Fresh and flavorful Southwestern Chopped Salad tossed in the most delicious creamy avocado cilantro-lime dressing! This southwest salad is so crisp and refreshing, plus simple to prepare. (Vegan, gluten-free, oil-free option.)
This Southwestern Chopped Salad with homemade Creamy Cilantro-Lime Dressing is our all-time favorite salad.
It is filled with colorful fresh vegetables and plant-based nutrition. So fresh and delicious!
Plus it's great for picnics, potlucks, meal prep, and parties because it seems to be a real crowd-pleaser.
We also enjoy it for lunch, a side dish, or light dinner.
Ingredients for Southwestern Salad
For the salad portion, you will need:
- Romaine lettuce
- Black beans: This adds great texture, heartiness, and plant-based fiber and protein. I simply rinse and drain a 15 ounce can, but you can also cook your own from scratch.
- Orange bell pepper: Or yellow or red if desired.
- Cherry or grape tomatoes: I like these best because they are so flavorful, but you can also use roma tomatoes or other garden tomato. Just be sure they are ripe and flavorful.
- Cooked sweet corn: Either fresh corn on the cob, canned, thawed frozen corn, fire-roasted, etc.
- Green onion: Or you can use finely diced red onion for a stronger onion flavor.
Ingredients for Southwest Salad Dressing
For the creamy cilantro lime dressing you will blend:
- Fresh cilantro*
- Avocado: Or substitute plain and unsweetened vegan yogurt or vegan sour cream.
- Lime juice
- Garlic cloves
- Olive oil: For an oil-free version, simply substitute water to help thin.
- White wine vinegar: Or apple cider vinegar.
- Salt: This helps to maximize and bring out all the flavors. I use fine-grain salt for this recipe.
- Ground cumin and agave: Optional but recommended. Cumin adds great flavor, and the agave (or other sweetener of choice) helps to balance the flavors.
*Not a fan of cilantro? Readers have reported success with substituting fresh parsley instead. (And some who normally do not care for cilantro said they actually enjoy it in this dressing!)
You could also add extra flavor and spice with fresh jalapeno.
For us, one recipe of the cilantro dressing is a great match for the amount of salad below, but adjust as you see fit.
This salad can work either as a main dish or side dish.
Topping: Serve with additional diced avocado, vegan cheddar cheese shreds, or even tortilla chips (or tortilla strips) for a little crunch and texture.
Making ahead of time: Store the dressing and salad separately in airtight containers in the refrigerator, then toss together in a bowl before serving. This helps keep the veggies fresh and crisp.
For more inspiration, also browse all salad recipes.
Southwestern Chopped Salad with Cilantro-Lime Dressing
- 1 large head romaine
- 15 oz. can black beans
- 1 orange bell pepper
- 10 oz. cherry/grape tomatoes (about 1 pint)
- 2 cups sweet corn, cooked
- 5 green onions
For the creamy cilantro-lime dressing:
- 1 cup loosely packed cilantro (stems removed and roughly chopped)
- 1/2 avocado (or 1/2 cup plain vegan yogurt)
- 2 Tbsp. fresh lime juice (about 1 lime, more to taste)
- 1-2 garlic cloves
- 3 Tbsp. olive oil (for oil-free, sub a little water to thin)
- 1 1/2 tsp. white wine vinegar
- 1/8 tsp. salt
- Recommended: agave & cumin to taste
- Make the dressing: Blend all dressing ingredients in a food processor/blender until smooth. Taste and adjust seasonings if necessary. (I like the addition of a little cumin, and also agave to sweeten.)
- Chop romaine, bell pepper, tomatoes, and green onions. Rinse and drain black beans.
- Place all salad ingredients in a large bowl.
- Toss with desired amount of dressing.*
Nutrition Per Serving (Estimate)
If you are enjoying this Southwest Salad recipe with Cilantro Dressing, also check out:
- Vegan Taco Salad with Creamy Southwestern Dressing
- Corn and Black Bean Fajitas
- Lentil Salad with Capers and Balsamic Dijon Dressing
- Cucumber Salad
- Restaurant-Style Blender Salsa