Easy Layered Taco Salad Recipe

A trifle bowl of layered taco salad with a sliced onion and avocado.

This easy layered taco salad is inspired by a classic taco salad recipe my mom made all the time when I was growing up.

It was one of those retro, faux-Mexican dishes that we kids loved.

She used cooked ground beef, taco seasoning, tubs of sour cream, crushed tortilla chips, shredded cheddar cheese, iceberg lettuce, green onions, and black olives.

It wasn’t healthy, but it was delicious.

Creating a layered taco salad

To recreate it as a layered taco salad, I made it in a trifle bowl.

Inspired by my 7 Can Taco Soup and Slow Cooker Pulled Pork Tacos recipes, I used wholesome ingredients like beans, corn, low-fat cheese, diced red onions, salsa, and avocados.

It’s such a hit with my kids that I make it at least once a month for taco night. We rarely have leftovers because my kids think this is the best taco salad.

It's a shame because this easy recipe tastes even better the second day.

Taco salad in a trifle bowl with onion, avocado and serving utensils.

Ingredients

Here’s you’re ingredient checklist:

ripe avocados – if you can’t find ripe regular avocadoes, look in the organic section.

nonfat Greek yogurt – this is a healthy alternative to sour cream and better than low-fat sour cream.

fresh lime juice

salt

hot sauce, to taste

lean ground beef or ground turkey

store-bought or homemade taco seasoning mix – I like making my own own taco seasoning since I don't have to worry about hidden gluten, MSG, sugar, dairy, or weird fillers.

Romaine lettuce, chopped – buy already chopped lettuce to save time.

tortilla chips – this recipe is a great way to use broken tortilla chips. Keep them in a Ziploc bag in the freezer, so they don't get stale.

salsa – use your favorite style

canned pinto beans – you could also use black beans or red beans.

canned sweet corn with red and green peppers – plain canned sweet corn is OK to use, too.

low-fat shredded Mexican cheese blend – you can also use shredded Monterey jack, sharp cheddar cheese, or pepper jack.

chopped tomato

diced red onion – you can also use sweet yellow onions.

How to make layered taco salad

1. To make the guacamole layer, cut the avocado in half. Remove the avocado pit and scoop out the flesh with a spoon into a small bowl. Mash avocado with a fork to break it up.

2. Add the Greek yogurt, lime juice, salt, and hot sauce (to taste). Stir until ingredients are combined.

3. Cook seasoned taco meat in a heavy skillet over medium-high heat according to package directions.

(You can also use this easy Crockpot Taco Meat recipe.)

Remember to let the seasoned ground beef cool before using it in the salad so it doesn’t wilt the lettuce.

4. Assemble the taco salad in a glass trifle bowl in the following order:

  • The cooked taco seasoned ground beef goes at the bottom.
  • Follow with half the lettuce.
  • Then add the pinto beans, corn, salsa, tortilla chips, and remaining Romaine lettuce.
  • Finally, add the guacamole, shredded cheese, chopped tomato, and diced red onion to the top of the salad.

5. Keep chilled until served.

A colorful striped plate of taco salad with beans, tomatoes, salad, corn, lettuce, and cheese served with a fork.

FAQs

What kind of ground meat?

I usually use either lean ground beef or lean ground turkey.

But you can use any type of lean meat like ground chicken or ground venison.

I avoid using a high-fat meat like ground lamb, since they’re too greasy.

What else can I add to this salad?

If you like, you can add the following optional salad ingredients to the salad bowl:

  • black olives
  • diced red bell pepper
  • a layer of vegetarian refried beans
  • chilies
  • jalapeno peppers
  • grape tomatoes (cut in half, they make a pretty layer)
  • iceberg lettuce (not as healthy as romaine, but it’ll do)

How to serve up taco salad

It's time to dust off your trifle bowl. I use it in so many recipes like Red White and Blue TrifleMexican Christmas Salad, and Seven Layer Salad.

Or double the recipe and use a large punch bowl, glass bowl, or a large mixing bowl with high sides.

Use salad tongs to spoon it on everyone’s plate. You can also serve it in taco shells or wrap it in flour tortillas.

A plate of taco salad on a striped plate with a fork and taco salad in a trifle bowl in the background.

Can I make this in advance?

If you’re preparing this for a party, brown ground beef, chop the lettuce, onion, lettuce,, tomatoes, and so on.

Wait to prepare the chop the avocados so the guacamole doesn’t brown.

Put everything in baggies or containers in the fridge. Then assemble the salad just before your guests arrive.

That way the chips will stay crunchy and the lettuce won’t start to wilt.

However, if you have leftovers, make sure to keep it in an airtight container in the fridge.

This layered taco salad is so tasty that you'll put up with wilted lettuce and mushy chips as a great meal until it’s all gone.

Take this healthy taco salad on the go

If you're taking your layered taco salad to a potluck, make it in a large lasagna pan with a lid.

Carry it in a Rachael Ray Lasagna Lugger since it keeps this easy taco salad recipe cold and tidy.

Don't forget to bring salad tongs, too!

More Mexican recipes

Check out these great recipes:

The Best Authentic Carne Asada Marinade Recipe makes awesome tacos, burritos, nachos, or fries.

If you’re looking for an easy taco dip for a party, try this Layered Taco Dip Recipe with Ground Beef and Cream Cheese.

Easy Mexican Rice can be made 10 minutes as a side for tacos or burritos.

Easy Breakfast Chilaquiles is also terrific for dinner.

Chicken Enchilada Casserole is a crowd pleasing casserole that can be made with leftover chicken.

Make your own Quick & Healthy Horchata at home.

What are your favorite Mexican dishes?

Yield: 8 SERVINGS

Easy Layered Taco Salad Recipe

Chopped & Layered Taco Salad Recipe

This Chopped & Layered Taco Salad Recipe is a family favorite. Serve this healthy layered taco salad at parties and potlucks.

Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Total Time 1 hour

Ingredients

Guacamole layer

  • 2 whole ripe avocados
  • 1/2 cup nonfat Greek yogurt
  • 1 teaspoon fresh lime juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • Hot sauce, to taste

Taco meat layer

  • 1 pound lean ground beef or ground turkey
  • 1 12-ounce package taco seasoning mix (or 2 tablespoons homemade taco seasoning mix)

Salad layers

  • 4 cups chopped Romaine lettuce, divided
  • 1 cup crumbled tortilla chips
  • 1 cup salsa (your favorite style)
  • 1 15-ounce can pinto beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 15-ounce can sweet corn with red and green peppers, drained and rinsed
  • 1/2 cup low-fat shredded Mexican cheese blend
  • 3/4 cup chopped tomato
  • 1/3 cup diced red onion

Instructions

Guacamole layer

  1. To prepare the guacamole layer, cut the avocado in half. Remove the avocado pit and scoop out the flesh with a spoon into a small bowl. Mash avocado with a fork to break it up.
  2. Add the Greek yogurt, lime juice, salt, and hot sauce (to taste). Stir until ingredients are combined.

Taco meat layer

  1. Cook seasoned the lean ground meat in a heavy skillet according to taco seasoning mix package directions.
  2. If using homemade taco seasoning mix, add the homemade taco seasoning mix and 1/2 cup water to the ground meat.
  3. Break the ground meat into smaller and smaller pieces with a spatula. Cook until completely browned all the way through.
  4. Remove the skillet from the stovetop and let cool.

Salad layers

  1. Assemble the taco salad in a glass trifle bowl in the following order. The cooked taco seasoned ground beef goes at the bottom. Follow with half the Romaine lettuce.
  2. Then add the pinto beans, corn, salsa, tortilla chips, and remaining Romaine lettuce.
  3. Then add the guacamole, shredded cheese, chopped tomato, and diced red onion.
  4. Keep chilled until served.

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Nutrition Information:

Yield:

8

Serving Size:

1

Amount Per Serving: Calories: 569Total Fat: 20gSaturated Fat: 6gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 12gCholesterol: 69mgSodium: 3646mgCarbohydrates: 61gFiber: 12gSugar: 12gProtein: 32g

Nutritional information is automatically calculated per the ingredients list. Serving size may not be accurate. Please double-check with your preferred nutritional app for the most accurate information.

Originally published on August 12, 2015. Updated with new pictures and information.

One thought on “Easy Layered Taco Salad Recipe

  1. Karen

    Excellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 stars
    I made this salad tonight for dinner, love it, and will make it again. Very good recipe for a hot, in the 90’s. night. thanks for the recipe.

    Reply

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