Southwestern Chopped Salad with Cilantro Lime Dressing — Damn Delicious

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Southwestern Chopped Salad with Cilantro Lime Dressing

A tex-mex style salad with an incredibly creamy Greek yogurt cilantro dressing that will knock your socks off!

I’m happy to report that after 11 days into 2014, I am still well into my salad phase – BBQ chicken salad, Asian cobb salad, kale salad, you name it. But with a bunch of cilantro left over in the fridge, I just had to make a cilantro-type dressing. And boy am I glad I did because this is one of the creamiest, most flavorful dressings I have ever made.

Not to mention, the dressing comes together so quickly and easily with the help of a food processor. Simply drop everything into your handy dandy food processor – I love using my Magimix for this – pulse, and that’s it!

You can definitely adjust the amount of olive oil for a a thinner dressing. I didn’t want mine too thick so that’s what the recipe here reflects. Either way, this goes so perfectly in this tex-mex style salad loaded with corn, beans, tomatoes, avocado and tortilla strips. It’s quickly become a favorite of ours, and we’ve had it almost every day this week!

Southwestern Chopped Salad with Cilantro Lime Dressing

Yield: 2 servings

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Total Time: 15 minutes

A tex-mex style salad with an incredibly creamy Greek yogurt cilantro dressing!


  • 5 cups chopped romaine lettuce
  • 1/2 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 1/2 cup canned corn kernels, drained
  • 1/2 cup canned black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro leaves
  • 1 avocado, halved, seeded, peeled and diced
  • 1/4 cup tortilla strips, for garnish

For the cilantro lime dressing

  • 1 cup loosely packed cilantro, stems removed
  • 1/2 cup plain Greek yogurt
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • Juice of 1 lime
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar


  1. To make the cilantro lime dressing, combine cilantro, Greek yogurt, garlic, lime juice and salt in the bowl of a food processor. With the motor running, add olive oil and vinegar in a slow stream until emulsified; set aside.
  2. To assemble the salad, place romaine lettuce in a large bowl; top with tomatoes, corn, black beans and cilantro. Pour the dressing on top of the salad and gently toss to combine. Stir in avocado.
  3. Serve immediately, garnished with tortillas trips, if desired.

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Omg I am So MAD at myself! Earlier today I pitched this HUGE head of cilantro. I had bought it for another recipe, I figured there was nothing I was going to do w/ that much, it was about 1-2 days before it would have gone bad & I was taking out the trash and out it went. And now i see this dressing. I will be buying more just to make it if you say it’s one of the best dressings ever.

Gorgeous lighting and great salad!

Oh man, I wish I had shared this sooner – you’d love this, Averie!

NEVER pitch cilantro. I chop it up and put it in a freezer bag in the freezer. It’s not as good as fresh later, but it’s better than the freeze dried stuff and it would work beautifully in something like this. 🙂

I keep my cilantro in a glass of water in the fridge. Trim the stems and replace water every once in a while and it stays fresh for a while 🙂

Awesome Tip! thanks for sharing that!

I can testify to the efficacy of this method for most fresh herbs. I’ve had parsley and cilantro last more than a month in the fridge when kept stem-side-down in a jar of water.

Cilantro is hands down my favorite and I am making this dressing today! Looks amazing!

I think I’ll put this on my dinner menu for next week! It sounds sooooo yummy. I’ll probably have to have a burrito on the side for my big hungry husband, but that’ll work fine. 🙂

Thanks for sharing!

I just bought a big bunch of cilantro! Gotta try this dressing!

Yum! What a great collection of flavours. Love the dressing, too!

In love with this cilantro lime dressing idea! Do you have an idea of how long it may keep in the fridge??

I love chopped salads and I’m all about cilantro so I can’t wait to try this!

Hi Chung-AH!
I know that I am in the minority here–but I have a huge aversion to cilantro-Yuck! (It’s about the only food I can’t stand-along with beef liver!) Can I substitute parsley! What do you think?
Mary T

Yes, you can certainly substitute parsley. But I should let you know that the parsley dressing will have a much more milder taste than the cilantro one.

I am liking your recipes but I am beginning to like you too!

For some people, cilantro tastes like soap. My daughter is one of these people.

I was, too, the first time I tried it, but now I LOVE cilantro (must be all the Thai and Mexican foods I regularly eat).

This salad looks perfect. I love that dressing. Pass me a bowl. Pinned.

I love anything with a lime dressing – I’m a sucker for tart, pucker up dressings. Yum! And I love all the ingredients in here (except avo, I’m allergic!). Definitely pinning and whipping this up someday!

In love with this chop salad with cilantro dressing! Drooling!

This sounds fabulous however I’m allergic to dairy, any idea what I could use instead of Greek yogurt

A soy yogurt would be an excellent substitute for the Greek yogurt. Hope that helps!

Use an avocado or two – it works and tastes way better.

Love, love, love! Chung-Ah, I want this today for Sunday Brunch! You are amazing, girl. Thanks for sharing. Pinning (everywhere)!

My mouth is watering just thinking about this salad. The dressing looks delicious too, but I’m wondering if there’s a way to make it a little lighter? I’m counting weight watchers points, and one serving of this dressing is 8 points, almost entirely from the olive oil. Any ideas? Thanks.

You can cut down on the olive oil and apple cider vinegar. I used these amounts for a more runny yet creamy dressing but by cutting down on the liquids, the dressing will be thicker and creamier. I hope that helps!

Ooh, what a beautiful salad! I could totally eat healthy without any problems if it was all like this. 🙂

So glad you enjoyed the salad!

Thank you for such an amazing recipe!

I want this! Let’s have a salad date asap!

My New Year’s resolution was to eat out less, so I have been making lots of recipes from your blog. This one is next on my list! Your photos look mouthwatering!

Haha, your blog name is a perfect way to describe that dressing!! 🙂

Any idea how long I can store the dressing in the fridge for? Thanks for the awesome recipie!

Sindy, this should last several days in the fridge.

Made this last night, Omg so delicious, even the hubby liked it! !! Added some chicken do it was more of an entrée, sooo good! !

This looks amazing! I have been doing the mason jar salads for my lunch during the week, does anyone know if this would work as one of those type of salads?

I’m a little late to the game, but this DEFINITELY works as jar salad (I’m actually eating one at my desk right now!) I would keep the tortilla chips separate–I just put a baggie of tortilla chips in my workbag. By the end of my commute, they are perfectly smashed into salad-friendly pieces 🙂 I usually add some heartier veggies like jicama, radishes, carrots, etc. above the dressing as a barrier.

So excited to have this in my jar rotation!

Broccoli and cilantro are my favorites, and I am so excited to make them tomorrow and the day after…….YESS.

I am so happy to find this recipe. I saw the picture and thought, Oh no, it has mayonnaise, then I read the ingredients and saw Greek yogurt. That made me so happy! It is very healthy. I’m going to try it this week. Thanks!

I’m so glad! Let me know how it turns out!

Between the avocado and 1/4 c olive oil, it would be 400 Fat calories PER SERVING.

Ruth, this is actually an incorrect depiction of calories. Although the recipe states that the salad serves 2, you can really stretch this out to 3-4 servings, and the dressing certainly makes more for 2 servings.

Avocado and olive oil are the good fats necessary for our body to maintain elasticity in our skin. Saturated fat is the culprit. There are healthy fats and none healthy fats.
Animal fats are what we want to limit ourselves too, and vegetable fats are your friend!

This was the best article I’ve read all week.

This looks amazing… I am so glad I found your website. I have already made about 6 of your dishes and they were fantastic. I love your flavors as they are so in tune with mine! I get such inspiration and yummy ideas from you! Thank you for such good work!

Thank you for being such a loyal reader! 🙂

I cant wait to make this.
…I went to Print so I could take your recipe to the store to shop, but my PRINT comes up blank…? any ideas? Thanks.

Nevermind…It came up to PRINT! I’m running this recipe to the store right now! I can’t wait to make this one. Thanks!

Do you know the calorie count for this amazing salad? Thanks

Erin, unfortunately, as I am not a registered dietician, I am not comfortable sharing nutritional information of my recipes. Please use online resources to obtain such information.

I don’t know how I found your blog but I am SO glad I did. The sauce was amazing, and the whole salad was just perfect. We served it with a little ham

I made this tonight. It was AMAZING. The dressing is perfection….although to reduce calories, I think I’ll reduce the olive oil next time. We added chicken and chopped red peppers. I can’t wait to have it again!

This was delicious! The dressing was so good. I made it early in the afternoon and let the flavors chill and blend prior to serving. I also used Emeril’s Southwestern rub recipe (found anywhere on the web) on a skinless and boneless chicken breast and sauteed it in a little olive oil. I would have grilled it–but too cold right now! I sliced it on the bias and served it on top of the salad. What a lovely presentation and so yummy! Hubby thought it was the best. Thanks for sharing this!

Thank you so much for posting a review!

This dressing is soooooo good! I love cilantro, so this is just the perfect dressing for me!

Do you buy the tortilla strips pre-made? Where can I find these? Thank you for your recipes. Everything I have tried so far is fabulous. I am sharing your site with my friends!

You can find tortilla strips at your local grocery store by the salads. If you cannot find them, you can always use crushed up tortilla chips.

Made this dressing and salad tonight. O. M. G. I am in love! Thank you so much for sharing!

I made your salad tonight. Very yummy. It’s a bowl full of sunshine.
Thanks for sharing the recipe.

love your recipes…..

everything seems healthy

Holy cow this looks amazing!
I’m going to layer this in mason jars and take it to work!

I just stumbled on your site, and I think I’m in love!
Your pictures are gorgeous and your recipes are easy but look tasty.
Keep up the good work!

I made this today and was really excited to make it but I think that 2 tablespoons of vinegar is a bit much. It is a bit strong with the vinegar and lime, depending on how much lime juice your lime gives. I added a half of an avocado to mine just to thin it out. Thanks for the recipe.

Chung-ah, I love your blog. I’m diabetic, asian and just started doing low carb (read “I stopped eating rice”). I thought that would be tougher than it has been. I’ve pinned so many of your recipes but haven’t tried any till today because one of my arms is in a cast. So I talked my husband through making your cilantro lime dressing. Didn’t have any apple cider vinegar, only red wine. It is still so tasty! And hubby loves it too! I think the apple cider would give it a bit of sweetness. Anyway, I’m so happy I find your blog! Can’t wait to see what you post next!

I found this recipe because I was looking to add to a Kroger brand Fresh Selection Chopped Southwest Salad kit. It contains cabbage, romaine lettuce, pumpkin seeds, green onions and tortilla strips, cilantro WITH a creamy cilantro dressing. It is delicious but not enough dressing was included. I offer this information because cabbage is a nice change and is much like a cole slaw that you could pass at a pot luck.

So very good! The dressing the BEST I’ve tasted in awhile, creamy, bursting with flavor and healthy. I used roasted corn instead of canned, 0 fat Greek Yogurt and 1/8 cup olive oil instead of 1/4 cup and it still was the perfect consistency for me. Fabulous! Thank you for sharing.

Hi hi! Thanks for sharing the recipe! I just made it for dinner tonight. It was a bit too much garlic for me, but omitting the garlic I would definitely make it again! I also added some extra sharp white cheddar and it was great.

Loved the dressing! I added an avocado to mine because I’m an avocado addict (seriously, I have a problem). It turned out SUPER delicious!! Thanks for sharing!

LOVED the dressing! I also added some avocado to the salad. My husband loved it so much, he actually requested it for his lunch the next day. Its a great salad to kick off the summer with. Thank you so much for sharing!

I picked up my CSA produce basket yesterday and was looking for something different to make with the salad greens, heirloom tomatoes and avocado, and am so glad I found this Cilantro Lime dressing. I had all the ingredients on hand and just made your recipe. So-o good! And not just for the Southwest Salad, but for Fish Tacos. Thanks!

I was craving a chopped salad and found this recipe. It was amazing and so easy! I added shredded chicken seasoned with taco seasonings, purple onions and mozzarella cheese as a topping. I now think I’d like to marry this salad! So dang good and I’ll make it again.

Im going to try out this dressing tonight! I dont have any apple cider vinegar though, is there white vinegar in a smaller amount an okay substitution? Other wise ill go hunt me down a small bottle of apple cider vinegar.

I highly recommend using apple cider vinegar.

Holy cow, thanks so much for posting this! It is gonna be so helpful when I get Avocado Oil at the grocery store! Super Fabulous!

I made this last night – it was AMAZING! I have to admit, when I tried the dressing by itself after I first made it, I didn’t like the taste. Neither did my husband. It was just weird or had a weird aftertaste or something. But on the salad, it must have had just the right combination of ingredients, because it was fabulous! We added shredded cheese, grilled chicken, and diced green onion, because we love those on our salads. This recipe is fantastic, and I will definitely have it in the regular rotation with the dressing.

Made this for dinner tonight, and it was so easy and delicious! I will definitely be making this again!

I made this for a family dinner and got so many compliments on it! It was absolutely delicious and packed full of fresh ingredients. Will definitely be making this again. I did have one question though – the dressing packs a surprising punch. It tasted…spicy? That’s not quite the right word but if you understand what I’m referring to, do you have any thoughts on how to cut back the punch? I’m a little concerned about using this dressing for a crowd that doesn’t like spice at all. Thanks!

Amy, there really isn’t any ingredient that packs in a kick of heat, but feel free to add a tiny bit of sugar (start with 1/2 teaspoon) to balance out the flavors to taste. Hope that helps!

Made your salad for the 4th…nummy!! I had a few leftovers the next day and I added some tuna flakes to it…was very good!! Going to add some chicken next time…Can’t wait to make again!

This was phenomenal! Can’t wait to try some of your other recipes.

Tried out the dressing tonight and its absolutely delicious. Look forward to trying out your other recipes!!

I made the salad dressing for a Southwest Steak salad and it was a BIG HIT! Even my mom, who is not fond of cilantro enjoyed it. It is fresh and tasty and super easy to make.

Any way to make this without apple cider vinegar? Do you have any idea if theres something easy to substitute that with and what it would taste like without it?

The apple cider vinegar is a key ingredient in this recipe. I do not recommend substituting or omitting.

I added too much yogurt, how can I thin the dressing out without changing the taste?

I recommend adding a little bit of all the ingredients to make sure the flavors are balanced.

I just made this last night for dinner and I’m so sad it’s gone after becoming leftovers for lunch. Rather than getting a rotisserie chickenI grilled chicken smothered in a mole sauce the night before. I diced everything up just before serving and tossed it all together but left the avocado and dressing on the side. I only wish I had made a double batch of the dressing because it was so good. I already plan to make this again for the week. Such a great work salad to get me through the day!

Delicious! Just ate this for lunch. I wish I had more cilantro…I’d make more immediately!

how long would this last?

Because this is a salad, I would imagine that the shelf life would not last for longer than 24 hrs.

This recipe looks absolutely amazing. The dressing sounds divine. I cannot wait to try this.

I made this salad earlier this week and loved it (I am a huge fan of your site and probably make at least one thing a week from it!). I had left over dressing and used it later in the week to dress some coleslaw for fish tacos – was a great change from my usual white balsamic, olive oil and lime juice dressing I usually use.

Love all your recipes and easy to follow directions!

I am going to try this recipe this week. Do you think I could sub avocado for the greek yogurt in the dressing? I just dont typically buy greek yogurt because it’s expensive. Avocados are usually cheap where I shop and I try to eat a plant-based diet. I think I’ll give it a try and let you know how it turns out.

I tried it with the avocado in the dressing and it was delicious!

This is the best dressing!! I have it on so many different salads. Thank you for posting this recipe!

I was very excited about this recipe as I’m going away for a college reunion and am bringing a chopped salad. However, I found the salad dressing recipe too garlicly, too much olive oil flavor and lacking in lime flavor. Followed it faithfully, but next time I’ll use half the garlic, a lighter olive oil and triple the amount of lime and will be sure to include the zest. Think then it will be to my liking.

Liz, please feel free to adjust the amounts as needed to suit your preferences – that’s the beauty of home cooking, right?

This salad was perfection. Thank you.

Love baking with little foil packets and especially with salmon. Copper River Salmon goes pretty quick as it’s season is gone before you can blink, but Costco usually carries it. This looks sensational. Thanks!

This salad is amazing! Not the lightest in calories but definitely a delicious meal!

It actually is pretty light in calories for a dinner! Go ahead and count them up – truly not bad at all!

LOVE the dressing, it is so so so good. Random question – can it be frozen and thawed in the fridge? I never go through all of the dressing (gotta use the whole head of cilantro!) and I don’t want it to go to waste.

​Unfortunately, I cannot answer this with certainty as I have never tried freezing this myself – there were no leftovers left to freeze! Please use your best judgment for freezing and reheating.

How long can I store this dressing in the refrigerator? This looks so good…

Methods for optimal food storage and shelf life should be based on good judgment and what you are personally comfortable with.

I love this salad!! So simple but so so soooo good. I make this for dinner all the time. I like to break up regular tortilla chips instead of buying the tiny crouton bags of “tortilla strips” which are way marked up in price. I cut the oil in half only because I’d rather get those calories in the form of extra avocado! 🙂 Thanks so much for this great favorite recipe!

Can I replace the vinager with something else or just remove it?

Unfortunately, without further recipe testing, I cannot answer with certainty. As always, please use your best judgment.

This salad recipe looks so yummy that I just had to feature it in my “Sensational Summer Salads” roundup! Come check it out when you have a chance 🙂 xo

This looked so good but I was disapponted in the cilantro lime dressing 🙁 I only made a 1/2 of recipe so maybe that is why but not a big fan of the dressing.

Same, it was a little lacking in flavor for me.

I added a roasted poblano pepper to the dressing. It was delicious.

Just made this salad for dinner; wife loved it.

Do you think it would be okay to sub guacamole for the avocado? and how could I prepare this for 15 people ahead of time? Just keep the various ingredients separately and have them put it together??

Is nobody else concerned that this is a nearly 600 calorie salad?

Just made this salad for dinner and it was delicious. My only modification – I added red onion.
Thank you. I will make a lot more often and the recipe share with my friends.

I just doubled this recipe for a dinner party and it was great. All I added was some cumin to the dressing. Delicious!

Looks amazing! Does this salad work with plan yogurt? I don’t have have Greek on hand.

The salad is delicious. Thanks for sharing.

One word: WOW. This dressing is AMAZING! I just can not explain how amazing it tastes. I will make it in a bottle and store it in my fridge. Thank you for sharing it – one of the best recipes I’ve come through ever.

Is there a substitute for the avocado, or can it be left out completely? I don’t like the taste of avocado.

Drag out the food processor-you won’t regret it…the dressing is amazing! Re calorie concerns, I found

3tbs of dressing was adequate and used a few crushed baked tortilla scoops. Topped with sautéed chicken breast strips to make it a meal – heaven. Will have for the 3rd day in a row today – thank you! And thanks to other readers for sharing tip on storing cilantro in a glass of water-genius! PS I may add chile powder and jalapeños in the dressing next time.

How many people will this serve ?
Thank you!

About 2 servings.

Can we substitute the greek yogurt with a dairy free yogurt or perhaps even do without it? I’m going dairy free!

A dairy-free yogurt would be a great substitute!

I made this last night for dinner and it was super yummy! I added chopped red bell pepper because I had it on hand.

Great! Thanks for sharing with us!

Hi Chungah! Your website of recipes is great! This cilantro lime dressing is perfect – even though I did substitute mayonais bc/ I didn’t have plain Greek yogurt – not as healthy, but delicious. I love to cook and am constantly searching and googling for recipes and your site has become a trusted “go to” website. You really always nail it! Thank you!
What a wonderful life you live – cooking, blogging, California and your dog. I’m so envious.

You’re so sweet, thank you for your feedback Jen!

Come join me in my culinary adventures where we’ll be using simple, fresh ingredients and transforming them into sophisticated and elegant meals for the everyday home cook.

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