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That 70’s Taco Salad with Homemade Catalina Dressing & Homemade Taco Seasoning!

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I miss the ’70’s! Life was a WHOLE lot simpler, the music was real music with actual lyrics and performed by people that could actually sing without “auto tune” and played their own instruments, muscle cars were classics before they were even “classics”, and we talked to one another. Real conversations. No internet. No texting. Full attention.


Recipe starts with a homemade Catalina Salad Dressing! 


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Gone are the days when kids got up before the sun on a summer weekday morning, threw on a favorite pair of worn-out beloved cut-offs loaded with patches and fringed, an old comfy T-shirt with popsicle stains, and no shoes or socks.

We pulled our hair back into a quick ponytail, and headed out on our bikes, quietly, (as to not wake Mom and Dad), to invent new adventures and seek out the world’s tiniest wonders on a hot, mid-summer day that seemed to last forever!


Most of the salad ingredients ready to go!
(The taco meat is patiently waiting on the stove!)

taco salad ingrdnts


Kids today are really missing out on all the real fun! Like Drive-In movies, roller skating, double-dutch jump rope, finding the perfect rock to skim on the pond or play hopscotch with, making our own Halloween costumes, watching a butterfly emerge from a cocoon, and even just climbing up into a tree and finding the perfect spot to listen to the wind blow through the leaves.


Next, toss in your ingredients and add your taco meat!


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Remember all the crafts we used to spend hours on during a rainy day? All the fun stuff like string art pictures, decoupage, needlepoint, Paint-by-Number “works of art”, jars of colored “sand art”, tie-dyed and batiked t-shirts, and macramé! Even Shrinky Dinks, Spirograph, and making woven pot holders on mini looms for Mom kept us happily busy for hours on end!


Pour the dressing over the meat and toss!
Then add your cheese and toss!
(Toss like a boss! Nice and high!)


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Throughout the 1970’s, we also made silly, but fun, food concoctions, that were “less than healthy” and enjoyed every single bite and didn’t worry about Every. Single. Thing that wasn’t over-the-top healthy for us.

And we weren’t overweight, either. Because we actually DID things instead of laying on the couch, the floor, our beds, and everywhere else kids find today to plant themselves to spend 8 – 10 hours a day watching mind-numbing reality TV shows, their computers, and on their little phones typing furiously, moving their thumbs faster than the legs of tiny little spiders.

I’m so thankful that I’m not a kid or teen in today’s world.


Lastly, crush the Doritos and toss one last time!
And there you have it! Groovy!


taco salad all tossed



Would you like a bowl? 


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“Pinterest” prefers photos skinny and tall.
Oooookay, I can dig it!


taco salad pinterest



I hope I don’t sound “preachy” and that you find this 70’s salad delicious, a blast to make, and for some, like seeing an old friend again. Do something fun today, make time for yourself, and just yourself, and don’t rush.

Enjoy every single minute.

And now I’m off, friends. Heading out to the kitchen to play and make my hubby and I something else fun from scratch, and then out to the deck to take care of all my plants.

Maybe I’ll even climb a tree and sit for awhile.



NOTE: *Don’t let the long list of ingredients scare you away. It’s all SIMPLE pantry and fridge ingredients, VERY EASY, and everything is made QUICKLY in NO TIME at all. 😉


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That 70's Taco Salad with Homemade Catalina Dressing & Homemade Taco Seasoning!

That 70's Taco Salad with Homemade Catalina Dressing & Homemade Taco Seasoning!


For Taco Meat:

  • 1 lb. lean ground beef, cooked and drained
  • 1 Tbl. flour
  • 1 Tbl. cornstarch
  • 1 tsp. seasoning salt, I like Johnny's
  • 1/4 tsp. cayenne
  • 1/2 tsp. onion powder
  • 1 tsp. chili powder
  • 1 tsp. sweet smoked paprika
  • 1 tsp. garlic powder
  • 1 tsp. cumin
  • 1 Tbl. dried minced onion
  • 1 jalapeño pepper , seeds and membranes removed, thinly sliced, (2 for hot!)
  • 1 tsp. Superior Touch Better Than Bouillon Beef Base dissolved in 3/4 cup hot water
  • ½ cup beer, any kind is fine (*can sub water)
  • 1/2 tsp. honey
  • 1/2 Tbl. tomato paste with roasted garlic or regular, ketchup also works just fine

The Salad Ingredients:

  • 1/2 medium to large head iceberg lettuce, coarse chopped
  • 1 pint grape tomatoes, halved lengthwise then crosswise
  • 1/4 sweet red onion, chopped
  • 1/2 of a 16 oz. can kidney beans, rinsed and drained in a colander, freeze rest
  • 1 (6 oz.) can medium ripe olives, drained and sliced in half
  • 1-1/2 cups (6 ounces) shredded cheddar cheese - 1 - 7 oz bag
  • 2 cups Homemade Catalina Salad Dressing (*recipe below)
  • 1 (12 1/2 oz.) bag Nacho Cheese Doritos, coarsely crushed (*save a few for garnish if desired)
  • Garnish salads with sour cream, guacamole and/or avocado slices, more chips (whole or crushed), pickled jalapeño slices, and a sprig of fresh parsley or cilantro

For the Homemade Catalina Dressing:

  • 3/4 cup ketchup
  • 1/8 cup tomato paste with roasted garlic such as Contadina (freeze rest for another use)
  • 1⁄4 cup + 1/4 tsp. sugar
  • 1/2 Tbl. + 1 tsp. water
  • 2 Tbl. + 1/2 tsp. apple cider vinegar
  • 1/2 cup coarse chopped sweet onion
  • 1/4 tsp. smoked sweet paprika
  • 1/16 tsp. chili powder
  • 1 large clove garlic, coarse chopped (1 very rounded tsp.)
  • 1⁄8 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/4 tsp. regular table salt
  • 1/4 tsp. coarse ground black pepper
  • 3/4 cup salad oil such as canola or regular vegetable oil
  • 8 - 10 drops red food coloring, optional but makes it look more like the authentic color


For Taco Meat:

In small bowl, mix taco seasoning mix until very well combined. Set aside.

In large deep frying pan, sauté ground beef and hot pepper until meat is no longer pink breaking up WELL as you go. Drain all grease. Sprinkle taco seasoning mix over meat mixture and stir in.

Heat water to boiling, stir in bouillon base until dissolved and add to frying pan. Stir in beer, honey and tomato paste (or ketchup).

Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer until thick, stirring often. (Takes only about 5 - 10 minutes.) Cover and set aside.

For Salad:

Add all salad ingredients to a large bowl except salad dressing and chips. Toss lightly to mix. Add taco meat and crushed chips toss again to mix. Drizzle in salad dressing, and toss one last time until everything is mixed.

Serve now, still slightly warm/room temp., or chill for 1 - 2 hours and serve cold. *Chips will soften.

(*If you prefer to let this chill but don't care for softened chips, add in chips just before serving.)

To Make Salad Dressing:

Place all ingredients into a blender except oil. Blend until smooth. Remove inner piece of lid. While blender is running, slowly stream in oil until mixed. Chill for at least 1 hour. *Dressing will be thick after chilling. Just let it sit out for 15 - 30 minutes, then stir well.


*For a simple version, you can sub 1 envelope of pre-made store-bought taco seasoning mix and store-bought salad dressing, but I highly recommend that you make them homemade according to my recipe above.
**Double recipe for small parties and potlucks!


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Saturday 11th of November 2023

Just want to say that I LOVE your recipe for this salad. My aunt Nikki was just starting her life as a married woman when this recipe came out. Even though the weather has somewhat cooled, I've been craving this salad she used to make on hot Arkansas days. Thank you for the beautiful memories of my aunt ❤️


Thursday 10th of February 2022

Man that's a impressive list of ingredients for the classic quicky taco salad. Is this version truly that much better than the quick? Looks delish

Sunday 7th of July 2019

I was specifically looking for the recipe and that's how I ended up on your page..I was reading your blog and it's funny, I just told my 14 year old grandson the other day (who's mom won't even let him got to the corner store) how I would get up before 6 AM get on my bike and go down to the park at 10 years. old (1970) and nobody ever thought a thing about it..Today you are afraid to let your kids play in the from yard..It is such a different world today I miss the 1970's guess this is why I was looking for the recipe


Sunday 14th of October 2018

Was craving this old school dish and so happy I found your site. Living in New Zealand and we finally just got some great Mexican places, but there are those times when you feel like eating your childhood in America and this hit the spot.

Thanks so much Jennyfair


Friday 19th of January 2018

Can't wait to try this!! Never had it in the 70's. Came across this at a 4th of July party. Was totally impressed. Thought it was something New. The extra 70s commentary was awesome!! So true! Thanks

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