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Delicious Tex-Mex Doritos Taco Salad is loaded with ground beef taco meat, kidney beans, cheese, green onions, avocado, tomatoes and Nacho Cheese Doritos. It's a family favorite that we like to serve at potlucks and family dinner on hot summer nights!
Tex-Mex Doritos Taco Salad Recipe
Salads are my weakness. I don't mean that in a pseudo-shameful way like I go hide in the closet to eat salad all that time - that would be what I do with chocolate chip cookies. I mean that salads are probably my biggest weakness in the kitchen.
This crazy good Doritos Taco Salad is an exception. It seems like some people can just pull salad components out of thin air and create fresh, crisp, beautiful plates full of leafy greens and veggies and nuts and dressings. I have serious envy of those people because I really do love a good salad!
My mom made this every summer while I was growing up in the 90's. It's one of those tried-and-true family recipes that comes back every year when the weather heats up and nothing sounds better than salad for dinner.
I had to actually pay attention to the measurements I included in this "recipe" since I have made this so many times that I typically just starting grabbing the ingredients and throwing it together without thinking.
The most important thing to know is that if you mix the salad together ahead of time, the chips will get soggy and the lettuce will get wilted and it will be no bueno. So wait until the very last second to dress and mix your taco salad before serving.
I tend to make an extra large batch of salad ingredients and store them in separate containers so that I can quickly and easily throw this together for lunch the next day, but I don't recommend keeping leftovers that have already been mixed up.
This Doritos taco salad recipe is also a proven kid-pleaser. Clara (who admittedly loves all salad and asks for it for breakfast) will scarf down an already huge plateful of Doritos taco salad and then ask for a second helping.
And even Rose, who usually turns up her nose at lettuce and just picks through looking for avocados, cheese and meat, will eat this salad in its entirety. When she's in the mood. She's 2.
*I'm updating this post with new pictures and better organization a few years after originally posting it back on August 1, 2016 and my girls still love this salad. To the point that they will ask for seconds, and thirds whenever we are having Doritos taco salad for dinner.
What is in a Taco Salad?
Truth be told, it is so loaded with hearty, satisfying ingredients that it hardly feels like a salad at all. It's a fantastic balance of textures and flavors with savory taco meat, creamy avocados, juicy ripe tomatoes, red kidney beans, nice crispness from the cold lettuce, and crunchy Nacho Cheese Doritos.
This is more like an American Tex-Mex salad than anything resembling anything remotely close to being thought of as "authentic" Mexican food, especially thanks to the American snack food addition of Doritos and Thousand Island dressing. But it still delivers as a crowd-pleaser, every time.
How to Make Doritos Taco Salad
- Start by browning a pound of ground beef. Drain the grease, add the taco seasoning - you know the drill. You can let the taco meat cool and store it in the fridge at this point, if you are making this ahead of time, or proceed while the taco meat is still warm.
- Chop the lettuce, tomatoes, green onions, and cilantro, and grate the cheese. Drain the kidney beans.
- Toss all of the salad ingredients together in a large bowl. Serve immediately!
Variations on the Best Taco Salad Recipe
I love how laid-back this taco salad recipe is. I have done each of the variations below at some point in my life, based on what ingredients we had on hand or what I was feeling like at the time.
- We always use Thousand Island dressing on this taco salad, but I know that some people prefer using Catalina dressing instead. Really, any dressing you like would work.
- Or eliminate the dressing altogether and just use sour cream and salsa or guacamole to "dress" the salad.
- Chopped bell peppers or sliced olives are popular additions, but since two of the four of us aren't olive fans, they typically get left out. Grilled corn is another great addition.
- Substitute any flavor of Doritos or even just plain tortilla chips for the Nacho Cheese Doritos, if you like.
- You can throw in a few handfuls of spring mix, but I definitely recommend using a crunchy lettuce like Romaine or iceberg as the base of this salad.
- Swap out the cheddar cheese for Pepperjack or a Mexican cheese blend.
- Black beans or pinto beans can be used in place of kidney beans, if you aren't a fan.
- Make this a vegetarian salad by just leaving out the ground beef.
What to serve with taco salad
I tend to make this taco salad most often when I haven't thought ahead and am trying to through dinner together easily and quickly. So I will serve the taco salad by itself (it's a complete meal all on it's own anyway) or with something needing minimal effort, like a sliced watermelon.
How to Make Taco Salad Ahead of Time for a Potluck
Although the biggest drawback of bringing taco salad to a potluck is that it has a tendency to go soggy from the dressing, you can avoid this by layering the salad in a specific order and tossing right before serving.
- Put the taco seasoned ground beef, kidney beans, and chopped tomatoes on the bottom of the bowl you will be serving the salad in.
- Add the chopped lettuce and green onions in a layer on top of the heavier, ingredients.
- Sprinkle the grated cheese over the top, then cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until ready to serve.
- Right before serving, add the Doritos and salad dressing and give everything a toss.
More Summer Salad Recipes for People Who Don't Typically Love Salad
- Grilled Cajun Chicken Salad with Creamy Cajun Dressing
- BBQ Chicken Cobb Salad
- Roasted Beet Salad with Goat Cheese and Pistachios
- Curried Chicken Salad
- Thai Chicken Larb Salad from Lemon Blossoms
- Asian Salad with Crispy Fish from The Food Charlatan
- BLT Pasta Salad
- See all my SALAD RECIPES here!
Tex-Mex Doritos Taco Salad
- 1 batch [ground beef taco meat]
- 1 head Romaine or Iceberg lettuce chopped
- 2-3 Roma tomatoes diced (about 1 ½ cups)
- 1 cup grated cheddar cheese
- 15 ounces red kidney beans, drained
- 1 large avocado diced
- 4-6 green onions chopped (I like lots of green onion)
- ¼ cup chopped cilantro
- 14.5 ounces Nacho Cheese Doritos partially crushed
- 12 ounces Thousand Island salad dressing* it's about ¾ of a bottle of dressing
- Prepare the taco meat by browning hamburger in a pan and adding taco seasoning to it.
- In a very large bowl, combine all salad ingredients except dressing and Doritos. Toss to combine.
- Add the partially crushed Doritos and Thousand Island dressing to the other salad ingredients and toss to evenly distribute the dressing.