Southwest Salad

Our favorite Southwest Salad recipe is healthy, hearty, and topped with a delicious homemade cilantro ranch dressing.

This refreshing, hearty salad recipe reminds me of a Southwest version of Cobb Salad. With freshly chopped vegetables and homemade Cilantro Ranch Dressing, you can’t help but love it!

Southwest salad ingredients chopped and served in a white bowl.

An ARizona Fav!

I have always been a fan of salad recipes. Even when we go out to eat, I often order a salad because they’re usually hearty but not heavy.

One salad I love, but have never shared on the blog, is a Southwest Salad – which is usually classified as being Southwest if it has beans and rice and a “Southwest” dressing (definitely an Arizona favorite!)

I figured it was about time I put one together for you since it’s one of my favorites. I knew that our Cilantro Ranch Dressing would be perfect, and I was right.

It added so much flavor to this salad and brought the ingredients of lettuce, chicken, beans, tomatoes, peppers, corn, and avocado all together to become a new homemade favorite!!

Chopping ingredients for the southwest salad dressing.

Quick + Simple

This southwest avocado salad whips up in minutes for a deliciously fresh lunch or dinner!

DRESSING. For the dressing, combine all ingredients in a blender, beginning with ⅓ cup of milk. Blend until smooth. Add more milk as needed until it is the consistency you like. Refrigerate dressing until ready to serve.

COMBINE + SERVE! Place all salad ingredients in a bowl and stir to combine. Drizzle with dressing before serving.

Note: If you’re making this homemade dressing, we recommend making this up to 2 days in advance in storing it in an air-tight container until ready to serve so the flavors have time to really meld.

Southwest salad dressing scooped up with a spoon.

Dressing your Southwest Salad

As mentioned, our Cilantro Ranch Dressing is our favorite for this particular salad, but having said that, so many others would work with Southwest Chopped Salad.

It depends on what you love most, but here are some of our other favorite dressings or toppings we think would go well with this recipe:

Omit the dressing and keep it even lighter. We recommend using our Pico de Gallo to add on top. It’s also delicious and pairs well with this salad’s ingredients.

Chopped ingredients served together in a glass bowl for southwest salad.

Ingredient Tips

Chicken breast. Cook the chicken breast however you wish! Use the grill, oven, or stovetop. If you prefer to use rotisserie, shredded, or even canned, those will work just fine, too. Cook it with any seasonings, like taco seasoning, cumin, garlic powder, or salt and pepper.

Corn. Use canned corn, thawed frozen corn, or fresh corn cut off the cob.

Bell peppers. The recipe calls for orange bell pepper, but you can use yellow, green, or red bell pepper!

Tomatoes. Use Roma tomatoes, grape tomatoes, or cherry tomatoes.

Variations. Add any of your favorite toppings or fixings to this Southwestern Salad to change it up!

  • chopped red onion
  • shredded cheese
  • freshly squeezed lime juice
  • crushed tortilla chips or tortilla strips
  • a dollop of greek yogurt or sour cream
Close up of chopped ingredients for southwest salad in a glass bowl.

Storing Info

Make ahead of time. Prepare Southwest Chicken Salad ingredients 1-2 days ahead of time, except for the avocados. They cannot be cut until right before serving.

Store the ingredients in separate airtight containers in the fridge. When you’re ready to serve, cut the avocados and toss the salad ingredients together for up to 30 minutes before serving.

STORE. Leftover Southwest Salad recipe can be stored in an airtight container in the fridge. Keep in mind the avocados will not last as long as the other ingredients.

The length that the salad stays fresh will depend on if it has been tossed in the Southwest Salad Dressing or not. If you think you may have leftover salad, serve the dressing on the side. This way leftovers last longer.

Southwest chopped salad with cilantro ranch dressing

Recipe FAQ

What is a southwest salad made of?

This salad is made of ingredients and flavors common in Southwestern cuisine, such as beans, corn, bell peppers, cilantro, and jalapeno. You can also season your chicken with spices such as chili powder, cumin, or taco seasoning.

How do you cook the chicken for southwest salad?

Cook the chicken breast however you wish! Use the grill, oven, or stovetop. If you prefer to use rotisserie, shredded, or even canned, those will work just fine, too.

For more favorite saladS, try:

Southwest Salad Recipe

5 from 14 votes
Our favorite Southwest Salad recipe is healthy and hearty and topped with a delicious homemade cilantro ranch dressing.
Course Salad
Cuisine American
Prep Time 15 minutes
Total Time 15 minutes
Servings 6
Calories 549 kcal
Author Lil’ Luna

Ingredients

Salad

  • 1 head romaine lettuce chopped
  • 1 large orange bell pepper chopped
  • 1 (15.25-ounce) can black beans rinsed and drained
  • 1 pint cherry tomatoes halved or quartered
  • 2 cups corn
  • 1 avocado sliced or cubed
  • 2 chicken breasts seasoned to taste, cooked and cubed
  • diced green onions optional
  • chopped cilantro optional

Cilantro Ranch Dressing

  • 1 packet Ranch dip or dressing mix (or 3 tablespoons)
  • 1 cup mayonnaise
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 1 bunch cilantro
  • 1 teaspoon minced garlic
  • 1-3 teaspoons diced jalapeños
  • ⅓-½ cup milk

Instructions
 

  • For the dressing, combine all ingredients in a blender, beginning with ⅓ cup of milk. Blend until smooth. Add more milk as needed until it is the consistency you like. Refrigerate dressing until ready to serve.
  • Place all salad ingredients in a bowl and stir to combine.
  • Drizzle with dressing before serving.

Video

Notes

Make Ahead: You can prepare the salad ingredients 1–2 days ahead of time, except for the avocados, which cannot be cut until right before serving. Store the ingredients in separate airtight containers in the refrigerator. When you are ready to serve, cut the avocados and toss the salad ingredients together up to 30 minutes before serving.
Storing Leftovers: How long leftover salad will stay fresh depends on whether it has been tossed in the dressing or not. If you think you may have leftover salad, I recommend serving the dressing on the side so your leftovers will last longer.

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About Kristyn

My name is Kristyn and I’m the mom of SIX stinkin’ cute kids and the wife to my smokin’ hot hubby, Lo. My mom’s maiden name is Luna, and I’m one of the many crafty “Lil’ Lunas” in the fam. On this site I like to share all things creative - from recipes to home decor to gifts and home decor ideas. Welcome!

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Comments:

  1. 5 stars
    the salad itself has all the right ingredients, but the real winner for me is the dressing! I make this so often so we pretty much always have some on hand (;

  2. I haven’t tried the recipe yet. I am wondering did you cook the corn and beans then let cool or use straight from can

  3. 5 stars
    This salad is so tasty!! I love that it doesn’t call for crazy ingredients & cilantro ranch dressing is my favorite!!

  4. 5 stars
    I looooooove anything Southwest flavored. This salad is no exception! That salad dressing totally put it over the top – so good!

  5. 5 stars
    This salad was an absolute HIT with the whole family! We loved being able to choose what toppings we put on it (one of us doesn’t like tomatoes) but we loved the dressing so it was perfect. Thank you!

    1. The dressing we love on this salad is our Cilantro Ranch Dressing and it is homemade. Yay! Here’s the recipe, but it is also in the recipe card in the post:
      3 tbsp ranch dip mix
      1 cup mayonnaise
      1 cup sour cream
      1 bunch cilantro
      1 tsp minced garlic
      1-3 tsp jalapeno diced
      ⅓ – 1/2 cup milk