If you’re trying to find a really delicious but Healthy Taco Salad recipe then you’ve come to the right blog my friends, because today I am spilling my secrets (and some step-by-step photos) on how to make the biggest boldest fiesta for your taste buds all for under 500 calories! 

overhead of the taco salad on a white napkin

I originally shared this recipe on May 3rd, 2019. I have added additional photographs and updated the text to share it with you again today.

Why We Love This Healthy Taco Salad Recipe

This recipe for homemade healthy taco salads with ground chicken, crispy baked tortilla chips, cheese and salsa is a hearty and filling entree salad with the flavors of classic taco ingredients. These salads really satisfy but using a few tricks and tips we were able to make them lower in calories, saturated fat and high in fiber!

Serve them for a weeknight meal, because they only take 30 minutes to make! You can customize how spicy they are so they will be a hit for the whole family! This easy taco salad recipe turns taco night or Taco Tuesday into a healthy meal everyone craves! Even the picky eaters will go for this delicious salad.

Recipe Highlights: How We Made This Taco Salad Healthy

  • Loaded with Fresh Veggies: Red bell pepper and Scallions bulk up the portion size of these entrée salads. These veggies are lower in calories, but add bulk, vitamins, fiber and flavor. Icymi, I used this trick in this Sweet Potato Hash I shared last month.
  • Baked Tortilla Chips: Instead of using tortilla chips, bake your own tortilla strips in the oven. This will save you both sodium and fat calories!
  • Lower Calorie Toppings:
  • Extra Flavor- not Fat: Add extra flavor to your Taco Salad, and you won’t miss the extra calories. To do so, add in Mexican Seasoning, cilantro, salsa and scallions.

Taco Salad Ingredients

ingredients on a white table with labels
  • 3 corn tortillas
  • 1 teaspoons avocado oil
  • 1 ¼ teaspoon coarse kosher salt, divided
  • nonstick cooking spray
  • 1 pound ground chicken or ground turkey
  • 1 diced red bell peppers
  • 1 bunch scallions or green onions, sliced, white and green parts separated (feel free to use diced red onion instead)
  • 1 tablespoon Mexican seasoning *see ingredient note
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • ½ cup water
  • 2 hearts of romaine, chopped, washed and spun dry
  • 1 cup shredded Monterey Jack or Pepper Jack (cheddar cheese also works)
  • ¼ cup chopped cilantro leaves
  • ½ cup Apple Cider Vinegar Salad Dressing
  • ½ cup salsa

Pro Tip: I love using ground chicken for taco meat, like for 20 minutes ground chicken tacos, but just keep in mind that some ground chicken is not as lean as others. In a recipe like this, we will be adding in seasoning and tomato paste, so the extra fat won’t make a big flavor difference. You’ll save about 45 calories per serving by choosing lean chicken!

pouring dressing on the salads

Step By Step Instructions for Making this Taco Salad

how to make the baked tortilla strips

Step 1: Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Lay tortillas on cutting board. Brush oil over the tortillas. Sprinkle with ¼ teaspoon salt and cut into strips.

Step 2: Spread on a large rimmed baking sheet and transfer to the oven. Bake until crispy and just starting to turn golden, 12 to 15 minutes. Set aside.

making the taco meat

Step 3: Coat a large non-stick skillet with cooking spray and set over medium-high heat. Add chicken, red pepper and scallion whites and cook, crumbling the chicken with a wooden spoon until no longer pink, 5 to 7 minutes.

Step 4: Sprinkle with Mexican seasoning and the remaining 1 teaspoon salt, and stir to coat. Add in tomato paste and stir to coat. Add in water and stir until the mixture becomes saucy.

add the scallions into the meat

Step 5: Remove from the heat and stir in the scallion greens.

Step 6: To build the salads start with your base of Romaine Lettuce (it’s sturdy crunch will hold up to the heat and weight of the toppings and other salad ingredients. Iceberg would also work.)

Then add on the chicken mixture followed by the cheese. The heat from the chicken will start to melt the cheese. (Can you say yum!) And then arrange the other topping on as you like. We just passed the dressing and salsa at the table so everyone could add to their tastes.

side view of taco salad

Expert Tips And FAQs for Making This Recipe

Can this be prepped ahead?

You can cook the taco meat up to four days ahead. Keep refrigerated in a resealable container. The baked tortilla crisps can be made up to 2 days ahead. Once cool keep in a plastic bag at room temperature.

How to reheat cold taco meat?

You can heat the taco meat filling in the microwave (for 2 to 3 minutes), stirring half way. Or you can re-warm it in a skillet over medium-high heat with a little broth. Heat until steaming hot.

What are healthy toppings for taco salad?

  • Instead of adding on a big dollop of sour cream try some of these lower calorie and healthier options:
  • Greek yogurt is a great alternative to sour cream and much lower in calories
  • Use fresh Guacamole or Pico De Gallo
  • Add on Homemade Taco Sauce
  • For crunch add on toasted Pepitas

Variations To Try

  • You can also customize your bowls with simple ingredients from your kitchen! Some of my favorite taco toppings are cherry tomatoes or grape tomatoes, pinto beans
  • Instead of the ground turkey or ground chicken, try using a combination of sauteed peppers, onion and black beans like we do in our Veggie Taco filling. It is still hearty and delicious but totally vegetarian so it is perfect for Meatless Monday.
  • For beef lovers, this works perfectly well with lean ground beef.
  • Add frozen corn for more veggies or chunks of avocado for healthy fats.
  • Sub diced red onion instead of the green onion or scallion.
  • Instead of chopped lettuce, pile these taco salad toppings onto our zippy Mexican Coleslaw with cilantro and lime for a super crunchy and fresh texture.

Thanks so much for reading! If you are new here, you may want to sign up for my email newsletter to get a free weekly menu plan and the latest recipes right to your inbox. If you make this recipe, please come back and leave a star rating and review. I would love to hear what you thought!

Happy Cooking! ~Katie

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healthy taco salad overhead

Healthy Taco Salad


Description

If you’re trying to find a really delicious but Healthy Taco Salad recipe then you’ve come to the right blog my friends, because today I am spilling my secrets (and some step-by-step photos) on how to make the biggest boldest fiesta for your taste buds all for under 500 calories!


Ingredients

Scale

3 corn tortillas

1 teaspoons avocado oil

1 1/4 teaspoon coarse kosher salt, divided

1 pound ground chicken or turkey

1 diced red bell pepper

1 bunch scallions, sliced, white and green parts separated

1 tablespoon Mexican seasoning *see ingredient note

2 tablespoons tomato paste

1/2 cup water

2 hearts of romaine, chopped, washed and spun dry

1 cup shredded Monterey Jack or Pepper Jack

1/4 cup chopped cilantro leaves

1/2 cup Apple Cider Vinegar Salad Dressing

1/2 cup salsa


Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Lay tortillas on cutting board. Brush oil over the tortillas. Sprinkle with ¼ teaspoon salt and cut into strips. Spread on a large rimmed baking sheet and transfer to the oven. Bake until crispy and just starting to turn golden, 12 to 15 minutes. Set aside.
  3. Coat a large non-stick skillet with cooking spray and set over medium-high heat. Add chicken, red pepper and scallion whites and cook, crumbling the chicken with a wooden spoon until no longer pink, 5 to 7 minutes. Sprinkle with Mexican seasoning and the remaining 1 teaspoon salt, and stir to coat. Add in tomato paste and stir to coat. Add in water and stir until the mixture becomes saucy. Remove from the heat and stir in the scallion greens.
  4. Divide romaine among 4 large pasta bowls or plates. Top with the chicken mixture and cheese. Drizzle with dressing. Top with chips, cilantro and salsa on top.

Notes

Ingredient Note: Look for Salt Free Mexican or South-west seasoning in the spice section of the supermarket alongside other spice blends. You can also make your own by Mixing 4 teaspoons Chili powder, 4 teaspoons ground cumin, ½ teaspoon cinnamon and ½ teaspoon chipotle chili powder. Alternatively, you can use Taco seasoning, which is sold in the Mexican section of the supermarket. Taco seasoning contains salt, and no added kosher salt should be added to the chicken mixture.

Tip: Ground turkey or beef can be substituted for the ground chicken. If you prefer a meatless main course, cook the peppers and scallion whites in 1 tablespoon oil until softened. Then add in 1 cup drained canned black beans and 1 cup frozen and thawed corn kernels. Cook, stirring until heated through. Then remove from the heat and add in the scallion greens.

Make Ahead: The chicken mixture can be made up to 3 days ahead and rewarmed in the microwave or in a covered saucepan, with a couple tablespoons water.

  • Prep Time: 20
  • Cook Time: 20
  • Category: Entree
  • Method: stove top,oven
  • Cuisine: Mexican

Nutrition

  • Serving Size: 1 salad
  • Calories: 477
  • Fat: 28 g
  • Carbohydrates: 26
  • Fiber: 6
  • Protein: 32

Keywords: healthy taco salad,chicken taco salad,taco salad

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