Our family LOVES taco salad!!! We make many different variations which I’ll touch on briefly in this post. This is our “go to” dinner several weeks of the month. It is healthy, filling, fast, and we can adapt it depending upon what ingredients we have on hand. I often use kidney beans and ground beef as the base, however, sometimes I like to shake things up and use black beans and chicken. It reminds me of a Chipotle-inspired chicken bowl, which I love. This recipe is very versatile with many possibilities!
The way we make our taco salads are in a sundae fashion. We have rice at the base (usually brown rice, but I’ll make white if I don’t have a lot of time.) Then we stack the ingredients in layers on top. I always include beans and meat. Ground hamburger meat and kidney or pinto beans make a great combination as do black beans and chicken. I cook the meat and season it with taco seasoning mix. I’ve used store bought taco seasoning mix as well as made mine from scratch (see recipe below).
After I put the meat/bean mixture on top, I add heated corn to my plate and sprinkle it with a fiesta cheese blend so that it can melt on top. I then add chopped lettuce, homemade salsa, tomatoes, and tortilla chips. If I have it available, I LOVE to add homemade guacamole as well as sour cream or plain Greek yogurt on top. At this point, you can include olives, diced red or green onions, and fresh cilantro. My husband, Dave, loves to top off his taco salad with a creamy ranch dressing. It’s also good if you drizzle on lime juice. So yummy!!!
One reason I love this salad is that you can feed a crowd on a limited budget. If you serve it buffet style, then people can pick and choose what toppings they want to put on, which is often appreciated, even by kids. It’s your own personal Taco Salad Bar! It’s also pretty and has been a hit every time I’ve served it.
I typically make my beans from dried beans (I’ll make a post about HOW to do that at a later date). If you don’t have time to make them that way, you can always use canned kidney, pinto, or black beans.
Another tip I want to mention that has basically become a habit for me is something I learned when I first got married. I buy hamburger meat in bulk. While I prefer grass fed beef (we bought half a cow once – best decision we ever made when it comes to healthy beef!), sometimes I’m not in a position to get it. So, I bring home my hamburger meat from the store and cook ALL OF IT at once. I drain off the fat through a strainer, rinse it with HOT water, and then let it sit to drip dry for about five minutes.
I sometimes add dehydrated chopped onions, salt, and pepper, and sometimes I don’t depending upon what I am going to use it for. After I’ve cooked the hamburger meat, rinsed it, and drained it, I then measure it out into freezer bags and freeze it. When I need a quick meal, I microwave it for 1 minute and it is cooked and ready to use! No more dreading thawing frozen hamburger meat and having to cook it when you are trying to feed the hungry masses in a hurry. If you want to be somewhat exact in your measurements, 1 c of cooked ground beef = approx. 1/2 lb. of hamburger.
This method of cooking and freezing hamburger meat has saved many a dinner!
I’ve also done a similar thing with my chicken by pre-cooking it, cubing it, and freezing it for later use. Again, life saver!
I hope this has inspired you to try something new!
Here are the recipes for Chicken Taco Salad Supreme and the Homemade Taco Seasoning Mix:
- 3 c brown rice, cooked
- 1 lb. chicken, cooked and cubed (OR 1 lb. hamburger meat, cooked)
- 4 c kidney, pinto, or black beans, cooked and drained (this is equivalent roughly to 2 16 oz. cans)
- 4 T taco seasoning mix (see recipe below)
- 1 c water (add more, if needed)
- 1 16 oz. can whole kernel corn
- 1 c fiesta style shredded cheese
- 1-2 heads romaine lettuce, chopped
- 2-4 tomatoes, chopped
- Salsa (homemade or store bought)
- Olives, sliced (optional)
- Cilantro, washed and chopped (optional)
- Guacamole (optional)
- Sour Cream or Greek Yogurt (optional)
- Green or red onions, chopped (optional)
- Ranch Dressing (optional)
- Lime wedges (for sprinkling juice over the top)
- Corn Tortilla Chips
- Cook brown (or white) rice according to package directions.
- While rice is cooking, cook chicken (or hamburger) in a large skillet. I like to saute my chicken in a little butter or olive oil and cook it just until there is no pink, but it is still very tender.
- Add beans of choice. Sprinkle 4 T of taco seasoning over bean/meat mixture (to taste) along with 1 c water. Bring to a boil and then turn to low and simmer for about 15 minutes. (Note: If using black beans, I like to keep them separate from my chicken. I use ½ c water with 2 T taco seasoning mix and simmer it on low with the chicken. In a separate skillet I do the same thing with the black beans. ½ c water, 2 T taco seasoning mix, 4 c black beans. This way your chicken doesn't turn black.)
- While beans/meat are simmering, prepare the rest of the ingredients.
- Chop lettuce, tomatoes, onions, and cilantro.
- Heat the corn and set aside.
- Place all of the ingredients into separate bowls and line up with hot ingredients first followed by cheese then end with the lettuce and toppings.
- Serve immediately.
- Measure out all ingredients.
- Mix them together on low in a food processor or blender. (I used my Vitamix and just pulsed the mix together a few times).
- Place in a air tight container and use in recipes calling for Taco Seasoning Mix.
To use for taco meat, add 1 lb. cooked meat + 2 T taco seasoning mix + ½ c water. Simmer for 15 minutes. Add additional water, as needed for a thinner consistency.