Layered Beef Taco Salad

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Layered Taco Salad — A classic taco salad that everyone LOVES, it’s EASY, and it’s ready in 20 minutes!! There’s ground beef, refried beans, red peppers, tortilla chips, cheese, lettuce, and tomatoes!! 

homemade taco salad in blue baking dish with portion missing

Easy Layered Taco Salad for a Crowd

This layered ground beef taco salad reminds me of every potluck, picnic, church basement, and graduation party type of salad I ate growing up. 

It is so dang good, so easy, ready in 20 minutes, makes a hefty batch, and I know that it’s a crowd-pleaser with kids and adults alike.

The adults can feel good knowing there’s lettuce, tomatoes, and red peppers, while the kids can feel good knowing there are chips in a salad. A win-win. I adore the mixture of textures and temperatures at play.

ground beef taco salad in blue baking dish

First, the chips at the bottom of the pan are some of my favorite things in the recipe because they soften a bit underneath the warm taco-seasoned ground beef and refried beans. Hello, chilaquiles.

And because the beef and beans are warm when you layer the salad, the cheese that’s placed directly on top melts a bit. So, so good. 

The red peppers that cook with the beef and beans add hearty veggie texture, while the beans add a comfort food element to a salad, which is so nice.

Finally, there’s the crisp cool lettuce, plus more cheese that doesn’t melt, and more chips that don’t soften and stay perfectly crispy, along with fresh and juicy tomatoes to make this a texture person’s dream salad.

layered taco salad in large blue baking dish

Ingredients in Layered Taco Salad 

To make this homemade layered taco salad recipe with ground beef, you’ll need: 

  • Olive oil
  • Ground beef
  • Red bell pepper
  • Refried beans
  • Taco seasoning 
  • Tortilla chips
  • Shredded cheese
  • Romaine lettuce
  • Roma tomato 
Layered Beef Taco Salad - A classic taco salad that everyone LOVES, it's EASY, and it's ready in 20 minutes!! There's ground beef, refried beans, red peppers, tortilla chips, cheese, lettuce, and tomatoes!! 

How to Layer a Taco Salad

Layering a taco salad is so quick and easy! Once you brown the ground beef, you can start layering all of the ingredients in a pan.

Here’s how the layered taco salad recipe comes together:

  1. Brown ground beef with a red bell pepper.
  2. Add refried beans and taco seasoning to the beef mixture before turning out over a base of chips.
  3. Sprinkle the beef and bean mixture with cheese, lettuce, more cheese, crushed chips, tomatoes, and dig in!

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I Use Ground Turkey Instead of Beef? 

Sure! Your homemade taco salad won’t taste the same as mine, but ground chicken or turkey can definitely be substituted. 

Can I Prep a Layered Taco Salad in Advance? 

If you’ll be serving this to guests, I don’t recommend making this ground beef taco salad too far in advance. The chips become soggy over time and the lettuce will start to wilt. 

Can I Use other veggies in the taco salad?

Of course! You can add any veggies you like to the ground beef mixture.

Can I use black beans instead of refried beans?

Yes, you can use pretty much any kind of bean you like when making the layered taco salad.

Layered Taco Salad — A classic taco salad that everyone LOVES, it's EASY, and it's ready in 20 minutes!! There's ground beef, refried beans, red peppers, tortilla chips, cheese, lettuce, and tomatoes!! 

Taco Salad Recipe Variations to Try

There are so many ways to make this salad your own and to mix-and-match the ingredients based on what you have on hand and enjoy:

  • Use another color of bell pepper (I used red).
  • Add an onion to the ground beef while it’s browning.
  • Add salsa to the beef and bean mixture.
  • Use black beans rather than refried.
  • Top with avocado, guacamole, sour cream dollops, black olives, green onions, cilantro.
  • I used white corn tortilla chips but you can also use Doritos, or experiment with Fritos or another favorite kind of corn-based chip.

What Goes Well with Taco Salad?

If you’re unsure what to serve with taco salad, I suggest making one or more of the following:

And don’t forget to wash it all down with homemade margaritas! (Or Beergaritas, if that’s more your thing!)

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4.74 from 19 votes

Layered Beef Taco Salad

By Averie Sunshine
A classic taco salad that everyone LOVES, it's EASY, and it's ready in 20 minutes!! There's ground beef, refried beans, red peppers, tortilla chips, cheese, lettuce, and tomatoes!! 
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 20 minutes
Servings: 6
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Ingredients  

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 pound lean ground beef, I used 85% lean
  • 1 medium/large red bell pepper, seeded and diced small
  • one 16-ounce can refried beans, I used fat-free
  • one 1.25-ounce packet taco seasoning, I used reduced sodium, medium heat
  • 15 corn tortilla chips or Doritos, whole and intact
  • 3 cups shredded cheese, divided (I used a Mexican cheese blend)
  • 2 cups chopped romaine lettuce
  • 1 cup lightly crushed/broken tortilla chips or Doritos
  • 1 roma tomato, diced small

Instructions 

  • To a large skillet, add the olive oil, beef, red pepper, and cook over medium-high heat for about 5 minutes, or until beef is cooked through; stir and crumble beef as it cooks.
  • Add the refried beans and stir to combine.
  • Add the taco seasoning and stir to combine. Turn off the heat; set pan aside.
  • To a 3-quart casserole dish or 9×13-inch pan, add approximately 15 tortilla chips to create a base layer of chips. If you need a few more or less than 15 chips to cover the base of the pan, so be it. They don’t have to be perfectly arranged.
  • Evenly add the beef and bean mixture over the top of the chips.
  • Evenly sprinkle with 2 cups of the cheese.
  • Evenly sprinkle with the romaine lettuce, the remaining 1 cup cheese, 1 cup lightly crushed/broken tortilla chips, and the tomatoes. Serve immediately.

Notes

  • Salad will keep airtight in the fridge for up to 4 days, noting the chips will become softer and soggier as time passes.

Nutrition

Serving: 1, Calories: 680kcal, Carbohydrates: 35g, Protein: 42g, Fat: 41g, Saturated Fat: 17g, Polyunsaturated Fat: 19g, Trans Fat: 1g, Cholesterol: 128mg, Sodium: 1606mg, Fiber: 6g, Sugar: 4g

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

More Taco Salad Recipes:

ALL OF MY MEXICAN RECIPES! 

Loaded Beef Taco Salad — Loaded with crisp romaine lettuce, sweet corn, juicy tomatoes, and more! It comes together in just 20 minutes and is topped with the most incredible cilantro lime dressing!

loaded beef taco salad in large white serving bowl

Ground Beef Taco Salad Bowls — Making homemade taco salad bowls is so easy and they’re perfect for holding this family-favorite taco salad including seasoned ground beef, black beans, cheese and more! Everything is topped with a creamy lime-cilantro dressing that’ll have everyone finishing their salad!

Beef Taco Salad Bowls - Making homemade taco salad bowls is so easy and they're perfect for holding this family-favorite taco salad including seasoned ground beef, black beans, cheese and more! Everything is topped with a creamy lime-cilantro dressing that'll have everyone finishing their salad!

Layered Chicken Taco Salad — Juicy chicken, avocado, tomatoes, corn, black beans, cheese, tortilla chips, and more in this LOADED salad that’s EASY and ready in 15 minutes!! A creamy lime-cilantro dressing adds tons of FLAVOR!!

Layered Loaded Chicken Taco Salad - Juicy chicken, avocado, tomatoes, corn, black beans, cheese, tortilla chips, and more in this LOADED salad that's EASY and ready in 15 minutes!! A creamy lime-cilantro dressing adds tons of FLAVOR!!

Loaded Chicken Taco Salad with Creamy Lime-Cilantro Dressing — Fast, easy, fresh and healthy! All your favorite taco flavors in one big kickin’ salad that everyone will love!

Loaded Chicken Taco Salad with Creamy Lime-Cilantro Dressing - Fast, easy, fresh and healthy!! All your favorite taco flavors in one big kickin' salad that everyone will love!!

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Please note: I have only made the recipe as written, and cannot give advice or predict what will happen if you change something. If you have a question regarding changing, altering, or making substitutions to the recipe, please check out the FAQ page for more info.

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Comments

  1. What size dish do you need for your recipe? Approximately how many people would this feed? We want to make it for our kids at church.

    1. Sorry about that Barbara, there was a glitch for a bit on this recipe and it wasn’t displaying properly but it’s all set now. It’s a 9×13 inch pan or similar.