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Southwest Salad

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This Southwest Salad is one of my most popular salads! A family favorite that can be served at BBQs, potlucks, and parties all year long.


Main image for southwest salad


All the flavors in this salad are out of this world. And while you’ll love all the flavors in the salad itself, it’s the dressing that really makes it.

A cilantro lime vinaigrette, it’s the thing we literally lick out of the bowl after the rest of the salad is gone. You’ll love how quick and easy it is to make this southwest salad recipe. Chop everything and toss it together and it’s done!

And this southwest corn and black bean salad has the perfect texture. It’s crunchy, soft, and your taste buds will love it.  Plus it is also easily customizable. Mix and match your favorites to create your best salad.

We love making your salad ahead of time, then you can have it as a meal prep all week! 

But the best part of this southwest avocado salad is the southwest salad dressing. It’s heavenly and delicious and what really takes this fresh salad to the next level.


Salad tossed in a bowl and ready for dressing


What Ingredients Are in Southwestern Salad

You’ll be using common and simple ingredients to make this delicious southwestern salad.

  • Lettuce: You can use romaine lettuce, spring lettuce, spinach, or any sort of lettuce mix.
  • Fresh Tomatoes: Grape tomatoes have less water than larger tomatoes so use those. You could also substitute with cherry tomatoes.
  • Onion: I use green onions. They’re mild and perfect. You could also use a red onion though it has a little more bite.
  • Bell Peppers: Using a combination of both red bell pepper and yellow bell pepper gives your chopped salad color and nutrition.
  • Beans: Black beans are our favorite. You could also use pinto beans or red kidney beans.
  • Corn: You can use frozen corn, canned corn, or fresh corn for this amazing salad. Your choice!
  • Avocado: You could easily leave this out but I find it adds so much to texture and flavor.
  • Cheese: I use a Mexican blend cheese. Any brand works. You could also use cotija cheese.

Pro Tips:

  • If using canned corn and canned beans, don’t forget to drain them first!
  • For an extra crunch toss on crunchy tortilla strips when ready to serve.
  • Fresh sweet corn tastes so good when cooked up on the grill!
  • Make it a vegan salad by omitting the cheese.


cilantro lime vinaigrette in a bowl


How to Make a Southwest Salad

Making creamy southwest salad is so simple!

  1. Chop: You’ll want to get all your veggies to bite sized pieces.
  2. Mix: And using a large bowl, toss it all together! Simple!

Pro Tip:

  • If you like to keep your lettuce crisp, serve all the ingredients as a salad bar!


for full of salad, ready to eat


What Dressing Do You Use on Southwest Salad

While you could technically use any dressing you wanted on those delicious veggies, you want to use this one. Zesty cilantro lime dressing!

This southwest dressing is all about those southwest flavors. It’s easy to make and our favorite part. You don’t need a food processor for homemade cilantro lime Vinaigrette. You’ll just toss the ingredients all together in a small bowl.

  • Cilantro: Cut this relatively small to mix into the rest of the ingredients.
  • Vegetable Oil: You could also use avocado oil or olive oil.
  • Lime Juice: Fresh lime juice packs much more flavor but you could use bottled in a pinch.
  • Apple Cider Vinegar: This adds a tiny bit of a bite but you’ll love that in your vinaigrette.
  • Salt and Pepper: You can add these to taste.
  • Garlic: Use fresh minced garlic or garlic paste.

Pro Tips:

  • Double the vinaigrette! It really is the best part!
  • If you like creamy dressings, I suggest trying our Cilantro Lime Dressing


images taken from the top looking down at salad in bowl


Can You Make Southwest Salad Ahead of Time?

Absolutely! This is a great meal prep salad that can last you all week. Here’s some tips for how to make it last:

  1. Keep the dressing and the salad separate until you’re ready to serve. That way your lettuce won’t wilt.
  2. Don’t cut the avocado until you want it. Nothing can keep it from turning brown once it’s cut.
  3. Keep the veggies separate. I find I only need to do this if it needs to last a long time. But if you’ll eat it within 2 days, just toss them all.

How Long Does Southwest Salad Last?

Your delicious salad will last up to 5 days – as long as you don’t add the vinaigrette on top before storing. You’ll want to keep it covered in an airtight container in the fridge.

Always be sure to use fresh veggies to help the entire salad stay good longer. Don’t freeze it though as it will cause wilted lettuce and nothing else will taste quite as good either.


zoomed in image of salad in bowl


What Meat Can I Add to This Salad?

This is an easy vegetarian salad but you can easily make it a full meal by adding meat. Here is how to serve your salad with plenty of protein.

Pro Tip:

  • If you’re in a rush, pick up a rotisserie chicken and make your life simple.
  • Don’t forget you can also easily make this into a southwest salad bowl by adding rice!
  • Good pairings would be Mexican Lime Rice, Buttered Rice, or Easy Mexican Rice.


salad in bowl with a top side angle of photo


Southwest Salad is a delicious, easy, and healthy salad! It’s quick to make and a crowd pleaser! Enjoy this salad at parties, potlucks, family gatherings, and all your big events!


Yield: 6 Servings

Southwest Salad with Dressing Recipe

Southwestern Salad

This Southwest Salad is one of my most popular salads! A family favorite that can be served at BBQs, potlucks, and parties all year long.

Prep Time 15 minutes
Total Time 15 minutes


  • SALAD:
  • Your favorite lettuce blend or romaine lettuce
  • 10 grape tomatoes
  • 2 green onions, finely sliced
  • 1/2 Red Pepper, diced (or use baby bell peppers)
  • 1/2 Orange Pepper, diced (or use baby bell peppers)
  • 1/2 cup black beans
  • 1/2 cup corn, frozen, canned or fresh - your choice
  • 1 avocado, diced
  • 1/4 cup of your favorite Mexican blend cheese
  • 1/2 cup chopped cilantro
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 1-2 Tablespoons fresh lime juice
  • 1 Tablespoon apple cider vinegar
  • Salt & Pepper to taste
  • 1 clove of garlic, minced - or use 1 teaspoon of garlic paste


  1. For the salad, toss all the ingredients into a bowl
  2. For the Dressing, toss all ingredients into a separate bowl, mix well
  3. Let dressing sit for 30 minutes (if you can wait), to allow for flavors to meld.
  4. Serve dressing on top of salad or on the side for guests to add.

Nutrition Information:



Serving Size:


Amount Per Serving: Calories: 381Total Fat: 30gSaturated Fat: 7gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 21gCholesterol: 27mgSodium: 223mgCarbohydrates: 20gFiber: 8gSugar: 4gProtein: 11g

Originally Posted: May 3, 2014

Photos & Text Updated: May 17, 2022

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Stephanie Pass

Tuesday 6th of May 2014

This looks and sounds delicious! I love vinaigrette dressings, and this one with apple cider sounds so good!


Tuesday 6th of May 2014

Thanks so much Stephanie! It certainly is one of the best vinaigrette dressings I've ever had!

Patty Haxton Anderson

Tuesday 6th of May 2014

Gorgeous salad - the kind I should be eating starting like NOW.


Tuesday 6th of May 2014

Patty I love salads and really I should be eating them more often too. They just feel like they take a long time to make. So I make a big batch of this salad and it lasts for several meals and is tasty EVERY time! Mmm Mmm good!

Aunt Bee

Monday 5th of May 2014

Gorgeous salad! I love those flavors!


Tuesday 6th of May 2014

Thank you! It's not only pretty, it's UBER tasty too!

Joanne T Ferguson

Monday 5th of May 2014

G'day! Looks very healthy and delicious! Cheers! Joanne


Tuesday 6th of May 2014

I don't tend to make too many healthy dishes (at least not on purpose) however when healthy meets tasty, it's a keeper!

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