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Best Turkey Taco Salad

posted May 2, 2024
by Cassandra Morris
Try this delicious Turkey Taco Salad recipe packed with fresh ingredients and topped with a zesty cilantro lime yogurt dressing. Perfect for a quick weeknight dinner or a fun twist on taco night!

Taco night holds a special place in my heart—it’s more than just a meal, it’s a nostalgic tradition that brings back memories of family gatherings and fun-filled evenings. There’s something comforting about the simplicity of tacos, and this Turkey Taco Salad recipe offers a modern twist on this classic favorite that is always a hit. For taco salad lovers looking for a healthier option, this Turkey Taco Salad recipe is the answer. Made with lean ground turkey, fresh vegetables, and a zesty cilantro lime yogurt dressing, this salad is a flavorful and satisfying meal. What’s more, it’s easy to customize and can be served in various ways! Learn how to make this recipe and creative serving ideas that will make it the star of your next casual dinner with friends or cozy night in with loved ones.

Recipe Ingredients

To make this taco salad made with turkey you will need these ingredients:

Turkey Taco Meat:

  • Lean Ground Turkey – Lean ground turkey is the star of this salad, providing a lighter alternative to beef while still delivering delicious flavor and protein.
  • Extra-Virgin Olive Oil – Adds richness and helps to brown the ground turkey, enhancing its flavor.
  • Beef Bouillon Powder – Adds depth of flavor and seasoning to the ground turkey, making it taste savory and delicious.
  • Chili Powder – Provides a warm, spicy flavor to the ground turkey, giving it a classic taco seasoning taste.
  • Ground Cumin – Adds a warm, earthy flavor and enhances the overall seasoning of the ground turkey.
  • Smoked Paprika – Adds a smoky flavor to the ground turkey, enhancing its depth of flavor.
  • Onion Powder and Garlic Powder – Adds savory, aromatic flavors to the ground turkey, complementing the other seasonings.
  • Dried Oregano – Adds a hint of earthy, herbaceous flavor to the ground turkey, rounding out the taco seasoning.
  • Salsa – Adds moisture, acidity, and flavor to the ground turkey, creating a delicious taco filling.

Salad Ingredients:

  • Romaine Lettuce – Provides a crisp and refreshing base for the salad.
  • Cherry Tomatoes – Add sweetness and acidity to the salad, balancing the flavors.
  • Avocados – Provide creaminess and healthy fats to the salad.
  • Corn on the Cob – Adds sweetness and crunch to the salad, complementing the other ingredients.
  • Black Beans – Add protein and fiber to the salad, making it more filling and nutritious.
  • Sharp Cheddar Cheese – Adds richness and tanginess to the salad, enhancing its flavor.
  • Doritos Chips (optional, but recommended) Add crunch and a hint of saltiness to the salad.
  • Chopped Cilantro (optional) – Adds freshness and a burst of flavor to the salad, enhancing its aesthetic if you want to get fancy.

Cilantro Lime Yogurt Dressing Ingredients:

  • Fresh Cilantro – Adds a bright, herbaceous flavor to the dressing, giving it a refreshing taste.
  • Garlic – Adds a pungent and aromatic flavor to the dressing.
  • Greek Yogurt – Provides creaminess and tanginess to the dressing, making it rich and flavorful.
  • Extra-Virgin Olive Oil – Adds richness and helps to emulsify the dressing, giving it a smooth texture.
  • Lime Juice – Adds acidity and brightness to the dressing, balancing the flavors.
  • Salt and Pepper – Enhance the flavors of the dressing, ensuring it’s well-seasoned and delicious.

How To Make Turkey Taco Salad

Step One: Make Cilantro Lime Dressing – In a food processor, combine all Cilantro Lime Dressing ingredients until smooth. Refrigerate until ready to use.

Step Two: Cook ground turkey – Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add ground turkey and seasonings. Cook until almost cooked through, then add salsa and simmer for 5 more minutes.

Step Three: Prep Salad Ingredients – Cut corn kernels off the cob and char in a skillet over medium heat until browned. Chop romaine lettuce, cherry tomatoes, and avocados. Rinse and drain black beans. Grate cheddar cheese and slightly crush Doritos chips if using.

Step Four: Assemble Salad

  1. In a Large Salad Bowl: Place lettuce in a salad bowl, layer with beef, then add remaining salad ingredients and desired amount of dressing. Top with additional Doritos and optional cilantro. Serve immediately.
  2. In Tortilla Bowls: Prepare Tortillas. If tortillas are not pliable, microwave them wrapped in damp paper towels for 20 seconds. Brush tortillas with oil, place over ramekins, and mold into bowls using foil. Bake until crisp and golden. Once cooled, fill tortilla bowls with salad ingredients.
  3. Taco In A Bag: In individual chip bags, layer cooked turkey, toppings, dressing, and cilantro (if using). Close the bag and shake to combine. Enjoy with a fork!

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I use ground beef instead of turkey?

 Yes, ground beef can be substituted for turkey in this recipe. Adjust seasoning as needed.

How long does the dressing last in the refrigerator?

The cilantro lime yogurt dressing can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.

Do I have to grill the corn?

While grilled corn adds a delicious smoky flavor to the salad, you can skip this step if preferred. Raw corn kernels can be added directly to the salad, and it will still taste delicious.

 Expert Tips

  1. For a vegetarian option, substitute the ground turkey with plant-based ground meat or additional beans.
  2. Customize the salad with your favorite toppings such as diced bell peppers, red onions, or jalapeños.
  3. To save time, use store-bought tortilla bowls or skip the bowls altogether and serve the salad in regular bowls or on a plate.

Optional Variations

Get creative and try out these optional variations to customize your Turkey Taco Salad:

  • Turkey Taco Bowl: Serve the salad in a bowl with brown rice or quinoa as the base.
  • Spicy Turkey Taco Salad: Add diced jalapeños or a sprinkle of cayenne pepper for extra heat.
  • Tex-Mex Turkey Taco Salad: Top with sliced olives, diced red onions, and a dollop of sour cream for a Tex-Mex twist.

Making Ahead, Storing, and Freezing

Prepare the salad components ahead of time and store them separately in the refrigerator for up to 2 days. Assemble the salad just before serving to maintain freshness. You can freeze the turkey taco meat and dressing separately. Simply thaw in the refrigerator overnight before reheating or using. The assembled salad is best enjoyed fresh but can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 2 days.

What to Serve With This Recipe

When it comes to serving this Turkey Taco Salad, there are plenty of delicious options to complement its flavors and make it a well-rounded meal. For a complete Mexican-inspired feast, consider serving some classic sides such:

taco salad in a bowl

Turkey Taco Salad Recipe

Try this delicious Turkey Taco Salad recipe packed with fresh ingredients and topped with a zesty cilantro lime yogurt dressing. Perfect for a quick weeknight dinner or a fun twist on taco night!
Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Total Time 50 minutes
Servings 4

Ingredients

Taco Seasoned Turkey

  • 1 ½ pounds lean ground turkey
  • 1 ½ tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons beef bouillon powder
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon EACH of: smoked paprika, onion powder, garlic powder and dried oregano
  • 1/3 cup salsa

Salad

  • 6 cups romaine lettuce chopped
  • 2 cups cherry tomatoes quartered
  • 2 large ripe avocados chopped
  • 2 large corn on the cobs sliced off the cob and charred (frozen, dethawed corn also works)
  • 1 15 oz can of black beans rinsed and drained
  • 1/2 cup sharp cheddar cheese grated or more to taste
  • Dorito Chips - slightly crushed to taste optional
  • Garnish: Chopped cilantro leaves optional

Cilantro Lime Yogurt Dressing

  • 1 large bunch fresh cilantro leaves only, stems cut and removed
  • 4 garlic cloves minced
  • 2/3 cup Greek yogurt
  • 1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 3 tablespoons lime juice freshly squeezed
  • salt and freshly cracked black pepper to taste

For Serving

  • Option 1: In a big salad bowl
  • Option 2: In 4-6 small bags 45g Dorito bags
  • Option 3: In 6 homemade 8- 10 inch tortilla bowls or store bought tortilla bowls

Instructions

Make Cilantro Lime Dressing

  • Blend all the Cilantro Lime Dressing ingredients in a food processor until smooth. Refrigerate the dressing until you're ready to use it.

Make Taco Seasoned Ground Turkey

  • Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat.
  • Add the ground turkey and all of the seasonings to the skillet. Cook until the turkey is almost cooked through, but still slightly pink.
  • Next, add salsa to the skillet and simmer for an additional 5 minutes, or until the turkey is fully cooked through and the sauce has reduced.

Prep Your Salad Ingredients

  • Cut the kernels off the cob. Heat a non-stick skillet over medium heat and add the corn. Stir occasionally until the kernels are nicely browned and charred on all sides. Alternatively, you can use thawed frozen corn instead of fresh kernels.
  • Chop the romaine lettuce, cherry tomatoes, and avocados.
  • Rinse and drain the black beans, grate the cheese, and if serving in a salad bowl or tortilla bowl, slightly crush the optional Dorito chips.

Assemble Salad (3 Options)

    In a Large Salad Bowl

    • To assemble the salad, place lettuce in a salad bowl and layer with the taco seasoned turkey. Then, add all of the salad ingredients and drizzle or toss with the desired amount of dressing until combined. Top with additional Doritos and optional cilantro. Serve immediately.

    How To Make Homemade Tortilla Bowls

    • Taco salad is often served in tortilla bowls at restaurants for a fun presentation. While they are easy to make, I don’t recommend using them instead of chips but in addition to chips. You'll want crunch in every bite without having to tear your bowl apart as you eat your salad.
    • If the tortillas have been refrigerated or are not pliable, wrap them in slightly dampened paper towels and microwave for 20 seconds to soften them.
    • Brush both sides of 8” flour tortillas with a thin layer of canola or vegetable oil. Place a 4’’ ramekin or a similar size oven-safe bowl face down on a cookie sheet.
    • Place a tortilla over the ramekin. Then, lay a piece of heavy-duty aluminum foil on top of the tortilla and press down, scrunching the foil and tortilla around the ramekin until it forms a tortilla bowl shape, similar to a basket-style coffee filter.
    • Now, flip the whole setup over so that the open end is facing up. Repeat this process for however many tortilla bowls you need (and make a couple of extra ones just in case one breaks!).
    • Preheat the oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit and bake for 5 minutes. Remove the cookie sheet from the oven, use tongs to carefully remove each ramekin, and then return the tray to the oven to cook for an additional 5 minutes.
    • Remove from the oven and carefully lift each shell out of the foil. Place them bottom up, foil side down, on the cookie sheet. Gently secure the rim of the tortilla inside the foil to prevent it from burning. Return to the oven and bake for an additional 7-10 minutes, or until the shells are crisp and golden.
    • Allow the tortilla bowls to cool for 5 minutes before filling them with Taco Salad. They will crisp up more as they cool.

    Taco In A Bag

    • In each individual chip bag, layer in some of the cooked ground turkey and prepared toppings. Top with the Cilantro Lime Dressing and fresh cilantro if using. Hold the bag closed and shake to combine. This dish is best enjoyed with a fork!

    Hi, I’m Cassandra!

    I’m a proud wife, dog mom, food lovin’ Canadian girl, former TV reality show personality, wine lover and on a mission to make living a healthy + balanced lifestyle easy for everyone.

    More about me

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    Hi, I'm Cassandra!

    I'm a proud wife, dog mom, food lovin' Canadian girl, former TV reality show personality, wine lover and on a mission to make living a healthy + balanced lifestyle easy for everyone.

    More about me

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    Sign up for free recipes straight to your inbox:

    Free E-Cookbook!

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    Jujeh kabab - Eating | cookingwithcassandra.com

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