Taco Salad


Total Time:

30 minutes



You know what we need right now… a perfectly crafted taco salad topped with fried tortilla strips on top!

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 that are stocked in my freezer… happy eating!

Taco Salad

The homemade version of your favorite taco salad from the high school cafeteria days!
5 from 6 votes
Prep Time 15 mins
Cook Time 15 mins
Total Time 30 mins
Course Main Course
Cuisine Tex Mex
Servings 4 people


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

  • 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.

For the meat:

  • 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.

For the Salad

  • 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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Recipe Rating


  1. Taco Salad | ShoutYourSite

    […] What on EARTH could be better than a perfect crafted taco salad topped with fried tortilla strips? Nothing. Did you guys take your lunch to school or buy it there? 95% of my life I took my lunch to school. Mama D would pack it every morning and off I went. The 5% of the   …Continue Reading […]

  2. Heather Christo

    Taco salad is my absolute weakness. I could eat pounds of it! This one looks so fresh and healthy too- gorgeous Gaby!

    • Tom @ Raise Your Garden

      I agree Heather. This taco salad looks especially delicious!

  3. Emily @ Life on Food

    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.

  4. Denise

    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.

  5. Robyn Stone | Add a Pinch

    I could eat bowls of a beautiful and bright taco salad like this! Love the tortilla strips on top!

  6. Millie | Add A Little

    I’m a packed luncher too and this looks HEAVENLY!! Definitely making this asap!

  7. Liz @ Floating Kitchen

    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!

  8. Kate Sprague

    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.

    • Gaby

      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 🙂

  9. Kasey

    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…

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    […]  Excuse me while I eat 100% of this Taco Salad. […]

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    […] Taco Salad (What’s Gaby Cooking)– This was the first recipe I tried from Gaby’s blog, which had come highly recommended by a favorite lifestyle and fashion blogger of mine, Emily Schuman.  The cilantro dressing really takes this taco salad to a whole new level- it is so flavorful and I found myself using the leftover dressing on everything from eggs to quesadillas. […]

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  17. Jason Roehrig

    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.


    • Gaby

      we’re adding that feature in when we launch the redesign later this spring!! Thanks!!

  18. Debra

    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!

  19. Kimberly Kistler

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

  20. Marcy

    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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    […] – Taco Salad Bowls are on deck. Everything in one bowl. Oh […]

  22. Ghulam Mohyudin

    5 stars
    It was perfect the first time. I learn so much from you as well! Keep it up great post.

  23. Rachel S

    5 stars
    Every element of this dish is on point!! We especially loved the DRESSING! Unreal. Thank you for this taco salad blessing 🙂

  24. Erin

    5 stars
    This was outstanding. Pretty quick to cook so perfect for a weeknight meal. I sauteed frozen corn and popped the beans in last minute. Topped with cotija instead of shredded cheddar. This is on full rotation. Thanks!

  25. Alyssa

    5 stars
    The dressing is AMAZING. Made this week after seeing your Insta-live last week. Going into weekly rotation!