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Catalina Frito Salad is a simple salad with plenty of crunch!

Chopped iceberg lettuce tossed with fresh tomatoes, onions, hot chili beans, and plenty of cheddar cheese is topped with crunchy FRITOS® corn chips and Kraft Catalina salad dressing.

The first time I had the pleasure of eating this tasty Catalina Frito Salad, I thought the combination of ingredients seemed a bit strange, but I found that they really worked well together.

This salad takes less than 15 minutes to put together and makes enough to serve a crowd. Make it a hearty meal that stands on its own by adding cooked taco ground beef or chicken.

A bowl of salad on a table, with Catalina Salad

Why you’re going to love it!

  • Simple ingredients.
  • Feeds a crowd.
  • Easy to prepare.

Catalina Frito Salad: behind the recipe

When our girls were little, we were members of a vibrant young couples church group and at least once a month we were gathering together for a picnic, pool party, or game night.

Everyone would bring a pot-luck dish to share — there were a lot of good cooks in our group! As a result I acquired a lot of tried and true crowd-pleasing recipes, Frito Salad being one of the best!

Armed with a big  salad bowl, a large bag of FRITOS®, and a bottle of Kraft Catalina salad dressing, she would laugh and entertain everyone around with her jokes and antics as she tossed the fiesta salad “table-side” just before the meal was served.

ingredients for catalina salad in a white bowl

Key ingredients and substitutions

  • Iceberg lettuce — rinsed and chopped; use a salad spinner to dry the lettuce as much as possible
  • Ripe red tomato — use your favorite variety, just be sure it is really ripe for the best flavor!
  • Sweet onion or scallions — chopped
  • Hot chili beans (canned) — rinsed and drained
  • Shredded sharp cheddar cheese
  • Frito Corn Chips
  • Kraft Catalina Salad Dressing

How to make Catalina Taco Salad ahead of time

Catalina Salad is best eaten immediately after it has been tossed together, so follow these tips if you plan to transport the salad to a picnic or potluck and assemble it on site.

ingredients for catalina salad in a white bowl

STEP 1 | Prep and pack

  • Prep the lettuce—rinse, chop, and dry in a salad spinner—and place in a large bowl with a tight-fitting lid.
  • Dice onion and tomatoes and add to the bowl with the lettuce.
  • Rinse and drain a can of hot chili beans and place in small bowl with tight fitting lid.

STEP 2 | Toss and serve

  • When ready to serve, add the beans, corn chips, and cheese to the bowl of salad.
  • Pour the entire bottle of Catalina dressing on top and toss until all ingredients are coated. If you do this step too early, the salad and chips will get soggy.
  • If you like, finish the salad by adding some fresh ground pepper on top.
Catalina Salad on blue placemat

Do you prefer Catalina Salad or Taco Salad?

Cooking a pound of ground beef with taco seasoning and adding to this recipe makes a delicious Mexican Taco Catalina Salad for an easy dinner.

Also, remember this Catalina Salad recipe makes a big ‘ole bowl of salad which makes it perfect for large groups. I think Miss Donna would be proud that I’m sharing her recipe with all of you!

Catalina Frito Salad in a bowl
  • Fresh Herb Potato Salad — You can’t have an honest-to-goodness, old-fashioned picnic unless there’s a heaping bowl of homemade potato salad on the table.
  • Tangy Cole Slaw — Every good Southern cooks needs a solid cole slaw recipe to go along with pulled pork barbecue or fried catfish and hushpuppies.
  • Cool Veggie Pizza Appetizer – An oldie, but goody, this Cool Veggie Pizza Appetizer recipe hits it out of the park when it comes to popularity.
  • Poppy Seed Chicken Casserole — Chunks of chicken in a creamy sauce with a crunchy topping of Ritz crackers, poppy seeds, and almonds. Pure comfort food!
  • Classic Coca-Cola Chocolate Cake — This no-fuss milk chocolate cake is a definite crowd pleaser—it’s ultra-rich, extremely moist, and a chocolate cake lover’s dream!
A close up of bowl of salad on a table, with Catalina Salad

Let’s cook!

Catalina Salad with FRITOS® corn chips and Kraft Catalina salad dressing is a big hit at every pot luck or picnic!

Let’s be social! Follow me on YouTube, Pinterest, Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter!

catalina taco salad in a bowl with a fork on a table.

Catalina Salad

FRITOS® corn chips and Kraft Catalina salad dressing are the stars of this simple salad.
4.29 from 89 votes
Prep Time 10 mins
Total Time 10 mins
Course Salad
Cuisine American
Servings 8 servings
Calories 484 kcal


  • 1 head lettuce cut in layers, then chopped
  • 1 large tomato diced
  • 1 large sweet onion diced
  • 1 can hot chili beans drained and rinsed
  • 12 oz. sharp cheddar cheese shredded
  • 1 9-1/4-oz. bag Fritos corn chips
  • 1 cup Kraft Catalina salad dressing


  • Toss together all salad ingredients except for the Fritos and Catalina dressing. Chill until ready to serve.
  • Just before serving add the Fritos, partly crushed, and toss with 1 cup Catalina dressing (add more dressing, if desired). Serve immediately.



Serving: 1gCalories: 484kcalCarbohydrates: 37gProtein: 15gFat: 32gSaturated Fat: 11gPolyunsaturated Fat: 17gTrans Fat: 3gCholesterol: 42mgSodium: 911mgFiber: 4gSugar: 13g
Keyword catalina dressing, fritos, iceberg lettuce
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was.
sheila thigpen in her kitchen

About Sheila Thigpen

Recipe Developer, Food Photographer, Food Writer

Sheila Thigpen is the publisher of Life, Love, and Good Food — a Southern food blog — and the author of Easy Chicken Cookbook and The 5-Ingredient Fresh and Easy Cookbook. After 20+ years in the publishing industry, she retired in 2018 to focus on her own creative endeavors full time. She and her husband live near the beautiful Smoky Mountains and have a precious little granddaughter who has stolen their hearts. As an influencer, Sheila has collaborated with brands like Creamette, Kroger, HERSHEY’S, Hamilton Beach, Garafalo Pasta, OXO, Smithfield, Valley Fig Growers, and more.


  1. I would imagine that even folks who aren’t crazy for salads (I’m a salad lover) would enjoy this one. The addition of corn chips really makes this crazy good…and super crunchy!

  2. I make something similar about every two weeks and it is seriously the BEST. Such a delicious salad!

  3. I always forget about the Catalina dressing because I tend to opt for vinaigrettes, ceaser or ranch dressing. But oh how I love the Catalina dressing. Thanks for the reminder and the great salad to go along with it!

    1. Julie, I’m usually a vinaigrette fan, too, but this salad with Catalina is a nice change. Enjoy!

  4. I bet this will go quick at potlucks! My son who hates salad might even eat this one. I’ll be trying it for one of our summer barbeques!

  5. Oh wow, very creative. I never thought of adding corn chips to it. I bet it brings some texture to it!!

  6. This looks like the perfect potluck salad, and I’ll bet the corn chips add the perfect amount of crunch.

  7. I’ll tell ya, any salad topped with chips and smothered in delicious dressing is my kind of salad. This looks SO good! And it’s perfect for a summer picnic!

  8. Could I possibly use different types of lettuce, like Romaine, Arugula, etc. and have an assortment? I’m not a fan of iceberg lettuce. Thanks.

    1. Mindy, I would think chopped romaine would be a good substitute. Arugula may not work as well.

  9. The recipe I have has an addition of a can of corn. ..drained. I usually grill corn on the cob and keep an extra to cut off the cob just for this salad. Also, the addition of grilled chicken (great use of left overs), cut into strips.

  10. I make this salad. It’s great. I serve it with a ground beef Mexican casserole. They are the perfect pairing! Everyone always asked my mom to make this when there were potlucks and now I get the same requests.

  11. 5 stars
    This is AWESOME! Great side dish or main meal. Seriously, will be my summer go to dish for cookouts — A MUST TRY!

  12. 5 stars
    I prep mason jar salads each week to avoid my “hangry” feeling and that I have something quick to grab to eat. This salad is so good that I always have it in the mix at least every other week. Must try!

  13. 5 stars
    I’ve been making this salad since a colleague gave me the recipe in the early 1980’s. It is definitely a favorite! I usually use green onions or red onions sliced thin. I have always used chilled kidney beans, but will try next time with the hot chili beans. My husband likes taco seasoned ground beef added. I prefer the salad without meat, but eat both ways.

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