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Chicken Taco Salad
There are few foods as yummy and comforting as Tex-Mex, and if you’re like me, Chicken Taco Salad hits the spot every time. Instead of a takeout burrito bowl, you can make this healthy taco salad version at home in about 20 minutes. Just cook up some flavorful chicken, slice fresh veggies, and shake together a homemade taco salad dressing, and you’ve got dinner served up and ready to go!
I’ve also made this recipe using lean ground beef, and there are other variations, too! Keep reading to find out how to customize your salad so it’s exactly as you’d like it.
Creamy Taco Salad Dressing
If you’re short on time, you can grab a bottle of Italian dressing to pour over your salad, but I have to say, this homemade recipe for creamy taco salad dressing is delish! It’s light and fresh so it doesn’t detract from the flavors of your salad.
If you don’t have the ingredients on hand or want something with more kick, here are some options for dressing for taco salad:
- Salsa – as hot or as mild as you like.
- Italian dressing – the Zesty Italian from Kraft is perfect for this healthy taco salad recipe.
- Catalina dressing – it’s got a lot of tangy flavor.
- Mix Italian and Catalina together – 2 parts Italian and 1 part Catalina makes an amazing, flavorful salad dressing.
- Chipotle Ranch – this is sometimes available as a sauce in the Mexican food aisle.
- Taco Sauce – good old taco sauce can’t be beat and goes great on taco salad.
How to Doctor Up Taco Salad
This taco salad recipe is pretty yummy as it is. It’s packed full of veggies, it’s low carb, and the dressing is delicious. But you can still change things up! Here are a few ways to doctor up (or change up) your taco salad that still keep it healthy:
- Add rice. Basmati or a brown rice blend pair nicely. You can use ¼ cup per salad and mix it in or replace some or all of your lettuce for a different flavor altogether.
- Pour salsa into your meat. Chop up or slice your protein, then place it back in the pan and pour salsa overtop. Heat and serve for a zesty flavor with a bit of a kick.
- Add guacamole. This recipe uses avocado, but you can also buy or make guacamole and add it to your salad.
- Use spicy cheese. Tex-mex blend has that distinct jalapeno flavor.
- Add hot peppers. Hot red peppers, jalapenos, or other spicy peppers can bring out the other flavors in your salad and provide a bit of heat.
- Lean meats. You can use a lean meats like chicken or turkey or even a low fat mince.
- Use Oil Spray. Rather than using the 2 tablespoons of oil to cook your chicken with, you can use an oil spray to cut out some calories.
Is Chicken Taco Salad Healthy?
This chicken taco salad recipe is quite healthy for you. It uses healthy fresh veggies like tomatoes, romaine lettuce, and onion. Chicken is a low-fat protein, and for an even more protein-rich salad, this recipe has black beans.
Avocado provides healthy Omega-3 fats. While too much olive oil can be high in calories, in reasonable quantities, olive oil is excellent for your heart, skin, hair, and brain health. Plain Greek yogurt gives you a creamy, tangy taste while providing you with much-needed calcium.
What Ingredients Go In Chicken Taco Salad?
FOR THE SALAD
- Chicken breast
- Extra virgin olive oil
- Bone broth or water (water is generally easier for most people)
- Low-sodium taco seasoning
- Cherry tomatoes, halved
- Romaine/Cos lettuce, chopped
- Ripe avocado, peeled and diced
- Red onion, thinly sliced
- Canned black beans
- Low-fat shredded cheese
- Optional: Corn tortilla chips, crushed
FOR THE CREAMY DRESSING
- Extra virgin olive oil
- Plain Greek yogurt
- Ground pepper
- Kosher salt
- Fresh cilantro leaves, finely minced
- Lime, juice & zest
- Chicken breast – you can use lean ground beef or pulled pork instead. You can also use pulled chicken from a store-bought rotisserie chicken to make life easier.
- Romaine lettuce – any lettuce can be substituted, but romaine or iceberg or cos lettuce provide a nice crunch. You can also use baby spinach or baby spring mix if you’d like. Baby spinach is a great source of iron.
- Greek Yogurt – sour cream, cream cheese, crème fraîche can replace your yogurt resulting in slightly different flavors. To reduce extra calories, you can also opt for a low-fat option, rather than a full-fat option.
- Oil Spray – using oil spray over olive oil can reduce some calories as oil olive (and similar oils) are high in calories for a small amount.
How Do You Make Taco Salad
To make this taco salad with chicken and black beans:
You’ll begin by cooking your chicken. Place a large pan over medium/high heat. Add your oil. Once it’s hot, add the chicken breast to the pan for 4-6 minutes on one side and then flip it and cook for a further 4-6 minutes (depending how thick the chicken is). Cook until the chicken has browned and is cooked in the middle.
Sprinkle the taco seasoning over the chicken and stir to coat it all. Turn off the heat and allow the chicken to cool to room temperature while you make the rest of your salad.
Slice your veggies. You can cut your tomatoes and avocados into roughly 1-inch pieces and large-shred your lettuce. Chop your onion into small pieces and open the cans of your corn and beans. Drain the water from your corn and beans as well, and if you want, smash up your tortilla chips into small pieces. Shred your cheese or grab what you need out of a bag of pre-shredded cheese.
Mix all the ingredients for the dressing together in a small bowl. Add the yogurt followed by the oil, seasonings, and cilantro. Squeeze in the lime juice and add the zest. Then whisk together until fully incorporated.
Toss the salad or make layers with the lettuce on the bottom. Place your chicken on top.
Before serving, top with your creamy homemade dressing, then enjoy!
Can I Make Chicken Taco Salad for a Crowd?
Yes, you can make chicken taco salad for a party or a family dinner. This recipe serves 4 people nicely, so just multiply the ingredients by the number of people you need to serve. If you need to serve 6, multiply the ingredients by 1.5. If you need to serve 8, multiply them by 2. The recipe card below will allow you to double (x2) or triple (x3) the recipe with a click of a button.
To serve lots of people, you can toss all of the ingredients together in a large salad bowl, or you can make a taco bar! Chicken taco bars are lots of fun and look great too. Here’s how:
- Get a large bowl and fill with chopped lettuce (when serving a lot of people, you can buy the pre-chopped to save time).
- Get enough smaller bowls or serving dishes for all your other toppings.
- Place spoons or tongs in each bowl.
- Get a large gravy boat or pitcher for your dressing and set it at the end of your salad bar.
- Let people be creative making their salad however they choose!
- Don’t overcook your chicken so it stays moist. Cook just until 165°F (73°C) or until there’s no pink left in the middle. You can use a meat thermometer to check the temperature.
- Make your chicken and dressing in advance and leave them in the fridge so that prep time is smooth and simple.
What can I serve with taco salad?
As this taco salad already has a protein (chicken), it really is a complete meal on its own. However, you can also serve this salad in smaller portions along side tacos, burritos, or other Mexican-style foods. You can also remove the protein (chicken) and serve the salad on the side.
How many calories in chicken taco salad?
In each serving of our taco salad with homemade dressing, there are 549 calories. While this salad is considered high in calories, its also high in nutritional value with the lean chicken and plenty of salad. You can reduce calories by reducing oils or using a spray oil, using leaner meats or adding a small amount of the creamy dressing directly to the salad on your plate rather than mixing it into the bowl with all the salad. You can also opt for low-fat yogurt and low-fat cheese.
This taco salad recipe is healthy and filling, ready in minutes, totally customizable, and super delicious. You can’t go wrong! Try this recipe with your family tonight or on your next taco Tuesday.Print
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