Taco salad is our go-to meal. I can honestly say that we have it almost once a week. It’s quick, easy, versatile, and healthy. Onions, bell peppers, lettuce, salsa, sour cream, and chicken are staple items in the fridge, so whenever I’m struggling with a dinner idea, it’s taco salad. My favorite way to make taco salad is to go “fajita style” with the meat and vegetables. Then we just add whatever toppings are available. This chicken fajita style taco salad is taco salad perfection with all my favorite toppings.
I should have shared this a long time ago since it’s one of our default meals. I’ve taken pictures of taco salad before but was never happy with them… salads are tricky to photograph I think. But I love them and eat so many! So bear with me as I work on my salad photography skills.
Last week while cooking I started watching Thirteen Reasons Why and totally binge-watched the whole show in a week. I know there’s quite a bit of controversy surround the premise of the show, but I was instantly hooked. And now I can’t stop thinking about the show and am in love with the sound track, like I think Lord Huron is my new favorite band…. just a side note/confession. Anyone else watched the show? Okay, back to this chicken fajita style taco salad.
You can make taco salad anyway you want, the possibilities are endless. I’m just sharing some of my favorite toppings. For this salad, I went with chicken, onions, bell peppers, avocado, salsa, shredded cheese, sour cream, and ranch. We have an ongoing debate about the best lettuce to use for salads. Kris prefers iceberg lettuce for the crunch. I usually go with spinach but, really, spinach is not the best option for a taco salad. So for this salad I sort of compromised and used a combination of romaine and an iceberg mix. It was called “classic garden” at the grocery store. And, to be fair, a crunchy lettuce does contribute better texture to the salad than spinach.
By making taco salad at home, I try to keep in on the healthy side. When you go to a Mexican restaurant, one of the best/worst things about taco salad is the fried tortilla shell… I always try not to take a bite because as soon as I do, I can’t resist and am going to eat the entire fried tortilla. Fried foods are something I generally recommend avoiding. So to keep this salad healthier, I cut corn tortillas into triangles and baked to make my own chips. They do add a great crunch to the salad.
Anyone else love taco salad? What are your favorite toppings?
- Fajita seasoning packet (or make your own with the ingredients listed below)
- 2 tsp cumin
- 1 tbsp chili powder (1 tsp if you don't like spicy)
- 1 tsp cayenne pepper (1/4 tsp if you want mild)
- ½ tsp salt
- ¼ tsp black pepper
- 1 tsp garlic powder
- ½ tsp red pepper flakes (1/8 tsp or avoid if you want mild)
- 3 tbsp lime juice
- Oil (I've been using avocado oil lately)
- 3 tbsp water
- 1 pound of chicken strips or breast cut into strips or use steak or shrimp
- 1 medium onion, sliced into strips
- 2 bell peppers, sliced into thin strips (I used ½ red, ½ yellow, ½ orange, ½ green - depends on what's on sale!)
- 8 small corn tortillas, cut into triangles or strips
- Bag of Iceberg lettuce mix (Classic Garden) -amount depends on how much lettuce you like with your salad. Some people like more toppings than lettuce. Rough estimate is about 4 cups per salad.
- Romaine lettuce (spinach does work too)
- Sour cream (about 1 tbsp per person)
- 1 Avocado or guacamole
- Tomatoes (cherry, grape, or diced)
- Shredded cheese - Mexican blend or cheddar (anywhere from 2 tbsp to ¼ per salad)
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
- In a medium skillet, heat 1 tbsp oil over medium heat. Add chicken to skillet.
- Next add either a fajita seasoning packet or the cumin, chili powder, cayenne pepper, salt, black pepper, red pepper flakes, and lime juice to the skillet with the chicken. Using a spoon, stir the chicken with the spices until chicken is coated.
- Cook the chicken over medium heat for 10-15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Cooking time will depend of whether you use chicken strips or breasts. Chicken is down when no longer pink in the middle. You may have to slightly cut into a piece of chicken to see if it's done.
- After chicken is cooked, remove from skillet. There should still be some liquid and seasonings in the skillet.
- Add the sliced onions and bell peppers to the skillet. Add the 3 tbsp water. Stir vegetables to coat with fajita seasoning. Sauté vegetables for 5 minutes, remove from heat.
- To make baked tortillas chips, arrange cut corn tortillas in a single layer on a baking sheet. Bake at 350 degrees for 5-8 minutes, until lightly crispy.
- Assemble the taco salads by dividing the lettuces equally between four plates. Top with chicken, fajita vegetables, cheese, sour cream, ranch, tortilla chips, avocado, tomatoes, and salsa.