How many calories in a chicken taco salad without shell?

A chicken taco salad without the shell is a popular low-carb and gluten-free option for those looking to reduce calories and carbs. The exact calorie count will depend on the ingredients used, but a typical chicken taco salad contains between 300-500 calories without the shell. Let’s take a closer look at the calorie count of each ingredient that goes into a chicken taco salad.

Calories in chicken

The chicken is often one of the main sources of protein and calories in a chicken taco salad. A 3 ounce portion of cooked, boneless, skinless chicken breast contains approximately:

  • 142 calories
  • 3 grams fat
  • 0 grams carbs
  • 26 grams protein

So a typical taco salad with around 6 ounces of diced chicken breast would contain roughly 284 calories just from the chicken alone.

Calories in lettuce

Lettuce is one of the main ingredients in a taco salad, providing bulk and texture. One cup of shredded green leaf lettuce contains:

  • 8 calories
  • 0 grams fat
  • 1 gram carbs
  • 0 grams protein

A large taco salad may contain 2-3 cups of lettuce, adding only 16-24 calories.

Calories in tomatoes

Chopped tomatoes add freshness, flavor, vitamins and few calories. One medium tomato (123g) contains:

  • 22 calories
  • 0 grams fat
  • 5 grams carbs
  • 1 gram protein

A taco salad typically has around 1/2 cup of diced tomatoes, contributing 11 calories.

Calories in cheese

Cheese can significantly increase the calorie content of a taco salad. A 1 ounce (28g) serving of cheddar cheese contains:

  • 115 calories
  • 9 grams fat
  • 1 gram carbs
  • 7 grams protein

A taco salad may have 2 ounces of cheese, adding 230 calories. Reduced-fat cheese lowers the count to about 150 calories.

Calories in beans

Beans add fiber, protein and calories to a taco salad. A 1/2 cup serving of canned black beans (130g) contains:

  • 114 calories
  • 0.5 grams fat
  • 20 grams carbs
  • 7 grams protein

A taco salad may include up to 1 cup of beans, contributing around 228 calories.

Calories in salsa

Salsa can add lots of flavor for minimal calories. A 1/4 cup (65g) of mild salsa contains:

  • 15 calories
  • 0 grams fat
  • 3 grams carbs
  • 1 gram protein

The salsa calories are negligible compared to other ingredients.

Calories in sour cream

Sour cream is commonly added on top of taco salads. A 2 tablespoon (30g) serving contains:

  • 52 calories
  • 5 grams fat
  • 1 gram carbs
  • 0 grams protein

Just a couple tablespoons of sour cream can add over 100 calories to a taco salad.

Calories in tortilla chips

Crushed tortilla chips are usually added on top of a taco salad without a shell. A 1 ounce (28g) serving of tortilla chips contains approximately:

  • 142 calories
  • 8 grams fat
  • 16 grams carbs
  • 2 grams protein

It’s easy to add 200+ calories by topping a salad with tortilla chips.

Putting it all together

Based on standard ingredients and portions, a typical chicken taco salad without the shell may contain:

Ingredient Calories
Chicken – 6oz 284
Lettuce – 3 cups 24
Tomatoes – 1/2 cup 11
Cheese – 2oz 230
Beans – 1 cup 228
Salsa – 1/4 cup 15
Sour cream – 2 tbsp 52
Tortilla chips – 1oz 142
Total 986

So in total, a chicken taco salad without the shell contains approximately 986 calories based on these standard portions. This falls within the typical range of 300-500 calories mentioned earlier.

Ways to reduce calories

There are several ways you can reduce the calorie count of a chicken taco salad:

  • Use less cheese or switch to reduced-fat cheese
  • Go easy on high-calorie toppings like tortilla chips and sour cream
  • Use just egg whites instead of whole eggs in the salad dressing
  • Substitute lower-calorie ingredients like cauliflower rice or zucchini noodles for higher-calorie ingredients
  • Load up on non-starchy veggies like peppers, onions and cilantro
  • Use Greek yogurt instead of sour cream
  • Flavor with salsa, hot sauce, lemon juice instead of high-fat dressings
  • Choose lower-calorie protein options like shrimp, beans or seitan

By making some of these simple tweaks, you can easily create a satisfying chicken taco salad with around 500 calories or less.

Other tips for low-calorie taco salad

Here are some other tips for reducing calories in a chicken taco salad:

  • Use leaner cuts of chicken or trim any visible fat
  • Grill, bake or broil chicken instead of frying
  • Choose reduced sodium taco seasoning to limit added salt
  • Rinse and drain beans to remove excess sodium and calories from canning liquid
  • Use a light vinaigrette, lemon juice or vinegar instead of full-fat creamy dressings
  • Avoid pre-made tortilla chips as they tend to be higher in fat and calories
  • Make “chip” by cutting corn tortillas into wedges and baking until crispy

Nutritional benefits

Despite the calorie count, a chicken taco salad can still be quite nutritious. Some of the nutritional benefits include:

  • Protein – From chicken, beans, cheese, Greek yogurt
  • Fiber – From beans, veggies, tortilla chips
  • Vitamin C – From tomatoes, salsa, peppers
  • Vitamin A – From lettuce, tomatoes, salsa
  • Calcium – From cheese, Greek yogurt
  • Iron – From beans, chicken
  • Potassium – From tomatoes, beans

So while keeping an eye on calories, you can still get plenty of important vitamins, minerals and nutrients from a well-rounded taco salad.


A chicken taco salad without the fried shell contains approximately 300-500 calories based on typical ingredients and portions. The main sources of calories come from chicken, beans, cheese and high-fat toppings like tortilla chips and sour cream. There are many simple ways to reduce the calories in a taco salad by decreasing high-calorie ingredients, increasing non-starchy vegetables and choosing healthier fat options. With some modifications, you can enjoy a satisfying taco salad with around 500 calories or less.

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