Dive into a burst of flavors with this Southwest Salad with Creamy Chipotle Dressing that’s not just a treat for your taste buds but a feast for your eyes too! This salad is a gorgeous, colorful medley of ingredients combined with an irresistible creamy chipotle dressing – it’s like a flavor fiesta in your mouth! Feel free to be the master chef and mix and match whichever ingredients you like most. This salad isn’t just a meal; it’s a whole vibe!

overhead image of a southwest salad with a small container of dressing on top

Why You’ll Love This Recipe

  • Quick and Easy – All you have to do is combine the ingredients, and your meal is ready in minutes!
  • Make Ahead – This southwest salad is great to make ahead of time and keep in the fridge for packed lunches and quick dinners. 
  • Versatile – Although we provide an ingredient list, you can mix and match any ingredients you have on hand to make this recipe fit your needs. 
  • Crowd-Pleasing – Bright in color, not only is this salad beautiful but it’s also loaded with plenty of texture and bold flavor for one crowd-pleasing recipe.

Ingredients You’ll Need

Inspired by restaurant recipes, this southwest salad features a variety of absolutely delicious yet affordable ingredients for taste and texture that’s out-of-this-world. Grab your forks and get ready to dive into the amazing fresh flavors of this salad without breaking your budget!

For the Southwest Salad

  • Quinoa – This forms the base of the salad, creating extra texture and adding a good source of plant-based protein and fiber. 
  • Fresh Produce – Cherry tomatoes, red onion, cilantro, and avocado create a rainbow of colors while adding refreshing flavor and loads of nutrients. 
  • Beans – We prefer to use either pinto or black beans.
  • Chips – Blue corn tortilla chips add extra crunch and a hint of saltiness you’ll love. 
  • Corn – Frozen or fresh corn adds just a hint of sweetness. 

For the Creamy Chipotle Southwest Salad Dressing

  • Chipotle Peppers in Adobo Sauce – These form the base of the dressing, packing in unbelievable flavor and an irresistible spice. 
  • Sour Cream – This is the key to creating a creamy consistency! For the best results, we recommend using a full-fat option. Or, if preferred, Greek yogurt works as well.  
  • Apple Cider Vinegar – The acidity in the vinegar helps balance out the rest of the ingredients, tying the dressing together. 
  • Lime Juice – Included for a light, refreshing taste. 
  • Honey – Used to balance out the peppers for the perfect blend of sweet and spicy tastes. 
  • Spices – Cumin, chili powder, garlic powder, onion powder, and paprika enhance the dressing, providing a warm, unbeatable southwest flavor. 

Recipe Variations

One great thing about our scrumptious southwest salad recipe is that you can easily swap out ingredients! Whether you don’t like a specific ingredient, don’t have something on hand, or simply want to use some leftovers, feel free to mix things up. Here are some suggestions for how to shake up this recipe:

  • Make it dairy-free by swapping out the sour cream for plain plant-based yogurt. 
  • Use shallots, green onions, or white onions in place of red onions. 
  • Replace the quinoa with rice or couscous instead. 
  • Add extra veggies like red bell peppers, cucumber, carrots, mushrooms, or anything you prefer. 
  • Use any other bean or a mixture of your favorites. Sometimes, we use beans that are marinated. Other times, we simply rinse them off straight from the can. 
  • Feel free to mix up the salad base! Spinach is a great way to add extra nutrients, but arugula or Romaine lettuce work as well. 
  • Add extra protein to make a southwest chicken salad. Or, include steak, shrimp, or tempeh instead! 
  • Make it extra creamy with the addition of your favorite cheese such as feta, blue cheese, or Cheddar cheese. 
close up image of a bowl of dressing on top of a southwest salad

How to Make the Best Southwest Salad

There’s nothing better than a quick meal, right? When you’re looking for a fast way to fill up or squash your cravings, this salad is ready to swoop in and save the day.

  1. Prepare the Salad. Combine all of the ingredients for the salad base in a large bowl. 
  2. Make the Dressing. Add the ingredients for the chipotle dressing to the bowl of a food processor or blender. Pulse until smooth. 
  3. Toss. Pour the dressing over the salad, and toss to combine, making sure everything is well coated. 
  4. Enjoy! Serve the salad right away. 
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03/13/2024 02:04 pm GMT

Southwest Salad Common Questions

What is quinoa? 

A pseudo-grain, quinoa is a nutrient powerhouse that happens to form the base of this salad. A plant-based ingredient, quinoa is loaded with fiber, plant-based protein, iron, and vitamin E, making it super filling and a great addition to any diet, plant-based or not! For more information about the benefits of quinoa, keep reading here

Can I make this recipe in advance? 

This southwest salad recipe is best served right away. However, if you want to prepare it in advance, it can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. Just be sure to keep the salad and dressing separate, combining them just before you’re ready to eat. 

What should I serve with southwest salad? 

A well-rounded recipe full of carbs, protein, and fiber, this salad is a satisfying meal all on its own. However, if you want to serve it as a side as part of a complete meal, try pairing it with roasted red pepper and cauliflower soup, crock pot chicken fajitas, cheesy garlic bread, and more!   

overhead image of a southwest salad with creamy chipotle dressing

More Healthy Salad Recipes 

If salads are a regular part of your meal rotation, we have great news for you! We’ve got more recipes that are not just easy; they’re the rockstars of simplicity, just like our southwest salad.

southwest salad with creamy chipotle dressing

Southwest Salad with Creamy Chipotle Dressing

5 from 1 vote
Author: Food Dolls
Servings: 4 servings
Prep: 20 minutes
Total: 20 minutes
Colorful, nutritious, and so delicious, this easy Southwest Salad with Creamy Chipotle Dressing is guaranteed to become a new favorite recipe! Mix and match your favorite ingredients to satisfy all your cravings, and serve it on its own or with your favorite sides for a satisfying make-ahead meal.


For the Southwest Salad:

  • 1 cup uncooked quinoa cooked according to package instructions
  • 1 cup grape tomatoes sliced
  • 1 14-ounce can pinto beans or black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1/2 medium red onion thinly sliced
  • 1/4 cup fresh cilantro chopped
  • 1 cup frozen roasted corn thawed
  • 1 medium avocado sliced
  • 1 cup blue corn tortilla chips

For the Creamy Chipotle Dressing:

  • 4 ounces canned chipotle peppers in adobo sauce
  • 8 ounces sour cream
  • 2 Tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • ½ lime juiced (approx 2 Tablespoons)
  • 1 Tablespoon honey
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon paprika


  • Cook the quinoa according to package instructions.
    1 cup uncooked quinoa
  • In a large bowl, combine the ingredients for the salad. Set aside.
    1 cup grape tomatoes, 1 14-ounce can pinto beans or black beans, rinsed and drained, 1/2 medium red onion, 1/4 cup fresh cilantro, 1 cup frozen roasted corn, 1 medium avocado, 1 cup blue corn tortilla chips
  • In the bowl of a high-speed blender or food processor, add the ingredients for the dressing. Pulse until well-combined and smooth.
    4 ounces canned chipotle peppers in adobo sauce, 8 ounces sour cream, 2 Tablespoons apple cider vinegar, ½ lime, 1 Tablespoon honey, 1 teaspoon cumin, 1 teaspoon chili powder, 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder, 1/4 teaspoon onion powder, 1/4 teaspoon paprika
  • Pour the dressing over the salad ingredients in the bowl, and toss to combine.
  • Serve immediately.
  • Store the salad and dressing in separate airtight containers in the fridge for up to 3 days.


Serving: 1serving | Calories: 660kcal | Carbohydrates: 90g | Protein: 18g | Fat: 28g | Saturated Fat: 8g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 6g | Monounsaturated Fat: 10g | Trans Fat: 0.02g | Cholesterol: 33mg | Sodium: 132mg | Potassium: 1065mg | Fiber: 18g | Sugar: 12g | Vitamin A: 1086IU | Vitamin C: 17mg | Calcium: 150mg | Iron: 6mg

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

Like this recipe?Please leave a comment!

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Meet Alia & Radwa

Welcome to Food Dolls! We’re so glad you found us. We are Alia and Radwa, sisters who want to share simple and easy recipes with you. We hope you find recipes here that you enjoy making as much as we do! Learn more about us!

5 from 1 vote

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Recipe Rating


  1. 5 stars
    This recipe is so so good!!! I used the unsweetened coconut milk yogurt to keep it vegan, and chipotle salsa (because I was out of chipotle peppers), and it turned out delicious! It’s our family’s new favorite for the summer – lighter and fresher Taco Tuesday 😊

    1. Hi Jackie,

      We love the subbing of coconut milk yogurt! Glad that this recipe was a hit!

      Alia & Radwa