Healthy Taco Salad with Creamy Salsa Dressing
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As some of you know, I have a bonafide picky eater living under my roof. Salad is rarely on the menu but if I ever had a chance at sneaking one in, this healthy taco salad would be the one. Thanks to the super flavorful beef and low calorie creamy salsa dressing, the taste of any veggies are almost an afterthought.
I’ll cover potential ingredient modifications below, as always, but I figured I’d break down everything you need right off the bat. It’s super simple. You’ll need ground beef, Greek yogurt, salsa, tortillas, a bag of salad greens, queso fresco or your choice of cheese, and a handful of spices (or taco seasoning). It just barely creeps past the count the ingredients on one hand test, but I think the extra ingredient or two will be well worth your effort.
Ingredients for Healthy Taco Salad and Modification Notes
The core ingredients I mentioned above are all interchangeable. If you wanted to use cheddar cheese instead of queso fresco, you’re more than welcome to. And if you’d rather use ground turkey or chicken instead of beef, the recipe will work just fine with it. I would like to mention, however, that using a packet of taco seasoning might not live up to the beef seasoning in the recipe.
I like to think this taco salad is a bare bones version that you could make your own. Since my picky eater is extra particular about texture and ingredients mixing too much, I left out some things that are more difficult to work around. Here are a few ingredients worth adding:
- Cherry tomatoes
- Sliced avocado
- Pepitas or roasted pumpkin seeds
- Whole kernel corn or beans (my pan roasted corn and black beans would be great in this)
All this is not to say the salad needs these things. I happily finished off this entire recipe on my own without any added ingredients.
How to Make Tortilla Strips for Salad
This recipe uses a method for making tortilla strips I’ve never used before on the blog. If you’re familiar with any of my Tex-Mex recipes like the healthy nachos or chorizo taco soup, you’ve seen my baked lower calorie tortilla chips. Yum, I love those chips. But they require heating an oven and readying a baking sheet or wire rack. That’s not a ton of trouble, but I wanted to speed up the process and minimize cleaning for this healthy taco salad recipe.
That led to pan frying the tortilla strips (the same tortillas from the chips recipe) in the remaining beef fat from cooking the taco meat. And ermagherd, they’re super tasty thanks to the fat and seasoning mix.
I’ll say they aren’t as evenly crispy as the baked tortilla chips. They have crispy parts where they get slightly charred, and the parts that don’t have a satisfying warm and flavor packed bite to them.
That description probably doesn’t do them justice. You’ll just have to try them for yourself.
And in case you’re wondering, any tortilla will work here. So if you can’t find the Mission extra thin tortillas, don’t sweat it.
Creamy Salsa Dressing Recipe
Okay, this is barely a recipe. All you’ll need is fat free Greek yogurt and some of your favorite salsa. You could get super fancy and make your own salsa before adding the Greek yogurt, but I’m ’bout that get it on the table ASAP life.
That said, if you wanted an easy way to spruce up a basic salsa for your creamy salsa dressing, check out this mix from my healthy cheesy gordita crunch recipe.
- 1/8 tsp Black Pepper
- 1/8 tsp Garlic Powder
- 1/8 tsp Onion Powder
- 1/8 tsp Cayenne Pepper
- 1/2-1 tsp Stevia
- 1/2 tsp Lime Juice
And one last tip here: you’ll probably want to make this stuff in bulk. It’s amazing as a topping, sauce, or dip for just about anything. (I use it as a dipping sauce for my Tex-Mex Roasted Vegetables quesadilla.)
Healthy Taco Salad (Picky Eater Approved)
A somewhat picky eater friendly taco salad that's super easy to make and loaded with flavor.
- 1 lb Lean Ground Beef macros with 96/4
- 1 Tbsp Paprika
- 1 tsp Chili Powder
- 1 tsp Black Pepper
- 1/2 tsp Garlic Powder
- 1/2 tsp Cumin
- 1/8 tsp Cayenne Pepper optional
- 12 oz bag Salad Mix I used Dole "Greener Selection" with romaine, iceberg, carrots, and purple cabbage
- 3 oz Queso Fresco crumbled (or your choice of shredded cheese)
- 3 Mission Extra Thin Tortillas corn or flour
Creamy Salsa Dressing
- 1/2 C (113g) Fat Free Greek Yogurt
- 1/4 C (62g) Salsa your choice of salsa
Mix the beef seasoning ingredients (or open a packet of taco seasoning if you're in a hurry) in a small bowl. Set aside.
Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat with nonstick cooking spray. Once tha skillet is hot, add the beef and use a spatula to break it apart. Sprinkle the seasoning mix over the top of the meat. Continue to cook the beef until no pink remains.
While the beef cooks, use a pizza cutter or knife to cut the tortillas into thin strips. Optional: cut the strips in half. (You can also add a bit of lime juice and sea salt.)
Once the beef is fully cooked, transfer it to a plate and set aside. Try to keep most of the remaining fat in the pan. Add the tortilla strips to the pan, stirring often to avoid burning. Pan fry until crispy.
If you're using queso fresco, use a fork to crumble the cheese.
For the creamy salsa dressing, simply mix the Greek yogurt and salsa together in a small bowl.
Add the salad mix to a large bowl before adding the beef, queso fresco, and tortilla strips on top. Top with creamy salsa dressing before serving.
To find the weight of each serving for your salad (since weight will vary depending on ingredient mods), weigh the entire salad and divide that weight by four. For more help with using a food scale for tracking macros or cooking, check out my guide.
Salad for dinner, chocolate for dessert, right?
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