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 Taco Salad for a Crowd

This 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.

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.

ground beef taco salad in blue baking dish

What’s in Layered Taco Salad? 

To make this homemade taco salad 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 taco salad in large blue baking dish

How to Make Layered Taco Salad 

Simply brown ground beef with a red bell pepper, add refried beans, and taco seasoning before turning the mixture out over a base of chips.

Sprinkle the beef and bean mixture with cheese, lettuce, more cheese, crushed chips, tomatoes, and dig in.

Can I Prep Homemade 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 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. 

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!! 

Tips for Making Homemade Taco Salad

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.
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!! 
Yield: 6

Layered Beef Taco Salad

Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Total Time 20 minutes

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!! 

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

  1. 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.
  2. Add the refried beans and stir to combine.
  3. Add the taco seasoning and stir to combine. Turn off the heat; set pan aside.
  4. To a 3-quart casserole dish or 9x13-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.
  5. Evenly add the beef and bean mixture over the top of the chips.
  6. Evenly sprinkle with 2 cups of the cheese.
  7. 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 Information:

Yield:

6

Serving Size:

1

Amount Per Serving: Calories: 680Total Fat: 41gSaturated Fat: 17gTrans Fat: 1gUnsaturated Fat: 19gCholesterol: 128mgSodium: 1606mgCarbohydrates: 35gFiber: 6gSugar: 4gProtein: 42g

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