Mom’s Taco Salad

March 10, 2019

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I don’t claim this taco salad to be authentically Mexican, but I do claim it to be genuinely delicious. Great for groups, kids, or even a weekday dinner at home, this dish was a favorite of mine all growing up, and is now a favorite of my own family. It takes less than 30 minutes to make and will be requested again and again.

Mom's Taco Salad

A delicious taco-inspired salad that takes less than 30 minutes to make and will be an ongoing favorite for anyone you make it for. 
Prep Time10 minutes
Cook Time15 minutes
Resting Time5 minutes
Total Time25 minutes
Course: Main Course, Salad
Cuisine: American, Mexican
Keyword: salad, taco
Servings: 8


  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 lbs ground meat chicken, beef, turkey, or pork
  • 1 sweet onion chopped
  • 1 zucchini squash chopped
  • 5-6 tbsp taco seasoning
  • 10 oz bag romaine lettuce pre-washed and cut
  • 1 1/2 cups bell pepper any color, small diced
  • 1 1/2 cups cucumber any variety, small diced
  • 1-1 1/2 cups tomatoes any variety, quartered
  • 1 avocado peeled, pitted and diced
  • 1 small can sliced olives
  • 1/2 cup canned black beans drained, rinsed
  • 2 cups shredded cheese cheddar, colby, or pepper jack
  • 10 oz tortilla chips crushed (Frito's® brand suggested)
  • 1 small handful cilantro chopped (optional)
  • 3/4-1 cup thousand island dressing


  • In a sauté pan, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the onions and zucchini and sweat for 2-3 minutes. Add the ground meat and taco seasoning and cook until done, stirring around frequently to break up any large bits of meat. Remove from heat and set aside to cool.
  • In a large bowl, combine all the remaining ingredients except for the thousand island dressing. Toss together evenly. Once the meat has cooled almost to room temperature, add it and the dressing and mix until everything is coated evenly. Serve immediately. 

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What do you think?

  1. Betsy says:

    Yum. My aunt passed down a taco salad that is almost identical. But her recipe includes a can of “ranch style” beans. The can with the black label on the shelf. Instead of thousand island, it uses Wishbone Russian dressing. Have it made/had it forever, since it literally feeds 20 people. Looks like I can cut this recipe down more easily, so thank you!

  2. Kate says:

    This looks delicious! Do you have any vegetarian dishes that you could share too? My daughter recently cut meat from her diet and I’m struggling to find meals for our family.

    • Chris says:

      I have a few, but most can be adjusted to be vegetarian. To make this salad vegetarian, remove the meat, add one more zucchini and a hand full of chopped mushrooms in place of the meat (cook it the same way). :)

  3. lauren says:

    I just had flashbacks to eating this as a child. I am not sure how i forgot about it, but I can’t wait to make it for my family. Its soooo good!

  4. Charlie says:

    I never would’ve thought to try this with thousand island dressing! I eat a similar one and use Hidden Valleys “Southwest Chipotle” and its amaziinggg! Not spicy at all either ????

  5. Beka says:

    I grew up eating a similar version and boy is it delish! The Thousand Island dressing is what makes this recipe!

  6. Colette says:

    My mom makes something similar but with taco or nacho cheese doritos! Yum!

  7. Jess says:

    Love the recipes Chris shares!

  8. Meg says:

    I love the addition of zucchini – can’t wait to try!

  9. Liz says:

    OK – in the items lists, you have ” 10 oz bag romaine lettuce preached and cut”. So, what does “preached” mean, in cooking terms?

    And, do you have a recipe for thousand island dressing or do you use a bottled version? Thanks..

  10. katy says:

    But Julia can’t eat this because of her dietary restrictions right? Funny having a recipe on Chris Loves Julia that Julia can’t eat…

    • Chris says:

      I modify it for her. She told me to post the original.

      • jamie says:

        Yeah that’s odd, what are the modifications you make? It would be more helpful to share??

      • Julia says:

        I skip the cheese and beans, use Siete Tortilla chips instead of Fritos (they’re so good!!!) and Tessamae’s avacado ranch. I’ve had the original and it’s SO GOOD which is why I told Chris he has to post it, but even with these few substitutes it’s still good!

      • Janette says:

        I’d love to see the modifications you make to the recipe.

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