Taco Salad {for one or a crowd}

taco saladThis taco salad has been in my regular meal rotation ever since I left home and began to cook for myself. It’s quick, easy, delicious, and can be made as healthy or decadent as you wish. It can also easily be scaled down to one individual salad or scaled up to feed a crowd. It is one of my all-time favorite go-to meals.

I sometimes refer to this as “Minnesota Taco Salad.” I actually have no idea if this is the way all or many Minnesotans make taco salad, or if it was just my family or my hometown area, but when I have made it for people here in Colorado where I live now, they seem to be unfamiliar with it. Not too long ago a local friend of mine told me out of the blue that she “still makes my taco salad,” and I don’t even remember having made it for her. It was new to her when I made it, and apparently, she likes it. If you try it, you are almost sure to like it too.

So what’s the secret and what’s so special? Western salad dressing and nacho cheese Doritos. Growing up, I didn’t know that anywestern and doritos other salad dressings existed than Western. It was the only option at our house. Ranch dressing suddenly seemed to be all the rage in the ’90s, but before that, I only knew Western. Western is a “rich and creamy French dressing” according to the label. Whatever it is, it makes a darn good taco salad.

I think the Doritos require no explanation, right? Doritos are oh so bad for you but oh so yummy. Taco Bell now serves taco shells made out of Doritos. Brilliant!

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Taco Salad {for one or a crowd}

Ingredients (for a crowd): (you can certainly add or subtract from this list as suits your tastes)taco salad ingredients

  • 1 pound ground beef (you could substitute turkey)
  • taco seasoning (a store-bought packet or a mix of your own)–I use this homemade mix from Brown-eyed Baker
  • 1 head iceberg or another lettuce you prefer, chopped (I know iceberg is not favored for nutrition, but I love the crunch. I don’t think I knew there were any other kinds of lettuce until I was over 20.)
  • 2-3 Roma tomatoes or another variety you prefer, diced
  • 1 large can of black olives, sliced
  • 1-2 cups of shredded sharp cheddar, Mexican, or another variety of cheese you like
  • 1/2 cup (or to taste) sour cream
  • Western salad dressing, enough to lightly coat the salad mixture
  • nacho cheese Doritos, amount to your preference
  • Other options: avocado, salsa, diced onion, black beans, guacamole, etc.

*Remember, I said you could make this as decadent or as healthy as you wish. I very seldom splurge on Doritos in my taco salad anymore (I did it today for you because I care about you); I usually leave out chips entirely or I will put just a few tortilla chips or even a few of the homemade tortilla strips I shared with you in the Southwest Salad recipe. It’s not that I don’t love them, but I need to be able to fit into some of my clothes. As horrible as it is to confess, I will occasionally use a lighter French dressing in place of the Western. I have not been able to find the light Western at the stores here; sometimes my parents will bring it from MN for me, but sometimes I go with something else. Nothing else is as good as Western and Doritos, but sometimes I will make those cuts to save a few calories. Of course, you can also easily choose a lighter sour cream or even Greek yogurt. If you don’t want to use meat, you could sub seasoned black beans for the hamburger. Or—you can just go for the fully loaded taco salad I’ve been telling you about. You can be even more decadent by serving the salad in a tortilla bowl. I think this would make it fancy enough to serve to company.


  1. Brown the hamburger in a skillet and add taco seasoning as per the packet directions or according to your homemade mix’s directions.Taco meat
  2. Toss all of the chopped lettuce, olives, tomatoes, cheese, and seasoned hamburger together in a large bowl. If you are not eating it right away, put it in the refrigerator to chill.
  3. Just before serving, add Western dressing and sour cream and toss to lightly coat the salad mixture. Add crushed Doritos to the salad and toss again. ts mix
  4. Serve on plates or in salad bowls.
  5. (Leftovers of dressed salad will quickly become soggy. It is best to eat it fresh.)

Taco Salad {for one or a crowd}

Ingredients and directions (for one):

  • I usually buy hamburger in 1 pound blocks, so I will still brown a pound of hamburger and season it, but then I layer all of the other ingredients on a single plate or bowl in an amount appropriate for one (one diced Roma tomato, a tablespoon or so of sliced olives, a few tablespoons of cheese, etc.). I will keep the extra meat for leftovers or freeze it for the next time I want taco salad. Of course, you could also just make a smaller quantity of meat if you prefer.
  • Toss all of the ingredients together on your plate or in your bowl and enjoy.

    I’m curious. Is this the way you make taco salad or is this new to you?

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2 Comments on “Taco Salad {for one or a crowd}

  1. Pingback: Labor Day Recipe Roundup | Christine's Taste of Heaven

  2. Omg I lived in Minnesota for 3-4 years and now I’m living in my hometown Utah. I have looked everywhere for Western Dressing. After about 2-3 years of looking I gave up. Now 10 years later I got on Amazon and I was able to order Western Dressing. I lost my recipe but never forgot. I google MN taco salad w/western dressing and I got your recipe. Thank you Thank you

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