Personally, I’m not a fan of tacos (don’t come for me). It’s not that I don’t find them delicious, because I do. You see, it’s more my inability to keep anything other than a few crumbs of meat in the shell. I make such a mess it’s not even funny. I embarrass myself, the kids, even the cat looks away in shame.
My frustration level reached max a few years ago and just stopped making them (at least for myself). However, I solved my love hate relationship with tacos, by putting it all in a bowl. Taco salad for the win! It’s just as tasty and has all the nutritious goodness of the taco.
It’s the same ingredients of ground beef, lettuce, tomatoes, onions, and the like. But there’s a nice twist with putting your taco in a bowl – more stuff can fit. I can add avocado, sour cream, olives, beans, even corn. Taco salad is a fabulously delicious alternative for the messy taco eaters of the world.
When it comes to what to serve with taco salad the possibilities are as tasty, as they are endless. If you want to keep things light, you may choose simple guacamole and chips, or a nice soup. Should you choose to simply add a salsa or dressing, jalapeno ranch dip and avocado lime dressing go great on the salad.
Main courses like shrimp fajitas and enchiladas are classic go to meals. There’s also a ton of unique desserts like flan and mango sorbet. I’ve got all these winning recipes, and many more below. So if you’re stuck on what to have with taco salad, read on.
I’ve always been a corn lover, but on a trip to Mexico, I was introduced to elote, which is sold by street vendors the same way pretzels are sold in the United States. I’ll tell you, I had a hard time eating plain, buttered corn after that.
With elote, the corn is smothered in a smooth, yet zippy mayonnaise and sour cream sauce. It contains Mexican staples like chili powder, lime, cilantro, and cheese. It’s easy to make and takes only about 10 minutes.
Just boil or grill the corn, and butter it. Then mix together all your spicy mayo sauce and spread it over the corn. Not only is it uniquely flavorful, it’s appetizing appearance is a sure fire conversation starter. I sometimes like to sweeten up my taco bowl by mixing the kernels in with it.
This iconic combo is a must-have whenever Mexican food is present. Not only is it a great appetizer, but leaving it on the table during dinner will allow everyone to take a break from the hot and spicy with some cool and refreshing guacamole.
This recipe is a decadent treat that uses cilantro, lime, red onions, and garlic to bring out the sweet, earthy tone of the avocado. Don’t skimp on the chips. This guacamole deserves a nice, crispy tortilla. Add some of the green goodness to the taco salad for even more flavor.
This colorful rice is so easy to make, I promise it will become one of your go-to recipes. All it takes is chicken broth, tomato sauce, and a few spices like cumin, garlic, and chili powder.
However, there’s a secret here. When you boil your rice (it must be long grain), rather than using whatever water the package calls for, use half chicken broth and half tomato sauce. In other words, if you’re supposed to boil the rice in 4 cups of water, use 2 cups of chicken broth and 2 cups of tomato sauce.
Not only will it be full of flavor, but the fiery red and orange colors will be gorgeous on any plate. If you’re looking for a great starch for the taco salad, this is it.
This thick, creamy, and powerfully flavored recipe has been generously shared with us by the Herrera family. They have been passing it down for generations within their family, and luckily for us, decided it’s too good not to share.
These refried beans are ridiculously versatile and can be used for burritos, tacos, a spread, a dip, and yes, even mixed into a taco salad. Once the pinto beans have soaked (preferably overnight), boil them for about an hour.
Meanwhile, heat the oil in a large skillet, and saute onions and garlic, with some salt and pepper. Transfer the beans into the skillet, and fry them while mashing. Don’t like fried foods? No problem, you can skip that and out everything into a bowl and mash.
Pico de Gallo is an appetizer that checks all the boxes for me. This refreshing salsa is healthy, low in calories, quick and easy to make, and travels well. Made with tomatoes, onions, cilantro, and lime, it’s just a matter of dicing, mixing, and letting it chill.
While it’s the perfect topping for taco salad, it can also be served on the side. The colorful mixture will be a welcome addition to any summer get together. Do yourself a favor and get good quality, juicy tomatoes.
These quesadillas are so easy, I showed my kids how to make them in about 3 minutes. There’s only two ingredients, so on those nights you’re clamoring for something to serve in between soccer, band, football, and basic chaos, these velvety little pockets will save the day.The kids can also eat them on the go.
Just spray a pan, let heat up, and drop in a tortilla. Then add whatever cheese you like (I prefer a mix of cheddar and Monterey), fold the tortilla and press. Cook each side for a few minutes until golden brown around the edges.
Quesadillas are a nice way to make your taco salad into a hearty meal as well.
This spicy and healthy soup will fill the house with an aromatic warmth. It’s made with a savory broth that’s loaded with veggies, juicy shredded chicken, crushed tortilla chips, and the deeply layered flavors of garlic, cilantro, tomatoes, and cumin.
Prep time is a quick 15 minutes, and it will be ready to serve 35 minutes later. Top it off with some avocado and cheese. It’s the perfect accompaniment to a taco salad on a chilly autumn day.
Just 10 minutes and 6 ingredients will give you a dressing so delicious, creamy, and versatile, you may never buy dressing again. This dressing can be used on salads, a dip for veggies and crackers, mixed in with rice, or even a drizzle on sandwiches.
The best part is, there’s no chopping or dicing. Just load the avocado, garlic, olive oil, cilantro, and lime into the food processor and let it rip! If it’s too thick for your taste, feel free to add some water for a thinner texture.
I live with some picky humans. So when I serve chips, I can’t just have 1 or 2 dips. I need a full spectrum of flavors, textures, and tastes. For my spicy adventurers, this creamy jalapenos ranch always does the trick.
Thankfully, it’s another food processor quickie. Just throw the jalapenos, sour cream, cilantro, Mayo, dry ranch mix, and some tasty tomatillos in that glorious invention, and mix until smooth. Not only is it a great dip, but it’s a nice topping for salads and rice. Let it chill overnight for an even more intense flavor.
This creamy sauce uses chipotle peppers, sour cream, mayonnaise, smoky adobe, garlic, cumin, cayenne pepper, and cilantro. The layered flavors give the sauce a unique combination of flavors that will keep people guessing.
It only takes about 10 minutes, because once again the beloved food processor is used to puree all the yummy ingredients. When mixed in with taco salad, the sauce will give a nice spicy kick.
As much as I want to love traditional salsa, I have a hard time with the chunkiness of it. Like my taco aversion, it’s basically because I’m klutzy with food. I end up with tomato chunks everywhere. So when I found this recipe, I was able to once again let my love flow for this zesty classic.
The key is to sear the tomatoes and Serrano peppers, then peel the skins when they’ve cooked. Then drop them, along with other ingredients (like garlic and lime juice) into the trusty food processor.
The result is a smoothly delicious salsa that will not only stay put on a chip, but goes perfectly with salads, tacos, and even hamburgers and eggs.
5. Salsa Verde
This attractive green salsa is a refreshing, zest filled change from the usual red. This salsa takes about 10 minutes to put together, and can be used as a dip, topping or unique mix for entrees.
For this recipe, you’ll need tomatillos (the satisfyingly sour cousin to red tomatoes), cilantro, garlic, jalapenos, onions, and lime juice. The key to making it great, is the pan roast the tomatillos, jalapenos, and onion.
Blend everything together in the food processor, and chill for a few hours. The result will be a dip that’s a lovely combo spice and earth, with a hint of citrus.
Are you in love with Mediterranean food? Well, allow me to introduce you to a sauce, so delicious, you’ll wonder how you’ve survived food without it. This sauce seamlessly fits into any type of meal. On top of the fantastic taste and creamy texture, it’s naturally vegan, so everyone can enjoy it.
The most important part of this garlicky delight is to keep the ingredients cold. This includes the olive oil (which actually must be put in the freezer for about 20 minutes), the 2 heads of garlic, and lemon juice. Place everything in the food processor and blend away. Stop as needed to scrape the sides.
After a few minutes, a light and fluffy sauce will emerge, so full of flavor you’ll want to put it on everything. The best part is, you can! From crackers to your taco salad.
Does your family devour creamy, cheesy dishes? If so, they will adore these quick and easy chicken quesadillas. They’re only 25 minutes to prepare, and are great when needing to feed a lot of people.
It’s just a matter of cooking the chicken, and making the simple sauce and filling, that combines beans, cheese, garlic, and onion, along with some spices. For some extra flavor, add in some refried beans.
After you’ve rolled the enchiladas, baking takes only about 20 minutes, or until they begin to bubble.
Bottled Coca-Cola is the secret to this succulent roast pork. For this recipe it replaces lard, but puts a delicious pep in the carnitas.
Carnitas is braised or roasted pork butt, that is crispy on the outside, and juicy on the inside. It’s usually used as a filling for various Mexican dishes, but can certainly be served solo alongside another dish, like say, a nice taco salad. You may even want to replace ground beef with this tender meat.
It’s easy to make, because your slow cooker will do all the work. Let it simmer for 8–10 hours, then transfer it to the oven, slather it with the juices, where the outside will quickly crisp up.
Looking for a quick and easy seafood recipe with that Mexican flair? This easy 30 minute recipe has everything. It’s filling, healthy, decadently delicious, and will pair nicely with an array of sides.
The shrimp is a refreshing contrast to the beef in a taco salad. The ingredients of juicy shrimp, fresh bell peppers, and onion combine with the spices to give a fabulously satisfying taste. Serve it with avocado, sour cream, verde salsa, or toum for even more flavor.
I grew up eating stuffed peppers. The kind with the chopped meat, rice, and tomatoes. Love them to this day, but I must say, they took a backseat when I had my first taste of chile relleno.
Poblano peppers are used to make this cheese stuffed, fried veggie. The main thing is to roast the pepper over an open flame until blackened. Let them cool, then peel the skins.
Slice them slightly then fill with cheese, coat them with some flour, and fry them in oil that’s reached 375 degrees. They have just enough spice to liven up dishes like quesadillas and salads, without overpowering them.
5. Fish Tacos
I had my first fish taco many moons ago while hanging at the Jersey shore. My thought then was, they were really good and fun. It wasn’t until I had to cook for a family that I realized, these tasty, fun filled treats are the perfect quick and healthy meal that kids will love.
Simply cook any white fish (cod and halibut are my favorites), then chop up a colorful cabbage. Make yourself a creamy sauce of Mayo, sour cream, Fajita seasoning, cilantro, and lime, and you’ve got yourself a nutritious meal. It takes all of about 10 minutes. Don’t be afraid to use frozen fish either, honestly, it works just as well.
I was a grown woman when I first had a churro at my son’s t-ball game. I fell head over heels for this sugary, cinnamon coated fried finger food. So when I found this recipe, I had to give it a try. Let me say, it blows the baseball concession churro out of the water.
It uses basic pantry items and will take only 15 minutes of prep. The frying will take about 20 minutes, but you’ll get about 2 dozen of these crispy sweet sticks. You will need a pastry bag for this recipe, and good quality frying oil.
2. Spanish Flan
Flan is one of those desserts that people either love or cringe at. A good flan is all about texture. If it’s mushy, the dessert can be tragically yucky. But a nice, firm flan that retains its creamy consistency is one of the best desserts you’ll ever have. This recipe does all that and more.
With only 4 ingredients, it’s easy to make, though you’ll need to set aside an hour for cooking. Flan is a nice addition to a taco spread because it’s not overly sweet. Once plated, with the caramel drizzle, its impressive, classy, and beautiful.
Tres Leches is a classic dessert. Meaning “3 milks”, light and airy sponge cake is soaked in evaporated, condensed, and whole milk. The cake itself is easy to make, it’s just a matter of chilling it, and waiting for the milk to be soaked up. This will usually take at least an hour.
As that happens, you can whip up a mixture of heavy cream, sugar, and vanilla. This will make an irresistibly fluffy topping for the cake. This super sweet and moist recipe is perfect to serve after a nice spicy taco salad.
4. Mango Sorbet
Do you love a fruity, frozen dessert? I love them all. Ice cream, gelato, sorbet, heck, I’ll even slam back a bunch of those childishly fun ice cube popsicles. But I hate the time and energy that’s involved. That’s why I keep this simple sorbet on speed dial all summer.
The recipe has only 3 ingredients consisting of frozen mango, maple syrup, and fresh lime juice. This brightly colored bowl of cheer is guaranteed to cool you off on a hot summer day, or after a spicy Mexican meal.
There’s no churning, mixing, shaking, or other frontier farm work involved. You don’t even need an ice cream maker. Just put everything in the food processor and run it until it’s creamy. Serve immediately, or freezer for 2–3 hours for a firmer consistency.
These crispy creations are the most versatile dish I’ve ever come across. Called the doughnuts of the Southwest, these little puffy, fluffy, fried hollow squares of dough are absolutely delicious. When topped with honey or whipped cream, they are a simple, yet tasty dessert.
But, they can also be dipped in salsa and sauces for a fun snack or side to your taco salad. You can even be stuffed with meat, cheese, or anything else your heart desires. When you fry these little bits of heaven, be sure to use lard. I know, I know, but butter and shortening just don’t get them crispy.
A chewy, chocolate brownie can really hit the spot after a spicy taco salad. This easy recipe is really just your average boxed treats. The tasty squares get kicked into high gear with the addition of ground cinnamon and Chile pepper.
Follow the instructions on the box like you normally would, but add in the spices as you mix. They take less than 10 minutes to prepare, and 20 minutes to bake. Pro Tip, take all the dry ingredients, mix them together and place them in a glass jar. The mix will stay fresh for 3 months.
This classic cocktail is great at parties, refreshing at BBQ’s, and will definitely get you in the mood if you’re cooking a Mexican meal. Dipping it while munching on taco salad will help cleanse the palate.
This simple recipe follows the 2-1-1 rule. 2 ounces of tequila, 1 ounce of lime juice, and 1 ounce of orange liqueur. I recommend salting the rim of the glass, as it cuts the sourness of the citrus and the spicy tang of the tequila.
2. Mexican Beer
Mexican beers are good for anyone that wants a smoother beer with their meal. Most beer from south of the border add flaked maize or corn to the blend. So that makes them lighter and easier to drink than beers from other countries.
Modelo goes great with meat and spicier dishes, so I’d suggest that for taco salad.
This cocktail is one of the most beautiful drinks ever to grace a bar. This recipe is a variation of the original sunset created by a young bartender in 1930s California.
The 6 ingredients include grenadine syrup, orange liqueur, lime juice, tequila (preferably Patron), orange juice, and crème de cassis.
When all the mixing and straining is done, you’ll have your own personal sunrise at the bottom of the glass. It’s a fun and tasty cocktail to serve the adults on taco (bowl) Tuesday.
What to Eat With Taco Salad: 24 + 3 Dishes
What Goes With Taco Salad as a Side Dish:
- Mexican Street Corn Elote
- Guacamole and Chips
- Easy Spanish Rice
- Authentic Refried Beans
- Pico de Gallo
- Cheese Quesadilla
- Chicken Tortilla Soup
What Dressing Goes With Taco Salad:
- Avocado Lime Dressing
- Jalapeno Ranch Dip
- Chipotle Cream Sauce
- Everyday Salsa
- Salsa Verde
- Toum Lebanese Garlic Sauce
What Main Dish Goes With Taco Salad:
- Chicken Enchiladas
- Pork Carnitas
- Shrimp Fajitas
- Chile Relleno
- Fish Tacos
What Dessert to Serve With Taco Salad:
- Spanish Flan
- Tres Leches Cake
- Mango Sorbet
- Mexican Chocolate Brownies
What to Drink With Taco Salad:
- Mexican Beer.
- Tequila Sunrise
- Pick a side.
- Pick a desert and a drink.
My name is Beth, Elizabeth Evelyn to be exact. A native Tennessean, I was born in the South.
I am the author behind Local Milk Blog.
Local milk is a journal devoted to home cookery, travel, family, and slow living—to being present & finding sustenance of every kind.
It’s about nesting abroad & finding the exotic in the everyday.
Most of all it’s about the perfection of imperfections and seeing the beauty of everyday, mundane life.