Layered Southwestern Salad Recipe

4.89 from 9 votes
20 minutes
Jump To Recipe

Layered Southwestern Salad is a fun, updated twist on the traditional layered salad! Crispy lettuce, creamy avocado, crunchy tortilla chips, black beans, corn, juicy tomatoes, and an easy three-ingredient buttermilk dressing provide a delightful combination of textures in every bite!

Southwestern Layered Salad in glass footed bowl with salad dressing in small glass jar next to it.

Why This Recipe is a Keeper!

A layered salad with iceberg lettuce, eggs, bacon, peas, and cheese is a retro classic that has stood the test of time. Its nostalgic charm harkens back to classic American diners and potluck gatherings. This Southwestern-inspired twist on the classic layered salad will elevate your potluck salad game!

A layer of black beans combined with your favorite salsa is the flavorful foundation for this stacked salad. Then, crispy Romaine lettuce, corn, onions, tomatoes, sweet bell pepper, creamy avocado, and crunchy tortilla chips complete the layers for a visually stunning addition to your get-together.

The salsa serves two purposes: to flavor the black beans and as a component in the tangy three-ingredient buttermilk-based salad dressing.

This Layered Southwestern Salad recipe is:

  • Visually eye-catching!
  • Easy! If you can chop a few vegetables, you can make this Southwestern Layered Salad.
  • Make-ahead! Leave the tortilla chips and avocado off and add it just before serving.
  • Versatile! This is a vegetarian version but can be even more hearty with chicken, beef taco meat, or bacon.
  • Overall, very healthy!
Southwestern Layered Salad in glass footed bowl.

How to Make a Layered Southwestern Salad:

Recipe Ingredients:

Here’s everything you’ll need to make this Layered Southwestern Salad recipe, along with instructions for preparing the ingredients. The exact quantities are on the recipe card below.

Ingredients for Southwestern Layered Salad in glass bowls.

Ingredient Notes and Substitutions:

  • Black Beans: I like to use black beans because of their creamy texture, but pinto beans are a great substitute. Drain and rinse the beans, then drain again as the liquid beans are canned in (unless low-sodium or no-salt-added) can be pretty salty.
  • Salsa: Use your favorite salsa in this layered salad recipe. Half of the salsa flavors the black beans, and half is used in the buttermilk dressing.
  • Corn: I used frozen corn kernels, but fresh corn in the summertime is a delicious option. If using frozen corn, thaw under hot running tap water, then drain well and pat dry so you don’t have a soggy layered salad.
  • Romaine Lettuce: I prefer romaine lettuce here, but you can also use iceberg.
  • Sweet Bell Pepper: Use yellow, orange, or red bell pepper.
  • Cheddar Cheese: Can also use shredded Mexican blend cheese.
  • Buttermilk: Use full-fat buttermilk for the creamiest salad dressing.

Step-By-Step Instructions:

  • Gather and prep all the ingredients.
  • In a small bowl, stir together black beans and 1/2 cup salsa.
Black beans combined with salsa in glass bowl.
  • Spread across the bottom of a large serving bowl.
  • Layer the remaining salad ingredients as follows:
    • Lettuce
    • Corn
    • Red onion
    • Tomatoes
    • Bell pepper
    • Cheese
    • Avocado
    • Tortilla chips
  • Whisk together buttermilk, mayonnaise, and the remaining salsa.
  • Serve with salad.
  • Top with more diced avocado. Serve immediately.
Southwestern Layered Salad in glass footed bowl with salad dressing in glass jar.

Chef Tips and Tricks:

  • Use a glass container to show off all the layers. If you don’t have a tall glass container, a glass 13 x 9-inch pan will also work.
  • This Southwestern Layered Salad can also be layered into Mason jars or other containers (tall or shallow) for a quick grab-and-go lunch. Add the chips and avocado on your way out the door or just before you plan to eat. The avocado may discolor a bit, but it’s still safe to eat.
Southwestern Layered Salad in glass Mason jar.

Frequently Asked Questions:

Can Southwestern Layered Salad be made ahead of time?

This Southwestern Layered Salad can be assembled to the point of adding the chips and avocado. Leave the chips and avocado off the salad and add just before serving. The buttermilk dressing can be made two to three days ahead of time.

What’s the best lettuce for layered salad?

I prefer Romaine because it holds up well and is more flavorful than iceberg, but iceberg will also work well. Softer lettuce, such as butter lettuce, is not a good choice because it won’t hold up and bruises easily.

Southwestern Layered Salad in glass footed bowl.

Storage:

  • Keep refrigerated if making ahead of time. Refrigerate any leftovers.

Serve with:

More great Southwestern-inspired salad recipes you’ll love!

Get all my side salad recipes at Side Salads – From A Chef’s Kitchen.

Inspired by a recipe from The Wimpy Vegetarian.

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Southwestern Layered Salad in glass footed bowl with salad dressing in glass jar.

Southwestern Layered Salad Recipe

4.89 from 9 votes

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By: Carol | From A Chef’s Kitchen
Layered Southwestern Salad is a fun, updated twist on the traditional layered salad! Crispy lettuce, creamy avocado, crunchy tortilla chips, black beans, corn, juicy tomatoes, and an easy three-ingredient buttermilk dressing provide a delightful combination of textures in every bite!
Prep Time 20 minutes
Total Time 20 minutes
Course Main Course / Dinner Salads
Cuisine Southwestern / Mexican
Servings 4
Calories 664 kcal

Ingredients
  

Salad

  • 1 can (15-ounce) black beans - drained and rinsed
  • 1 cup salsa - divided
  • 4 cups chopped Romaine lettuce - loosely packed
  • 2 cups corn kernels - fresh or frozen (thawed if frozen)
  • 1/2 cup diced red onion
  • 1 cup halved cherry or grape tomatoes - (heaping)
  • 1 sweet bell pepper - yellow, orange or red bell pepper, diced
  • 1 cup shredded Cheddar cheese - or shredded Mexican blend cheese
  • 1 avocado - pitted and diced
  • 1 cup crumbled tortilla chips
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise

Instructions
 

  • In a small bowl, stir together black beans and 1/2 cup salsa. Spread across the bottom of a large serving bowl.
  • Layer remaining salad ingredients as follows: Lettuce, corn, red onion, tomatoes, bell pepper, cheese, avocado and tortilla chips.
  • Whisk together buttermilk, mayonnaise, and the remaining salsa. Serve dressing with salad.
  • Top with more diced avocado. Serve immediately.

Notes

MAKE AHEAD:  This Southwestern Layered Salad can be assembled to the point of adding the chips and avocado. Leave the chips and avocado off the salad and add just before serving. The buttermilk dressing can be made two to three days ahead of time.

Nutrition

Serving: 1 | Calories: 664kcal | Carbohydrates: 50g | Protein: 16g | Fat: 47g | Saturated Fat: 12g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 18g | Monounsaturated Fat: 14g | Trans Fat: 0.1g | Cholesterol: 47mg | Sodium: 1125mg | Potassium: 978mg | Fiber: 10g | Sugar: 13g | Vitamin A: 6159IU | Vitamin C: 54mg | Calcium: 354mg | Iron: 2mg

These are estimated values generated from a nutritional database using unbranded products. Please do your own research with the products you’re using if you have a serious health issue or are following a specific diet.

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Recipe Rating




8 Comments

  1. 5 stars
    We are crazy about this southwestern salad!! The simple ingredients we always have on hand make it a no-brainer and the flavor makes dinner exciting again. Great recipe!!

    1. Thanks so much, Traci!! It really is a simple salad to pull together and layering it makes it so special. Thanks again and happy you love this recipe!