Taco Salad

What on EARTH could be better than a perfectly crafted taco salad topped with the optional fried tortilla strips? Nothing.

Taco Salad from www.whatsgabycooking.com (@whatsgabycookin)

Did you guys take your lunch to school or buy it there? 95% of my life I took my lunch to school. Mama Dalkin would pack it every morning and off I went. The 5% of the time I was allowed to buy lunch it was like I hit the JACKPOT. I mean, clearly I had a very exciting childhood. Buying school lunch was basically an excuse to throw a party. Not that I needed another excuse to party, I did my fair share of that through high school. Regardless, on that one special day every now and then I’d buy myself a majorly loaded taco salad. It was my shining moment. I was being “healthy” because I was eating a salad but it was loaded with guac and cheese and really nothing could be better!

Bonus – if you want to be super extra, add some freshly fried tortilla strips or chips on top. WINNING.

Homemade Tortilla Chips from www.whatsgabycooking.com (@whatsgabycookin)

I’m bringing back the taco salad. It’s coming out of retirement and my poor husband isn’t going to know what hit him because we’re making these every night for dinner for the foreseeable future. Until I overdose on taco salads and decide I need to binge on some girl scout cookies… happy weekend!

Taco Salad

Taco Salad


    For the Cilantro Vinaigrette
  • 1 shallot, roughly chopped
  • 2 cups tightly packed fresh cilantro leaves, stems removed (about 4 ounces)
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1/2 teaspoons red pepper flakes
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • For the meat:
  • 1/2 pound ground turkey or chicken
  • 2 teaspoons olive oil
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon taco seasoning
  • 1/4 cup water
  • For the Salad:
  • 2 heads Romaine Lettuce, thinly shredded
  • 1 cup Cherry Tomatoes, halved or quartered
  • ½ cup grated cheddar cheese
  • 2 ears of corn, shucked and corn sliced off the cob
  • 2 avocados, diced
  • 3 green onions, sliced
  • cilantro leaves
  • A few tablespoons red onion, chopped or sliced
  • 1 cup Black Beans, rinsed and drained


    For the Cilantro Vinaigrette
  1. Combine all the ingredients in a blender and blend for 2 minutes until smooth. Taste and adjust salt and pepper as needed and set aside.
  2. For the meat:
  3. Place a medium skillet over medium high heat and add the olive oil. Add the onions and sauté for 5 minutes until soft. Add the garlic and sauté for 30 seconds more. Add the ground chicken or turkey and continue to cook for 6-7 minutes until fully cooked. Add the taco seasoning and the water and reduce heat to low. Simmer the mixture for 5 minutes while you assemble the salad.
  4. For the Salad
  5. If you’re layering this in one large serving bowl, layer half of the lettuce on the bottom followed by half of all the other toppings. Add the next layer of lettuce on top and finish with the remaining toppings. Top with the meat and toss together with a few tablespoons of the vinaigrette. Add more as needed and serve immediately.

Photo by Matt Armendariz / Food Styling by Adam Pearson / Recipe by What’s Gaby Cooking

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  1. Ha, I begged my mom to bring lunch because the school ones were NOT good. Not at all. This taco salad is perfection. Wishing I had all of the topping and energy to throw this together for lunch today.

  2. We have been digging on something similar minus the meat, and love it. Cannot wait to try your version using ground meat – so quick and easy.

  3. Oh I brought my lunch to school every.single.day. And always a PB+J. I was the most unadventurous eater as a kid. Kind of surprising that I turned out to love food so much! This salad looks wonderful. I’m buried in snow, so I’d like to eat this and dream I’m in Mexico!

  4. I’ve been making my Taco Salad with added black beans and corn for years – my grown kids still ask for it. Your cilantro vinaigrette sounds like a wonderful addition.

    1. any dressing would be great! If you like ranch that would totally work – as would a red wine vinaigrette!! Or you could do a chive vinaigrette and replace the cilantro with chives 🙂

  5. This is definitely on my to-make list. The last time I had taco salad was in my college cafeteria. I can only imagine how much better this is going to be…

  6. This is just a random comment. SO I love your page just have a minor suggestion. When you go to print your recipes you should have the picture of the dish pop up on the recipe. Not sure if that is difficult to do but other sites do that and I really enjoy being reminded why I printed the recipe in the first place. 🙂

    Hope you have a great weekend.


  7. We made your taco salad like your video with the chicken/salsa and baby kale. What a flavor explosion! Never going back to “traditional” taco salad. Thank you Gaby!

  8. I don’t prefer the store bought taco seasoning–too much sodium.
    Do you have an easy home-made one?

  9. Did anyone else grow up on taco salad with Taco Doritos smashed on top? THE BEST. Let’s all do Gaby’s taco salad with Doritos on top, k?

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