Build a Walking Taco Salad bar to take to your next tailgate or football party. It’s easy to prepare in advance, is full of options for everyone and adds some green and protein into your busy day!
This recipe is sponsored by the Ohio Beef Council. Like always, the ideas and opinions shared are my own.
I can’t tell you how excited I am that football is back (and that tailgating is back!) Of course I love football, but I also love the yummy tailgating fare that comes along with it! You’ve probably heard of a Walking Taco, but how about a Walking Taco Salad?
Tacos are a common staple at most of the tailgates I’ve been to and I am not mad about it. Who doesn’t love tacos?! What you don’t often see at tailgates is salad. That could be because salads aren’t the easiest thing to assemble and eat when you’re tailgating (or home-gating) since you’re usually standing up.
I always love a good taco salad so I thought what better way to have salad at a tailgate than to have a Walking Taco Salad Bar. Food bars are a party fave and this is the easiest food bar I’ve ever done.
Walking Taco Salad Bar
Think of a Walking Taco Salad as a taco salad parfait. That means you can layer it however you’d like to make sure you get perfect bites all the way through. Stack up all of your favorite taco fixings in plastic cup (for tailgating) or use a mason jar for home-gating.
Since there is always so much to indulge in at a tailgate, I love that I can incorporate some greens and healthy protein in my walking taco salad. Bonus that the protein from the beef helps curb cravings and gives me half of my daily value of protein. So basically I’m fueled to tailgate like a champ.
Walking Taco Salad Bar Ingredients
Full printable recipe card below.
Building a walking taco salad bar is super simple. You can prep it all beforehand so that it’s ready to grab and go to take to your tailgate. Here are some key ingredients, but by all means, don’t be limited to this list if you have other favorite taco salad additions!
- Ground beef
- Salad greens
- Taco seasoning (homemade is the absolute best, IMO)
- Shredded cheese
- Chopped tomatoes
- Green onion
- Tortilla chips
- Salad dressing (salsa ranch is our favorite for taco salad!)
Preparing the Taco Salad Bar
One of the best things about this taco salad bar is that you can prep it all in advance. That means more time to focus on getting yourself decked out with your favorite team gear and swag! Cook your taco meat up to 2 days in advance and cut up all of the toppings not more than the day before for peak freshness. If you make homemade guac, drizzle a little bit of lemon juice over the top and cover tightly to avoid browning. Bring the toppings in individual containers so that they can just be set out along with the salad and taco meat.
Of course it makes sense that the star of any taco (or taco salad) is the beef. Since it’s the hero ingredient here are some tips to make the best taco meat you’ve ever had.
Tips for the Best Taco Meat and Food Safety
- Always make sure to select ground beef with a bright, red color that is firm to the touch and doesn’t have excessive liquid in the package.
- Store ground beef in your refrigerator for 1-2 days, or in the freezer for up to 4 months.
- If you are planning to prep your taco salad bar outside, make sure to keep the beef fresh in a cooler until it’s time to cook. The cooler should be well insulated and free of leaks to ensure beef remains at a safe temperature of 35-40°F.
- I like to add dried onions (the kind you get in the spice section) to my ground beef when I’m making tacos. The juices from the beef really bring out the flavor of the onion and the onion complements the flavor of the taco meat.
- I prefer homemade taco seasoning. There really is no comparison. Pre-packaged taco seasoning has far too much salt for my taste. I find the excess salt overpowers the flavor of the taco meat. We want hero taco meat, not hero salt. My seasoning (recipe below) does have salt for extra depth of flavor. But the seasoning complements the ground beef perfectly, keeping the beef the star of the taco.
What to Serve with Your Walking Taco Salad Bar
If you’re looking to have some more offerings for the meat and potatoes crowd, you can add some baked potatoes for a Taco Stuffed Baked Potato Bar.
Find the perfect beer pairing for your tailgate fare with this handy guide! A general rule-of-thumb is the beefier flavor the dish, the more robust or flavorful beverage you’ll want.
Remember that bit about indulging? 😉 Turn some plain sugar cookies into footballs with some icing and fondant.
Support Local Beef Farming
One bummer about fall is that farmer’s markets are winding down. I love supporting local farmers and growers. But did you know that when you buy beef in Ohio, you’re actually buying and supporting local? 97% of beef farms are family-owned and operated. There are 17,000 beef farming families in Ohio who take excellent care of their animals. They’re committed to protecting the environment and producing safe, healthy beef. You might even find some Ohio beef farmers who live near you. Find out at www.OhioBeef.org.
What are your favorite taco accompaniments? Let me know in the comments what else I should add to the list!
Visit www.OhioBeef.org, and follow the Ohio Beef Council on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram for beef nutrition facts, cooking tips, recipes and to meet Ohio’s beef farming families. Tag me and use #OhioBeef to share photos of your tailgate fare this year! And of course, GO BUCKS!
Walking Taco Salad Bar
- 2 lbs. lean ground beef
- ⅛ cup chopped dried onions
- 4 tbsp taco seasoning
- ½ cup water
Salad & Toppings
- Chopped salad
- Shredded cheddar cheese
- Diced tomatoes
- Sour cream
- Green onion
- Tortilla Chips
- Salad dressing
Homemade Taco Seasoning
- 3 tbsp chili powder
- 3 tsp ground cumin
- 2 tsp paprika
- 2 tsp garlic powder
- 2 tsp onion powder
- 1 tsp black pepper
- ½ tsp cayenne pepper optional, for extra heat!
- ½ tsp salt
- Add ground beef and dried onion to a large skillet. Cook until the beef is browned all the way through (no pink remains). Drain.
- Add cooked ground beef back into the large skillet along with taco seasoning and water. Mix well over medium heat until seasoning is fully incorporated and water is mostly evaporated.
- Serve with salad, toppings, salad dressing and utensils.
- Combine all of the herbs and spices together. Store in a sealed jar for up to 1 year. Use 2 tablespoons per 1 pound of ground beef.