Dinner in 15 minutes? Coming right up! This nacho taco salad recipe with ground beef, plus a creamy, homemade taco salad dressing is flavor-filled and extra easy to make. It’s the perfect meal when you’re in a pinch!
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This is a recipe for those nights when you need a quick meal.
Ground meat is my go-to for busy weeknights, and I’ve found it to be really convenient being gluten-free. It’s not a fussy cut of meat and it’s so customizable – I can easily control what I put in the dish.
A healthy ground beef dinner recipe is great to have in your back pocket too. Ones I rely on are my ground beef stroganoff or, to switch things up, my ground pork tacos. They cook up quickly then you can just let people have at it.
This salad with nachos might be the easiest of all recipes. All you have to do is cook up some ground beef and chop up a few tomatoes and some lettuce and you’ve got dinner in hand.
Let’s get into specifics.
Grab these ingredients
(Note: the full ingredients list, including measurements, is provided in the recipe card at the bottom of this post.)
- Ground beef – I like to use a lean cut of ground beef so you don’t have to drain off the fat. You could also use ground turkey if you want to keep it really lean or cut back on red meat.
- Tortilla chips – grab whatever your favorite tortilla chip is. We tend to buy the organic tortilla chips from Costco, which is what’s pictured in the recipe photos.
- Seasonings – this recipe keeps it simple with ground black pepper, garlic powder, and kosher salt. You can absolutely use a pre-packaged taco seasoning if you have it, or add a dash of ground cumin or cayenne pepper if you want a smokier or spicier flavor to your meat. Also, this recipe uses Diamond Crystal kosher salt which is less salty by weight than other salts. If you’re using a different salt you’ll need to cut back on the amount in the recipe.
- Cheese – you can buy pre-shredded or shred your own. I like to buy the Mexican blend but cheddar, colby jack, or pepper jack would also be good.
- Tomatoes – I like to use cherry tomatoes, but use whatever kind you like.
- Lettuce – this recipe uses green leaf lettuce, but if you want a different type, or you just want to buy the bag of pre-shredded iceberg lettuce, that will work.
- Sour cream and salsa – you’re going to combine these to make the easiest dressing ever. I like to use a mild salsa, but if you want something spicier use a medium or hot salsa.
How to make nacho salad
(Note: please see the recipe card at the end of this post for the complete written instructions.)
- Start by browning the ground beef, making sure to add the seasoning.
- While the beef is cooking, make the “dressing”. Just combine the sour cream and salsa in a 2 to 1 ratio and set the dressing aside for later.
- Once the meat is browned, spread the desired amount of tortilla chips on a medium-sized plate.
- Add on the cooked beef and some shredded cheese. Pop it in the microwave for 30 seconds, afterward checking if the cheese is melted. If it’s not, keep cooking it in 10 second increments until the cheese is melted to your liking.
- Wash and dry the lettuce and tomatoes, then tear or cut the lettuce into pieces and place in a layer on the chips. Cut the tomatoes in half then place them on the lettuce.
- Cut up the avocado and place it on top of the veggies (either sliced and on the side as pictured or you can cut it into small pieces and sprinkle it all over the plate), then drizzle the dressing over everything.
When cutting the avocado, there are two ways to do it – either in the skin, or by removing the skin and doing it on a cutting board. I find it easier to leave the avocado in the skin. Cut the avocado in half, then slice it one of these ways:
- In the skin: take the half that doesn’t have the pit and make long cuts into it (resulting in slices or pieces depending on your preference). Scoop out the pieces with a spoon and place them on your nachos.
- On the cutting board: peel the avocado half without the pit, then slice up the avocado on a cutting board.
All in all this should take about 15 minutes to do one plate and maybe 30 minutes if you’re doing a full 6 servings (which is what this recipe is for).
Taco salad dressing
Let’s talk about this dressing for a minute, because it’s delicious, easy to make, and could be used for many other dishes. You only need the following ingredients and ratios:
- 2 parts sour cream
- 1 part salsa
That’s it! You can control how hot or mild it is by using a hot or mild salsa. If you want to lighten things up a bit you could use a lighter sour cream, or you could even make it dairy free by using a dairy free sour cream.
Other nachos salad topping ideas
This is a bare bones recipe, meant to be fast and easy. But you can spruce it up if you have more time or just want more flavor! Here are some toppings you could add to the salad:
- sliced olives
- diced raw onion
- pico de gallo
- green onions
- beans – whole or refried
If you’re in need of more easy weeknight dinner ideas (aren’t we all), check these recipes out:
- Beef and Cabbage Stir Fry
- Swimming Rama Loaded Sweet Potato
- Easy Sheet Pan Dinner with Sausage & Veggies
- BLTA Sandwich
If you make end up making these nachos with lettuce, then don’t forget to leave a star rating and let me know how it went in the comments below!
Easy Nacho Salad with Ground Beef
- A large non-stick pan
- 6 medium-sized plates (one for each serving)
- A kitchen towel
- 1 pound ground beef
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt
- ¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
- ¼ teaspoon garlic powder
- 6 tablespoons sour cream
- 3 tablespoons salsa
- 1 large bag of tortilla chips (about 16 ounces – some may be left over)
- 12 ounces shredded cheese (some may be left over)
- 1 head of green leaf lettuce (some may be left over)
- 1 pint cherry tomatoes
- Place the ground beef in a large non-stick pan over medium heat. Measure out the kosher salt, black pepper, and garlic powder with measuring spoons then add them into the pan. Break the meat up and stir everything together with a wooden spoon, cooking the meat for 5 to 7 minutes until it is not longer pink. Take pan off heat and set aside.
- While the meat is cooking, measure out the sour cream and salsa and combine them in a medium-sized bowl with a spoon. This will be the “dressing” for your nachos. Set the bowl aside once combined.
- Take a medium-sized plate out and put a single layer of tortilla chips on it. Measure out ⅓ cup of the cooked ground beef and pour it in an even layer over the tortilla chips. Do the same with the shredded cheese, sprinkling the cheese in a single layer over the chips and ground beef.
- Place the plate in the microwave and heat on high for 30 seconds. Check the cheese and if it’s not melted all the way, keep microwaving in 10 second intervals until the cheese melted. Remove the plate from the microwave and set aside.
- Take out the lettuce and remove two large leaves from the head. Wash then dry the leaves with a towel. Tear them into small pieces with your hands and place them in a layer over the nachos.
- Measure out ⅓ cup of cherry tomatoes then wash and dry them using a towel. With a cutting board and small sharp knife, cut them in half and evenly disperse them on top of the lettuce.
- Using the knife, cut the avocado in half then on the side without the pit make long cuts into half of the avocado piece (resulting in slices from a quarter of of the avocado). Scoop out the sliced pieces with a spoon and place it on your nacho plate. Alternatively, you can peel the avocado half, then slice up the quarter of the avocado on a cutting board.
- Drizzle the salsa/sour cream mixture on top of the nachos with the spoon. Repeat for however many people you are feeding or save the remaining ingredients for leftovers.
- This recipe serves up to 6 people with medium-sized plates of nachos. If you use larger plates or like more meat, cheese, or other toppings on your nachos, it will serve less.
- You can swap out the ground beef for ground turkey if you’re cutting back on red meat.
- You can absolutely use a pre-packaged taco seasoning if you have it, or add a dash of ground cumin or cayenne pepper if you want a smokier or spicier flavor to your meat. Also, this recipe uses which is less salty by weight than other salts. If you’re using a different salt you’ll need to cut back on the amount in the recipe.