/ / Taco Salad Recipe: A Classic Side Dish Idea

Taco Salad Recipe: A Classic Side Dish Idea

Yum! You’ll love Taco Salad! This recipe is a classic summer side dish, great to bring to a barbecue or picnic with family and friends.

Need a delicious side dish to bring to a barbecue, potluck or backyard picnic? Taco Salad is a classic summer recipe that’s sure to be a crowd-pleaser!

Classic Taco Salad, Easy Summer Side Dish

The summer season is chock full of backyard barbecues, picnics and gatherings with friends, especially around the holidays like 4th of July and Labor Day. These fun events are almost always potlucks where each family brings one or two dishes to pass. With that in mind, Ashlyn from Belle of the Kitchen and I decided to trade side dish recipes for summer barbecues in our monthly Ideas for the Kitchen exchange for July.

One of my all time favorite side dishes to bring to a barbecue or potluck is a Classic Taco Salad recipe with big leafy lettuce, seasoned taco meat, black beans, diced red pepper, crushed nacho chips and shredded cheese. It goes great with our favorite Meatloaf Burgers or Ashlyn’s Bacon Ranch Turkey Burgers. While I originally shared this Classic Taco Salad recipe at Belle of the Kitchen a few weeks ago, Ashlyn was here sharing her delicious recipe for Cucumber Greek Salad. Be sure to check it out!

A close up of the ingredients in a summer salad made of taco meat, crushed chips, cheese, tomato and black beans with a tangy dressing

How to make a classic taco salad

The best part about a Classic Taco Salad recipe like this is you can do most of the prep work ahead of time. I’ve even made the seasoned ground taco meat weeks in advance and put it in the freezer until I was ready. Most often though, I just make the meat for the Classic Taco Salad recipe a day or two ahead of time and refrigerate it.

If I really want to keep it simple, I’ll even crush the nacho chips ahead of time. Then the day of the summer barbecue or picnic, all you have to do is toss the ingredients for the Classic Taco Salad together in a large bowl with some Catalina or french dressing and you’re ready for the festivities.

Salad with taco meat, crushed tortilla chips, black beans, tomatoes, and cheese makes an easy crowd pleasing side dish for any summer picnic or potluck

What you need:

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Kitchen tools needed:

Ingredients Needed:

These are the ingredients you’ll need. All the exact amounts are in the printable card at the bottom of this post.

I included black beans and chopped red pepper in this Classic Taco Salad recipe. You could easily use red kidney beans and chopped green pepper instead if you wanted a slightly different flavor. Or omit the beans and peppers all together if your family doesn’t like those vegetables. As long as you have shredded cheese, nacho chips and taco meat, you’ve got yourself a Classic Taco Salad recipe that’s sure to please everyone at the potluck.

Beef taco salad with crushed nacho chips, black beans, tomatoes, cheese and lettuce
Beef taco salad with crushed tortilla chips, black beans, tomatoes, cheese and lettuce
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3 from 2 votes

Classic Taco Salad Recipe

You'll love this taco salad recipe as a summer side dish to bring to a barbecue or picnic with family and friends.
Prep Time10 mins
Cook Time20 mins
Total Time30 mins
Course: Main Course, Salad, Salad / Side Dish
Cuisine: Mexican
Keyword: taco salad
Servings: 8
Calories: 555kcal
Author: Carrie Ypma


  • 1 pound Ground Beef
  • 1 Medium Onion chopped
  • 1 packet taco seasoning 1.25 oz
  • 2 – 9 oz packages romaine lettuce
  • 1 red pepper chopped
  • 1 can black beans drained and rinsed
  • 1 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese
  • 1 cup grape tomatoes
  • 16 oz Catalina or french dressing
  • 2 cups crushed nacho chips


  • In a large skillet, brown the ground beef with chopped onion over medium heat. Drain the grease.
  • Add taco seasoning and water per instructions on the packet. Bring the taco seasoning to a boil, then lower the heat to simmer for 5 minutes. Set aside and allow the taco meat to thoroughly cool.
  • Put romaine lettuce in a large bowl. Add chopped red pepper, black beans, crushed nacho chips, half of the shredded cheese, half of the grape tomatoes and all of the taco meat.
  • Pour Catalina dressing over the classic taco salad and toss to coat.
  • Top with the remaining shredded cheese and grape tomatoes. Chill until you’re ready to serve. Enjoy!


Calories: 555kcal | Carbohydrates: 32g | Protein: 19g | Fat: 40g | Saturated Fat: 8g | Cholesterol: 50mg | Sodium: 736mg | Potassium: 502mg | Fiber: 3g | Sugar: 12g | Vitamin A: 4432IU | Vitamin C: 26mg | Calcium: 188mg | Iron: 3mg
Did you make this recipe?Tag us on Instagram at @kenarryideas or leave us a comment rating below.
Lettuce topped with ground beef, tomatoes, crushed tortilla chips, black beans, and cheese to make a crowd pleasing taco salad for any summer picnic or potluck

Classic Taco Salad Recipe Suggestions

There are many ways you can prepare this Classic Taco Salad recipe. Here are a few serving suggestions:

  • This Classic Taco Salad recipe is designed to feed a large crowd. What you see in the photos is only a small fraction of what the recipe makes. 
  • Get creative! Add other fruits and vegetables your family enjoys, like avocado, sliced olives and chopped cucumber.
  • Make it spicier by using a hot taco seasoning packet with your ground beef or shredded pepper jack cheese.
  • If you prefer a creamier salad, I’ve seen people use thousand island salad dressing instead of Catalina or french dressing.
  • Leftovers from this Classic Taco Salad are good for a day or two as long as you keep the grape tomatoes whole. Just add a handful or two of crushed nacho chips to freshen it up. If you use chopped tomatoes or slice the grape tomatoes in half when you make the Classic Taco Salad recipe, the salad will become soggy by the next day.
Lettuce topped with ground beef, crushed tortilla chips, black beans, tomatoes, and cheese to make a crowd pleasing taco salad for any summer picnic or potluck

What’s your favorite dish to bring to a summer barbecue or potluck, please comment below and share. We are always looking for new ideas.

While you’re here, I think you’d also love these recipes for your summer barbecue –

If you liked this Classic Taco Salad recipe, please share it with your friends or pin it for later:

Classic Taco Salad, Easy Summer Side Dish from Ideas for the Home by Kenarry

Originally published July 2015. Updated July 2019. Photos updated February 2020. 


  1. I’ve been cooking this for years. It’s a family favorite that we also use as an entre during our family beach trips. It makes a great one dish meal that’s easy and delicious! Thanks for reminding me!!!

  2. This looks delicious. Great idea for a quick, summer meal. Thanks for sharing on Sunday’s Best. I Pinned this recipe!

    1. Thanks Rhonda! That’s the great thing about a taco salad like this – it can be an easy side dish or a delicious main meal. Enjoy and thanks for pinning!

  3. Now that I have one teenager that will actually eat lettuce and tomatoes (the tween won’t touch either lol) maybe I can start making things like this for the family to enjoy. I love a good taco salad … and I hate that for me to make them at home would be a waste of energy and food lol! I might actually see if I can do a simpler version without all the “extras” that the tween would eat … might be doable!

    1. You mean there’s hope, Kim?! My five year old and 2 1/2 year old won’t touch the taco salad either. I end up just picking out the meat for them whenever I made it. The great thing about a salad like this is you could just start by mixing the parts your tween would like, set his portion aside and then mix it up for the rest of you. Enjoy!

  4. I have found a new found love for tacos this summer and this is a great way to change things up a bit…thanks so much for sharing it with us at The Mommy Monday Blog Hop!

    1. Welcome to the love of all things taco, Tiffany! We try to have some variation every Tuesday for dinner. Thanks for visiting from The Mommy Monday Blog Hop!

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