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Layered Taco Salad

Think layered taco salads are just for parties? Think again! This salad features layers of lettuce, beef, tomatoes, avocados, black beans, cheese, and olives and makes for the most delicious dinner.

(This recipe for Layered Taco Salad was originally posted in June 2011, but was updated with new photos in 2018).

Head-on view of layered taco salad serving on a white plate with tortilla chips with the rest of the dish in the background and "Layered Taco Salad" text at top

This is the first Friday night in over a month that I haven’t had plans and all I knew was I didn’t want to do a single thing this evening! Besides eat a dinner that included some fresh produce. Bouncing around hotels and airports, pit stops and gas stations the past few weeks has finally caught up with me. I needed to eat a dinner tonight that had at least a slight hint of greenery. Buttt I also had a few very specific things in my fridge and kind of need to ease back in to this whole healthy eating thing. Baby steps, right? That’s exactly how this layered taco salad came into my life.

LAYERED TACO SALAD RECIPE

One of my favorite things about cooking is just taking something so simple, like a taco salad, and instead of buying everything packaged, just doing it from scratch. Making my own dressing. Making my own taco seasoning. Buying a package of it is, of course, easy, but I just wanted to wind down from a hectic week, open the deck door that’s off the kitchen, and cook in silence. And not get overloaded on sodium in the process. Amen. Kumbaya. Namaste.

This isn’t technically a meal most people would make for themselves while home alone for the evening. But I’m here to convince you that it should be… And that is makes much more sense to make a layered taco salad for yourself than it does a taco dinner because the leftovers are much easier to keep. And that means, you can eat this taco salad for basically a week straight.

You’ll also have fewer dishes to do than if you made tacos (all those individual bowls for the condiments!), which is always a win in my book. Especially when I’ve had a super busy week and just want to relax.

And don’t worry; this is a super easy salad! You’ll start by cooking the onion, garlic, and chili peppers, along with a few delicious Mexican spices.

Collage showing one photo with onions, chili peppers, and garlic in pan and second photo with onions, chili peppers, and garlic with spices and browned in pan

Add the beef in and cook until it’s browned.

Then you’re ready for the layering. Start by putting chopped lettuce in the bottom of a 13×9 dish. And then add the beautiful beef mixture on top.

Collage with one photo showing baking dish with lettuce layered on bottom and one photo with beef layered over lettuce

And then get ready for the rest of the taco salad ingredients! Obviously, you can switch these up to your liking, but this combination is pretty on point. It contains, tomatoes, avocado, black beans, sharp cheddar cheese, and olives.

Complete layered taco salad in baking dish with lettuce, beef, cheese, black beans, tomatoes, avocado, and olives

And with that, your layered taco salad is complete. The only thing that’s missing is the taco shells. But that can be so easily fixed with a bag of tortilla chips! Use the chips as dippers in the salad and to add a little crunch! I highly recommend Tostitos’ jalapeño tortilla chips if you can find them; they’re SO good!

Overhead view of layered taco salad serving on a white plate with chips, along with baking dish of salad in the background, fork, and bag of chips

This salad sings summertime, but really it’s perfect any time of the year. Yes, layered taco salad is most usually a party food, but why?? It has all the elements of tacos, so you may as well enjoy it the same way you would tacos. There’s seriously no more perfect combination than Mexican-spiced beef with sharp cheddar, crisp veggies, and creamy avocado and black beans. Heaven!

Not only does this make a delicious dinner, but the leftovers are out of control. I may or may not admit that I ate some of the taco dip right out of the casserole dish the next day for lunch. I just couldn’t stop.

Head-on view of layered taco salad serving on a white plate with tortilla chips with the rest of the dish in the background

It just felt so right to finally get some veggies in my life. Even if they were covered with saucy beef.

Hope you all have a fantastic weekend! The weather in Boston seems to have finally gotten it’s act together and I can’t wait to spend some time outside!

If you’re looking for more delicious taco-inspired recipes, check out my easy taco dip or my Greek taco dip!

Layered Taco Salad
Prep Time
30 mins
Cook Time
15 mins
Total Time
45 mins
 

Think layered taco salads are just for parties? Think again! This salad features layers of lettuce, beef, tomatoes, avocados, black beans, cheese, and olives and makes for the most delicious dinner.

Course: Entree
Cuisine: American, Eclectic, Mexican
Keyword: Mexican, salad, Tacos
Servings: 8 servings
Author: Sues
Ingredients
  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 chili peppers, finely chopped
  • 1 Tbsp chili powder
  • 2 tsp ground cumin
  • 2 tsp olive oil
  • 1 1/2 lbs ground beef
  • 1 (8 oz.) can tomato sauce
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper
  • 1 head iceberg lettuce, thinly sliced (roughly 8 cups)
  • 1 large tomato, chopped
  • 1 1/2 cups sharp cheddar cheese, coarsely grated
  • 1 (15 oz) can black beans drained and rinsed
  • 1 avocado, peeled, pitted, and diced
  • 1 (6 oz.) can black olives, drained and sliced
Dressing
  • 1/4 cup fresh lime juice
  • 1/2 cup fresh chopped cilantro
  • 1 Tbsp chili powder
  • 1/4 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper
  • 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
Instructions
  1. In a heavy skillet, heat oil. Cook onion, garlic, chiles, chili powder, and cumin over medium-high heat, stirring often, until the onion is softened, about 6 minutes.

  2. Add beef to skillet and cook, stirring often while making sure to break up any large pieces, about 5 minutes. Pour excess fat from the skillet into a small bowl.

  3. Add tomato sauce, salt, and pepper to the beef and allow to thicken, for about 3 minutes or so. Remove from heat.

  4. Arrange lettuce in the bottom of a shallow glass dish then layer the beef mixture on top.

  5. Continue to make layers with the tomatoes, cheese, beans, avocado, and olives. Drizzle dressing over the salad. Serve with a side of tortilla chips for some added crunch and also to help aide with the dipping/scooping process.

Dressing
  1. In a medium bowl, whisk all ingredients together until emulsified.

Recipe Notes
Layered Taco Salad -- Think layered taco salads are just for parties? Think again! This salad features layers of lettuce, beef, tomatoes, avocados, black beans, cheese, and olives and makes for the most delicious dinner | wearenotmartha.com #tacos #salad #tacosalad #dinner

12 Responses to "Layered Taco Salad"

  1. Erica says:

    Big homemade salads are the best! Especially when they contain ingredients like that super ripe looking avocado. Hope you have a blast at the wedding today

  2. Michelle says:

    After my first week at my new job (in your hometown BTW) and being stuck in some weird highway shutdown last night, I was so happy to have no plans but eat sushi, pack for NYC (I’m on the Bolt Bus as we speak) and RELAX! It sounds like you had a relaxing Friday!

  3. Sharlene says:

    Oh man does this look ever good! I was craving some tacos yesterday but had way too many leftovers in my fridge to justify a trip to the store and creating more leftovers. I can’t wait to try this out.

  4. Meghan@travelwinedine says:

    I have many of these ingredients at home. Looks like a perfect, summery meal. Love the dressing container!

  5. Kristine says:

    I love taco salad, and yours looks delicious! Sometimes I take the easy way out and just top mine with a little salsa, but your dressing looks great- I’ll have to try it next time.

  6. Lizzy says:

    This recipe is perfect for me. Bought all the ingredients and cannot wait to make it this week : )

  7. Lisa @ Sweet as Sugar Cookies says:

    I was just thinking about taco salad tonight. That looks so good.

  8. Bridget says:

    This looks Soooooo good! I need a taco salad night asap 🙂

  9. Susan says:

    I love a good taco salad but haven’t made one in ages! I know my husband would love it if I made this for him him.

  10. carole says:

    I can’t remember If I’ve ever commented on your blog. But I read it ALL the time. I’ll turn the laptop to my hubs and go “look margarita cupcakes!”. I love your blog. It inspires me to continue cooking and taking chances. You gals you should come to SoCal, we’ve got some yummy places for you to check out. Taco salad sounds great, simple, healthy, and tasty!

  11. Lexilooo says:

    I LOVE taco salads in the summer! This reminds me that I haven’t made one yet this year…hmmmm…

  12. Kimberly says:

    This looks delish!

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