Turkey Taco Salad
For a lighter version of this salad, skip cheese or swap the sour cream for yogurt – or both!
For the bean and turkey topping:
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 medium onion, finely chopped
- 1 clove garlic, finely chopped
- 2 1/2 teaspoons ancho chili powder (or substitute regular chili powder)
- 2 teaspoons ground cumin
- 1 teaspoon oregano
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- Fresh ground black pepper
- 1/2 pound ground turkey
- 1 can (15 ounces) diced fire-roasted tomatoes
- 1 can (15 ounces) black beans, rinsed and drained
- 1 cup fresh or frozen corn kernels
For the salad:
- 2 tablespoons sherry vinegar
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- Fresh ground black pepper
- 5 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 hearts of romaine, chopped or sliced
- 1/2 pint cherry tomatoes, halved
- 1/2 red onion, sliced
- 6 radishes, thinly sliced
- 2 ripe avocados, sliced
- 1 cup (4 ounces) shredded Monterey jack cheese, or more, to taste
- Handful of cilantro leaves, stems removed
- 1/2 cup sour cream
- 1 lime, cut into wedges
1 Cook the onion, garlic and spices: In a large, deep skillet over medium heat, heat the olive oil. Add the onion, garlic, chili powder, cumin, oregano, salt and a few grinds of fresh black pepper.
Cook, stirring occasionally for 5 minutes, or until the onions soften.
2 Add the ground turkey and continue cooking. Break up the meat into small bits as it cooks using a stiff spatula. Cook for about 4 minutes, or until the turkey is no longer pink.
3 Stir in the diced tomatoes, black beans and corn. Reduce the heat to medium-low and cook for about 10 more minutes to allow the flavors to mingle and the mixture to thicken. If the mixture seems dry, add water 2 tablespoons at a time.
Remove the skillet from the heat. Taste for seasoning and add more salt, if you like. Cool briefly.
This topping can be made ahead and kept refrigerated for up to 5 days. Serve cold, or warm briefly in the microwave or a warm skillet before serving.
4 Dress the greens: In a bowl large enough to hold the lettuce, whisk together the vinegar, 1/4 teaspoon salt and a few grinds of fresh black pepper. Gradually whisk in the olive oil until the dressing looks combined.
Add the lettuce to the bowl. Toss to coat it with the dressing. Taste for seasoning and add more salt and pepper, if you like.
5 Assemble the salad: Divide the lettuce among 4 to 6 plates. Divide the filling between the plates, and garnish with the tomatoes, onions, avocado, radishes, shredded cheese and cilantro. Top each salad with spoonful of sour cream and a lime wedge, and serve.
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Turkey Taco Salad Meal Prep
If you’re a fan of tacos (and why wouldn’t you be?), you’re in for a real treat here.
Because we have a turkey taco salad to-go kit here.
It’s a healthier take on taco Tuesdays.
Except you’re prepped and set for skinny Taco Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday.
What’s so great about this meal prep is that your greens and premium toppings are separated into their own little containers.
So we have no sogginess, no mush, no nothing.
Just a fresh taco salad literally ready at your fingertips!
And there’s no dressing needed here either.
Between the shredded Mexican blend cheese, pico de gallo, Greek yogurt, and lime juice, you have plenty of goods here.
If, however, you are feeling a little bit on the wild side, throw on some guacamole or avocado slices right before serving.
I took my easy, go-to turkey taco recipe and turned it into this easy meal prep lunch. The whole thing comes together in under 30 minutes, start to finish. If you’ve been following my free meal plans, you probably know I’ve been incorporating more meal prep recipes in them, recipes you can make once that can be served for the week.
Last week I took a poll on my Instagram stories to see what type of healthy meal prep lunches you would like to see for 2019, and it varied greatly from cold and hot lunches, and everything from balanced meals that include grains to keto, low-carb, whole30 and more. So, I will incorporate all of the above in the coming month. Feel free to leave your suggestions in the comments!
- Nonstick cooking spray
- 12 ounces uncooked ground turkey breast
- 1 15 ounce can pinto beans, rinsed and drained
- 1 cup frozen whole kernel corn
- 1 cup salsa
- ¼ cup water
- 4 cups coarsely torn or shredded romaine lettuce
- ¼ cup shredded reduced-fat cheddar cheese (1 ounce)
- 2 ounces baked tortilla chips
Lightly coat a large nonstick skillet with cooking spray heat skillet over medium heat. Add ground turkey to hot skillet cook about 5 minutes or until no longer pink, using a wooden spoon to break up turkey as it cooks. Drain off any fat.
Stir in beans, corn, salsa, and the water. Bring to boiling reduce heat. Simmer, covered, for 2 to 3 minutes to blend flavors.
Line four plates with lettuce. Top with hot turkey mixture sprinkle with cheese. Serve with tortilla chips.
Turkey Taco Salad
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This healthy, reimagined taco salad recipe (adapted from Taste of Home) can be on the table in 30 minutes.
- 1 Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the turkey, peppers, onion, and garlic and cook until turkey is no longer pink and the vegetables are tender, about 8 minutes. Break up the turkey into crumbles as it cooks.
- 2 Stir in the salsa, beans, chili powder, and cumin and heat through, about 3 minutes.
- 3 Divide the romaine among four serving plates. Top with the turkey mixture and sprinkle with the cilantro and suggested toppings.
Recommended from Chowhound
In this Thanksgiving edition of our You’re Doing It All Wrong video series, chef and TV host Michael Chiarello extols the benefits of a brined turkey. Avoid some things (have you ever heard of a blivit?) and embrace others (the bird fits perfectly inside a cooler). If you follow the approach Michael outlines here, he guarantees you one of the juiciest turkey dinners you've ever had. See our Turkey Brining Guide for more info and options (dry brining is great if you're short on space), and our Ultimate Guide to Thanksgiving for everything else you need to know.
For the Taco Salad
Instead of using ground turkey, you could make salsa slow cooker chicken as a topping: Simply put 1 pound of chicken breast in a slow cooker and cover it with 1/2 cup of the salsa and a pinch of salt. Cook on low for 8 hours or on high for 4 hours, then shred when done. This salad is good served with either warm or cold cooked ground turkey. If making this salad for eating at a later time, just cook the ground turkey and salsa and store it in an airtight container in the fridge until ready to use. You could use a number of add-ins with this salad for example, a dollop of sour cream or some olives—the possibilities are endless.
1. Pour 1/2 cup of the salsa into a large skillet. Add the ground turkey and cook on high heat, breaking it up as it cooks, for 15 minutes, or until the turkey is cooked through.
2. Place the lettuce in a large bowl or four small bowls.
3. When the turkey is done, spoon on top of the lettuce, pour the remaining 1/2 cup of salsa on top of the turkey, then add the cheese and tortilla chips (I like to crush some of the tortilla chips).
We put our house up for sale during the holidays and I was trying to clear out my pantry of excess stuff. Olives, kidney beans, corn and turkey sausage were used to great effect to accomplish that goal! This recipe makes a lot, so it’s perfect for company. Especially if you’re trying to keep your house cool during the hot, summer months. I served it for lunch and found it simply wonderful.
The turkey sausage provides just the right amount of heat if you’re a Tex-Mex fan. This salad is crunchy, healthy and pretty much irresistible. It doesn’t hurt that turkey is a lot lower in calories than ground beef either. Give Turkey Taco Salad a try and you’ll be smacking your lips just like I did. Hearty, satisfying, filling, worth making again and again.
Turkey Taco Salad is magnifient!
This salad is terrific with either French or Catalina salad dressing or Ranch dressing.
Turkey Taco Salad is a healthy, gluten free option with a nice kick to it.
I used these ingredients. The small bowl contains Homemade Taco Seasoning.
Fry turkey sausage and drain any grease.
Add Homemade Taco Seasoning or a taco seasoning packet.
Stir to combine set aside.
Place lettuce in a large salad bowl. Add olives, green bell pepper, cucumbers, grape tomato halves, corn, kidney beans, Mexican cheese and cooked turkey sausage.
Toss salad and place on plates. Add salad dressing to serve.
Turkey Taco Salad is a great entree for lunches or for dinner during the summer when you want recipes that don’t heat up your kitchen.
Turkey Taco Salad has just the right amount of heat. It’s also great served with a slice of cornbread.
Turkey Taco Salad
Ingredients US Metric
- For the cilantro-lime vinaigrette
- 1 cup packed fresh cilantro stems and leaves, or more to taste
- 1 garlic clove, coarsely chopped
- 2 tablespoons light agave nectar
- 1/4 cup fresh lime juice (from 2 to 3 limes)
- 1/4 cup mild vegetable oil
- Kosher salt
- For the turkey taco salad
- 3 tablespoons mild vegetable oil
- 1/2 small red onion, finely diced
- 1 pound ground turkey*, white or dark, any percentage fat
- 1 tablespoon chile powder
- 1 tablespoon ground cumin
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/3 cup cold water
- 4 cups finely shredded purple cabbage
- 4 cups chopped romaine hearts
- 1 cup julienned peeled jicama
- 6 radishes, thinly sliced
- 1/2 cup lightly packed fresh cilantro leaves
- 1 red Fresno chile pepper (or other chile pepper of choice), thinly sliced
- Tortilla chips (optional)
In a blender, combine the cilantro, garlic, agave, lime juice, and vegetable oil. Puree on high until smooth and season with salt.
In a large heavy pan, heat the oil over medium heat. Add the red onion and cook until softened, 5 to 7 minutes. Add the turkey and cook, breaking it up with a wooden spoon, until browned, 3 to 5 minutes. Stir in the chile powder, cumin, and salt. Then stir in the water and cook until the turkey is completely cooked through and the water has cooked off, 5 to 7 minutes more. Remove from the heat.
Arrange the cabbage and romaine hearts on a large platter or on individual plates. Top with the jicama, radishes, cilantro, and chile. Spoon the ground turkey on top and drizzle the salad with a generous amount of the vinaigrette. Serve with tortilla chips, if desired.
*Can I make this taco salad with leftover cooked turkey in place of ground turkey?
Yes, you certainly can. You’ll use about 1 pound (454 grams) cooked turkey that you’ve shredded or chopped. Then proceed as the above instructions suggest, instead adding the turkey after you’ve added the water and brought it to a simmer. Stir in the turkey and cook until it’s warmed through and completely coated with the spice and onion mixture and some of the water has evaporated, 3 to 5 minutes.
Recipe Testers' Reviews
This turkey taco salad is a great salad filled with lots of flavors and textures. It’s easily put together and thoroughly enjoyed. It’s colorful and healthy and all of the things I’m looking for in a midweek meal. Oven-baked fresh tortilla chips sprinkled over the top added the perfect crunch. It provided 4 generous servings and could easily be scaled up to meet the appetites of a crowd. My advice is that you use this recipe as a guide. It works as is but use more or less of any of the listed ingredients according to your taste. Next time I’ll chop all the ingredients so they’re all approximately the same size. Also, I might reduce the amount of cilantro in the salad. Avocado and quartered cherry tomatoes would be a nice addition. If my local salad restaurant offered salad with this many ingredients and textures, I might eat there more often! Don't skimp on the dressing. My supermarket had no Fresno chile and being unsure which chile would be suitable I opted to leave it out as we didn't want to overdo the spiciness of the salad.
This turkey taco salad is a cilantro lover's dream! So fresh and verdant. It’s the vinaigrette that makes this dish sing. The crushed tortilla chips on top are a must and I think that some crumbled queso fresco or feta cheese on top would also be amazing. My seven- and eight-year-olds both happily ate this salad as well, which is a win-win! It also introduced them to savory, apple-like jicama, which they are enjoying today sliced into sticks in their lunch boxes. (If you buy pre-sliced jicama at the grocery store salad bar, you’ll cut prep time down by 20 minutes.) Prep time would be reduced even further if you buy a sack of shredded purple cabbage and a sack of chopped romaine hearts. Since the vinaigrette is so cilantro forward, one could easily skip the 1/2 cup of leaves added to the salad. My kids would likely enjoy the salad even more this way.
I really don't like taco salads. They always seem like a 3,000-calorie excuse to eat tacos disguised as a “salad" with tons of beans, cheese, sour cream, and sometimes rice! This one caught my attention right away because it looked awesome and definitely was an actual salad with a bright vinaigrette and not just a giant nacho! It hit the spot. It's got a ton of flavor, a great dressing (if you love cilantro), great textures, and didn’t weigh me down after eating a large bowl. The recipe also lends itself to lots of variation. I made a double batch of the turkey and the next evening we had some more of the salad with additional garnishes like roasted corn, crumbled white cheese, and sliced avocados. Delicious.
This was a fresh and easy take on a taco salad, I love that there wasn't cheese and sour cream and olives. It felt really authentic. It was a beautiful recipe for a warm spring day, but I can see it being such a welcome break from the heavy food of the holidays! I could certainly see myself doing a riff on it and turning into a southwest lettuce wrap situation. I used leftover cooked turkey.
This is a light, bright, spicy salad. We felt the cilantro vinaigrette was the star of the recipe, but also really liked the spiced warm turkey. Make as is, or change up the protein. We thought it would also be delicious with shrimp for the non-meat eater! The crunch from the radish, jicama, and cabbage are well worth all the chopping! It’s a delicious 45-minute meal!
I used leftover cooked turkey and cut the turkey into thin strips.
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I made this for a family dinner last night and it was a smash hit – filling but not heavy and full of bright flavours and textures.
We can’t get jicama in the UK so subbed in some sliced turnip which added a wonderful juicy crunch. I’m not a fan of overly sweet dressings so I omitted the agave nectar and added a little mayo and green chile for a spicier and creamier texture. Following a tip I learned from a Mexican friend, I also mixed the spices with the ground turkey the night before to get the seasonings working together.
All in all a big success and a great new addition to the regular week night repertoire!
Thanks, James! I’m so pleased you all loved this so much. It’s one of my family’s favorites as well. Love your variation suggestion on the dressing! Can’t wait to hear what you try next.
Toppings for Keto Taco Salad
If you are looking for other keto-friendly taco salad toppings, here’s a list of ideas:
- homemade or jarred salsa (just check the ingredients for added sugars)
- full fat sour cream
- sliced black olives
- diced fresh or pickled jalapenos
- chopped cherry tomatoes
- leftover rotisserie chicken
- roasted bell peppers for fajita-style taco salad
I find that the salsa and sour cream combine with the other ingredients, and I don’t need to add additional salad dressing. However, if you’re looking for a good dressing for keto taco salad, I’d recommend this Habanero Garlic Ranch dressing. Yum!
Can I Freeze Taco Meat?
Yes, taco meat can be frozen. Allow the seasoned ground beef to cool completely, then store in an airtight, freezer-safe container (or ziploc) for up to 3 months.
Thaw in the fridge and reheat on the stovetop before serving. You may need to add a spoonful of water to prevent it from drying out on the stove.