Taco Salad with Chili-Spiced Catalina Dressing

Ground beef taco salad tossed in a homemade Catalina dressing with a chili twist. Loaded with veggies, beans, and cheese this taco salad is a 30-minute weeknight dinner that’s full of fresh flavors.

overhead photo of a taco salad with beans, peppers, corn, tortilla strips, ground beef and lettuce

Last spring I got a little obsessed with taco salads and made them on repeat for about a month or so. There’s a lot to love – they are generally easy to make, versatile, and full of fresh flavors. They’re also sort of a throwback and I love me some dinnertime nostalgia.

At the time, I used my basic “every day” taco salads as inspiration for my decidedly fancier Steak Taco Salad. In that post, I gave a small nod to its simpler taco salad cousin with ground beef. Since then, I’ve wanted to give that basic taco salad its time in the spotlight. So, here we are.

Seasoned ground beef and crispy romaine lettuce tossed with fresh veggies, black beans, corn and those crispy salad tortilla strips that I love so much. It’s all pulled together with a zippy homemade Catalina dressing spiced with chili seasoning. This easy taco salad is full of fresh flavors and perfect for weeknights.

Homemade Catalina Dressing

Let’s talk about the taco salad dressing first. Remember Catalina dressing? It’s a zesty tomato-based dressing that you can totally make yourself instead of buying a bottle at the store. My version has a chili spice twist.

  • Honey
  • Red wine vinegar
  • Ketchup
  • Chili seasoning
  • Olive oil

Mix all of the ingredients together and the dressing is done. Be sure to use a chili spice mix and not just plain chili powder. Or use your favorite taco seasoning.

photo of a bottle of dressing

Taco Salad Ingredients

  • Lean ground beef
  • Chili seasoning
  • Frozen corn
  • Black beans
  • Red bell pepper
  • Green onions
  • Shredded cheddar cheese
  • Romaine lettuce
photo collage of cooked ground beef, salad ingredients in bowls, and romaine lettuce

Brown the ground beef, flavor it with chili seasoning, toss it with the veggies, beans, cheese, and tortilla strips. Drizzle the dressing over the top, toss, and serve.

Can I make this taco salad ahead?

I like to make this salad ahead for easy lunches and dinners, but you will want to keep the components separate and only toss them together when you’re ready to eat.

  • The cooked ground beef will keep well three to four days in the refrigerator.
  • The Catalina dressing will keep well in the refrigerator for a week.

What else can I serve with taco salad?

Happy salad-making!

overhead photo of a tossed taco salad in a white dish

More Salad Recipes

Want more salad inspiration? Here are a few more of my favorite salad recipes for you to check out!


Taco Salad with Chili-Spiced Catalina Dressing

overhead photo of a taco salad in a white dish

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5 from 1 review

This ground beef taco salad is tossed in a simple homemade Catalina dressing with a chili twist. The flavors are bright and fresh and it takes all of 30 minutes to pull it all together.

  • Author: April @ Girl Gone Gourmet
  • Prep Time: 15 minutes
  • Cook Time: 10 minutes
  • Total Time: 25 minutes
  • Yield: 4 servings 1x
  • Category: Dinner
  • Method: Stove
  • Cuisine: American



For the Dressing

  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 1/4 cup red wine vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons of ketchup
  • 2 teaspoons chili seasoning (see note)
  • 1/3 cup olive oil

For the Ground Beef

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 pound 90% lean ground beef
  • 1 tablespoon chili seasoning
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt (see note)

For the Salad

  • 6 cups romaine lettuce
  • 1 cup frozen corn, thawed
  • 1 cup canned black beans
  • 1 large red bell pepper, chopped
  • 4 green onions, sliced
  • 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
  • 1/2 cup crispy tortilla strips (see note)


  1. Make the dressing: Combine the honey, vinegar, ketchup, and chili seasoning in a small bowl. Slowly add the olive oil, whisking continously, until well combined. Depending on how much dressing you like (I used all of it for the salad) you may have leftovers which will keep for up to a week in the fridge.
  2. Cook the beef: Heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the ground beef and cook it, breaking it apart with a spatula, until it’s browned and cooked through. Drain off the fat, add the chili seasoning and salt and stir until the beef is evenly coated.
  3. Assemble the salad: Place the lettuce, corn, black beans, bell pepper, and onions in a large bowl. Top with the ground beef. Pour the dressing over the top and toss the salad together until the dressing is evenly distributes. Add the shredded cheese and tortilla strips and toss again.


Be sure to use chili seasoning (or taco seasoning) for this recipe and not just chili powder. Chili seasoning is a combination of several ingredients.

For the beef, you may need to add more salt depending on how much sodium your chili seasoning has. I use Chugwater Chili Gourmet Chili Blend which doesn’t have a lot of sodium, which is why I add more salt to the beef.

I use little tortilla strips sold in packages which you can usually find in the produce department. You can also use crushed tortilla chips.


  • Serving Size: 1/4 of recipe
  • Calories: 743
  • Sugar: 15.6g
  • Fat: 47.1g
  • Carbohydrates: 46.4g
  • Fiber: 8.76g
  • Protein: 36.4g

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