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Table of Contents
  1. Ingredients in Healthy Taco Salad
  2. What Makes Taco Salad Healthy?
  3. How to Incorporate Meat into Taco Salad
  4. Healthy Taco Salad Recipe
  5. Taco Salad Frequently asked questions

Truthfully, I’ve never had a taco I didn’t like.

Yet when it comes to taco salad– well, I am traumatized.

As a kid, I was forced to eat taco salad covered in thousand island dressing (don’t ask me why). I just remember gagging it down and vowing to stay away from taco salads. Then I started making my own recipes and it all changed.

delicious taco salad

This healthy taco salad recipe is not a childhood recipe. It used walnuts and cashew cream for protein and salsa for the dressing. It’s good, promise!

As I grew up, I learned that taco salad takes many forms— and some are quite tasty (while others are gag-worthy)! There’s just something so satisfying about a crisp corn shell (or chips) piled high with shredded lettuce and all of the other veggie-lovin’ fixings.

What’s unique about my Healthy Taco Salad is there’s no meat. Instead, I’ve substituted my heart-healthy vegan taco meat. It’s so good you’d almost never know it wasn’t meat.

easy plant based meal

Ingredients in Healthy Taco Salad

While there are a dozen reasons I love tacos and taco salads, here are my top three:

  1. Easy to make
  2. Versatile for everyone
  3. Favor changes every time

For real though; I’ve got a family of 4 and we all have different taste preferences. This healthy taco salad recipe is an easy dinner win because everyone can customize it their own way. Here’s what I set out for my version of a healthy salad:

  • Vegan taco meat: no joke, everyone is shocked at how amazingly tasty this walnut ‘meat’ is. You’ve gotta try it!
  • Tortilla chips: I like to get strips for this; try Siete’s cassava chips for a grain-free version
  • Romaine lettuce: It’s all about those crispy leafy greens in this healthy taco salad. Feel free to swap in spinach, kale, or the leafy green of your choice.
  • Black beans: I splurge on the organic version, or make my own recipe from Simple Green Meals
  • Avocado or guacamole: Healthy fat is needed for our bodies to break down nutrients, and what better way than with a colorful avocado?!
  • Colorful veggies: cherry tomatoes, red bell pepper, corn, black olives, green onions

Get creative with the veggie toppings. Red onion provides a pop of color, radishes are super crunchy, jalapeños really pop in flavor + spice… What are you fav veggies to add to a healthy taco salad?

healthy taco salad

Taco Salad toppings

Serve food that delights your tastebuds and nourishes your body at the same time. Choose a veggie or two from each of these 5 color groups and enjoy a variety of flavors as well as health benefits in your healthy taco salad.

Blue/purple foods provide vitamins A, C, and K. Green foods are rich in cancer fighting phyto-chemicals. Orange/yellow foods bring the beta-carotene and potassium. Red foods are good sources of iron. White/light green foods provide potassium, magnesium and vitamin E.

While this is just a glimpse into the incredible land of whole food, keep these tips in mind when choosing what colors join your plate for dinner.

easy weeknight dinner

What Makes Taco Salad Healthy?

Most taco salad recipes use ground beef, not this one. My walnut taco meat recipe is amazing. Now, I don’t often try to ‘mimic’ meat with plants, yet this recipe is pure genius on a plate. All you do is place walnuts in a bowl with water and a little lemon juice. Let sit for 8 hours or overnight to soften.

When ready, drain and rinse the soaked walnuts. Then add to a food processor with tamari (gluten-free soy sauce) and a few spices and grind it all up. You can turn up the spice on this ‘meat’ as much or as little as you want. If you have a fav taco seasoning, use that instead of my spice combo! This recipe made its debut in my our 21-Day Cleanse, and has been a fan fav ever since. Your salad just won’t be the same without it.

How to Incorporate Meat into Taco Salad

Plant-based eating doesn’t mean you have to be vegan. I’m not. If your family eats meat, try using half walnut taco meat and half ground beef. Your brain and body will thank you for providing it the rich benefits of walnuts, while you can also keep your meat-loving family members happy, too.

4.71 from 433 votes

Healthy Taco Salad

This healthy taco salad is packed with plant-based whole foods! A crisp corn shell is topped mile-high with crunchy romaine, veggies, and our very own recipe for a vegetarian nut-based taco meat. Mark your calendar and make this for Taco Tuesday!
Prep: 25 minutes
Total: 25 minutes
Author: Jen Hansard
Course: Entree, Salad
Cuisine: Mexican-Inspired, Plant-Based
Serves: 2 servings


  • 1 cup Vegan Taco Meat
  • 1 cup tortilla chips
  • 2 cups romaine lettuce shredded
  • ¾ cup black beans drained and rinsed
  • ½ avocado diced
  • ½ cup cherry tomatoes halved
  • ½ red bell pepper diced
  • ¼ cup corn thawed if frozen
  • ¼ cup black olives sliced
  • 2 tbsp green onions thinly sliced
  • 2 tbsp cilantro for serving
  • 1 tbsp dairy-free sour cream cashew cream
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  • Prepare Vegan Taco Meat according to recipe (best if walnuts are soaked overnight. Yet in a pinch, you can "flash soak").
  • Arrange romaine lettuce on plate and top with ingredients.
  • Top with tortilla chips, followed by the taco meat, black beans, avocado, tomatoes, corn, olives, and green onions.
  • Garnish with cilantro and sour cream.


  • Avocado crema would be really good on top instead of sour cream.
  • For a grain-free version, substitute corn tostadas with large cabbage or lettuce leaves, or simply omit.
  • To heat taco meat, place a nonstick skillet over medium-high heat and lightly coat the bottom with olive oil, about 1-2 teaspoons. Add taco meat mixture and lightly saute until warmed through and nuts are lightly toasted. Be careful not to let it burn. Use immediately.


Calories: 664kcal, Carbohydrates: 59g, Protein: 20g, Fat: 48g, Saturated Fat: 6g, Polyunsaturated Fat: 32g, Monounsaturated Fat: 13g, Sodium: 417mg, Potassium: 1215mg, Fiber: 19g, Sugar: 7g, Vitamin A: 5560IU, Vitamin C: 57mg, Calcium: 208mg, Iron: 5mg
Tried this recipe? Show me!Mention @SimpleGreenSmoothies or tag #SimpleGreenSmoothies!

Taco Salad Frequently asked questions

Are taco salads unhealthy?

No! They can be super healthy yet still delicious by using fresh ingredients, protein powered vegan meat or real meat and dressing that is made with whole ingredients.

How do I make a taco salad vegan?

Easy! Use walnut taco meat, chickpeas, black beans, jackfruit, or tofu for a delicious non-meat taco salad. Swap out cheese + sour cream for guacamole and cashew cream. You won’t even miss the dairy or meat.

Why are taco salads high in calories?

Taco salads are kind of a whole-meal-in-one dish. You’ve got your protein, starch, veggies, and fats altogether in one filling dish. Know that not all calories are the same, and if your healthy taco salad is full of fresh, whole foods, then you’ve got nothing to worry about except that next bite of flavor-filled goodness.

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  1. I usually would not think of this salad as being good vegetarian. I love it. There is no need for the beef in this. So good

  2. 5 stars
    I really liked this salad all the Mexican flavors together is delicious i even had leftovers to eat for breakfast. My husband liked and ate it all up. I used lean ground beef with the spices in the recipe. I will make it again for sure and will try it with the walnuts too!!!! A big way to go on this salad

  3. 5 stars
    This has been our favourite of the challenge and I’ve made a couple of times now! I love the meat from walnuts; we also did with pecans and was similarly great 😉 I found I did add some more spices to the ‘meat’ but sure that’s to taste.

  4. 5 stars
    This taco salad is the meal that is so easy and I never get tired of. I used black beans instead of vegan taco meat and it was so good!

  5. 5 stars
    Started the challenge this week so started with the week 1 recipes. Both my husband and I loved the freshness and vibrant colors of this salad. We added additional spices and warmed the ‘meat’ mixture with some of the veggies before putting our salads together. Very tasty! Will be keeping this in our meal rotation.