Is Taco Bell taco salad healthy?

Quick Answer

Taco Bell’s taco salad can be a relatively healthy fast food option in moderation. However, it is high in calories, fat, and sodium, so it should not be consumed too frequently. The most nutritious way to eat a Taco Bell taco salad is to choose grilled chicken as the protein, avoid creamy dressings, load up on veggie toppings, and limit high-fat additions like chips, cheese, and sour cream. Overall, the taco salad provides a decent amount of protein, fiber, vitamins, and minerals from its lettuce, beans, tomatoes, and other veggies. But the saturated fat, trans fat, cholesterol, and sodium bring down its nutritional value. Taco salad is a better option than many other fast food menu items, though making a taco salad at home with fresh ingredients is healthier.

Is Taco Bell’s taco salad healthy?

Taco Bell’s taco salad can be a relatively nutritious fast food choice but should still be consumed in moderation. Here is a breakdown of the nutrition facts of a standard Taco Bell taco salad with seasoned beef, lettuce, beans, tomatoes, cheese, guacamole, and salsa dressing:

Calories and macronutrients

– 770 calories
– 37 g fat (10 g saturated fat, 1.5 g trans fat)
– 85 mg cholesterol
– 58 g carbs (12 g fiber, 5 g sugar)
– 39 g protein

The taco salad provides a good amount of protein but is quite high in calories, fat, saturated fat, trans fat, and cholesterol for one meal. The fiber content is also decent.

Vitamins and minerals

– 45% DV vitamin A
– 45% DV vitamin C
– 25% DV calcium
– 15% DV iron

The taco salad provides almost half the recommended daily intake for vitamins A and C. It also contains a quarter of the recommended calcium and decent iron.


– 1560 mg sodium

The taco salad is very high in sodium, providing over half of the recommended daily limit (2300 mg) in just one meal.

So in terms of nutrients, the taco salad provides beneficial amounts of protein, fiber, vitamins A and C, calcium, and iron. However, it is quite high in calories, fat, cholesterol, and especially sodium.

How to make Taco Bell taco salad healthier

There are several easy substitutions and adjustments that can improve the nutrition profile of a Taco Bell taco salad:

– Choose grilled chicken instead of seasoned beef to cut down on fat, cholesterol, and calories.

– Opt for salsa instead of the creamy ranch or chipotle dressing to trim calories, fat, and sodium.

– Load up on lettuce, tomatoes, beans, corn, and other veggie toppings instead of cheese, sour cream, chips, etc.

– Ask for light or no sour cream to reduce saturated fat and calories.

– Opt for just a sprinkling of cheese rather than a full serving.

– Ask for salsa on the side and use just a bit for flavor to cut down on sodium.

– Choose a small or medium-sized salad instead of large to control portions and calories.

– Avoid shelling out for high-calorie extras like guacamole, tortilla strips, or nacho chips.

Making these simple tweaks can help turn Taco Bell’s taco salad into a lighter, more nutritious fast food option.

Nutrition comparison to other Taco Bell menu items

Compared to other items on Taco Bell’s menu, the taco salad is one of the more nutritious options:

– It has less calories, fat, and sodium than most burritos, quesadillas, nachos, and specialty items like the Crunchwrap Supreme, Cheesy Gordita Crunch, etc.

– It has more fiber and vitamins from its lettuce and veggie toppings than items like chips, cheesy rice, cinnamon twists, and desserts.

– The grilled chicken taco salad has less fat and cholesterol than beef-based items like burritos and tacos.

– It has fewer carbs and more filling protein than menu items like soft tacos, chalupas, and bean burritos made with tortillas and rice.

So compared to Taco Bell’s full roster of offerings heavy on tortillas, rice, beef, cheese, beans, chips, creamy sauces, etc., the taco salad stands out as a lower calorie, higher nutrient option in the fast food universe. But it still contains high amounts of sodium, saturated fat, and cholesterol compared to a healthy homemade meal.

Nutritional pros and cons

Here is a summary of the main nutritional pros and cons of Taco Bell’s taco salad:


– Provides protein
– Contains fiber
– Provides vitamins A and C
– Contains minerals like calcium and iron
– Lower in calories than many Taco Bell menu items
– Can be modified to be healthier


– High in calories
– High in fat, saturated fat, trans fat
– High in cholesterol
– Very high in sodium
– Not as healthy as homemade

So while the taco salad has some nutritional merit, its high amounts of sodium, cholesterol, and fat outweigh the positives. Making modifications and watching portion sizes is key to improving its nutrition profile. But homemade still wins out.

Healthier homemade taco salad

Making taco salad at home allows you to have complete control over the ingredients. Here is a healthier homemade recipe:


– 3 cups chopped romaine lettuce
– 1/2 lb 93% lean ground turkey or grass-fed beef
– 1/2 cup canned black beans, rinsed and drained
– 1/2 cup canned corn, rinsed and drained
– 1 chopped tomato
– 1/4 cup chopped onion
– 2 tbsp chopped cilantro
– 1 avocado, sliced or chopped
– 1 oz shredded cheddar cheese
– Whole grain tortilla chips, crushed
– 2 tbsp salsa
– 2 tbsp Greek yogurt
– Lime juice
– Salt, pepper, taco seasoning


1. In a skillet, cook ground turkey or beef with taco seasoning. Drain fat.
2. In a bowl, layer lettuce, turkey or beef, beans, corn, tomato, onion, cilantro, avocado, and cheese.
3. Top with crushed tortilla chips and drizzle with salsa and Greek yogurt mixed with lime juice.
4. Season with salt and pepper.

This homemade version contains far less sodium, cholesterol, and fat. It replaces processed beef and cheese with lean turkey or grass-fed beef, just a sprinkle of real cheese, and healthier toppings like avocado. Using Greek yogurt and fresh salsa and seasoning instead of creamy dressings slashes calories, fat, and sodium as well. Serving on a bed of lettuce instead of a fried tortilla shell also lightens it up. Homemade wins over fast food for taco salad nutrition every time!

Nutrition benefits of taco salad ingredients

The most nutritious ingredients that can make up a healthy taco salad include:

Romaine Lettuce

Romaine is packed with vitamin A, vitamin K, folate, and antioxidants. It provides fiber, water volume, and crunchy texture with very few calories.


Tomatoes contain the antioxidant lycopene which may promote heart health. They also provide vitamins C, A, and potassium.


Beans supply plant-based protein, fiber, and minerals like iron, potassium, and magnesium. They also contain antioxidants.


Corn offers carbohydrates along with fiber, vitamin C, folate, magnesium, and plant compounds like lutein and zeaxanthin.


Onions contain fiber, vitamin C, folate, and quercetin which acts as an anti-inflammatory and antioxidant.


Cilantro provides phytonutrients, flavonoids, and minerals like potassium and calcium. It has antimicrobial properties.


Avocado delivers heart-healthy monounsaturated fats, fiber, folate, vitamin K, and potassium.

Subbing in fresh veggies in place of processed meat and cheese is key to a healthy homemade taco salad.

Is Taco Bell’s taco salad low carb?

The standard taco salad from Taco Bell is not particularly low in carbs. It contains:

– 58 grams of carbs
– 12 grams of fiber
– 46 grams of net carbs

Many low carb diet plans advise limiting net carbs to 20-50 grams per day. So with 46 grams of net carbs, the standard taco salad would provide nearly a full day’s worth of carbs in one meal for some low carb dieters.

However, there are ways to reduce the carb content of Taco Bell’s taco salad:

– Skip ultra-high carb toppings like rice, tortilla strips, and chips.
– Choose a salad with no shell or tortilla bowl which supplies extra carbs.
– Skip sugary dressings and toppings.
– Avoid bean-based proteins which have more carbs than meat.
– Ask for extra lettuce and low-carb toppings like cheese, sour cream, and guacamole.
– Order a small or medium-sized salad instead of a large.

With these lower-carb tweaks, it’s possible to enjoy Taco Bell’s taco salad while reducing carb counts. But those following under 20 net grams of carbs per day may still need to avoid it or just have a small portion.

Should you avoid Taco Bell taco salad while dieting?

Here are some tips for enjoying Taco Bell’s taco salad while dieting:

– Order a small or medium-sized salad with grilled chicken as the protein instead of beef to reduce calories.

– Use salsa instead of creamy dressings to trim fat and calories. Or use salsa lightly on the side.

– Skip ultra-high calorie toppings like guacamole, tortilla strips, chips, nacho cheese sauce, etc.

– Load up on low-calorie veggies like lettuce, tomato, onion, peppers instead of cheese, rice, beans, etc.

– Request light sour cream or just skip it to avoid excess saturated fat.

– Avoid shell or tortilla bowls for lower carb counts.

– Only use 1/4 to 1/2 of the dressing and high-fat toppings provided to control portions.

– Avoid turning it into a complete high-calorie meal by abstaining from add-ons like cinnamon twists, churros, etc.

With the right modifications, Taco Bell’s taco salad can be worked into a reduced-calorie diet in moderation. But it may need to be avoided altogether on very low-calorie diets due to its high fat and calorie counts overall. Homemade can always provide lower calorie options.


Taco Bell’s taco salad can be a relatively healthy fast food choice with the right modifications, like skipping the tortilla shell, choosing grilled chicken, using salsa dressing, and loading up on veggie toppings. But it still contains high amounts of sodium, cholesterol, saturated and trans fats that lower its nutritional value. Consuming it only occasionally and in moderation is best, especially while dieting. Making your own taco salad with lean protein, fresh veggies, and healthy fats is the most nutritious option and gives you control over all the ingredients. While Taco Bell’s taco salad has some redeeming qualities compared to less healthy fast food choices, homemade versions packed with nutritious whole foods win out in terms of overall nutrition and health value.

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