Frito Taco Salad

Looking for a delicious and easy meal that will please the whole family? Try this tasty Frito Taco Salad with Catalina Dressing! This flavorful salad combines all your favorite taco ingredients with the satisfying crunch of Fritos corn chips, and the tangy sweetness of Catalina dressing. It’s perfect for busy weeknights or a fun potluck gathering.

Overhead view of frito taco salad on a platter.

Taco Salad with Fritos Corn Chips

Frito Taco Salad has been a recipe that has been on my mind for a while now. The first time I had this recipe I when I was six years old. I had this Taco Salad with Fritos corn chips at Girl Scout Day Camp, in Pueblo, Colorado.

I found this Taco Salad almost magical, my Mom never fixed anything like this at home. It may scare some people, but I could prepare this recipe myself at the age of 6.

While this style of Taco Salad isn’t a recipe that I would make too often anymore, I was craving the nuttiness of Fritos combined with lettuce, cheese, and a sweet and slightly spicy salad dressing.

While this taco salad may be one of those guilty pleasures that I have, and honestly it isn’t what I would call a dish I would make for company, I will admit that I still enjoy this salad. For me, some dishes are completely nostalgic and the nostalgia is what makes a particular dish taste so good.

What Makes the Classic Frito Taco Salad So Good?

Taco Salad may not be very sophisticated, but this is a go-to recipe for taco fans craving something a bit different. Over the years, the combination of flavors, textures, and temperatures has made this salad a real crowd-pleaser.

While most restaurants serve Taco Salads in edible corn chip bowls, this version uses Fritos instead to make preparation easier but keeps the salad every bit as delicious. 

Why You Should Try This Recipe 

If you grew up during a certain era (from about the 60s to the 80s), nostalgia alone should be enough to want to try making a Taco Salad recipe at home.

Even if you don’t remember being thrilled on the days your school cafeterias or summer camp served Taco Salad, you should still give this dish a shot. It’s easy, cheap, and has everything you love about tacos packed into a salad bowl. 

Taco Frito Salad Ingredients

For taco salad with Frito chips, you’ll need:

  • Ground beef
  • Taco seasoning mix
  • Water
  • Shredded lettuce
  • Fritos corn chips
  • Cheddar cheese, shredded
  • Tomatoes
  • Red onions
  • Olives, sliced
  • Kraft Catalina Dressing or Kraft French Dressing
  • Salsa
Frito taco salad ingredients on a tray.

Ingredient Notes

You can use a can of pre-sliced black olives, but jarred whole olives in brine are much more flavorful. If you don’t like olives, you can leave them out.

For the shredded lettuce, you can use iceberg lettuce, romaine lettuce, or a combination of them.

Catalina and French dressing are similar in flavor but not the same. Catalina dressing tends to be sweet with a thin consistency, while French dressing has more of a bite. Choose whichever you prefer or have on hand. 

Note: This recipe can be made Gluten Free if you use this taco seasoning mix recipe.

How to Make Taco Salad With Frito Chips

To cook the ground beef:

  1. Warm a large skillet over medium heat. 
  2. Cook the ground beef in the skillet until it is no longer pink. Drain any excess liquid. 
  3. Stir the taco season into the ground beef and follow the instructions on the packet for how much water to add and how to finish cooking the taco meat.
  4. Cover the cooked and seasoned ground beef and set to the side. 
Browned ground beef with taco seasoning.

To prep the vegetables for the Frito Taco Salad recipe:

  1. Peel off the first few outer leaves of the head of lettuce and cut it in half. Finely shred half, and save the other half of the lettuce for something else. Place the shredded lettuce in a colander and rinse well. Use a salad spinner to dry the lettuce well. 
  2. Slice the tomatoes in half and use a spoon to scoop out all the seeds. Discard the seeds and chop the tomatoes into small dice. Reserve diced tomatoes for later. 
  3. Dice the red onions into small pieces. Place them in a small bowl.  
  4. If using whole olives, drain and slice them into thin rounds. Save for later. 

To assemble a Taco Salad:

  1. When the meat is cooked, drain any excess liquid from the skillet. 
  2. Use a fork to mix the salsa and salad dressing in a small bowl. 
  3. In a large bowl, toss the shredded lettuce, diced tomatoes, onions, sliced olives, and the prepared dressing and salsa mixture. 
Frito taco salad ingredients in a large bowl.
  1. Right before plating, toss the salad with the warm ground beef. 
  2. Plate and garnish the taco salad with Fritos and shredded cheddar cheese. 
Frito taco salad with catalina dressing on a platter.

Recipe Variations

Feel free to swap out the ground beef for something else. Ground turkey is a good alternative if you are trying to avoid red meat. You can also try making Frito Taco Salad with chicken strips for more of a fajita vibe. 

Make this salad vegetarian using vegetable crumble or canned beans instead of meat. 

What to Serve With Taco Frito Salad

You can go a little wild when adding toppings to this salad. Here are a few that would be a delicious addition to Frito Taco Salad with Catalina dressing:

  • Guacamole or slices of avocado would add a lot of creaminess to this recipe. 
  • Sour cream or Mexican Crema gives the salad a little more zing.  
  • Swap the cheddar for queso fresco or another type of cheese. 
  • Black beans are tasty and add a lot of extra protein. 
  • Corn salsa adds a lot of sweetness with a touch of heat. 
  • Pickled jalapenos really kick up the heat level for folks who like it hot. 

How to Store the Leftovers

Keep each salad component separated into airtight containers in the fridge to extend how long they will last. Eating a mixed and dressed Taco Salad as soon as possible is best. 

Frito taco salad on a platter and wood salad tongs.

More Recipes that Bring Back Memories

  • Karo Pecan Pie – This is my Grandmother’s Pecan Pie recipe
  • Marbled Brownies – these have cream cheese inside that remind you of cheesecake
  • Cheeseburger Casserole – this name doesn’t do my Grandmother’s casserole justice, provolone and cheddar cheese, bacon, macaroni and more!

Favorite Taco Recipes

Check out more of my easy salad recipes and the best family favorite recipes on CopyKat!

Overhead view of frito taco salad on a platter.

Frito Taco Salad

Make this Frito Taco Salad, it's so easy to prepare.
5 from 2 votes
Print Pin Rate Add to Collection
Course: Salad
Cuisine: Mexican
Keyword: Taco salad
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 25 minutes
Servings: 8
Calories: 266kcal

Ingredients

  • 1 pound ground beef
  • 1 package taco seasoning mix
  • 1/2 head lettuce shredded
  • 1/2 cup chopped tomatoes
  • 1/4 cup diced red onion
  • 1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese
  • 1 cup Frito corn chips
  • 1/4 cup Catalina or French dressing
  • 1/4 cup salsa
  • sliced olives optional

Instructions

  • In a skillet over medium heat, brown the ground beef. When the beef is almost browned, drain the fat, and add the taco seasoning mix along with the amount of water recommended on the package. Let the meat simmer until fully cooked. Remove from the heat and allow the meat to cool slightly.
  • In a mixing bowl, toss together the lettuce, tomatoes, red onions, shredded cheddar cheese, and corn chips.
  • In a small bowl, combine the salad dressing and the salsa. Mix well.
  • Add the salad dressing and the prepared beef to the salad and toss. Garnish with sliced black olives, if desired. Serve immediately.

Notes

Once the ground beef and salad dressing have been added to the salad mix, the salad does not hold well. If you do not plan to eat the salad in one sitting, keep the beef, dressing, and salad mix in separate containers and combine in portions when ready to serve.

Nutrition

Calories: 266kcal | Carbohydrates: 12g | Protein: 12g | Fat: 18g | Saturated Fat: 6g | Cholesterol: 47mg | Sodium: 649mg | Potassium: 287mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 3g | Vitamin A: 705IU | Vitamin C: 4.9mg | Calcium: 92mg | Iron: 1.9mg

About Stephanie Manley

I recreate your favorite restaurant recipes, so you can prepare these dishes at home. I help you cook dinner, and serve up dishes you know your family will love. You can find most of the ingredients for all of the recipes in your local grocery store.

Stephanie is the author of CopyKat.com's Dining Out in the Home, and CopyKat.com's Dining Out in the Home 2.

REVEALED: Copycat Secrets for 2023

free email bonus

Yes, you CAN make it at home! I'll show you how.

We are a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites.

Reader Interactions

Comments

  1. Deb

    5 stars
    I had to chuckle when I read your description of when you had this salad. The first time that I had this salad was at Day Camp with the Columbine Girl Scout Council out of Pueblo as well. It has been a fun meal that I share with my family and now my troop as well.

  2. Janny

    You went to Girl Scout Camp in Pueblo, that is where I am from. I went to camp also out on the St. Charles Mesa! Wow, what a small world!

  3. tonya

    I love this and like you it was a major part of my childhood. There is a Mexican restaurant that has an incredible dressing I have tried to copy and eat on this salad. I combine 1/4 cup sour cream, 1/4 cup Kraft Thousand Island Dressing, and 1/4 cup El Rio brand salsa. I whisk it together until completely blended and then chill refrigerated to let flavors blend. It is so good on this salad. Yum.

  4. Mitzi

    This recipe is very close to Steak N Shake taco salad. It is absolutely delicious. The only variance would be to add ranch dressing and place in a taco bowl (that you eat as well). The bowls can be found in your refrigerated section at supermarket.

  5. Tina Marie

    My mother used to make this! I think her version used a 1000-island dressing instead of the french with salsa. She said it was from a “Kiddie Kollege” recipe book.

    I think I have some ground beef in the fridge…

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Recipe Rating




homemade Olive Garden Asiago Torgelloni Alfredo with chicken on a plate

Copycat Recipe Secrets for 2023

REVEALED:

Yes, you CAN make it at home! 
I'll show you how.

FREE EMAIL BONUS