The Way You Layer Taco Salad Will Make Or Break It

Looks can be deceiving when it comes to serving taco salads. Though the dish may seem as simple as throwing a variety of ingredients into a bowl, the way in which you place the components of your meal can dramatically impact your overall dining experience. Without considering the arrangements of vegetables, cheeses, spices, and proteins you want in your salad bowl, you could be faced with either a soggy mess or a dry, chalky meal. With the right placements, however, the ingredients in your taco salad can be set and layered with confidence, keeping you and other diners satisfied until the next meal time rolls around.

Instead of viewing crisp leaves of romaine and other greens as the salad's supporting actors, strategically place the pieces at the bottom of your dish to create a solid foundation for the rest of your meal. When adding hot items like chunky pieces of chicken, crumbles of beef, or pan-fried strips of tofu, layer these cooked ingredients next to cheese. Cheese and cheese substitutes will be warmed when set on top of heated ingredients, providing a gooey layer for the other toppings you enjoy — salsa, sour cream, or sprinkles of chopped chives and onions. 

A crisper salad to enjoy

When compiling items to make your taco salad, rinse and drain ingredients to reduce any watery, soggy excess forming at the bottom of your bowls. Particularly for greens, spinning or drying leaves after washing them can help reduce unnecessary moisture, and taking time to drain canned items like corn will have significant payoffs as you sit down to enjoy your meal. 

Leave creamier additions and spoonfuls of sour cream for the top of your salad. The heavier items will sink into your salad, coating the rest of your ingredients with rich, spicy flavors, similar to a thick dressing added to other salad recipes. Additionally, keeping spoonfuls of salsa on top of sturdier protein items can keep juices from running down into your platters. If you're wanting to add slices of avocado to your taco salad, save this step for last, particularly if you're putting the salad together to serve later on in the day or are planning on bringing the dish to a friend's potluck. Crumbled pieces of tortilla chips can be kept in a separate bowl and used to garnish the top of the salad as a finishing touch.