This healthy Taco Salad recipe is everything you love about taco night, transformed into a wholesome meal! Fill your bowl with taco-seasoned ground turkey, crisp romaine, beans, and fresh veggies, then finish with crispy tortilla strips and a homemade taco salad dressing.
Why You’ll Love this Taco Salad Recipe
From the lean ground turkey, to a homemade taco seasoning, to all of the best taco fixin’s, this Mexican-inspired recipe has it all, including the best (and easiest!) taco salad dressing recipe.
Adios wimpy salads.
This wholesome, filling salad is a classic taco done lighter so you can enjoy it more often!
Healthy Taco Salad Recipe that Satisfies
Have you ever asked yourself if taco salad can be healthy?
This taco salad shouts a resounding YES!
- High in protein and fiber, it packs a wide array of taco toppings like cheese, avocado, corn, baked tortilla chips, and beans.
- In addition to its nutritious ingredient lineup and robust flavor, the components of this taco salad last well in the refrigerator, making it ideal for meal prep.
- It’s also far easier to eat than regular tacos. Who has time for shells? Just toss everything into a bowl and you’re ready to chow down!
Restaurant vs. Homemade Taco Salad
Despite their perception as being “healthy” options, restaurant taco salads are deceptively unhealthy. Most restaurant versions:
- Are doused in heavy, high-calorie dressings
- Contain a scant number of wholesome vegetables
- Overdo it on the high-fat toppings like sour cream, shredded cheese or nacho cheese
- Are often served in a deep-fried taco shell (delicious but dangerous).
Making your own salad at home means that you can control the taco salad ingredients and portions to make it as wholesome as you choose.
5 Star Review
“Love this taco salad! The seasoning is low in salt which I was looking for and so yummy and super easy to make for a busy mama!!”— Whitney —
How to Make Taco Salad
Whether you’re looking to add more satisfying salad recipes to your repertoire or just love tacos (or both!), this healthy taco salad bowl will quickly become a favorite.
- Flour Tortillas. One of the secrets to making a really great taco salad is adding crunch. In place of fried chips, I use oven-baked strips of 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.
- Spices. Skip the packet of taco seasoning, which is usually high in sodium. Instead, make a homemade taco seasoning that combines salt, pepper, chili powder, cumin, and garlic powder to season the ground turkey meat. You could also add paprika, oregano, onion powder, or a hit of hot sauce to taste.
- 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 season ground beef! The best taco meat!
- 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. I prefer it over iceberg lettuce, which is crisp but lacks nutrients.
- Black Beans. A true super food! Black beans have been shown to be beneficial for cholesterol, are rich in fiber and protein, and are very low in saturated fat. They give the salad a creamy element and make it more satisfying. (My Instant Pot Black Beans would be perfect here; canned work too, of course.)
- Corn. I use convenient canned Mexican-style corn and loved the additional flavors it adds to the salad.
- Tomatoes. A handful of cherry tomatoes, grape tomatoes, or chopped Roma tomatoes adds bursts of flavor and vitamin C.
- Avocado. The creamy, nutrient-packed ingredient that we all love! Avocado adds 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.
- Greek Yogurt + Salsa. So simple but so delish! To make the BEST taco salad dressing, simply mix together your favorite salsa with plain nonfat Greek yogurt, my healthy substitute for sour cream. Greek yogurt is high in protein and has calcium too.
Anything you love on your tacos is fair game!
- My favorite toppings are tortilla strips (or tortilla chips; Doritos are fun) and additional avocado, or jalapeño.
- To mix it up, try chopped red onion (or better yet, Quick Pickled Onions), queso fresco, pico de gallo, fresh corn, mushrooms, bell peppers, black olives, Roasted Sweet Potatoes, sliced jicama, Homemade Guacamole, or toasted pumpkin seeds.
- Bake the tortilla strips.
- In a nonstick, large skillet brown the turkey with the spices.
- Stir together the dressing ingredients, and top lettuce with part of the dressing.
- Add the salad ingredients.
- Toss to combine, sprinkle with tortilla strips, and serve. ENJOY!
- To Store. Once assembled and dressed, the salad is best eaten within a few hours of serving. However, the deconstructed elements of this salad may be stored separately in airtight containers for 2-4 days in the fridge. Even dressed, this salad isn’t too bad the next day.
- To Reheat. Leftovers of the seasoned ground turkey may be warmed in the microwave, in a covered container, until steaming.
Meal Prep Tip
- 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.
If your plan is to prep this salad for lunches throughout the week, I recommend storing the salad in divided meal prep containers and then tossing everything together with the dressing when ready to serve.
The best part about leftover taco salad topping is you can easily change gears and make other dishes like tacos, quesadillas, or game day-worthy nachos.
What to Serve with Taco Salad
- While this is a complete meal all on its own, kick taco night up a notch with this Skinny Margarita, made with lime juice!
- Serve this taco salad bowl with a side of Tex-Mex bread such as Jalapeno Cornbread or Mexican Cornbread.
Recommended Tools to Make this Recipe
- 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.
- Skillet. For cooking up all of that perfectly seasoned ground turkey.
Pour yourself a marg, because tonight is taco (salad) night!
Frequently Asked Questions
It can be. If you’d like to minimize your carbohydrates and still enjoy a filling, healthy taco salad, I would suggest omitting or limiting the crispy tortilla strips and black beans to knock off the most carbs from this recipe.
Typically, the greens, vegetables, and other toppings are served cold. However, most taco salad recipes, including this one, will serve the meat warm over the top of the salad.
It can be. To make this a gluten-free taco salad, opt for corn tortillas rather than flour tortillas (or skip them entirely). If you are especially sensitive to gluten, check your labels to ensure all ingredients were processed in a gluten-free certified facility to avoid cross-contamination.
How healthy or unhealthy you make your taco salad is up to you. If you use lean meat, load in some veggies, do not use a fried taco shell, and limit fatty toppings; taco salad is a super healthy meal!
For the Taco Salad:
- 2 fajita-size flour tortillas (or swap for 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 (15 ounces), rinsed and drained
- 1 can Mexican-style corn (11 ounces), drained
- 2 cups cherry tomatoes halved
- 1 medium ripe avocado peeled, pitted, and diced
- 1 cup loosely packed cilantro leaves chopped
- 1/2 cup reduced-fat sharp cheddar cheese shredded
- 1/4 cup green onions thinly sliced
For the Salsa Yogurt Dressing:
- 1/4 cup salsa (store-bought or homemade)
- 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.
- GLUTEN FREE OPTION: 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 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. Warm the turkey and assemble the salad just before serving.
- TO STORE: Once assembled and dressed, the salad is best eaten within a few hours of serving. However, the deconstructed elements of this salad may be stored separately in airtight containers for 2-4 days in the fridge.
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