Beef Cinco de Mayo Recipes Salads

Last updated on May 4th, 2024 at 05:16 pm

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Taco Salad with Ground Beef Recipe [video]

Taco Salad is one of the most flavorful salads you can make. It’s hearty and filling, with taco beef, lots of veggies, beans, cheese, and crunchy chips. The salad is coated in a tangy Catalina dressing and a zesty Ranch sour cream drizzle.

Everyone has probably had a taco salad from a restaurant before. However, only some have made one because many think it is too intimidating. That there are too many ingredients. Well, I can tell you from experience that even though there are quite a few ingredients, it is one of the easiest dishes you can make. You will love the abundance of textures and Tex-Mex flavors.

My family loves Mexican food, and we have been to hundreds of Mexican restaurants. I have had great taco salads, and I have had some that I would never eat again. But on my last trip to Mexico, I stopped at a small café and had the most incredible taco salad ever. That inspired me to make mine and share the goodness with you!

After quite a few tries, I finally got it right. My family says mine is better than the one at the café, so I am happy to share my taco salad recipe with you. Yes, there are a lot of ingredients—in fact, there are 15. But you will see that several of them are canned goods, several are veggies, and then there are a few toppings.

This salad is flavorful, quick to prepare, and filling—a meal in its own right. I use ingredients that you would expect in a Tex-Mex dish. You will surely enjoy every bite with the combination of juicy ground beef, crunchy tortilla chips, sour cream, vegetables, and Catalina dressing!

There is nothing better during summer days than homemade salads. Like my other recipes, this salad is super simple, especially if you don’t have too much time to spend in the kitchen. Some other easy-to-make recipes I recommend are Pico de Gallo, Mexican Salad with Lime Dressing, and Homemade Guacamole.

Why you will love this recipe

  • This is a versatile dish: You can make it your way by removing what you don’t like and adding what is not on there. For example, if you don’t like jalapenos, leave them out. If you want some other veggies, add them!
  • Do the veggies beforehand: If you know you are having taco salad for dinner, clean and chop all your vegetables during the day so they will be ready when you are.  Don’t do it too early because some veggies get soggy or wilted if you wait too long to eat them.
  • It is fast and easy: Besides cooking the ground beef, everything else is just assembly if you prepare your veggies beforehand.
  • Spicy or mild: Some kids are not fans of spicy food, so I typically make the veggies and keep them separate so they can make their own as spicy as they like. My daughter stays away from the jalapenos but piles on the tomatoes and corn.
  • Perfect any time of year: This is an excellent dish for a summer barbecue or picnic but is also perfect for eating around the fire on a cold night.

What you’ll need to make ground beef taco salad:

Special items:

  • Skillet – I used a large skillet with nonstick coating.
  • Wooden spoon – My favorite utensil; I love to use a wooden spoon for everything because it does not damage my expensive pots and pans.
  • Mixing bowls – Different sizes for different jobs.


It may be a long list, but you will love every single taste in this flavorful salad.

  • Ground beef – I suggest you use lean ground beef. I prefer 85/15, so it is not super greasy, but you can also use 80/20 for extra flavor. You must drain and pat it dry after cooking, so get what you like. Remember, the lower the first number, the less meat you have left after cooking it.
  • Taco seasoning – I prefer using my homemade taco seasoning, which I make with chili powder, smoked paprika, cumin, oregano, and a few other ingredients. But you can also use store-bought seasoning.
  • Sour cream — I really love sour cream, and you will see it in a lot of my recipes. It is perfect for this taco salad because its creaminess blends well with the rest of the ingredients. It also helps tame the spiciness of the jalapenos. It is mixed with the ranch dip to add a dressing after assembly.
  • Ranch dip mix – This may not seem a common ingredient in taco salad. It is my secret ingredient. It has onion, garlic, herbs, buttermilk, and mayo, so I think it is perfect. Think of cool ranch Doritos and tacos. The ranch seasoning adds a whole other level of flavor everyone will love.
  • Catalina dressing – Another item you may not have expected to find on this list, Catalina dressing is a common topping for taco salad. The zippy flavor comes from ketchup, vinegar, sugar, Worcestershire sauce, ground mustard, and mayonnaise for a range of yummy tastes. I have my own Catalina dressing recipe, which you can try.
  • Cheddar cheese – I always shred my own cheese right before using it and I highly suggest you do it too. The store-bought shredded cheese has a lot of additives and even includes wax coating, which should never be on cheese.
  • Crushed Doritos – Doritos are America’s favorite tortilla chip for good reason. The flavors they come in besides the original are so variable that you can change the taste of this dish in many different ways. I like serving bowls of other flavors so the family can use whatever they want.


  • Head of lettuce — I prefer iceberg lettuce because it is crispy and fresh-tasting, with just a slight earthy flavor. Romaine is also a good choice for its bold flavor. Use whatever kind you like, or serve it with various choices.
  • Tomatoes – Grape tomatoes are the perfect size for this dish. Just rinse, chop them in half, and they are bite-sized and ready to go. Cherry tomatoes are good, too, but I would chop them into four pieces instead.
  • Jalapeno – This is an optional ingredient. Some people do not like spicy food, so leave this out if anyone you are serving is not a fan. Those who are can always add their own. Just deseed it and remove the ribs, rinse it out, and dice it. Use disposable kitchen gloves when touching jalapenos. You do NOT want to get this in your eyes. Take it from me!
  • Bell pepper – This is another veggie I love to add to many of my recipes. And they come in so many different colors, you can make a festive-looking taco salad by using red, green, yellow, and orange. Just deseed, remove the ribs, rinse, and chop.
  • Green onions – For just a little bit of a bite. Not too oniony but just the perfect amount of diced green onions gives your salad just a touch of extra oomph!
  • Avocado – You either love or hate them. I love them; my husband hates them. The creamy veggie has a slightly nutty flavor with a bit of sweetness. Slice and serve on the side for those who want to add them.

Canned goods:

  • Sweet corn – Adds a sweet and crunchy taste to every bite. You may not have expected corn in your taco salad, but you will always want it after tasting this recipe. Just drain the juice first so your salad is not watery.
  • Black olives – With their rich and meaty flavor, black olives are slightly buttery and smooth with a salty and nutty taste. Be sure to drain these, too.
  • Kidney beans – Drain and add raw kidney beans for that earthy flavor you cannot get from any other food. They are soft and creamy on the inside and firm on the outside.

How to make taco salad?

  1. Cook the beef: Heat a large skillet on medium and add the ground beef. As it browns, use a wooden spoon to break it up. Drain the grease and pat the meat and pan with paper towels to absorb any excess.
  2. Add the seasonings: Now, stir in the taco seasoning with 1/3 cup of water. Simmer until the water is absorbed. Please remove it from the heat and set it aside to cool.
  3. Make the ranch dressing: Mix the ranch dip and sour cream in a small bowl. Chill until ready to serve.
  4. Assemble the salad: Add chopped lettuce to a large bowl and add the Catalina dressing. Toss until well coated. Top with the taco meat, corn, bell pepper, and beans. Then, add the crushed Doritos, tomatoes, onions, jalapeno, olives, avocado, and cheese. Note: Consider leaving some toppings out for guests to serve themselves.
  5. Drizzle and serve: Finally, drizzle some of the ranch dressing and the rest of the Catalina dressing on top of the salad, garnish with more chips, and serve right away.

Expert tip

Taco salad, cold or hot

Although I prefer my taco salad cold because of all the fresh veggies, some people will only eat it if the ground beef is hot off the pan. Many say it should be both hot and cold. Both ways would be delicious, but it is a matter of preference. However, there are some things to consider.

For example, the lettuce and all the chopped veggies may get wilted and greasy if you add the ground beef while it is still hot. Many people prefer lettuce cold, so putting hot hamburger meat on top of it is not exactly going to make them happy.

The rest of the veggies, like the tomatoes, jalapeno, and bell peppers, would be perfectly fine in the heat. Beans, corn, and olives are great hot or cold. The cheese may melt with the sizzling meat, but some people would like that. My way of making everyone happy? Serve it all separately and let them make it themselves. 

Recipe variations and add-ins:

  • Different meat: Use ground chicken or turkey for a leaner taco salad. For a more flavorful salad, try pork or Italian sausage.
  • No sour cream: Another way to cut fat and calories is to use plain Greek yogurt instead of sour cream.
  • Hot sauce: Many people will not eat taco salad without some hot sauce, so it is best to have some handy if you have guests.
  • More sauces: While you are at it, set out other sauces your guests may want to try chipotle sauce, enchilada sauce, and chimichurri sauce.
  • Different chips: Instead of Doritos or tortilla chips, corn chips would add a unique twist to this salad.
  • More cheese: You cannot get too much cheese in anything, can you? Add mozzarella, pepper jack, or shredded Swiss for a cheesier flavor.

Serving suggestions:

Taco salad can be a whole meal or an appetizer. Try one of these ideas.

Frequently asked questions

What are the ingredients for taco salad?

A traditional taco salad is made with seasoned ground beef, refried beans, lettuce, tomatoes, shredded cheddar cheese, tortilla chips, and Catalina dressing. My recipe also includes other beans, corn, olives, avocado, green onions, jalapeno, bell pepper, and my secret ingredient, ranch dressing mixed with sour cream.

What is taco salad dressing made of?

There are many different dressings you can use for taco salad. Some of them use Catalina but others use lime dressing, picante sour cream sauce, or creamy ranch dressing. Besides these, you could also try chimichurri, buffalo, chipotle, or bang-bang sauce. Use your imagination. Experiment with different flavors and let me know what you like in the comments section.

What is the difference between Mexican salad and taco salad?

A taco salad is a Tex-Mex dish that originated in Texas in the 1960s. It was first served in a tortilla shell bowl and included the basic meat, lettuce, tomatoes, cheese, sour cream, and beans. A Mexican salad, however, is made with other ingredients like shredded chicken or beef, queso fresco, and guacamole, and it does not come in a tortilla bowl. It is often topped with cotija cheese and pepitas as well.

How do you make a taco salad bowl?

Although they seem fancy, taco salad bowls are so simple to make that anyone can do them. You only need three ingredients: tortillas, olive oil, and salt. I use 10-inch flour tortillas, but you can use a smaller one or even corn tortillas if you like them better. Grab some oven-proof bowls in the size you want and press the tortillas into them. Bake them on a cooking sheet at 350 degrees F for 10 minutes until golden.

How to store:

  • Refrigerate: Keep the ingredients separate and pack them in zipper baggies or sealed containers. They will stay fresh for up to two days in the fridge.   
  • Freezing: Freezing is not recommended.

More Mexican recipes to try:

Recipe tips:

  • Be prepared ahead of time. Clean and chop the veggies and have the canned goods drained and ready to go when you are.
  • Make sure you drain and dry your veggies well to prevent a watery salad.
  • Always drain the grease from the ground beef before adding the seasoning. If it is excessively greasy, pat it with paper towels.
  • Keep the veggies separate and let guests choose what they like.
  • Wear disposable kitchen gloves when handling jalapenos to prevent the juice from getting in your eyes.

Taco Salad Recipe

Taco Salad is one of the most flavorful salads you can make. It's hearty and filling, with taco beef, lots of veggies, beans, cheese, and crunchy chips.

Taco Salad Recipe
  • Prep Time30 MIN
  • Cook Time15 MIN
  • Servings 6 servings


  • 1 pound ground beef
  • 1 (1 oz) packet taco seasoning
  • 1 1/2 cups sour cream
  • 1 (1 oz) packet ranch dip mix
  • 1 large head iceberg lettuce chopped
  • 2 cups grape tomatoes halved
  • 1 jalapeno diced
  • 1 red bell pepper diced
  • 15 ounce can kidney beans drained
  • ½ cup sliced black olives drained
  • ½ cup sweet corn drained
  • 2 cups crushed nacho cheese Doritos or corn chips
  • 1 cup green onions chopped
  • 1 cup cheddar cheese shredded
  • 1 avocado sliced
  • 1 cup Catalina dressing or more (homemade recipe on the blog)


  • Place a large skillet over medium heat; add the ground beef once hot.
  • Brown the meat and break it into small pieces with a wooden spoon; drain any excess grease.
  • Stir in the taco seasoning and 1/3 cup water. Simmer until the water is absorbed, then remove from heat.
  • Mix the sour cream with the ranch dip mix in a small bowl and chill until ready to serve.
  • Add the chopped lettuce to a large serving bowl. Pour 1/2 cup Catalina dressing on top and toss to combine.
  • Top with the taco meat, beans, bell pepper, and sweet corn.
  • Next, pile on the crushed chips, tomatoes, green onions, olives, jalapeno, avocado slices, and cheese.
  • Drizzle some of the ranch sour cream mixture and the remaining Catalina dressing. Garnish with crushed chips and serve!

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This look and sounds so yummy! Lots of flavor



Such a gorgeous salad!! My whole family really enjoyed it!

katerina @

katerina @

I LOVE this! Such an incredible meal!!

Erin | Dinners, Dishes and Dessert

Erin | Dinners, Dishes and Dessert

Such an amazing meal! Can't wait to make this!

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