Nothing beats this healthy taco salad recipe in the summertime. Crisp veggies, creamy dressing & crunchy tortilla strips make it fresh & fun to eat.
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
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 gallo, for 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.
Healthy Taco Salad Tips
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
More Favorite Mexican-Inspired Recipes
If you love this healthy taco salad, try one of these delicious recipes next:
- Baked Green Chile Taquitos
- Homemade Tortillas
- Sheet Pan Nachos
- Best Breakfast Burrito
- Vegan Burrito Bowl
- Or any of these 11 best vegetarian taco recipes or 21 sides for tacos!
For more easy dinner ideas, check out this post!
Healthy Taco Salad
- 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
- 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.
This salad is nothing short of magical. I’d give it 10 stars if I could. The citrusy dressing makes all the fresh vegetables sing. And don’t get me started on the shittaco “meat”. My picky teenage son asks me to make extra “meat” be.cause he likes it so much. I add some shredded cheddar/Monterey Jack to his, but I think the salad is better without cheese. The recipe is perfect exactly as written. I’m obsessed! Thank you for making crave-worthy vegetarian/vegan recipes!
Hi Tina, thanks for your comment! Great to hear you both love the salad.
Easy, tasty and mushrooms w/ walnuts make great taco meat substitute. Easy to vary recipe based on ingredients on hand. Company worthy too.
I’m so glad you enjoyed it!
Absolutely delicious. The prep was a bit intense but I spread it throughout the day (pico de gallo and cilantro dressing around noon, mushrooms at 4); by dinnertime, delicious taco salad! Great recipe, I’ll be making again, thanks!
The radishes are a great idea I would never have thought of, as is the mushroom/walnut mixture.
I don’t know how restaurants make their taco bowls, but an easy way at home requires some empty 4″ diameter cans (taller than tuna cans) with top and bottoms removed. Brush tortillas with olive oil & water mixture, drape each one artfully over a can on a cookie sheet, and bake at 375F for 8-10 mins or until stiff and just starting to brown. Voila, taco bowls for your salad.
This is an amazing idea!
SOOOOO Yummy!!! I’m obsessed. The shiitaco “meat” is addictive. The tangy dressing pulls all the crunchy salad ingredients together for a harmonious bite. Definitely one of my favorite salads/meals.
I’m so glad you loved it!
Made this tonight exactly as written except I didn’t use the creamy version of the dressing, and just paired with really good tortilla chips. Will make again. It was really the best Taco Salad that even money can’t buy!
Hi Claire, I’m so glad you loved it!
Also allergic to walnuts, so I’ll try pecans instead.
Baby bella mushrooms are cheaper in my area, and will work just as well.
Can’t have taco salad without cheese, but I’m allergic to dairy. Violife and So Delicious to the rescue. Their vegan cheese shreds taste like the real thing. A couple of minutes before they’re done, I’d put the cheese over the mushroom nut “meat”, and cover with a lid to get the melty gooey yummy of melted cheese.
The original taco salad back in the 70s (yes, I was there) topped the finished salad with queso made from Velveeta, cheddar and Rotel tomatoes. This time, maybe I’ll cook up some vegan cheeses with the Rotel in a double boiler.
Also, some sour cream is a necessity, and the Tofutti vegan sour cream will work great for this. Mix it with guac and a bit of lime juice, and the guac won’t turn brown.
This is so good! I used beyond beef instead of the shiitake walnut beef. Super easy and I loved all the ingredients. Will definitely make again!
Can we do the shiitake taco meat before a day?
I’ll be having ppl over tomorrow night,so was wondering if i can prepare from now:)
Hi Cynthia, yep! It’ll keep for a few days in the fridge.
Does anyone have a calorie count on this amazing recipe?
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!
I will always, always be grateful for this shitake taco meat and all your mexican and tex-mex vegan recipes!!!
You’re the best!!!!
does your everyday cookbook have nutritional info?
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
could you use other kinds of mushroom?
yes, you could use regular cremini (baby bella) mushrooms, chopped small. Hope that helps!
Any way to omit tree nuts from the “meat”? What could replace, peanut?
Hi Lauren, Good question! We haven’t tried this, but I think it could work to increase the mushrooms to 12oz and use 1/2 cup crushed peanuts instead of the walnuts. I think the full 1 cup of peanuts would have an overpowering peanut flavor.
The touch of greek yogurt makes it unique. Simple yet tasty recipe.
Thank you for the post.
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.
Hi Jenny, I’m so glad you enjoyed it!
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!
Hi Michaell, I hope you enjoy the dressing and the recipe!
I’m allergic to walnuts. Is there another nut that would work well too?
Hi Sash, can you have pecans? They would have a similar texture and I think the flavor would really great.
Don’t you mean “shiitaco” “meat”??