Healthy Taco Salad

Nothing beats this healthy taco salad recipe in the summertime. Crisp veggies, creamy dressing & crunchy tortilla strips make it fresh & fun to eat.

Taco Salad

As much as I love tacos, I really love taco salads. In fact, any time I make tacos for dinner, I usually have a taco salad for lunch the next day to use up any leftover ingredients. But today’s healthy taco salad recipe isn’t just any kitchen sink salad. What’s special about this taco salad is a yummy veggie “taco meat.” Finely chopped sautéed shiitake mushrooms and ground walnuts take on a similar texture to ground beef or ground turkey, and tamari, chili powder, and a touch of balsamic vinegar give them a savory/spiced flavor. Combined with romaine lettuce, juicy tomatoes, black beans, crispy tortilla strips, and a dollop of cilantro lime salad dressing, this tasty “meat” makes this salad one of my all-time favorite summer meals!

Taco salad recipe ingredients

Taco Salad Recipe Ingredients

To make a great taco salad, you need a mix of textures and tastes – something creamy, something zesty, something crunchy, something tangy, and something crisp – all over lots of greens. Here’s what I use to make this healthy taco salad recipe so filling, fresh, and fun:

  • Romaine lettuce, because it wouldn’t be a taco salad without a base of crispy greens!
  • Shiitake Walnut Taco “Meat” and Black Beans, for savory, smoky flavor and hearty texture
  • Tomatoes and pico de gallofor a juicy contrast to the crunchy veggies and tortilla strips
  • Tortilla strips, for that irresistible toasted corn flavor and crispy texture
  • Red cabbage and radishes, for bright pops of color and extra crunch
  • Jalapeño, for a little heat
  • Sliced avocado & avocado cilantro lime dressing, for a zingy, creamy finish

Find the complete recipe with measurements below.

Tortilla strips on a baking sheet

Healthy Taco Salad Tips

  1. Make your own tortilla strips by toasting corn tortillas in the oven. That way, you can control how crispy they get and how much oil you use. But if you’re crunched for time, crushed tortilla chips or store bought tortilla strips work here too.
  2. Skip the spice. If you’re not a fan of spicy food, feel free to leave out the jalapeño! You could also use pickled jalapeño for an extra tangy pop.
  3. Make it ahead. If you prep the components ahead of time and store them separately, this recipe is a great choice for a make-ahead lunch. Assemble the salad in the morning, and toss on the dressing and the avocado right before you’re ready to eat! See this post for more of my best lunch-packing tips.

Taco Salad Recipe Variations

Like all salad recipes, this one is great to play with. Swap in the veggies you have on hand or adjust the toppings to make something you really love. Here are some suggestions:

  • Switch the sauce. Any of the 3 versions of my cilantro lime dressing would work here. Omit the avocado and serve it as a vinaigrette, or use Greek yogurt instead of the avocado to make it creamy. You could also skip this dressing entirely and finish the salad with tomatillo salsa or chipotle sauce.
  • Change up the creamy component. I love avocado here, but guacamole is just as good. Alternatively, try adding crumbled Cotija or grated cheddar cheese, cashew sour cream, or Greek yogurt!
  • Make it fruity. Substitute mango or pineapple salsa for the pico, or use both!
  • Vary the veggies. Raw or sautéed bell pepper, charred poblano, corn, or green onions would all be great additions.
  • Make it a burrito bowl! Reduce the lettuce by half and add a scoop of cilantro lime rice to the bottom of your bowl.

Healthy taco salad

More Favorite Mexican-Inspired Recipes

If you love this healthy taco salad, try one of these delicious recipes next:

For more easy dinner ideas, check out this post!

Healthy Taco Salad

rate this recipe:
5 from 9 votes
Prep Time: 15 mins
Cook Time: 10 mins
Total Time: 25 mins
Serves 2 to 3
This fresh, easy taco salad recipe makes a filling lunch or fun dinner. Prep components ahead of time and store them separately for quick assembly! Gluten-free and vegan.

Ingredients

  • 2 corn tortillas, sliced into strips
  • Extra-virgin olive oil, for drizzling
  • 1 medium head romaine lettuce, chopped
  • 1 cup shredded red cabbage
  • ½ cup cooked black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 2 red radishes, thinly sliced
  • ½ cup sliced cherry tomatoes and/or pico de gallo
  • 1 avocado, sliced
  • Jalapeno slices, optional
  • Cilantro Lime Dressing, the creamy avocado variation
  • Sea salt
  • Lime wedges, for serving

Shiitake Taco “Meat”

  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 8 ounces shiitake mushrooms, stemmed and diced
  • 1 cup crushed walnuts
  • 1 tablespoon tamari
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • ½ teaspoon balsamic vinegar
  • Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Instructions

  • Preheat the oven to 400°F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Toss the tortilla strips with a tiny bit of olive oil and a few pinches of salt. Spread onto the sheet and bake for 10 to 14 minutes or until crispy.
  • Make the Shiitake Taco “Meat”: In a medium skillet, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the mushrooms and cook, stirring only occasionally, until they begin to brown and soften, 3 to 4 minutes. Stir in the walnuts and lightly toast for 1 to 2 minutes. Stir in the tamari and the chili powder. Add the balsamic vinegar and stir again. Remove from the heat and season with salt and pepper to taste.
  • Assemble the salad with the romaine lettuce, cabbage, black beans, taco meat, radishes, tomatoes, avocado, jalapenos, if using, and generous dollops of cilantro lime avocado dressing. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with sea salt. Serve with lime wedges and extra dressing on the side.

 

18 comments

Leave a comment:

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

  1. Susan
    06.05.2019

    Don’t you mean “shiitaco” “meat”??
    😀

    • Jeanine Donofrio
      06.05.2019

      yep! 🙂

  2. SASH
    06.05.2019

    I’m allergic to walnuts. Is there another nut that would work well too?

    • Jeanine Donofrio
      06.05.2019

      Hi Sash, can you have pecans? They would have a similar texture and I think the flavor would really great.

  3. I bet those radishes add some delicious punch! Looks so good.

    Also, thank you so much for linking your cilantro-lime dressing. I never seem to get the dressing right when making a taco salad. I’m so inspired now! Thanks!

    http://www.thevanillaplum.com

    • Jeanine Donofrio
      06.07.2019

      Hi Michaell, I hope you enjoy the dressing and the recipe!

  4. Jenny
    06.06.2019

    5 stars
    Very cool recipe. I tried it today and it was superb. I liked the heat of jalapenos and black pepper. I used greek yogurt which made it real creamy. 5 stars without a doubt.

    • Jeanine Donofrio
      06.07.2019

      Hi Jenny, I’m so glad you enjoyed it!

  5. claire
    06.06.2019

    could you use other kinds of mushroom?

    • Jeanine Donofrio
      06.07.2019

      yes, you could use regular cremini (baby bella) mushrooms, chopped small. Hope that helps!

  6. Sabrina from newkitchenlife.com
    06.08.2019

    great to have a shiitake version of this, especially since I love taco salads so much and sometimes like to have a different version than the traditional

  7. cynthia from love%20and%20lemons
    06.09.2019

    does your everyday cookbook have nutritional info?

  8. Natalia
    06.13.2019

    I will always, always be grateful for this shitake taco meat and all your mexican and tex-mex vegan recipes!!!
    You’re the best!!!!

  9. Lauren Dykens
    08.13.2019

    5 stars
    Absolutely delicious! My two daughters, husband and I gobbled it up! My 10 year old commented on how there were so many yummy flavors in every bite.
    We have been eating more vegetarian/vegan dishes lately and this will become our new staple for taco night. Definitely don’t miss the meat. This was fantastic. Thank you so much for the recipe!

  10. Hattie
    08.13.2020

    5 stars
    Does anyone have a calorie count on this amazing recipe?

A food blog with fresh, zesty recipes.
Photograph of Jeanine Donofrio and Jack Mathews in their kitchen

Hello, we're Jeanine and Jack.

We love to eat, travel, cook, and eat some more! We create & photograph vegetarian recipes from our home in Chicago, while our shiba pups eat the kale stems that fall on the kitchen floor.