Inspired by Midwestern-classic "walking tacos," my crowd-pleasing Dorito Taco Salad is fully loaded with taco-seasoned beef, cheese, fresh vegetables, and nacho cheese chips. Try this 30-minute meal for an easy weeknight dinner idea or for a casual party or potluck.
In a food processor or blender, add sugar, ketchup, olive oil, white vinegar, celery seed, chili powder, onion powder, paprika, and salt to taste (I like 1 teaspoon). Process until smooth. Store covered in the refrigerator until serving time, up to 4 days in advance.
To make the salad:
In a medium skillet over medium-high heat, cook ground beef until browned, about 5 minutes. Drain well. Stir in taco seasoning and water and simmer until thickened, about 2-3 minutes. Remove from heat.
In a large bowl, add lettuce, tomatoes, bell pepper, cheese and beef mixture. Toss to combine. Right before serving, add Doritos and salad dressing and toss to combine.
Granulated sugar: The 1/2 cup sugar in the dressing may sound like a lot, but it tastes just like the ones at Wisconsin supper clubs of my youth (they'd bring a small salad dressing caddy to your table with 4 different kinds of dressing: Ranch, Italian, Thousand Island, and French). If you don't love sweet dressings, start with 2 tablespoons of sugar, taste, and increase if desired. Or, substitute a bottle of store-bought French dressing.
Light olive oil: Light olive oil is milder than extra virgin which allows the other flavor-boosters to shine.
Paprika: Use regular paprika (often simply labeled “Paprika” on the package) rather than hot or smoked paprika.
Ground beef: I prefer 80/20 beef for flavor. Drain off the fat (in a colander or on a paper towel-lined plate) after cooking, if desired.
Taco seasoning: A store-bought packet works great. To DIY a packet's worth of homemade taco seasoning, whisk together 1 tablespoon chili powder, 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin, 3/4 teaspoon paprika, 1/2 teaspoon ground coriander, 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper, and salt to taste (I like 1/2 teaspoon). Add 1 teaspoon cornstarch if you prefer a thickener in your taco seasoning.
Lettuce: Choose something mild and crisp such as romaine, green leaf, or iceberg.
Yield: This Dorito Taco Salad makes 12 servings for a light meal or satisfying side dish.
Storage: This salad is best enjoyed the day it is made because the dressing will make the lettuce and Doritos soggy.
Make ahead: The French dressing can be blended together up to 3 days in advance. Store covered in the refrigerator and shake to recombine before using. If you make your own taco seasoning, that can be prepared up to 6 months in advance.
Chip swaps: Try this taco salad recipe with Cool Ranch Doritos, Fritos, or regular tortilla chips instead of Nacho Cheese Doritos.