The first time John and I went on a cruise we fell victim to one of those “let us tell you about the next port” talks, and the cruise information lady told us about a restaurant that has “guacamole to die for.” Not being one to turn down great guacamole, we added the “guacamole restaurant” to our agenda for the day. What we learned is that “guacamole to die for” is cruise industry code for “if you go there and tell them you’re traveling with us, we’ll get a nice little kick back.”

Well, I have a Taco Salad recipe that is so delicious that you might say it’s “Taco Salad to Die For.” While dying for a salad seems a bit extreme, you might want to add this recipe to your summer salad repertoire. It always gets rave reviews and is way better than the aforementioned guacamole.  And, let me assure you, nobody gets a kick back if you use this recipe, unless of course, you are so grateful that you decide to send me a check.

One quick disclaimer before I share the recipe. This is not a Nancy Holte original recipe. My daughter-in-law, Heidi, loves to cook and actually searches cookbooks and websites for new ideas. (I don’t understand this behavior, but I love her for it!) So while this recipe isn’t mine, and it isn’t Heidi’s, it is a great summer meal option, it’s also pretty easy to adjust for people with food allergies and intolerances.

Start by preparing the dressing. Heidi found it on the Taste of Home website, and it is SO yummy you’ll want to find other reasons to use it. I make it with just a couple of revisions. The Taste of Home recipe calls for a ½ cup of sugar and I only use three tablespoons. If you want to make it even healthier you can use honey, but to be honest, I tried that and frankly, I didn’t care for it. I guess you could say that it tasted just a little bit healthier than I was hoping for.

I also don’t include the celery seed. Mainly because I don’t have any in the house.


  • 1 small onion, chopped

  • 2/3 C oil

  • 1/3 C vinegar (I use apple cider vinegar)

  • 3 T sugar

  • 2 T ketchup (If you, or your guest, has a weird corn allergy, choose your ketchup carefully. I use Heinz Organic Ketchup.)

  • 1½ t salt

  • 1½ t Worcestershire sauce

  • 1 t paprika

  • 1 t prepared mustard

  • ½ t garlic powder

  • ½ t celery seed (Reminder – I omit this.)

In a blender or food processor, process all ingredients until smooth and thickened.

Cover and refrigerate for at least 1 hour. Shake well before serving.

While the salad dressing sets you can prepare the seasoning for the Taco meat. If you’d rather, you can do this in advance as it lasts for several months in an airtight container.


  • ¼ t salt

  • 2 ½ T chili powder

  • 1 ½ T paprika

  • 2 T cumin

  • 2 t oregano

  • 1 T garlic powder

  • 1 ½ T onion flakes

Prepare the rest of the salad while the meat is simmering. You decide what you put in depending on your preferences and food limitations. Here are some suggestions:

  • Romaine or Leaf lettuce

  • Spinach

  • Grape Tomatoes

  • Avocado

  • Onions (although there are onions in the dressing so you might not want to add more.)

  • Black Olives

  • Corn Chips (I replace corn chips with pumpkin seeds so I still get the crunch factor.)

  • Black Beans (I’m told some people actually like black beans.)

  • Grated Cheese (Being lactose intolerant I leave the cheese out and don’t miss it at all.)

Add taco meat right before serving. I’ve been known to mistakenly leave this out and even though my friend graciously ate it and said she loved it, I think it’s much tastier with the meat. But hey, if you’re having a vegetarian to dinner, leave out the meat, add the beans and bam, dinner is served!

All that’s left to do now is toss everything together and enjoy.