doritos taco salad

Rachel Schneider / Cheapism

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Summer brings sunshine, tan lines, days spent in and on the water, and an abundance of backyard barbecues. While burgers, hot dogs, kabobs, steak, and chicken on the grill might be recipe repeats for main courses from June through August, the summertime sides are where the magic happens. 

There are so many different salads to experiment with — pasta salads, potato salads, bean salads, fruit salads (the list goes on and on) — but there's one go-to my family never tires of: Dorito taco salad. 

Let me start by saying that since the price of Doritos now typically lingers around $5 for a 9.5-ounce bag, I usually only score the chips when they go on sale at my local grocery store or — better yet — when Costco sells those enormous bags for less than $5 (then I can bonus up and make multiple Dorito dishes). I've even used store-brand nacho cheese tortilla chips and no one was able to tell the difference. 

I buy my meat from local farmers, so I never have to buy the ground beef used to make this side dish, but for the purposes of providing a price point here, the pound of ground beef needed runs about $4. Adding up all of the remaining ingredients (iceberg lettuce, shredded cheese, red onion, taco seasoning, and Catalina dressing), this dish typically costs around $14 to make and you'll have enough to serve at least six people. 

How to Make a Doritos Taco Salad

To make the taco salad, the first thing I do is brown a pound of ground beef and add a packet of taco seasoning to it. I like to let the meat cool down and then I put it in a bowl or storage container and transfer it from the pan to the fridge so it can cool down even more (this is important so the hot meat doesn't wilt the lettuce or melt the cheese). 

While the taco meat cools down, I chop and wash a whole head of iceberg lettuce and add it to a big bowl. And I do mean a big bowl. If you think the bowl you've selected is big enough, but you have one that's just a little bit bigger, grab the bigger one. Once you add all the fixings to the salad, the bowl fills up in no time, and you need enough room to mix everything evenly. 

After the lettuce is in the bowl, I add an 8-ounce bag of shredded Mexican blend cheese and a small diced red onion. I then open a bag of Doritos (I use the 9.5-ounce bag) and because the top several inches were filled with air before opening the bag (yes, I'm throwing some shade toward Frito-Lay), there's plenty of room to crush the chips up in the bag they came in. I just start squeezing the bejeebers out of the chips until I peer into the bag and see small Dorito tidbits. 

From there, I'll dump the entire bag of chips into the salad and add the taco meat to the bowl, too. I use tongs to toss the ingredients together and I drizzle some Catalina dressing on top of the salad once it's on my plate. 

doritos taco saladPhoto credit: Rachel Schneider / Cheapism

Doritos Taco Salad Recipe


  • 1 pound of ground beef
  • 1 packet of taco seasoning
  • 1 head of iceberg lettuce
  • 8 ounces of shredded Mexican-style cheese
  • 1 red onion, diced
  • 1 9.5-ounce bag of Doritos
  • 1 bottle of Catalina dressing


  1. Brown ground beef in a pan. Once it's cooked, add the taco seasoning and water according to the package instructions. Move to the refrigerator to cool down.
  2. While the meat is cooling off, chop and wash the lettuce and add it to a large bowl.
  3. Add a bag of shredded cheese to the bowl with the lettuce.
  4. Dice a red onion and put it in the bowl.
  5. Crush a bag of Doritos and pour it into the salad.
  6. Take the meat out of the refrigerator and add it to the salad.
  7. Toss everything together with tongs and serve with Catalina dressing drizzled on top.

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