Buy the Cookbook

Green Salads | March 18, 2019

Southwest Salad with Cilantro Honey Lime Dressing

Southwest Salad with Cilantro Honey Lime Dressing has been a favorite in our home for years!  Loaded with crispy Romaine, beans, corn, creamy avocado, and a bit of Pepper Jack cheese.
Southwest Salad with Cilantro Honey Lime Dressing

Southwest Salad comes with a warning, it’s highly addictive. The first time I ate this salad, I took leftovers home from a family party and ate it several days in a row. My sister in law, Sheri, gave me the recipe years ago, and it’s been a favorite in our home since.

You won’t find any meat or chips in this salad, just veggies and cheese. And dressing. Which is quite possibly the best dressing ever. Fresh, tart, sweet, a little spice. It’s life changing. Ok, so it may not really be life changing, but it’s a change from the usual cilantro-lime dressing. The honey gives it a sweet twist that hooked me from the first bite. It will hook you too, I promise!

Southwest Salad with Cilantro Honey Lime Dressing

This salad is great for a healthy and light dinner idea. It’s full of tasty veggies and and sprinklings of Pepper Jack and Colby cheese. You can even serve it on the side of a main dish if you’re wanting a bigger meal. I love it as a side with our Family Favorite Enchiladas. If you’re serving dinner and want to please everyone, make this salad, our favorite enchiladas, and a platter of fresh fruit. If you want chips and salsa, whip up some of Sheri’s Simple Salsa and blue corn tortilla chips for a colorful and deilciously  memorable meal.
Southwest Salad with Cilantro Honey Lime Dressing
I first posted this in 2011, and recently gave it an update with a few new photos and changed out the canned corn for frozen, because I always use frozen! Here’s a little tip if you’re using frozen corn in a salad, don’t ever thaw it first, just throw it in. The little bits of frozen corn will help keep the salad cool!
I  love this salad for lunch. It hits the spot any time of the day.  Plus it’s incredibly easy to throw together. You can have lunch or dinner in about 20 minutes. Quick, easy, healthy, wonderfully tasty salad! For a girl’s luncheon, make a batch of Lion House Rolls and this salad, or chips and salsa with guac for a meal all of the ladies will love.
Southwest Salad with Cilantro Honey Lime Dressing
I recommend using Romaine full heads of lettuce – not Romaine hearts. You will need the nice dark leafy greens for this recipe. Wash and dry ( I always spin) the lettuce, then chop it into bit sized pieces and place into a large serving bowl. Layer all of the rest ingredients on top of the chopped lettuce. You can even prep this salad ahead of time without the dressing. Just layer the following ingredients in this order (start with lettuce in bottom of bowl):
  • lettuce
  • black beans
  • corn
  • peppers
  • green onion
  • avocado
  • tomatoes
  • grated cheese
Southwest Salad with Cilantro Honey Lime Dressing

Then mix up the dressing by whisking all of the ingredients (except cilantro) together in a bowl. Then add the chopped cilantro. Taste to see if you need to add any more honey, lime, or cayenne. Keep in a container until you’re ready to serve! Toss all ingredients together just before eating/serving.  If Im making this early in the day, I layer using the instructions above. If I need to make it the day beforehand, Place the lettuce in a bowl, but place all of the rest of ingredients in separate containers or Ziplocks. Wait to peel and cut the avocado until right before serving. 


This southwest salad is one of my very favorite recipes. I love it’s gorgeous color and delicious flavors. I hope you enjoy it too!

5 from 11 votes

Southwest Salad with Cilantro Honey Lime Dressing

Southwest Salad is the perfect salad for any occasion. Filled with lettuce, black beans, cheese, veggies and topped with a fresh cilantro honey lime dressing. 

Course Dinner, main, Salad
Cuisine American
Keyword Cilantro Dressing, Southwest Salad
Prep Time 30 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes
Servings 12 as a main dish
Author A Bountiful Kitchen



  • 1 1/2 large heads Romain lettuce (about 15-18 cups) washed and dried
  • 1 small bag frozen corn white or yellow, or fresh, 3-4 large cooked and cut off cob
  • 1 can black beans washed and drained
  • 2 avocados chopped (not too soft) choose avocados that are fairly firm
  • 1 bunch green onions sliced
  • 4-5 Roma tomatoes chopped, or about 3 cups of cherry or grape tomatoes, cut in half
  • 1 red pepper chopped
  • 1 1/2 cup Pepper Jack Cheese grated
  • 1 1/2 cups Colby cheese grated


  • 1 cup cilantro rinsed, remove stems
  • 1 cup mayonnaise
  • 4-6 tablespoons fresh lime juice
  • lime zest from one lime
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • sea salt
  • pepper
  • 1/8 to 1/4 teaspoon cayenne

For Salad:

  • Chop lettuce into bite size pieces. Place lettuce in large serving bowl.

If not using immediately, layer in the following order:

  • Lettuce
  • black beans
  • corn
  • peppers
  • green onion
  • avocado
  • tomatoes
  • grated cheeses


  1. For Dressing: Chop cilantro. Whisk together in bowl rest of ingredients, add fresh cilantro. Add more lime, honey or cayenne to taste.
  2. Toss salad with dressing just before serving, or serve dressing on the side of salad. If serving on side, double dressing.

Recipe Notes

  • Use Romaine full heads, not Romaine hearts (Costco) You will be happier with the dark green color.
  • Important to drain veggies well and spin salad until dry. If you take the time to do this, the salad will last for up to three days if not tossed with dressing.
  • Layering in the order given will insure that the cheese won’t get soggy, and the avocados will stay fresh(er) with the tomatoes layered on top. Romas, or grape tomatoes are best for this salad.
  • I like the look when hand chopping part of the Cilantro for the salad. You can throw all of the ingredients into a blender or use an immersion blender to make the dressing, then chop a few tablespoons by hand to get the larger leaf look in the dressing.
  • If you want more of a Taco-style salad, add some chopped cooked chicken and tortilla or corn chips.
  • If you want to make this a main dish salad, cook chicken breast halves, cool and chop when completely cooled. Add to salad with  veggies. 

26 thoughts on “Southwest Salad with Cilantro Honey Lime Dressing

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Recipe Rating

  1. Bascially I am IN LOVE with this salad. Loved it at the farewell, loved it a few days after the farewell. It was absolutely delicious!!!

  2. Beautiful photos. I love Southwest salad. I am going to have to try this one. I haven't had time to cook much lately but this looks do-able.

    1. Hi Annie, this salad goes perfectly with chicken! It makes a great main dish salad that’s more on the healthy side. Thanks for asking and for reading ABK,

  3. 5 stars
    I made this the other night and it was soo yummy!! I made it for dinner with ABK cheese and garlic twisted breadsticks. Will definitely be making all of it again. Thanks for the yummy recipes!

    1. I love that idea of making it with the breadsticks, Brynn. That is the perfect combo! Thanks for sharing and for reading ABK,

  4. 5 stars
    This salad is so, so good! The dressing is my favorite part–I could probably just chug the dressing! I have never tried Colby cheese by itself before, but it’s delicious. I did find, though, that I couldn’t really taste the cheese in the salad, so the second time I made this, I left the cheese out to reduce some of the fat, and I never missed it. Overall, this is an amazing salad and combination of flavors!

  5. 5 stars
    This is a great salad! I served it for a extended family lunch with your chicken enchilada recipe!

  6. I want to make this for 120 girls at camp for lunch, adding chopped seasoned chicken for a main dish, and maybe leaving out the avocados. Any ideas on amounts for the ingredients?

    1. Hi Suzi,
      I have made this for Girl’s Camp and it was a huge hit. The avocados are essential in my opinion! I’m not sure what else you are serving, but one way to calculate how much you need is to make a test batch at home before hand. Then, portion out servings as you would at camp. If you are serving this as a main dish and are serving say, 1.5 cups per person, then plate it out and see if the portion is adequate. Then count how many servings you get per single recipe. You should be able to figure out quantity of ingredients you need accordingly. Hope this helps! Also, make sure to take a look at the Girls Camp post on ABK if you haven’t already. Good luck and Thanks for reading ABK,

  7. 5 stars
    I made this for our family reunion while camping. It was delicious. I made the dressing ahead of time at home and did half mayo half plain yogurt. Very tasty. Easy and delicious.

  8. 5 stars
    Sooooooo good! I added some shredded chicken to make it a dinner for me and my husband and we both love it! I’m definitely recommend it to all my friends and family! Thank you.

  9. 5 stars
    This is my go to salad recipe! Always turns out amazing and is so yummy! I have received so many compliments on it! Even my husband who is not a salad fan asks for this one!

  10. 5 stars
    Just made this for dinner and it was delicious! My 7-year-old had two bowls and my husband said this is his new favorite dressing. Thank you!

  11. 5 stars
    Love this salad and the dressing is so delicious! Have used the dressing separately on chicken as well. So good!!

  12. I really love this recipe! To me, it’s simple and easy to follow so is one of my fav on this website.

  13. 5 stars
    Hands down favorite salad recipe! Used it so much I have the recipe memorized 🙂

  14. 5 stars
    I was lucky enough to go to girls camp the year that @abountifulkitchen was in charge of the food and this salad was one of my favorite meals of the week. It has now become a classic in my travel meal plans! It is fresh, delicious and filling! Love it!!