This taco salad recipe is a go to salad for both of our families in the summer. It’s easy to make, super fresh tasting, full of veggies and packs a big punch in the flavor department. Great for those hot summer nights where you don’t want to be standing over a stove or for when you need a quick, healthy, but also delicious dinner for your family.
Kevin and I have this salad for dinner at least once a week during the summer. At least… And I know Debbie and Mark eat a lot of it too. The boys love it just as much as Debbie and I do and it’s actually the only salad that Kevin asks for. That’s saying something.
We love this taco salad for so many reasons:
- its delicious made just like our recipe is written, but it’s also really great with other things you might have in your fridge (see below)
- its so quick to whip up especially if you always have some handy chicken breast in the fridge like I do. This marinade is great for many different recipes so don’t be afraid to make extra and keep it on hand.
- its fresh especially in the summer where you can use veggies you grow in your garden or get at the farmers market.
We would even serve these when we have guests because of all the reasons above and a few more:
- you can make some cute little tortilla bowls to serve these in with minimal effort
- you can cook the chicken on the bbq and serve it hot and fresh and create a taco salad bar!
Taco Salad Ingredients
Our chicken taco salad has these fresh ingredients:
- crispy lettuce
- tequila lime marinated chicken (yum!)
- fresh veggies: tomatoes, avocado, peppers, corn taken straight off the cob
- black beans
- cheese (of course)
- homemade ranch dressing
Other ingredients you could add or switch:
- jalapenos (pickled or fresh)
- tortilla strips or just crumbled Doritos (these are my favorite)
- cubed cheese or spicy cheese
- green onions
How to make a chicken taco salad:
- first make the homemade ranch and store it in the fridge until you are ready to use it. This can be done well ahead of time too!
- marinate your chicken in the tequila lime marinade. Heat up your barbecue or a cast iron skillet and cook your chicken while you assemble the rest of the salad.
- shuck and clean your corn on the cob then either put it on the hot bbq for about 30 seconds on each side or slice the kernels off the corn and cook them for a couple mins in a hot skillet.
- wash and chop your veggies and avocado
- arrange your veggies, corn, beans, chicken and avocado in a bowl.
- drizzle with your taco salad dressing and serve
Tips and tricks to getting a perfect chicken taco salad:
- make lots of chicken all at once and store the unused portions in the fridge. This makes your next taco salad really easy!
- serve your chicken hot or cold for this salad. Both are delicious.
- be careful not to over cook your corn. Fresh corn cooks quick and you want it to have some crunch to it.
- use a crunchy lettuce like iceberg or romaine hearts for this salad.
A little about the homemade ranch dressing:
This ranch dressing was a long time in the making for Debbie and I. We first came up with the ranch spice mixture for our crack nuts and bolts recipe to use in place of packaged ranch seasoning which is packed full of chemicals along with the spices. Our mixture tastes exactly like ranch and doesn’t have the extra crap that you don’t need.
Don’t leave out the citric acid, its the ingredient that gives our ranch that tangy flavor that you need for a proper ranch. It also works as a natural preservative. You can get it at most health food stores or here on Amazon.
We like to make a bunch of the spice seasoning and then store the extra in an airtight spice jar. It will keep like that for months, and make it easier for you to whip up some ranch dressing.
If you’re like me and you like a little heat in your dressing, add some chipotle powder or some minced jalapenos, or even just a little extra chili powder. Debbie doesn’t like a lot of heat so she made this dressing recipe without a lot of it.
How to make a taco salad bowl:
We sometimes like to make a tortilla bowl for our tacos salads. We like to do this especially if we’re serving guests cuz it just makes these salads a little more special.
Taco salad bowls made with tortillas are really easy to make. We make ours baked instead of fried. Just rub or spray some oil on both sides of a tortilla and drape it over a small bowl. Cover with foil and press the tortilla around the bowl. Flip it over and place on a baking sheet. The tortilla will hold its shape because of the tin foil.
Bake in the oven at 375 for 5 mins, remove from the oven and pull the bowl out then bake for another 5 mins. Finally, take them out, flip the tortilla bowl over and cover the bottom edges with the foil. Bake 5 more mins or so. Take them out and flip right side up to cool.
Here is a great video that walks you through the process.
Chicken taco salad for a crowd
A couple tips for serving this taco salad to guests, because it makes a great summer patio dinner with guests. When it’s so hot out you can’t think straight, everyone appreciates being served a fresh cool dinner.
- wash and chop all the fixings and put them in separate bowls. This can be done ahead of time and everything stored in the fridge.
- cut up the avocado right before serving or it will go brown.
- make a tortilla taco bowl for everyone. These can be made ahead of time too!
- cook the chicken at the last min. For guests, I would serve it hot. Let it rest for 5 mins after cooking and then slice it up.
- lay out all the ingredients and toppings on the table or a separate buffet like table and get everyone to make their own salad.
Other salads you might like:
- pickled beet salad – one of my favorites with homemade maple roasted pecans!
- broccoli salad with bacon and cranberries – great anytime and especially for potlucks
- summer salad with champagne vinaigrette – light and fresh
- cauliflower and shrimp salad – a unique and surprisingly delicious salad
- summer corn salad – the best way to eat fresh summer corn
- warm spinach salad – our favorite spinach salad, hands down!
If you’ve tried this chicken taco salad recipe then don’t forget to rate the recipe and let us know how it turned out in the comments below. We love hearing from you!
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Taco Salad with Tequila Lime Chicken and Homemade Ranch
FOR THE RANCH SEASONING
- 1/4 cup buttermilk powder
- 1 tbsp parsley
- 1 tsp garlic powder
- 1 tsp garlic salt
- 1 tsp onion powder
- 1 tsp minced dried onion
- 1 tsp dill weed
- 1/2 tsp sugar
- 1/4 tsp pepper
- 1 tsp citric acid powder (don't leave this out)
RANCH TACO SALAD DRESSING
FOR THE CHICKEN
- 4 chicken breast halves or 8 - 10 chicken thighs
- 1/4 cup tequila
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 1/3 cup chopped cilantro
- 1 tbsp cumin
- 1 tbsp garlic powder
- 1 tsp paparika
- 1 tsp corriander
- 2 limes juiced
- 1 tbsp lime zest
FOR THE SALADS
- 4 tequila lime chicken breasts sliced
- 8 cups romaine chopped
- 2 tomato chopped
- 2 cobs corn (cooked) cut off the cob
- 3/4 cup black beans
- 1 cup bell peppers chopped
- 1 cup shredded cheese
- 2 medium avocado
- 1/4 cup homemade ranch dressing
MAKE THE DRESSING
- Mix the ranch seasoning ingredients together and store in an airtight jar. Measure out 1 1/2 tbsp and add it to the sour cream, mayo, olive oil, lime, chili powder and salt. Cover and store in the fridge till you are ready to dress the salad.
MAKE THE CHICKEN
- Mix the marinade ingredients together in a bowl or container and then add the chicken. Cover and marinate for at least an hour (if you can).
- Get your bbq nice and hot and then add the chicken. Cook for 5 - 7 mins on each side or until the chicken reaches 165 degrees in the center. Take it off the bbq, cover it, and let it rest for 5 - 10 mins before slicing.
- OR... Heat your oven to 350 degrees. Get an oven proof skillet hot over medium heat. Add the chicken and cook for 2 mins on each side or until its browned on both sides. Throw it in the oven for 6 - 8 mins or until the center reaches 165 degrees. Take it out of the oven, cover and let it rest for 5 - 10 mins before slicing.
MAKE THE SALAD
- Wash and chop all the veggies. Arrange the veggies in a bowl or on a plate. Add the sliced chicken, beans, corn, avocado and cheese. Drizzle the dressing on top and serve!