Packed with flavor and a super easy weeknight meal…did I mention this Healthy Taco Salad is great for meal prep? Follow along to enjoy the wonders of tacos, clean-eating style!
Cutting down on carbs is hardly a fun process. Believe me, I know. Especially when you’re just starting out. But did you know that adding more fiber and protein into your diet can be super enjoyable?
It doesn’t have to mean you’ll be eating just plain chicken and lettuce for the rest of your life!
I fully (no pun intended) believe that food should be enjoyed. That’s why I always try to modify my favorite recipes and prepare them with whole ingredients. My top choices often become part of my clean eating lifestyle.
For example, this is an even healthier (but equally delicious) version of a Taco Salad with Creamy Cilantro Lime Dressing. Because tacos and salads need to be enjoyed — it’s a rule!
And you know what’s the best thing about this mason jar salad? Everything! If you don’t believe me, try it for yourself!
ABOUT THIS HEALTHY TACO RECIPE
Want to know why this healthy taco salad recipe is one of my favorites? Because it’s taco flavor and taco goodness made healthy!
- No tortilla chips here: This recipe is layered just the right way and placed in the mason jar to make it perfect and fast to prepare. And it’s so tasty, you won’t realize there are no chips!
- Creamy cilantro lime dressing: Need I say more? This dressing is made with plain Greek yogurt, unsweetened almond milk, spices, and lime juice<–Yum!
- Avocado: Avocado is one of the healthiest foods out there. Not to mention it’s super mellow but flavorful all at the same time.
- Skip the packaged spices: Flavor the salad dressing and the beef with spices for a terrific flavor, without using a processed packaged spice pack from the grocery store.
- Mixed baby greens: The ingredients in mixed greens will vary but are typically arugula, radicchio, swiss chard, baby romaine, and more. They add awesome taste and nutrition.
- Lean ground beef: This is a great protein and adds the texture to make this salad top-notch!
- Grape tomatoes: I love these sweet red nuggets of flavor.
- Jack cheese: I like Jack cheese because it’s one of the most flavorful ways to add calcium to your day.
WHAT GOES IN A HEALTHY TACO SALAD?
Oh, the possibilities! I like variety so I always seem to pop in something new each time I make my Healthy Taco Salad.
But recently…I’ve been sticking to this recipe. I find the texture is just right and the different flavors complement each other nicely. The Creamy Cilantro Lime Dressing adds a bit of freshness to it and just makes everything taste amazing.
Let’s discuss the deliciousness, all packed into a mason jar:
- grape tomatoes
- taco meat
- shredded jack cheese
- mixed baby greens
- creamy cilantro lime dressing
Very simple, and oh-so-delicioso.
IS HEALTHY TACO SALAD GOOD FOR YOU?
If you’re trying to eat clean-ish and healthy, going for a taco salad instead of tacos is definitely a good choice. Not that tacos cannot be made healthy (see these chicken tacos, spicy shrimp tacos, and barbacoa tacos for more on this), but a salad is a salad, after all.
This Healthy Taco Salad with Creamy Cilantro Dressing is a balanced combination of healthy fats and proteins, like the lean ground beef and avocado. Plus a lot of fresh veggies, making it a great salad that’s good for you and your taste buds.
Bonus Points: This healthy taco salad will make sure you stay full for hours, making it a great lunch or dinner.
CAN TACO SALAD BE UNHEALTHY?
It can be! In the question above, we covered how taco salad can be good for you because of the nutritious ingredients in it. But a taco salad can easily become unhealthy if it’s full of processed extras.
If you make your salad with stuff like tortilla chips, fried tortillas, or a fried tostada bowl you are adding calories and less than nutritious extras (that don’t really do a lot for the dish if we’re being honest).
And BY making your healthy taco salad with the creamy cilantro lime dressing, you are avoiding processed salad dressings full of unpronounceable ingredients that just aren’t good for you.
Clean eating is the way to go, folks!
HOW TO MAKE HEALTHY TACO SALAD
First things first, you have to prepare the taco meat. For this recipe we’ll be using lean ground beef so just follow these easy steps:
- Heat olive oil on medium-high heat in a skillet
- Add diced yellow onions, minced garlic, lean ground beef and seasonings
- Cook until the onion is tender and the meat well-browned, stirring frequently
- Once cooked, remove from the heat and allow the meat to cool.
While the meat is cooling, prepare your Creamy Cilantro Lime Dressing by mixing all the ingredients in a mixing bowl.
Then, you’re ready to assemble your Healthy Taco Salad! I love adding this salad to a mason jar so it stores well in the fridge all week, but it can also be made in a bowl and tossed.
HOW TO MAKE HEALTHY TACO SALAD WITHOUT CHEESE
I think this salad is so delicious that you’ll never miss the cheese, but to some people, a taco isn’t a taco unless it’s got cheese on it. But if you are looking to make the recipe without dairy, you can omit the cheese altogether or substitute it with vegan cheese.
Another option is dairy-free sour cream, and you can always just use salsa instead!
WHAT ARE THE RECIPE MODIFICATIONS?
This recipe is perfect the way it is, but is also totally modifiable!
- Dairy-free: Omit the cheese from the toppings (or substitute with a non-dairy cheese). Used a plant-based Greek yogurt in place of the regular plain Greek yogurt.
- Meatless: Modify this recipe into a meatless one by switching out the lean ground beef for black beans. This gives added fiber, which is a bonus for the digestive system.
- Cheese: If you prefer cheddar, mozzarella, or any other kind of cheese, go ahead and make the switch! It’s all about giving you your favorite flavors in a healthy way.
CAN I MAKE IT AHEAD OF TIME?
This Healthy Taco Salad is a great addition to your meal prep as it can be made ahead of time. Woot! The only thing you need to pay attention to is that you store it properly in the fridge.
I use a 1 quart mason jar to make sure the salad stores well.
Remember the important rules of layering! Place the salad dressing on the bottom of the jar and the greens at the top of the jar. This helps your greens stay fresh (read: not soggy or wilted at all) all the way up until you eat them.
Stacking all the ingredients in a certain order (dressing, hard vegetables, proteins, softer vegetables, cheeses, greens) make it so you can preserve the freshness of each of the ingredients until it’s time to pour it all out into a bowl and enjoy.
And, yes, you totally pour it out into a large bowl or plate to enjoy when you’re ready to get all the goods all mixed up and coated with the dressing – it WOULD be silly to eat out of the jar, I agree!
HOW LONG DOES THIS SALAD LAST?
This had always been one of my favorite questions. Why? Because I love the answer! If stacked properly, a taco salad can last up to 5 days in the fridge.
Yes, 5 days! Amazing, right?
If you’re making your taco salad ahead, make sure you stack the salad correctly. Start with the dressing on the bottom, followed by harder veggies, protein and then softer veggies, cheese and topped off with greens. Seal it tightly and it’s ready to go into the fridge.
MORE HEALTHY SALAD RECIPES
You really can’t beat salad as a nutritious meal that makes you feel super healthy as you enjoy it. Here are more choices!
- Healthy Broccoli Salad With Greek Yogurt Dressing
- Chicken Cobb Mason Jar Salad
- Beet & Goat Cheese Salad With White Wine Vinegar Dressing
- Quinoa Lentil Salad With Lemon Vinaigrette
- Make-Ahead Greek Quinoa Stacks
- Chopped Thai Salad With Peanut Dressing
This Healthy Taco Salad is packed with flavor and an easy weeknight meal. It’s a great recipe for meal prep, too! Enjoy the flavors of tacos clean-eating style!
- 1 tbsp. olive oil
- 1/2 yellow onion, diced
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 lb. lean ground beef
- 1/2 tsp. sea salt
- 1/4 tsp. black pepper
- 1/2 tsp. cumin
- 1 cup grape tomatoes, whole
- 1 cup taco meat, cooled (see recipe above)
- 1/4 cup jack cheese, shredded
- 1 cup mixed baby greens
- 1/2 avocado, diced (optional, when serving)
- 1/4 cup plain greek yogurt
- 2 tbsp. unsweetened almond milk
- 2 tsp. lime juice
- 1 tbsp. cilantro, minced
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 1/4 tsp. sea salt
To prepare the taco meat, heat some olive oil over medium high heat in a skillet and then add diced yellow onion, minced garlic, lean ground beef, sea salt, ground black pepper, and ground cumin and stir to combine.
Cook, stirring frequently, until the meat is well-browned and the onion is tender, about 6-8 minutes.
Once cooked, remove from the heat and allow to cool.
To make the creamy cilantro lime dressing, combine plain Greek yogurt, unsweetened almond milk, freshly squeezed lime juice, chopped cilantro, minced garlic, and sea salt in a small mixing bowl and stir to combine.
To assemble the mason jar salad, pour the creamy cilantro lime dressing into the bottom of a 1 quart mason jar, followed the whole grape tomatoes, the cooled taco meat, shredded jack cheese, and mixed baby greens.
When you’re ready to serve, top just shake the contents of the mason jar out onto a bowl and then top with fresh avocado.
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