Taco Salad Bowl

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Easy taco salad bowls start with a bed of crispy fresh lettuce and are topped with delicious vegetables and lean ground turkey taco meat. Serve it hot for dinner or stash it in the fridge and serve it cold for easy lunches all week.

The taco salad bowl has ground turkey, tomatoes, shredded cheese, and tortilla strips.

If your kids are as obsessed with tacos as mine are, you need to try this lighter approach to Taco Tuesday!

A big leafy green taco salad bowl has savory taco meat, shredded cheese, and a delicious dressing to mix in with all those fresh crispy vegetables.

This easy dinner idea was such a hit, my kids asked if I could also make it for their school lunches soon!

Why This is the Best Recipe

My kids could eat tacos every night of the week but it is important to me to get as many veggies into them at dinnertime as I can. I think this is the best taco salad recipe because:

  1. Huge Hit with the Kids: This is the best of both worlds, the kids love the savory taco meat and shredded cheese on top, I love all the fresh vegetables hiding underneath.
  2. Easy to Tweak: I offer lots of fresh veggie options and let the kids mix and match what goes into their taco salad bowl.
  3. Meal Prep Friendly: You can serve the salad hot and fresh for dinner or cool the taco meat down and make meal prep salad kits for lunches during the week.


The ingredients to assemble a taco salad are on the counter.

While there are countless ways you could mix this recipe up, a basic taco salad needs the following ingredients:

  • Ground Turkey: I love how light ground turkey tastes in this dish. You could substitute ground beef, ground pork, or even ground chicken if you prefer. You could also season a shredded rotisserie chicken if you wanted to keep it extra easy.
  • Taco Seasoning: You can use any taco seasoning you love from mild to spicy. I am currently in love with this particular taco seasoning, I buy it by the bag full.
  • Romaine Lettuce: I wash and chop fresh romaine lettuce heads because they have the best texture. You can substitute any salad greens you want.
  • Cherry Tomatoes
  • Frozen Corn
  • Green Onions
  • Shredded Cheddar Cheese: A Mexi-blend of cheese would be great, too.
  • Tortilla Salad Strips: You'll find these in the salad topping section of the grocery store, they are very thin tortilla strips for salads. You could always break up regular tortilla chips or even use Doritos chips if you prefer.

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Best Dressing for Taco Salads

There are 3 great options for dressing a taco salad:

  1. Cilantro Lime Ranch: I make this homemade cilantro lime ranch dressing with roasted tomatillos and it is both easy and delicious. You could substitute your favorite prepared ranch and just add some fresh cilantro and a squeeze of lime juice if you prefer.
  2. Catalina Dressing: Catalina is an excellent choice for a taco salad because it has a vinegary tomato flavor that complements the savory taco meat.
  3. Fresh Salsa and/or Sour Cream: To keep things extra wholesome and light, you could skip the salad dressing and just use a fresh salsa and a dollop of sour cream on top.

Prep the Taco Meat

You'll prepare the taco meat for the salad just like you would regular ground beef tacos.

Add the olive oil to a large skillet set over medium-high heat.

Add the ground turkey meat and cook it until no longer pink, breaking it up with a spoon as it cooks.

Add the taco seasoning and stir. Cook until fragrant, about 1 minute.

Add the water to the pan, it will help the seasoning become slightly sauce-like. Cook for 2 minutes.

Meal Prep Tips

The salad has been drizzled with a cilantro lime ranch dressing.

Taco salads are an excellent meal prep or meal kit option for busy days.

Meal Prep the Meat

Prep the taco meat and if you're not serving it right away, let it cool and then store it in the fridge for up to 1 week.

You could also freeze the cooked taco meat for using on a taco salad later.

The meat is delicious served either hot or cold.

You can reheat it in the microwave before adding it to the salad or you can eat it straight from the fridge nice and cold.

Meal Prep the Salad

If you're not eating the salad right away, you have two options for your meal prep:

  1. Store all the ingredients separately in the fridge and build each salad just before eating.
  2. Mix the salad together and divide among meal prep containers for easy grab-and-go lunches.

Either way, just be sure to store the taco meat, the salad ingredients, and the dressing all separately. Assemble just before serving.


There are so many delicious vegetables and toppings you could add to a taco salad bowl:

  • Bell Peppers: chopped fresh peppers or even my roasted mini peppers would be delicious.
  • Black Beans: Skip the meat and add black beans for protein instead.
  • Taco Slaw: Enjoy crispy cabbage on your tacos? Use your favorite taco slaw on this salad.
  • Pickled Jalapenos: Want it spicier? Add some jalapeno peppers to the mix.
  • Pepperjack Cheese: A nice way to add more heat.
  • Taco Sauce: We like ours with a little drizzle of Valentina hot sauce now and then.
  • Roasted Tomatillos: I added these to my cilantro lime ranch dressing but you could roast them and use them on the salad warm or cold.

Serving Suggestions

A fresh taco salad with lettuce and fresh tomatoes has ground turkey on top.

I served this easy taco salad bowl with hot taco meat for a lighter dinner and I was thrilled to see how much my kids loved it.

We had lots of leftovers and I enjoyed it cold for lunch the next day.

I would absolutely consider making this again for school lunches for my teens as a delicious alternative to their daily sandwiches.

It would also be a fun alternative to Taco Tuesday dinners!

More Easy Salad Recipes

Looking for more easy salads to serve your family? Don't miss these easy recipes:

📖 Recipe

The taco salad bowl has ground turkey, tomatoes, shredded cheese, and tortilla strips.

Taco Salad Bowl

5 from 1 vote
Easy meal prep taco salad bowls can be topped with hot taco meat for a delicious dinner or stored in the fridge and served cold for easy lunches all week long.
TOTAL TIME 30 minutes
PREP TIME 20 minutes
COOK TIME 10 minutes
YIELD 6 servings


For the Taco Meat:

  • 1 pound ground turkey or ground beef or ground pork
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/4 cup taco seasoning or 1 taco seasoning packet
  • 1/2 cup water

For the Taco Salad Bowl:

  • 3 heads fresh romaine lettuce
  • 1 pint cherry tomatoes
  • 3 - 4 green onions chopped
  • 1 (10 oz) bag of frozen corn thawed
  • 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
  • 1 cup tortilla strips salad toppers from the salad toppings section of the grocery store

For the Dressing: PICK ONE

  • 1 batch cilantro lime ranch dressing homemade or you could buy a prepared bottle from the store
  • 1 cup fresh salsa
  • 1 bottle prepared Catalina dressing


Prepare the Taco Meat:

  • In a large skillet over medium-high heat, add the olive oil and ground meat. Cook the ground turkey until no longer pink, breaking it up with the back of your spoon as it browns.
  • Stir the taco seasoning into the meat and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds - 1 minute. Pour in the water and stir. Cook the taco meat for 2 minutes to let the water turn the taco seasonings into a sauce.

Prepare the Salad:

  • Wash and chop the romaine lettuce. Rinse and slice the tomatoes. Chop the green onions.
  • If serving immediately: Add all the salad ingredients to a large mixing bowl and toss them together.
  • If making salad meal kits: Store the salad ingredients separately in the fridge.

Assemble and Serve:

  • Fill individual salad bowls with the prepared vegetable mixture. Top with 1/2 cup taco meat. Drizzle with the salad dressing of your choice and enjoy immediately. The taco salads are delicious when the meat is fresh and hot from the skillet for dinner but is also delicious served cold the next day.
  • Meal Kit Tip: You can fill individual meal prep containers with the prepared salad mixture for a week of easy lunches. Just store the taco meat in a separate container so it doesn't wilt your salad greens in storage.

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The photo collage shows the taco bowl next to the ingredients used to make it.


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