This Taco Salad From Leftovers is the perfect easy lunch meal that can be brought to work, school, or a picnic. It is top allergen free, dairy free taco salad, and has a taco bowl vegan option available. This simple recipe is the perfect way to use up those taco meat leftovers and save time making healthy delicious lunches.
- Why We Like This Taco Salad From Leftovers Recipe
- Ingredient Low Down
- Instructions/Directions and Tips
- Variations/Adaptations FAQ
- Storage and Reheating Instructions
- Top Tip
- What To Serve With This Salad and When
- Other Recipes You May Enjoy
- 📖 Recipe
- Food Safety
- Latest Posts
- 💬 Comments
Why We Like This Taco Salad From Leftovers Recipe
We love this taco meat leftover recipe because it is easy and decreases our food waste. It is really easy to let leftovers go bad or to get tired of the same meal over and over again, especially if you are on a restricted diet. By changing the meal up a bit it keeps the whole family interested in what we are eating. The kids love the break from sandwiches for lunch and for us it makes a quick and easy lunch to bring to work. The less we have to think about how to use the leftovers the more successful we are in eating them all up. We strive to eat low food waste, eat well, and within our food restrictions.
This Taco Salad From Leftovers recipe is great for using up taco ingredients the day after it was had for dinner. It also works well when we freeze the meat and use it after it thaws. We try to keep our food waste down for so many reasons but the budget is a huge one. Allergen friendly foods are not cheap so this helps us stick to our budget. By planning meals like this one we can finish up what is in the fridge and freezer, ready to eat.
- Iceberg lettuce
- Vegan cheese
- Black olives
- Grape tomatoes
- Black beans
- White onion
- Sweet bell pepper
- Taco meat leftovers, already cooked
- Jalapeno peppers
- Gluten Free Tortilla Chips
See recipe card for quantities.
Ingredient Low Down
We prefer either violife or Daiya cheese for this recipe but any safe dairy free shredded cheddar style or mixed vegan cheese will work. They are not going to be heated so we aren’t as picky with them.
Sweet Bell Pepper
Any bell pepper will work. Use up what you have. We prefer a sweet pepper, like an orange one to a green one but it either will work
Taco Meat Leftovers
For us this recipe is about lowering our food waste and using what we have. We use leftover ground beef taco meat for our Taco salads. The meat works best when it is chilled. If making from scratch for this recipe and using a 1 pound of uncooked ground beef. Cook your beef until all the pink is gone over medium-high heat in a skillet on the stove, drain the fat off, add 2 Tbsps the taco seasoning and a ½ C of water. Stir the meat, water, and seasoning together and cook until the water has cooked off (about 10 mins). We use the taco seasoning recipe from the Spend With Pennies site as we can tailor it to our allergies. Many pre-made packages in stores contain wheat, soy, or other allergens.
Make sure these are gluten free one brand we buy that is safe for us is a Canadian brand called La Cocina. Double check with the manufacturer that they are safe for you and your allergies. They do have other flavours produced in their plants that may make the cross contact unsuitable for you.
A fair amount of ready made salsas are top allergen friendly. Always double check the ingredients for allergens and with the manufacturer for shared lines and cross contact with allergens. One of our favourite salsa recipes we make at home is a copycat Chili’s restaurant recipe on the Chef in Training site. When the kids are eating it we reduce the amount of jalapeno and onion that goes in. This particular recipe makes a great taco salad dressing.
Instructions/Directions and Tips
Cut all the ingredients as per the Taco Salad From Leftovers recipe. The pieces should be bite size for ease of eating, especially those
In a medium bowl layer the ingredients except the crushed tortillas and salsa. Start with the lettuce to form the salad base. The rest can be layered on top or in sections going around the bowl.
Top with the crushed tortillas and salsa. Mix well.
Hint: Make sure the meat is fully cooled. It is best to use leftover taco meat. Pour the salsa on right before serving for best results.
Any ground meat cooked to a safe temperature with taco spices will work. Turkey, chicken, pork, bison, lamb are all suitable for this Taco Salad From Leftovers recipe.
Those with active EoE may find ground meats really difficult to swallow. For non ground meat options use taco meat cooked in bite sized strips until cooked to a safe temperature and then fully cooled. This works well with shredded beef, shredded chicken (like a slow cooker chicken taco), or cut in strips similar to our fajita tray bake recipe. If meats are not a safe food right now check out the vegan option below in our Variations/Adaptation.
We use a simple salsa recipe for our taco salad but any dressing that is safe for you can be used to your taste. A dairy free, allergen free ranch dressing is one of the most popular taco salad dressings. If using oil and vinegar as a dressing try adding a dash of cumin and a few cilantro leaves to the dressing.
This Taco Salad From Leftovers recipe is great for using up leftover cooked and cooled fajita chicken, onion, and pepper mix from our fajita tray bake. Replace the ground meat with ⅓ C of cooked fajita leftover filling that has been chilled and use cold. Instead of or along with salsa top with guacamole. If making a packed lunch store the cooled fajita filling separately from the other ingredients until ready to serve the salad.
To make this an excellent vegan meal, omit the taco beef and replace it with marinated chickpeas that have been marinated with cumin, chilli powder, paprika, garlic powder, onion powder and cayenne pepper. If desired the chickpeas can also be heated in the oven for 15 mins at 400F for a softer texture. Let cool before adding to the taco bowl vegan salad.
For a crunchier chickpea use our roasted chickpea recipe with lime juice and the spices mentioned above and roast until crispy. Add to the salad when fully cooled.
Meat alternatives can be used too to make this taco bowl vegan. Plant based meat replacements would work well cooked with taco seasoning. Add the faux meat to the salad when fully cooled.
If meat replacement of chickpeas are added when hot or warm the lettuce will wilt and the time the salad will be good for will get shorter. If eaten right away it is less of an issue but is not advised when this dish is used for packed lunches, BBQ side dishes, or picnics.
This Taco Salad From Leftovers recipe is so easy all you need is a knife, cutting board, and bowl for the salad.
Storage and Reheating Instructions
Store Taco Salad From Leftovers in the fridge with the tortilla chips, salsa, and dairy free cheese stored separately from the rest of the ingredients. The chips, salsa, and vegan cheese is best stored in their own containers and added to the salad right before serving. Stored this way the salad will keep upto 3 days in the fridge in a well sealed container.
The dairy free taco salad does not freeze well.
No reheating needed. This salad is meant to be eaten cold.
When making tacos save some of the leftover cooked taco meat in ½ C portions in a freezer bag and freeze. Remove one bag of cooked taco meat leftovers the night before and thaw in the fridge to make an easy office or school lunch. Works well as a picnic lunch too.
What To Serve With This Salad and When
This Taco Salad From Leftovers is a meal in itself perfect for lunches brought from home such as office or school lunches. Picnics are another great time to enjoy this taco salad. It packs well in a cooler, just store the dairy free cheese, salsa, and tortilla on their own and separately from the salad until you are ready to eat it. Using a large reusable lidded container is perfect for the other ingredients as once you add the last three in, pop the lid bacon to seal, and shake them all together to mix well. Serve on safe compostable bowls or reusable ones.
This salad can be served at a BBQ as a side as well. It would pair well with a baked potato or steak.
Other Recipes You May Enjoy
- 2 C Iceberg lettuce shredded or cut in strips
- 2 Tbsps Vegan cheese shredded
- 2 Tbsps Black Olives Sliced
- ¼ C Grape Tomatoes quartered
- ¼ C Black Beans rinsed and drained
- 2 Tbsps White Onion Diced
- ¼ C Sweet bell pepper diced (we used orange)
- ⅓ C Taco meat leftovers already cooked
- 3-4 Jalapeno pepper slices
- 8-10 Gluten Free Tortilla Chips crushed
- ⅓ C Salsa
- Cut all the ingredients as per the recipe.
- In a medium bowl layer the ingredients except the crushed tortillas and salsa. Start with the lettuce to form the salad base. The rest can be layered on top or in sections going around the bowl.
- Top with the crushed tortillas and salsa. Mix well.
- Cook to a minimum temperature of 165 °F (74 °C)
- Do not use the same utensils on cooked food, that previously touched raw meat
- Don't leave food sitting out at room temperature for extended periods
- Always read package ingredients carefully for allergens when buying food, when putting it away and before using
- Verify product shared lines with manufacturers for allergens and cross contact
- Do not use the same utensils on allergen free food, that previously touched allergens
See more guidelines at USDA.gov.
Have you made this recipe? Please leave a comment and us know how much you liked it.