the taco fixings onto a bed of crisp romaine lettuce, then showered crunchy tortilla strips over the top. YUM!
In addition to its nutritious ingredient lineup and incredible flavor, this healthy taco salad lasts well in the refrigerator, making it ideal for meal prep. Make a big batch, and enjoy the reward of taco (salad) night all week long.
Is Taco Salad Good for You?
It depends on where you are finding it! Despite their perception as being “healthy” options, restaurant salads can have heavy dressings, contain a scant number of wholesome vegetables, and overdo it on the high-fat toppings. These often make salads a poorer nutritional choice than other items on the menu. It’s deceptive!
- Making your own taco salad at home means that you can control the ingredients and portions to make it as wholesome as you choose.
- Unlike restaurant taco salads, this homemade version is loaded with nutritious ingredients. It is filling, the homemade dressing is low in fat and even high in protein. This salad also swaps the typical fried shell for baked tortilla strips. You have the same crunch, for a fraction of the calories!
About This Skinny Taco Salad Recipe
Whether you’re looking to add more healthy recipes to your repertoire or just love tacos (or both!), this healthy taco salad will quickly become a favorite.
- Flour Tortillas. One of the secrets to making a really great salad is adding crunch. In place of fried chips, I use oven-baked strips of flour tortillas. It only takes a few minutes to toss the tortilla strips into the oven, and the texture they add is completely worth the small effort.
- If you’d like to keep the salad gluten free, you can cut and bake corn tortillas instead of flour.
- Spices. Skip the taco seasoning packets, which are usually high in sodium. Instead, combine salt, pepper, chili powder, cumin, and garlic powder to season the ground turkey meat.
- Ground Turkey. To create a lower-calorie taco salad recipe that still packs restaurant-worthy satisfaction, I used ground turkey. It’s equally as delicious here as ground beef!
- Romaine Lettuce. The crisp and fresh base for our salad. Romaine lettuce is high in minerals and low in calories, making it ideal for this slimmed down salad.
- Black Beans. I love adding black beans to this salad for protein and fiber. (My Instant Pot Black Beans would be perfect here; canned work too of course.)
- Corn. I used Mexican-style corn and loved the additional flavors it added to the salad.
- Tomatoes. A handful of cherry tomatoes added delicious bursts of flavor.
- Avocado. The creamy, nutrient-packed ingredient that we all love! Avocado adds oodles of vitamins and omega-3 fatty acids.
- Cilantro + Green Onions. For a bit of bite and added flavor.
- Cheddar Cheese. I went lighter on the cheese quantity, so using an extra-sharp cheddar helps make sure you can still taste it in every bite.
- Salsa Yogurt Dressing. To make healthy taco salad dressing, mix together salsa and plain nonfat Greek yogurt. The yogurt tastes just like a big dollop of sour cream, without the additional calories, and it gives the salad an extra boost of protein, too.
- The Toppings. My favorite taco salad toppings are tortilla strips and additional avocado, or jalapeño, but you can take this healthy taco salad recipe wherever else your Tex-Mex dreams may dare.
- Bake the tortilla strips: Coat a baking sheet with nonstick spray. Cut the tortillas into strips, drizzle with oil, and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Toss to coat, and bake at 425 degrees F until golden.
- In a large skillet, heat oil over medium high. Add the turkey and spices, stirring to coat. In a bowl, stir together dressing ingredients.
- Place the romaine in a serving bowl, add the salad ingredients, and top with the dressing. Toss to combine, sprinkle with tortilla strips, and serve. ENJOY!
How to Make Ahead and Store
This taco salad recipe is also ideal for meal prep.
- To Make Ahead. Chop the veggies and cook the turkey in advance, storing them individually in the refrigerator. You can quickly assemble individual portions and add any other toppings you desire throughout the week.
- To Store. Place leftover salad in an airtight storage container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.
What Goes with Taco Salad?
- Rice. Prepared brown rice or quinoa both make a delicious, classic side for this Tex-Mex dish.
- Beans. For a hearty, filling side, try this taco salad with Instant Pot Refried Beans or Crock Pot Pinto Beans. You can serve these either in addition to or in place of the black beans used in the salad.
- Cornbread. Serve this easy taco salad with a crowd-pleasing side like Mexican Cornbread.
- Margarita. Add a fun and festive Skinny Margarita, and call it a success!
More Healthy Salad Recipes to Try
- Mexican Salad
- Caesar Shaved Brussels Sprouts Salad with Crispy Chickpea Croutons
- Balsamic Chicken Salad with Avocado Feta and Blackberry
Recommended Tools for Making This Salad
- Baking Sheets. These are an invaluable tool for your kitchen. I use them to bake up the tortilla strips in this recipe.
- Measuring Cups. An ideal way to measure AND mix your ingredients for salad dressing, without getting another bowl dirty. Plus, they can go in the microwave and dishwasher.
Healthy Taco Salad
For the taco salad:
- 2 fajita-size flour tortillas - swap corn tortillas to make gluten free
- 2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil - divided
- 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt - divided
- 1/2 teaspoon black pepper - divided
- 1 pound 93% lean ground turkey
- 1 tablespoon chili powder
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1 head romaine lettuce - roughly chopped
- 1 can reduced-sodium black beans, rinsed and drained - (15 ounces)
- 1 can Mexican-style corn, drained - (11 ounces)
- 2 cups cherry tomatoes - halved
- 1 medium ripe avocado - peeled, pitted, and diced
- 1 cup loosely packed cilantro leaves
- 1/2 cup reduced fat shredded sharp cheddar cheese
- 1/4 cup thinly sliced green onions
For the salsa yogurt dressing:
- 1/4 cup prepared salsa
- 1/4 cup nonfat plain Greek yogurt
- Place a rack in the center of your oven, and preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. Coat a large rimmed baking sheet with nonstick spray. Stack the tortillas and cut them in half, then slice each half into 1/2-inch strips. Scatter the strips in the middle of the prepared baking sheet. Drizzle with 1 teaspoon olive oil, then sprinkle with 1/4 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Toss to coat, then spread them into a single layer. Bake until golden brown and crisp, about 8 minutes, turning halfway through. Set aside to cool.
- Meanwhile, in a large, nonstick skillet, heat the remaining 1 teaspoon olive oil over medium high. Add the turkey, chili powder, cumin, garlic powder, and remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Break up the meat and stir with a spoon until it is cooked through, about 5 minutes. In a small bowl, stir together the salsa and Greek yogurt to make the dressing.
- Place the romaine in a large serving bowl. Top with 1/4 cup of the salsa-yogurt mixture, the turkey, black beans, corn, tomatoes, avocado, cilantro, cheese, and green onions. Toss lightly to combine, then sprinkle the tortilla strips over the top. Serve immediately with remaining salsa-yogurt dressing as desired.
- To make the recipe gluten free, swap corn tortillas in place of the flour tortillas. Check the baking time a few minutes early, as the corn tortillas may crisp more quickly.
- Make it ahead: Store the cooked ground turkey in the refrigerator for up to 4 days, the corn and black beans in a separate container for up to 4 days, the dressing in a container for up to 4 days, and the chopped tomatoes in a container for up to 3 days. Washed, chopped lettuce can also be stored in the crisper drawer for 2 to 3 days. Assemble the salad just before serving.
This post contains some affiliate links, which means that I make a small commission off items you purchase at no additional cost to you.