Taco Salad with Creamy Cilantro Dressing

Taco Salad with taco seasoned ground beef with all all your favorite mix-ins served with a homemade creamy cilantro dressing.

This recipe first appeared on the blog in 2013.  This post has been updated with new photos and content! 

Taco salad in a brown bowl

Taco Salad

Taco salads are often served with tortilla chips or in a fried tortilla shell.  This recipe is a lighter version making it a favorite for low carb followers.  

This taco salad is hearty and satisfying, just the meal for salad lovers!  I don’t know about you, but one way I ensure getting lots of greens in my diet is by eating salads.

In fact, every day I eat a side salad packed with a mix of lettuce, some raw veggies like broccoli with a protein like grilled chicken.  Nine times out of ten the salad is a complete meal like this taco salad leaving me satisfied.

I’m really lucky to live in an area that offers three different days during the week where I can shop at our Farmer’s Market.

Cilantro dressing in a clear square bowl for taco salad

Best Type of Lettuce For This Taco Salad Recipe

I load up on organic greens, then wash and cut up everything, so when I make salads it is just as quick and convenient as buying pre-packaged lettuce.

My favorite type is romaine mixed with baby spinach, but when I make taco salads, I include iceberg.

Fresh leafy greens are super low in calories and high in fiber, but the health benefits are often negated by the high calorie dressing we often bathe salads in.

What Dressing To Use For Taco Salad?

What’s your favorite taco salad dressing? Ranch, Catalina, Thousand Island, sour cream and salsa?

All of the above are dressings that pair well with ground beef seasoned with this homemade taco seasoning mix.

If you like a sweet flavor then go with the Catalina.  The Thousand Island dressing is mild tasting.

Each variety will taste a little different, so you’ll never be bored with this dish. 

However, homemade dressings are the best and if you want to try something new then whip up this fresh creamy cilantro dressing!

cooked ground beef and seasoning for taco salad
Homemade seasoning mix for taco salad adds the best flavor to beef

The whole batch mixes up to make about cup of dressing and is about 300 calories. The dressing will be enough for 4-6 salads.

If you use it sparingly, which I doubt you will because it’s so tasty, store it in an air tight container in your refrigerator. It’ll keep fresh for about a week.

Taco Salad Topping Ideas

Some basic ingredients for taco salad are lettuce, protein of your choice, cheese, tomatoes, and a dressing or fresh salsa.  Some people like to add tortilla chips as well, but if you want to stay low carb, then skip the chips.

First start with fresh green salad, then add any of your favorite Mexican-type of flavor add-in. 

It all goes when making a taco salad and if you like to try different combination of flavors you might enjoy the following:

  • Ground turkey or chicken
  • Shredded beef or chicken
  • Beans (black or pinto)
  • Chopped onion (red or yellow)
  • Chunky avocado dip
  • Corn
  • Sour Cream
  • Jalapeños
  • Mexican cheese like Cotija
  • Tortilla chips
  • Tortilla taco shells
taco salad in a brown bowl with green cilantro dressing

There is no wrong way to make this salad! Once you have the basic ingredients, then mix in whatever tickles your tastebuds!  Enjoy!

taco salad in a brown bowl with cilantro dressing on the side

More Tex-Mex Recipes From The Foodie Affair

Taco salad in a brown bowl

Taco Salad with Creamy Cilantro Dressing

This healthy version of a taco salad has all the ingredients of the traditional dish but without the tortilla chips. Enjoy as a main meal for lunch or dinner.
5 from 8 votes
Print Pin Rate
Course: Salad
Cuisine: American
Keyword: healthy, Mexican, salad, taco
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 25 minutes
Servings: 4 -6 servings
Calories: 390kcal
Author: Sandra Shaffer


  • for dressing:
  • 1 bunch fresh cilantro leaves
  • 3 Tablespoons pepitas pumpkin seeds toasted
  • 6 ounce 0% fat Greek Yogurt
  • Juice of two limes
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 – 1 jalapeño add to taste, seeds add more heat, so adjust to your preference.
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 cup buttermilk
  • 1 pound ground meat turkey, beef or chicken, browned with taco seasoning
  • 1 pint tomatoes halved
  • 1/2 head iceberg lettuce chopped
  • 3 cups romaine lettuce chopped
  • 1 cup mixed greens
  • 2-3 scallions sliced
  • 3/4 cup cheddar/monterey jack mixed cheese shredded
  • sliced olives
  • Tortilla chips optional


  • Blend all ingredients together with a food processor or blender, pulsing until ingredients are combined.
  • Adjust to taste by adding more Jalapeño pepper or salt. Makes about 1 cup of dressing.
  • Toss gently all ingredients together. Add dressing to individual plated salad.


Serving: 1g | Calories: 390kcal | Carbohydrates: 17g | Protein: 32g | Fat: 22g | Saturated Fat: 10g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 9g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 93mg | Sodium: 730mg | Fiber: 3g | Sugar: 10g


Please note that the nutritional information provided are guidelines and may vary based on the brand of products used. For your specific nutritional goals use My Fitness Pal or Verywell Fit recipe calculators. All content within this site is not intended as medical diagnosis or treatment and should not be considered a substitute for professional medical expertise.

Dressing recipe adapted from here.

Taco salad with a homemade cilantro dressing. Enjoy this easy low carb dish as a complete meal or add tortilla chips for some extra crunch flavor! #taco #salad #easyrecipe #healthy #lowcarb
Hugs Sandra Signature

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  1. My mom always made a taco salad when I was growing up. It was delicious. Of course, she tossed in Doritos, so I loved it. But not as healthy that way. Your dressing looks super yummy too.

  2. My favorite Taco Salad dressing is Thousand Island mixed with a spoonful of sour cream, but I think I should definitely give your creamy cilantro dressing a try!

  3. Oh soooo Yummmm!!! This is what a call a great transition recipe, that would make a healthy n light lunch and then combined with some fresh tortilla, would make an excellent dinner.

  4. Oh that dressing!!!!!!! It sounds divine! I love anything cilantro based!!!
    I am also supper happy it is in the dressing as my hubby can’t stand cilantro. He says it tastes of soap!!! Apparently it is an actual thing and some people have a different receptor/taste bud. So they don’t taste the freshness just a soapy sour note! POOR THEM!!!!

    But he would happily scoff the rest of this salad down, without even noticing it was a salad. Ground meat and cheese…WINNING SALAD COMBO!!!

  5. Did you know that cilantro is one of my favorite things ever ever ever? Well it is. And I have some growing! Saw this on Amazing Recipes and knew I needed it right away! Hope you’re seeing some traffic from there! I love your recipes!

    1. I seriously don’t understand cilantro haters. They exist, you know! Yes, happy to share with Amazing Recipes!! Thank you 🙂

  6. You’ve convinced me to make the extra effort to stop using what we call “bag ‘o salad” with all the preservatives. This looks so fresh and yummy. I bet the dressing is good as a dip, too.

    1. It really doesn’t take a lot of extra time to cut up your own salad, plus you are sure to have all your favorites! I put the Cilantro Dressing on flank steak like a sauce. So good!