Recipe: Healthy Taco Salad With Creamy Cilantro Lime Dressing

Taco salad is the perfect weeknight dinner. Photos by Nicki Sizemore

This salad has it all: warm spiced meat, cool romaine lettuce, a slew of crunchy toppings, and a creamy dressing.

Yes, you should be eating salad all year long but we bet you agree that nothing tastes better than fresh, local, seasonal leafy greens and veggies. To help you build a better bowl we asked Nicki Sizemore for a few easy, innovative ideas. The Cold Spring-based chef, cookbook author, and food blogger ( focuses on healthy, flavor-packed recipes. Here are three to toss up for light, refreshing main dish meals.

This salad has it all: warm spiced meat, cool romaine lettuce, a slew of crunchy toppings, and a creamy dressing. Start by making a batch of the dressing—you can make it up to one week in advance. I like to set out all the toppings and let my family build their own bowls (or you could do tacos). For a vegetarian salad, use meat-free crumbles or 2 cans of drained and rinsed black beans.

taco salad
Taco salad. Nicki Sizemore

Healthy Taco Salad

Prep Time: 35 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 45 minutes
Serves: 4

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Taco filling

  • 1 Tbsp neutral vegetable oil, such as grapeseed or safflower
  • 1 lb lean ground beef (preferably grass-fed) or ground turkey
  • Salt and black pepper
  • 1 Tbsp chili powder
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp ground coriander
  • ¼ cup water

Bowls (pick your favorite toppings!)

  • 2 romaine hearts, chopped Grape tomatoes, halved Fresh or frozen sweet corn, thinly sliced radishes, shredded cheddar cheese, sliced avocado, crushed tortilla chips, Creamy Cilantro Lime Dressing (recipe below)


Make the taco filling

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Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the ground beef, and season to taste with salt and pepper. Cook, breaking up the meat with a wooden spoon, until browned and cooked through, about 4–5 minutes. Spoon off any fat. Add the chili powder, cumin, and coriander and cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 1 minute. Stir in the water, and continue to cook, stirring often, about 30 seconds. Season with additional salt and pepper to taste.

Build the bowls

Pile the romaine into large serving bowls, and top with the taco meat. Add the toppings of your choice (everything for me, please!), and drizzle with the dressing. Serve additional dressing at the table.

Related: 11 Places to Get Crispy, Crunchy Nachos in the Hudson Valley

Creamy cilantro lime dressing

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Makes: about 1 ½ cups
Prep time: 10 minutes


  • 1 garlic clove, peeled
  • ½ medium jalapeño pepper, halved and seeds removed
  • 1 cup lightly packed cilantro leaves and tender stems
  • 1 large scallion, chopped
  • 1 cup Greek yogurt, preferably 2% fat content
  • 1 Tbsp honey
  • 2 Tbsp fresh lime juice
  • 3 Tbsp water
  • ½ cup neutral oil, such as grapeseed or safflower
  • Salt and black pepper


In a food processor with the blade running, drop the garlic clove and jalapeño through the feed tube, and process until finely chopped. Scrape the sides, and add the cilantro and scallions. Process until chopped.

Add the yogurt, honey, lime juice, water, and oil, and season with salt and pepper. Process until smooth, stopping and scraping the sides occasionally. Season with additional salt and pepper as needed. Transfer to a bowl or jar and refrigerate at least 15 minutes to let the flavors meld.

Do ahead: The dressing can be refrigerated in a sealed container for up to a week.

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