Southwest Salad Recipe

Southwest Salad is a bowl of freshness! It has a bed of veggies and fruits topped with a juicy protein with a refreshing dressing to complement everything.

This recipe was inspired by Mexican cuisine as in any other delicious dishes in the Southwest. If you are looking for a veggie-filled side dish, then, this is it! Try it alongside Chicken Bacon Ranch Pasta, Bacon Philly Cheesesteak Sloppy Joes, and One Pan Taco Mac and Cheese!

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Chicken Southwest Salad

Southwest Salad can even be a meal on its own because it is a combination of fiber and protein. The succulent grilled chicken goes well with the rest of the flavors of the fresh produce.

And the creamy dressing is oozing with Mexican flavors with the cilantro. And you can customize this to your taste! In general, I like making my own dressing.

Sometimes, when I buy one, I still have to adjust it further. So, it is always better for me to make my own dressing from scratch especially when I have the basic ingredients always available at home.

The same goes for the rest of the recipe. I love how I can add more ingredients that I crave. And I can omit some ingredients that are not in season. But this recipe is exactly how I would make it 99% of the time. It is just so yummy!

Photo of Easy Southwest Salad

What is Southwest Salad?

It is a dish from the Southwest region of the United States. It arises from the influence of Mexican cuisine which is heavy in the area. Even the popular chain McDonald’s has its version on their menu.


Is Southwest Salad healthy?

Yes! Because you get to make everything from scratch and the fresh ingredients are nutritious. You will get these health benefits from the key ingredients:

  • chicken breasts: lean and high in protein and vitamins
  • romaine lettuce: low-carb and low-calorie but is packed with vitamins C, K, folate, and minerals like phosphorus and magnesium
  • black beans: also have folate and potassium like the lettuce and are rich in fiber that aids healthy digestion
  • tomatoes: good source of antioxidants, fiber, and lycopene, a carotenoid linked to cancer prevention
  • avocadoes: rich in potassium and in healthy fats

In any kind of diet, maintain your portions and consume everything in moderation to stay healthy. Making your dressing from scratch also eliminates any preservatives that could have been added to commercially available ones.

Note though that the dressing contains mayo. You can switch it with a light one.

How to grill the chicken for Southwest Salad?

  • Marinate: Prepare the marinade by mixing the ingredients. Then, put it in a resealable plastic bag along with the white meat. Marinate for at least 10 minutes or up to 2 days in the fridge.
  • Cook: In the preheated and oiled grill skillet, put the chicken and cook for about 4 to 5 minutes per side.
  • Rest: Allow the meat to rest for about 5 to 10 minutes before slicing.

Photo of Homemade Southwest Salad

How to make Southwest Salad?

  • Grill the chicken: Follow the instructions above.
  • Prepare the dressing: Pulse the ingredients in a food processor until fully incorporated.
  • Assemble: In a bowl, place the greens at the bottom. Then, top with the rest of the ingredients including the cooked meat. Then, drizzle the dressing and garnish with cilantro and green onions before serving.

What to serve with Southwest Salad?

You can pair it with your favorite pasta dishes like:

Photo of Chicken Southwest Salad

How to store it?

Store the salad and the dressing in separate airtight containers and refrigerate. The grilled chicken can stay good for up to 4 days.

Meanwhile, the dressing can stay good for up to 2 days. Remember though that the avocado may not last long.

Recipe Tips

  • Feel free to leave out the protein or change it up. Use or add hard-boiled eggs, shrimp, steak, or pork!
  • You can use lime vinaigrette as the dressing which is lighter than the creamy cilantro dressing of this recipe.
  • Want to make it heartier? Add quinoa, mangoes, and jalapenos!
5 from 1 vote
Photo of Southwest Salad Recipe
Southwest Salad Recipe
Prep Time
20 mins
Cook Time
10 mins
Total Time
30 mins

Southwest Salad is a
bowl of freshness! It has a bed of veggies and fruits topped with a
juicy protein with a refreshing dressing to complement everything.

Course: Appetizer
Cuisine: American
Keyword: Southwest Salad
Servings: 4 servings
Author: Marionela Tiron
For the Salad:
  • 2 medium chicken breasts grilled
  • 2 cups romaine lettuce chopped
  • 1 ripe avocado sliced
  • 8 small cherry tomatoes cut in half
  • 1/2 cup black beans rinsed and drained
  • 1/2 cup corn rinsed and drained
  • 1 cup cheddar cheese grated
  • 1/4 cup cilantro for topping
Creamy Cilantro Dressing:
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 1/4 cup mayo
  • 1/4 cup cilantro packed
  • 1 tablespoon lime juice
  • 1 tablespoon honey or maple syrup
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • Chopped green onions
  • Cilantro
Creamy Cilantro Dressing:
  1. Add all the dressing ingredients to a food processor and pulse to combine until smooth.
  1. Place the chopped romaine lettuce on the bottom of a salad plate or bowl.
  2. Top with sliced grilled chicken, avocado, chopped tomatoes, black beans, corn, cilantro, cheddar cheese.
  3. Drizzle the dressing on top just before serving.
  4. Garnish with chopped cilantro and chopped green onions.

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