Taco Salad with Catalina Dressing the original old taco salad recipe from the 70’s. Everyone loves a good Mexican salad and this recipe is most certainly a crowd favorite. Ground Beef, fresh lettuce, chili beans and Fritos or Doritos mixed with a sweet and zingy dressing and you’ve got a winner. This Dorito salad recipe is an old family favorite.
This recipe was first published November of 2010 and updated October 2021 with new step by step photos.
The last time I made this Dorito salad recipe I was wearing bell bottom jeans which had been split at the hem to insert a flowered cloth panel to make them even more bell bottomed, a tie-dyed t-shirt that I dyed myself and Cat Stevens was playing in the background “Ooo baby baby it’s a wild world”.
Between this recipe and boxed Kraft Macaroni and Cheese is what I lived on while receiving my higher education.
I’m assuming this recipe was on a Kraft Catalina Dressing bottle, but however we found it, it was a staple.
It’s an absolutely wonderful combo of sweet and salty, combined with a creamy and crunchy texture.
I made this taco salad recipe with Doritos enough in collage that I really don’t need a recipe to follow, but for those of you are are of a younger persuasion, I’d like to share the official recipe with you.
We love anything taco inspired a our house and this salad fits that bill. It’s one of our favorite taco dishes.
Let’s take a look.
Ingredients You’ll Need
- Catalina Dressing
- Beans in Chili Sauce
- 1 Pound Lean Ground Beef
- Chopped Tomatoes
- Shredded Cheddar Cheese
- Chopped Yellow Onion
- Sliced black olives
- Taco Seasoniong
- Chopped Lettuce, a mix of Romaine and Iceberg is good here.
You can use either Doritos or Fritos brand chips for this recipe. I’ve used both when I make this and I simply couldn’t tell which I prefer. Either are good here.
Ingredient Swaps and Substitutions
- Catalina Dressing: I like to make Homemade Catalina Dressing. You can still purchase bottled Kraft brand at the grocery store. A good substitute is bottled dressing labeled Western Dressing. I have also used French dressing.
- Canned Beans: Please look for canned beans labeled “beans in chili sauce”, or “ranch style beans” If you can’t find those, a can of pinto beans or red kidney beans, drained, will work.
- Ground Beef: If you’re opposed to eating beef, ground chicken or turkey will work great in this recipe.
- Cheese: I like shredded cheddar for this recipe, but a mix of Monterey Jack or Pepper Jack and cheddar would be good here.
- Taco Seasoning: Again, I like to make Homemade Taco Seasoning, but simply use a packet of your favorite brand from the grocery store to season this taco meat.
Dorito Salad, Step by Step Instructions
- Step 1: In a large skillet over medium heat. Add the ground beef and the chopped onion and cook until beef is no longer pink. I snuck some chopped green chile peppers into the mix. The recipe doesn’t call for this, but I just couldn’t help myself. Set aside.
- Step 2: Add taco seasoning and 1/2 cup of water. Stir well and cook for about 15 minutes.
Step 3: Add the beans in chile sauce (undrained and not rinsed) and stir until the beans have blended with the ground beef mixture. Continue cooking until the beans are heated through.
- Step 4: Build that salad: Start by placing the chopped lettuce in your favorite large salad bowl.
- Step 5: Load up those greens with the ingredients. Browned ground beef meat and bean mix, sliced olives, chopped tomatoes and the taco chips. We like Nacho Cheese flavored Doritos for this recipe,
- Step 6: Add the Catalina Dressing and with salad tongs, mix well until the ingredients are well coated.
- Step 7: Top the salad with grated cheese and serve immediately.
FAQ’s and Tips
Let the beef and bean mixture cool down a bit before adding it with the lettuce. You don’t want it so hot that it will wilt the lettuce.
It can. Just place the salad in a large bowl and add the cooked ground beef and bean mixture, olives, tomatoes. Refrigerate. Right before serving, add the tortilla chips and the dressing and mix well. Sprinkle on the cheese and serve.
Unfortunately not. Once you dress the salad, trying to save leftovers for the next day just doesn’t work well. The vinegar in the dressing will wilt the salad leaves and the tortilla chips will also become soggy.
The classic Nacho Cheese is preferred. But use your favorite.
Use a salad spinner or paper towels to dry those salad greens. Removing as much moisture as you can will help keep the lettuce crisp once it’s dressed.
If you’re looking to embellish this Dorito Salad, try topping it with a dollop of sour cream, guacamole or even fresh cubed avocado.
Catalina dressing is a tomato based dressing that is similar to French dressing but a little darker in color, tangier and a little sweeter. It also get a little kick from a dash of hot sauce or chile powder.
Taco Salad Recipe With Catalina Dressing
This taco salad recipe can be made with Doritos or Fritos. And you can still find bottled Catalina Dressing on the salad dressing aisle at your market. But if you can’t find it, I urge you to make Homemade Catalina Dressing. It’s easy.
I hope you give this taco salad with Catalina Dressing recipe a try, and if you do, please come back and give the recipe a star rating. And leave a comment about your experience with the recipe.
And if you have a favorite Taco Salad recipe, let me know, I’d love to give it a try.
And if you’re looking for more salad recipes, don’t miss my salad category. You’ll find lots of fresh recipes, including the most popular on my site for Louisiana Sunburst Salad.
More Southwest Salad Recipes
Taco Salad With Catalina Dressing
- 1 pound ground beef lean
- 1 cup Sweet onion chopped
- 1 package taco seasoning mix or two tablespoons homemade taco seasoning
- 1/2 cup water
- 1 cup fresh tomato diced
- 2 cups Catalina dressing
- 15 ounce beans in chili sauce drained but not rinsed
- 1 1/2 cups cheddar cheese grated. We like sharp cheddar here.
- 9.25 ounce bag Dorito Corn Chips Nacho cheese flavor, or Fritos
- 1/2 cup black olives sliced
- 1 head romaine lettuce rinsed and torn into bite sized pieces. I like to combine romaine and iceberg lettuce here.
- Brown hamburger and onion in fry pan. Add taco seasoning, and water. Simmer until thick (about 15 ). Stir occasionally so it doesn't stick.
- Add beans in chili sauce and stir into the meat mixture after it's thickened. If using red navy beans or pinto beans without the sauce, drain before adding to the meat mixture.
- Place lettuce in a large bowl and add cooled beef and bean mixture. You don't want the beef to be so hot that it will wilt the lettuce.
- Add taco chips, chopped tomatoes and olives. Mix in enough Catalina Dressing to generously coat the ingredients. Top with grated cheddar cheese.
- Serve immediately.
Taco Salad With Catalina Dressing …It’s What’s For Dinner.
I love this recipe. It is what we used in the 70’s. I always used Catalina dressing & people didn’t trust that. Now I have proof!!!
Karen (Back Road Journal) says
This is an oldie but goodie and I’ve always liked. You are right, Fritos or Doritos, they are both good. 😊
John / Kitchen Riffs says
Love taco salad — all the different flavors, and so satisfying. Yours looks terrific — thanks.
Oh goody! Another family favorite and college meal! I love your keeper. Will definitely be giving this a try soon. Thanks!
Love the picture! Looks tasty!
Damaris @Kitchen Corners says
I think I’m from a younger generation but I still play Cat Stevens in the background when I cook and I do love tie-dyes. This recipe looks delish!
Cathy at Wives with Knives says
I haven’t made a salad like this in waaaaay to long. It is one of my favorites. I remember those days of bell bottoms and tye died T-shirts.
I’m in college right now and I would eat this in minute – even though I am an ‘older’ college student! I like the dressing in it – so different – in a good way!