Enjoy this fresh, tangy twist on a mouth-watering taco salad! This Ground Beef Taco Salad is elevated by the vibrant flavors of my Cilantro Lime Vinaigrette!
When the craving for Mexican cuisine strikes (which for me is often/daily), it’s good to have quick, simple recipes on hand to scratch that itch. That's why we here at GBR are always ready with recipes like Air Fryer Taquitos, Mexican Cornbread Casserole, or Ground Beef Empanadas.
No matter if you like your taco ingredients in the form of traditional Ground Beef Tacos, as a Layered Taco Dip with Meat, as a Taco Cheeseburger, or even as a Taco Spaghetti, we have got you covered.
Today we go with your favorite zesty taco flavors in a bowl of crisp lettuce and crunchy chips, topped with a fresh herby dressing. This Ground Beef Taco Salad with Cilantro Lime Vinaigrette is one of those recipes that not only satisfies your craving, but does so in no time flat with bright, bold flavors.
Why You'll Love this Ground Beef Taco Salad
- Light, refreshing flavors elevate this dish to “not your average taco salad recipe” status. My taco salad dressing with lime and cilantro makes all the difference. Your taste buds may just do a little happy dance.
- It’s Mexican food and it’s a salad. Can we say “winning?”
- This recipe features simple ingredients that are easy to find - you probably have most of them on hand. Make them yourself or grab the store-bought versions. Just get cooking.
- This is no ordinary side salad; its got the chops to serve as a main course!
- Taco Salad scales. So no matter how big your hungry crowd is, this recipe has you covered (so long as you've got a big enough bowl).
Key Ingredients And Substitutions
- Ground Beef - Don’t let all those numbers distract you. Opt for a relatively high fat content to ensure juicy, flavorful taco meat. 80% lean is a great choice, but any ground beef will do.
- Taco Seasoning - If you have a few minutes - and that’s seriously all it takes - I highly recommend mixing up a batch of my Homemade Taco Seasoning. Chances are, you already have the necessary ingredients hanging out in your pantry just waiting for their moment to shine. Having a jar of this versatile seasoning in your arsenal is a game changer. No time to mix it up? No shame in the store-bought game. Grab that packet and go.
- Romaine Lettuce - Yes, any lettuce will get the job done, but romaine - crispy, crunchy, chilled romaine provides a delightful, cool crunch.
- Avocados - Look for avocados that are a little squishy (that’s a technical term, right?) but definitely not mushy - again, we like to be technical with our culinary terms around here. When you press with your fingers, they should give a little. If it’s firm and unyielding, put it back or give them a few days to ripen before making your taco salad.
- Shredded Mexican Blend Cheese - There are myriad choices when it comes to cheese blends. Cheddar? Naturally. Monterey Jack? Absolutely. Cotija? Fancy and I like your style.
- Black Bean and Corn Salsa - Let’s talk toppings, y’all. A standout on its own, my Black Bean and Corn Salsa recipe is also the perfect addition atop this Ground Beef Taco Salad. Have leftovers? It functions beautifully as an appetizer served with these Air Fryer Tortilla Chips. Who doesn’t love a recipe that pulls double duty, am I right? If you don’t feel like making it, simply combine half a cup each of black beans and corn, and season with a little salt. Boom. Done.
- Cherry Tomatoes - Any tomatoes will do, but cherry tomatoes tend to add less moisture and mess to your salad.
- Red Onions - Add as many or as few as you’d like - raw, sauteed or even pickled red onions give this dish a little extra bite. If you don’t have red on hand, any onions will do. Not an onion lover? Feel free to omit them.
- Crispy Tortilla Strips - This all-star topping hits all the notes - crunchy, crispy, savory and versatile. These can usually be found in the salad dressing/condiments section of most grocery stores, or you can sub Fritos.
- Red Wine Vinegar - the base of all vinaigrette, this tart ingredient gives salad dressings their zing.
- Lime - vibrant, citrusy lime gives the dressing its signature flavor.
- Honey - Honey adds an element of sweetness that balances the citrus of the lime and tang of the red wine vinegar.
- Cilantro - Ah, cilantro. The love- it-or-hate-it herb of the hour. This much-maligned ingredient is a game changer in this dressing. Set "The Great Cilantro Debate" aside and give it a try in our Lime Cilantro Vinaigrette. You might just find you love it after all!
- Garlic - Fragrant and savory with a potent acidity that somehow elevates everything around it. Surely we can all agree that garlic makes everything better, yes?
How To Make Ground Beef Taco Salad With Cilantro Lime Vinaigrette
- In a large skillet (non-stick, stainless, or cast iron), heat the oil over medium heat. Add the ground beef and let the fat start to render. Sprinkle on the taco seasoning, and cook, breaking up any large chunks with a wooden spoon, until the meat is browned and no pink remains, about 7-8 minutes. Drain any excess fat, then remove from heat and set aside. I like to line a large plate with a paper towel to absorb some of the grease.
- To prepare the vinaigrette, grab all the necessary ingredients and a food processor or heavy-duty blender. Combine olive oil, vinegar, lime juice, garlic, honey, and cilantro. Pulse until the mixture is beautifully emulsified and well combined. Take a little taste and add salt and pepper as needed.
- Grab 4 of your most festive bowls and divide the lettuce evenly among them. Add the meat mixture to each bowl and top with ½ an avocado, scoop of cheese, scoop of salsa, several cherry tomato halves, and red onion. Serve with vinaigrette and congratulate yourself on a dish well done!
Tips For Making Taco Salad
- Serve immediately while the meat is warm.
- Store any leftover meat separate from the toppings. Quickly reheat the meat on the stove or in the microwave. Add toppings and enjoy round 2!
- Store the Cilantro Lime Dressing in the refrigerator in a sealed glass or plastic container for up to one week.
- Play around with your toppings! This dish is so customizable and there are no rules. If you love it, add it - if you don’t, leave it out. You’re the boss.
- If you have a food processor, use it for the Cilantro Lime Dressing. If not, a high-power blender will get the job done.
- Need a little more from this dish? Perhaps you’re feeding a hungry teenager and want to bulk it up a bit. I got you. Add brown or yellow rice prior to the lettuce and remaining toppings, or up the amount of beans you use.
More Delicious Dinner Salad Recipes
If you enjoyed this Ground Beef Taco Salad, try this fun variation for Doritos Taco Salad.
We also love this Big Mac Salad for a quick weeknight meal.
Our kids love this incredible Taco Pasta Salad.
And if you need a little Panera fix, give our Panera Asian Sesame Salad a try.
Ground Beef Taco Salad
- 2 teaspoons oil of your choice
- 1 lb. ground beef
- 1 ½ Tablespoons taco seasoning
- 2 romaine lettuce hearts (chopped)
- 2 avocados (pitted and sliced)
- ½ cup shredded Mexican blend cheese
- 1 cup black bean and corn salsa
- 1 cup cherry tomatoes (halved)
- ½ red onion (thinly sliced)
- 1 cup crispy tortilla strips (store bought or homemade)
For the vinaigrette:
- ½ cup olive oil
- 3 Tablespoons red wine vinegar
- Juice of 1 lime
- 1 garlic clove (minced)
- 2 teaspoons honey
- ½ cup packed cilantro leaves
- Salt and pepper (to taste)
- In a large skillet, heat the oil over medium heat. Add the ground beef, sprinkle on the taco seasoning, and cook, breaking up any large chunks, until the meat is browned and no pink remains, about 7-8 minutes. Drain any excess fat, then remove from heat and set aside.
- Meanwhile, prepare the vinaigrette. In a food processor, combine olive oil, vinegar, lime juice, garlic, honey, and cilantro. Pulse until the mixture is well combined. Taste and add salt and pepper as needed.
- Divide the lettuce evenly among four bowls. Top each with ½ an avocado, scoop of cheese, scoop of salsa, several cherry tomato halves, and red onion. Serve with vinaigrette.
- If you prefer NOT to make the salsa, it can be substituted with ½ cup black beans and ½ cup fresh corn kernels, seasoned with salt.
- 1 packet of taco seasoning can be used in place of the homemade taco seasoning.
- Dressing and salsa can be made up to 3 days in advance and stored in the fridge.
More Mexican-Inspired Recipes
Can one have too many Mexican-inspired recipes on hand? No. The answer is no. If there’s a place where too many Mexican recipes is a thing, I don’t want to visit. If you enjoy this Ground Beef Taco Salad, be sure to check out these favorites as well:
Crock Pot Taco Meat (can be used instead of the skillet method)
Big Mac Salad is like this taco salad's decidedly American cousin.
Taco Pasta Salad invites some cool noodles to the taco salad party.