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.

Notes For 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

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

Using Ground Chicken For This Recipe

How to Shop for Ground Chicken: Did you know all US chicken is free from added hormones? So packages that say so may be trying to get your attention. Don’t fall for it. There is so much confusion when it comes to poultry labeling. That’s why, when I shop for ground chicken, I first look for the certified Organic label.

Certified Organic Chicken: I know that the chickens were fed organic, non-GMO, vegetarian feed. And I know they have access to the outdoors and they don’t receive antibiotics.

Support Local: If you have a local farm that produces organic chicken, all the better! I love the Organic ground chicken from Maple Wind Farm, which is right down the road from me. Supporting local farmers reduces your carbon footprint, and helps to maintain the beautiful working landscape.

Lower Fat: 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!

Alternatives To Ground Chicken: You can also make this a vegetarian meal by subbing in black beans and corn instead of the chicken for meatless monday. Or you can use grass-fed lean ground beef.

pouring dressing on the salads

How To Make this Taco Salad More Healthy

Add extra veggies: I used a red bell pepper (which is high in vitamin C), and a bunch of scallions to bulk up the portion size of these entrée salads. The veggies are lower in calories, but add bulk, vitamins, fiber and flavor. I used this trick in this Sweet Potato Hash I shared last month.

Bake the Tortilla Strips: Instead of using tortilla chips, bake your own tortilla strips in the oven. This will save you both sodium and fat calories!

Go Easy on The Toppings: Though avocado is arguably the nectar of the gods, I’d recommend saving it for tomorrow morning’s avocado toast. Doing so will save you 60 calories (for a quarter of an avocado.) The same goes for sour cream. If you really want a dollop of creamy dairy, use Greek yogurt instead and save more than 40 calories.

Go For Big Flavors: 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. Plus did I mention the 1-2 punch this Citrus Chipotle dressing has?! It’s got a kick!

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.

Expert Tips And FAQs for Making This Recipe

Use a Non-Stick Skillet: In order to save on calories, I used a non-stick skillet coated with cooking spray. Bonus: using cooking spray instead of oil saves 30 calories per serving! Cook the red bell pepper, scallion whites and Chicken in the skillet, while breaking it up with a wooden spoon.

Bloom The Spices: Once the chicken is cooked through and the veggies are softened, add in the spices to bloom their flavor. I tested this with two different purchased Mexican seasonings, and I also made my own version too. Mixing the spices into the skillet before adding in any liquids will bloom them and make their flavors more pronounced. This is a technique I highly encourage you to apply throughout your cooking. You can read more about it in this 5-Spice Sweet Potato Recipe

Make it Saucy: I tried this with fresh tomatoes, and everyone in my family preferred this version better. I used tomato paste to coat the chicken mixture, then water. The texture ends up like that of old school taco meat with the taco seasoning packet of my youth. Note to self: I’ve gotta try this yummy Homemade Taco Sauce next time I make this.

side view of taco salad

Thanks so much for reading. If you are new here you may want to sign up for my free weekly email newsletter for healthy recipes delivered right to your inbox. Or follow me on Instagram. If you make this recipe, please come back and leave a star rating and review! It is very appreciated. Happy Cooking! ~Katie

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healthy taco salad overhead

Healthy Taco Salad

  • Author: Katie Webster
  • Prep Time: 20
  • Cook Time: 20
  • Total Time: 30
  • Yield: 4 servings 1x
  • Category: Entree
  • Method: stove top,oven
  • Cuisine: Mexican

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!


Scale

Ingredients

3 corn tortillas

1 teaspoons avocado oil

1 ¼ 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

½ cup water

2 hearts of romaine, chopped, washed and spun dry

1 cup shredded Monterey Jack or Pepper Jack

¼ cup chopped cilantro leaves

½ cup Apple Cider Vinegar Salad Dressing

½ 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.


Nutrition

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

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