This chopped taco salad with homemade catalina dressing comes together in less than 30 minutes and is the perfect light and refreshing meal for the heat of summer.

I have a super duper huge crush on taco salad.

As in, I could eat it every night of my life and be totally ok with it. It’s kind of like this secret hidden craving-slash-confession I’ve been dying to share with you. Thanks for letting me get it out there.

Top view of a white plate of taco salad with dressing drizzled on top.

I hunt it out at potlucks and try to throw it in our menu plan more often than is probably ethical.

I’m positively gushy about taco salad, but seriously, after you try this chopped version with homemade catalina dressing, you might be just as gushy as I.

Solidarity in gushiness? Or not.

As if the taste-factor (which is off the charts good) isn’t enough, this meal comes together in less than 30 minutes and is perfect  light and refreshing meal for the blazing heat of summer (confession: we eat it all winter, too).

White plate full of taco salad with all the fixings and catalina dressing drizzled on top.

It’s basically a big honkin’ plate full of color and flavor and love and taco salad goodness. And the gargantuan plate you see here? That’s my itty bitty little serving cause I’m all about portion control.

If you are stressed about serving a main dish salad to kids, my tactic is to serve the salad with a platter of fresh fruit and vegetables as well as a crusty roll (or other type of heavily sought after carb) and often cottage cheese on the side.

My kids actually really like the commotion of this salad and kind of pick their way through it, eating their favorite parts and scooping up the rest with their rolls. It’s a pretty difficult salad to resist whether you are a kid or not.

A white plate full of chopped taco salad and catalina dressing drizzeled on top.

What to Serve With This

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Chopped Taco Salad with Homemade Catalina Dressing

4.69 stars (29 ratings)



  • 1/2-1 pound ground turkey or beef
  • ½ head romaine lettuce, chopped
  • ½ head iceberg lettuce, chopped
  • ½ cup cilantro chopped
  • 1 cup cubed, small cheese, cheddar, Monterey Jack, Pepper Jack, etc.
  • 1 cup frozen or fresh corn kernels, thawed if frozen
  • 1 (6-ounce) can olives, chopped
  • 1 (15-ounce) can black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 2 roma or plum tomatoes, chopped
  • 1-2 avocados, chopped
  • Crushed tortilla chips


  • ¼ cup ketchup (see note)
  • ¼ cup granulated sugar
  • ¼ cup red wine vinegar
  • ¼ cup onion finely chopped
  • ½ teaspoon paprika
  • ¼ teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
  • ½ cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • Salt and pepper to taste


  • In a large, nonstick skillet, brown the ground turkey or beef with salt and pepper (about 1 teaspoon of each) until cooked through, breaking up the meat into bite-size pieces as it cooks. Drain excess grease if needed. Scrape the meat onto a paper towel-lined plate and set aside to cool a bit.
  • For the dressing, combine all the dressing ingredients together in a blender and process until smooth. Refrigerate until ready to serve. The dressing can be made up 3-4 days in advance.
  • In a large bowl, toss all the salad ingredients together (including the cooled meat) except the crushed tortilla tips.
  • Serve the salad with the dressing and crushed tortilla tips.


Ketchup: I’ve been using the Heinz natural brand of ketchup without any HFCS and really like it – use a brand you like the taste of for the dressing.
Paprika: also, if you want to take the dressing up a notch, use smoked paprika instead of regular.
Meat: I prefer the ground turkey or beef simply seasoned with salt and pepper but if you want more kick, try adding cumin, chili powder or a variety of other flavors to the meat while cooking.
Serving: 1 Serving, Calories: 571kcal, Carbohydrates: 37g, Protein: 30g, Fat: 36g, Saturated Fat: 8g, Cholesterol: 61mg, Sodium: 704mg, Fiber: 10g, Sugar: 14g

Recipe Source: salad from Mel’s Kitchen Cafe, dressing slightly adapted from Kitchen Simplicity (used olive oil instead of canola oil)