Classic, crunchy, flavor-packed taco salad requires the most delicious Taco Salad Dressing. This one combines tangy citrus juice with honey and paprika for the perfect sweet and sour balance.
Recipe first posted on March 24, 2022 and last updated on August 14, 2023.
I love a good crunchy taco salad recipe, don’t you? It is a celebration of textures: creamy black beans, crunchy tortilla chips, sharp red onion, cherry tomatoes, rich taco meat. It is an awesome gluten-free dinner option, but you need a good taco salad dressing to bring it all together.
I’ve seen a lot of recipes for taco salad with Catalina dressing, which if you are unfamiliar is a sweet, tangy dressing made from vinegar, oil, ketchup, sugar, and spices.
I like the idea of a sweet-tangy dressing recipe but wanted to utilize the bounty of citrus that is in season in California right now. My neighbor dropped off two huge bags of blood oranges and Meyer lemons yesterday and I’m determined to use them.
Why It’s The Best
I know that term gets thrown around a lot but here’s why I think this Mexican salad dressing is the absolute best for your next taco salad or any salad for that matter.
Fresh and vibrant. Fresh-squeezed Meyer lemon juice, blood orange juice, and lime juice make this ultra fragrant and full of bright sparkling flavors. It’s like capturing sunshine in a bottle.
Super versatile. Don’t have access to Meyer lemons or blood oranges? No problem. Feel free to use regular lemons and navel oranges or tangerines or grapefruit. Just keep the ratios the same, so 3/4 cup lemon juice and 1/4 cup orange (or tangerine or grapefruit).
Makes a ton. This makes enough dressing for at least two main course salads which is awesome because you can mix it up on Sunday and have yummy, homemade salad dressing to top every salad for a week!
Ingredients To Make This Taco Salad Dressing Recipe
Because the taco salad ingredients in most taco salads has a kind of Tex Mex thing going on, we’re going to use those same spices in the dressing. If you have a favorite homemade taco seasoning, you can use that instead or try the Magic Spice Mix recipe in my cookbook, Plant Powered Mexican. Here’s a run down of the ingredients:
- Olive oil. My favorite is extra virgin olive oil from California Ranch, because it is harvested and pressed right here in California. That means it is guaranteed to be fresher than imported olive oils.
- Meyer lemon juice. Meyer lemons are more subtle than a regular lemon so you may need to add a little extra honey if you substitute regular lemon juice for the Meyer lemon juice.
- Blood orange juice. Substitute navel orange, tangerine, or grapefruit juice if you can’t find blood oranges.
- Lime juice. Like the other citrus, please use fresh-squeezed lime juice.
- Honey. Local honey is always best because the bees are using local flowers to make their honey which helps deter allergies.
- Paprika. I like sweet paprika here but you could use hot paprika or smoked paprika for a different flavor profile.
- Kosher salt. I always use Morton kosher salt unless otherwise specified.
- Onion powder. Because I use onion powder to season the ground turkey in my taco salad, I also use it in this taco salad dressing recipe. You could substitute garlic powder, minced shallot, or green onions if you prefer.
- Dried Mexican oregano or dried Mediterranean oregano. Mexican oregano has a lemony flavor that I just adore but Mediterranean oregano is easier to find and is fine to use here.
- Ground black pepper. Use freshly-ground black pepper. Always.
What are Meyer Lemons and Blood Oranges?
Meyer lemons are a soft-skinned lemon with a floral, sweet flavor. Originally from China, they are a cross between a mandarin and a regular lemon and have been harvested in California since the 1920’s. I love their flavor but I might love their fragrance even more. Leave them out on the counter and they will perfume your whole house.
Meyer lemons are more widely available than they used to be but if you can’t find them you can substitute regular lemon juice. As I mentioned above, regular lemon juice is more tart than Meyer lemon juice, so you may need to add a bit more honey to this dressing recipe if you end up using regular lemon juice instead.
Blood oranges have a sultry magenta-colored flesh and a tart-sweet flavor. They were first harvested in Sicily but have made their way all over the world and grown in every Mediterranean climate, including California.
Blood oranges are in season from December to April and can be found in most large supermarkets. If you can’t find blood oranges you can substitute navel orange juice in this recipe or tangerine or grapefruit juice.
How To Make This Dressing For Taco Salad
Do you have 5 minutes? Because 5 minutes and a Mason jar is all you’ll need to make this recipe.
Mix it. In a large bowl combine all the ingredients and whisk until incorporated. Or combine everything in a Mason jar, seal and shake until well combined. Taste and add more salt, lime juice, or honey if you think it needs it. Enjoy!
*Basic taco salad instructions:
Use my Healthy Taco Salad Recipe for more details but essentially you want to brown some ground meat in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Season it well with chili powder or a packet of taco seasoning. Let cool slightly then serve with iceberg lettuce, bell pepper, black olives, tortilla strips or nacho cheese Doritos, Roma tomatoes. Top with salsa and sour cream if you’d like and drizzle with the dressing.
Ways To Use This Taco Salad Dressing Recipe
Should you use this on your next taco salad? Of course! But it is also excellent on any salad recipe, grain bowl or even as a dip. You could also try:
- Spooning it over lettuce cups. Fill pieces of butter lettuce or Romaine lettuce with lean ground beef or chicken and top with fresh cilantro, tomatoes, and this citrusy dressing.
- Use it as a salad dressing for this Panzanella Salad with Cheddar Cheese Cornbread.
- Drizzle on a sheet pan of roasted vegetables for an easy side dish.
- Use it as a marinade for grilled chicken or pork chops.
This recipe makes enough for two main course salads so you are bound to have leftovers. Store the dressing in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to a week. If you mix the dressing in a Mason jar, you can just screw the lid on and store it in there. No extra bowl to clean!
More Salad Dressing Recipes To Try!
- Creamy Avocado Dressing
- Cilantro Pesto Vinaigrette
- Olive-Chile Dressing
- Crumbled Queso Fresco Dressing
- Chipotle Dressing
- Cumin Vinaigrette
- Harissa Ranch Dressing
Want to Know If This Taco Salad Dressing Is Really the Best?
Give it a try and see for yourself! When you do, snap a pic and tag me on Instagram @holajalapeno and #holajalapeno so I can see or leave me a comment below (don’t forget to leave a ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ rating) ! Also, don’t forget to sign up for my weekly newsletter, lots of good stuff there too!
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