This layered taco salad is a fun twist on taco night; simply combine all of the ingredients you would find on tacos into a fun, colorful salad. Perfect for the healthy eater, but simple enough to please the pickiest of palates, and kid-friendly, too. This also makes a fun dish to bring to a party!
What you’ll need for this recipe
The truth is, I developed this recipe while scouring my fridge and finding tons of half-opened and half-used ingredients, so you can really do the same thing. I suggest taking this recipe and using it as inspiration for your own creation.
Don’t have cheddar, only mozzarella? Use that! Sub in ground turkey? Go for it! Want to add corn? Perfect! Maybe you don’t have black beans, and you want to use refried beans instead? Great!
With that in mind, here are the ingredients I used for mine:
- 96/4 extra lean ground beef (you can find this at Trader Joes, Aldi, or some other supermarkets)
- reduced sodium taco seasoning
- black beans
- garlic powder
- onion powder
- kosher salt
- lime juice
- reduced fat cheddar
- sour cream
- iceberg lettuce
- extra thin corn tortillas
How to efficiently make a layered salad
Making a layered salad can seem confusing to people (How will the lettuce stay fresh? Will the ingredients get mushy?) I get these questions a lot, especially when I talk about by mason jar salads (which are a similar concept).
Here are some of my mason jar salads:
Since the concept is similar, you can totally make this recipe in mason jars for individual portions!
The key to making layered salads like this is to put the denser, wetter ingredients on the bottom (in this case, that’s the taco meat and the beans) and then as you work up, you layer the lighter ingredients (like the iceberg lettuce). This ensures that any moisture from the denser ingredients does not seep into the other ingredients.
How I made my layered taco salad
So, as I mentioned before, there is no real science here, and any ingredient can be swapped out for another similar ingredient. You can add or take away anything you’d like.
To make my version, I cooked my ground beef with the taco seasoning and water, just like the package directions say to. Once that’s finished, remove it from the pan to cool. In the same pan, you an add the drained and rinsed black beans, along with the seasonings and cook this for ten minutes, and then remove that from the pan to cool as well.
This is the only true “cooking” required for this recipe. The rest is just combining ingredients and assembly.
Next, prepare the tomatoes, onions, avocado, and dressing. This part is easy, as it’s just combining different flavorings and ingredients to make really flavorful condiments and toppings for this dish.
Layering the salad, and adding the toppings and dressing
Once your ingredients are prepped, you’ll just have to layer them in your container(s). As discussed above, I recommend layering the most wet, dense ingredients first, and then working your way up to the lettuce.
Right before serving is a great time to make your crispy tortilla chips. Simply cut your corn tortillas into strips (or chip shapes). You can either cook these on the stove top in a frying pan over medium heat (just add some cooking spray and salt and toss them around). Or, you can do this in the air fryer, which is what I did here.
Add some cooking spray and a pinch of salt, and air fry at 400 for 5 minutes.
Next, add the dressing on top, and sprinkle the chips on top. Garnish with some extra cilantro, if desired.
Layered Taco Salad
- frying pan
- trifle dish
- 1 lb 96/4 extra lean ground beef
- 2 tbsp reduced sodium taco seasoning
- 2/3 cup water
- 1.5 cup black beans drained, rinsed (equivalent to one 15-oz can)
- 1 tsp paprika
- 1 tsp garlic powder
- 1 tsp onion powder
- 1.25 tsp kosher salt divided
- 1/3 cup reduced fat cheddar cheese
- 2 roma tomatoes
- 1/2 cup avocado one mini avocado, about 60 grams weighed
- 1/2 cup onion chopped, divided
- 4 cups iceberg lettuce
- 1/4 cup sour cream
- 1/4 cup salsa jarred, like Tostitos
- 4 tsp lime juice divided
- 1/4 cup cilantro chopped, fresh, divided
- 1 scallion chopped, fresh
- 3 extra thin corn tortillas I use Mission brand
- optional ingredients: refried beans, jalapenos, corn
- Cook the lean ground beef in a frying pan with olive oil spray over medium heat until no longer pink.
- Add the taco seasoning and water, and cook until the liquid is absorbed, about 5 minutes.
- Remove from the pan and set aside to cool.
- Drain and rinse the black beans.
- Add the black beans to the frying pan with the paprika, garlic powder, onion powder, and 1/4 tsp kosher salt. Add olive oil spray to the pan.
- Cook the beans for 10 minutes. Set aside.
- Chop the tomatoes, onion, avocado, and cilantro.
- Combine the tomatoes with half of the onion, half of the cilantro, 1/2 tsp kosher salt, 1 tsp lime juice, and a spritz of olive oil spray.
- Mash the avocado, then add the other half of the onion, the other half of the cilantro, another 1/2 tsp kosher salt, another 1 tsp of lime juice.
- Combine the sour cream with the remaining 2 tsp lime juice, the chopped scallion, and the salsa.
- Cut the tortillas into triangles or strips. To crisp them up, either 1) sauté them in a frying pan over medium heat with olive oil spray and a sprinkle of kosher salt, or 2) add them to the basket of an air fryer with olive oil spray and kosher salt, air fry at 400 for 5 minutes or until golden and crispy.
- To build the salad, use a clear trifle (or you can do this in individual mason jars).
- Layering: taco meat, beans, cheese, tomato mixture, avocado mixture, lettuce, dressing, chips.
- 9 WW points (green plan)
- 7 WW points (blue and purple plans)
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