My Most Favorite Salad Ever

We had one of my favorite things ever for dinner the other night — taco salad!


My mom has been making this salad for us for as long as I can remember. It’s not exactly healthy (cheese and corn chips are involved), but it’s delicious and has always been one of my absolute favorites. Getting kids to eat salad/veggies in any form is definitely a win.


The ingredients are:

  • Lettuce/mixed greens
  • Tomatoes (chopped)
  • Kidney beans (drained/rinsed)
  • Grated sharp cheddar cheese
  • Fritos corn chips, crushed
  • Catalina dressing

You can up the nutritional ante a bit by adding in some spinach to the salad as well, or by using a bagged mix that has other veggies included (ours had carrots). Use as much or as little of the cheese and corn chips as you like; no measurements are involved here. To crush the corn chips, we just put them in a ziplock bag, seal it, and crush them using our hands and the counter. This step is fun for kids; it was usually my job. :)


Even though fat free Catalina dressing is pictured above, I’d recommend using regular full fat dressing. It tastes way better and fat free dressing usually just has extra sugar/salt/weird things added anyway to still make it taste decent. The fat free kind was just what we had available in the cupboard.


Mmmm… this salad makes me so happy. Senior year in college, I took a public speaking class, and for one of the classes our assignment was to demonstrate something to the class. My demonstration was a step-by-step lesson on how to make this taco salad! I gave everyone a taste after I made it — it was a huge hit. :)


We enjoyed the taco salad with mini steaks that my mom cooked up for us — a tradition as well. Simply seared in a pan with some salt and pepper.



Tasty dinner. I only ended up eating half the steak and feeding the rest to my dad — but I went back for seconds on the salad. :) I asked my mom where she originally got the salad recipe idea, and she had no idea — apparently it was just a popular well known salad recipe back in the day. Have any of you guys ever had a variation of this salad?


I’m continuing to enjoy my vacation from school — it’s so nice to be home. Last night, I met up for drinks with a bunch of my good friends from high school. Love these ladies. :) We had a blast catching up, as always!


From left — me, Jenny, Lara, Dinah, Joy

Today’s big plan is wedding dress shopping! Jenny (pictured above) is my MOH as you all know and will be joining me, my mom, and my grandmother for the adventure. I’m excited. :)

Oh, and guess what? I’m currently typing this from my dad’s stationary bike. I discovered this morning that the top of the bike is big enough that I can easily prop my laptop on top of it! Multitasking win.


Have a great day, friends!

What’s your favorite childhood/family meal?


  1. 1

    That salad looks delicious! I love those recipes that my mom cannot remember where she got them, they are always so good!

  2. 2

    Catalina was always my favorite dressing growing up! This salad sounds delicious.

    It’s funny that you presented how to make this salad as a class project. I did the same thing in one of my college courses by demonstrating how to make watergate salad. Everyone loved being able to sample the finished product. :)

    Hope you had a lovely Christmas Anne!

  3. 3

    I have a similar salad recipe (my Mom doesn’t cook but this was one thing she would make…I’ve changed it over the years). We use ground turkey with some seasonings, kidney and black beans and I make the dressing from half ranch/half salsa mixed in the blender. Also throw whatever cheese on hand and usually serve with my favorite baked blue corn chips. I love making it because it’s a great way to use up the leftovers from taco night!

  4. 4

    Taco salads are fabulous. I love topping them with beans or meat, and crushed tortilla chips. I also eat mine out of a serving bowl, because I’m classy like that ; )

  5. 5

    Ah I wish I had a spinning bike at home! It would be so great to use when watching TV or reading blogs!

  6. 7

    We had this same thing all the time, well, minus the beans. We used Western French Dressing though. It was and is a staple in our house. I would totally add the beans myself. My mom’s version also had ground hamburger instead of steaks on the side, and she often fried her own taco shells. So, good, but oh so bad! I could eat Mexican inspired salads/foods everyday. Have fun shopping today!

  7. 8

    Yes, Anne, that salad was very big in the 70’s and 80’s. Your mom’s version looks more healthy than mine did. I absolutely love Catalina dressing.I love fresh fruit salad with oranges and drizzle Catalina over it and the flavors are to die for. You want to know something funny, my family always says “mama, where do you come up with these ideas”, but I thought MOH was Mother of Him hahahahaha

  8. 10

    Love that salad! My MIL first introduced me to it although her version is a bit different. She uses spicy nacho Doritos instead of Fritos and also we use Ranch Style Beans (drained) as well as half a jar of salsa. Its such a tasty side dish!

  9. 11

    I make such a similar salad with veggie mince cooked in taco spices, avocado instead of cheese, crushed taco shells instead of Fritos and salsa as dressing- so tasty! I actually had it for lunch today :)

  10. 12

    I eat taco salads all the time! I usually dress it with salsa and some plain greek yogurt. Also yummy with ground turkey or beef with taco seasonings, as I think someone else suggested. I also use unsalted blue corn chips instead of fritos. And definitely add in some spinach!

  11. 13

    Yes, Taco Salad is the stuff! Great that you like it, too. And neat that a laptop fits on the Lifecycle. Great concept — working the internet while working out! Well done, Anne!

  12. 14

    My favorite child hood dish was anything that my grandmama made: tourtiere, beef scallop (I think that’s what it was called? essentially it’s ground beef with stewed tomatoes, peppers, onions over mashed potatoes), lasagna, chocolate cake, whatever! :-)

  13. 15

    My family made the same salad growing up! We would put taco meat in it sometimes too :) Love it!

  14. 16

    I love this salad, but haven’t had it in a while. Looks yummy! Every time we would go visit my grandmother she would always have chicken and dumplings waiting for us. She would also have this HUGE pound cake that calls for like 10 eggs!

    Good luck with the dress hunting! :)

  15. 17

    I hadn’t had the Taco Salad with Catalina dressing until my husband’s family made it. I love it!! They add hamburger cooked in taco seasoning to it and I’ve added shredded chicken cooked in the crock pot with taco seasoning to it too and it is wonderful!!

    • 18

      I love taco salads! I grew up eating them as well. I’d say my favorite meals growing up was Hamburger helper, manwich night, or breakfast for dinner such as biscuits and gravy or pancakes. My favorites have def changed since I really don’t eat meat much anymore, but pancakes still is my favorite thing my mom makes. NOBODY can make them better than hers. She puts extra love in them. :)

  16. 19

    love the earmuffs :)

  17. 21

    I LOVE the guacamole green at Sweetgreen B/c it has tortilla chips in it ;)

  18. 22

    My mom makes a similar salad, only with Doritoes instead of Fritoes, and her dressing is a mixture of Catalina and Taco Sauce (1:1 ration). And she has ground beef in the salad. It’s a hit at every gathering. Never a drop left.

  19. 23

    We use the Ranch Beans and Doritos in our Taco Salad, but the two recipes are the same. We have it at every family gathering and it is a big hit!

  20. 24

    My mom TOTALLY makes that exact same salad. Down to the Catalina dressing (the only reason we ever had Catalina in our house). I haven’t thought about that salad in years. Hilarious. Funnily, my mom was an RD throughout my entire childhood (she now works in a more supervisory capacity), and she was always adding things like spinach and other veggies to this salad (and everything else) to get us to eat more veg.

  21. 26

    “Most favorite salad ever” is a high honor in my book!!! Looks superb.

  22. 27

    My sister makes this salad but uses Sweet Vidalia Onion dressing instead of Catalina. YUM!

  23. 28

    Yup, we grew up on this salad too in my family. Although I’m pretty sure our family called it Western Chef Salad or something like that and it almost always included ground turkey or beef with taco seasoning.


  1. […] Sooooo good. I have written about this salad before, if you want more details on the recipe –> my most favorite salad ever. […]

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