This Mexican salad is loaded with delicious ingredients for tons of flavor, like fresh corn, black beans, avocado, tomatoes, and more, all topped with a creamy cilantro-lime dressing the whole family will love. Great as a side dish or top with chicken, steak, or salmon for a main course!
What Makes This Mexican Salad So Good
- Mexican salad looks (and tastes) complex, but it couldn’t be easier to make! The whole recipe comes together in 20 minutes, give or take.
- There’s this amazing crunch from the tortilla strips and pepitas that adds a great complementary texture to the rest of the salad. Pair that with the crisp tomatoes and onion, the buttery avocado, and the meaty black beans, and every bite is exciting. Our popular cilantro-lime dressing is just the thing to tie it all together!
- It’s hearty and flavorful enough to enjoy all on its own, but it’s also a perfect side dish for salmon, chicken, and steak!
- It’s great for meal prepping, or you can make it ahead of your dinner or event. The Mexican salad will keep in the fridge (in an airtight container) up to 4 days, and the cilantro-lime dressing will keep up to 5 days. If you’re not planning to eat the entire salad as soon as you make it, keep the salad and the dressing separate so the salad doesn’t get soggy. You may want to skip the avocado entirely or wait to slice it until you’re ready to eat it, so it doesn’t brown in the fridge. Add the tortilla strips at the last minute, too!
Key Ingredients for Mexican Salad
Corn Tortillas – The key to really crispy, crunchy tortilla strips is to use corn tortillas, not flour. They fry up perfectly! Not sure how to use the remaining tortillas? Try out these healthy chicken tostadas from our sister site, Easy Healthy Recipes!
Corn – Frozen or canned corn will work well in this Mexican salad, but I really love the flavor you get from grilling fresh ears of corn. You could also broil the corn or use it raw!
Black Beans – I used canned black beans in this salad for ease, but you can use fresh if you prefer! We’ve got a great Instant Pot Black Beans recipe that’ll pretty much rock your world. If you use canned, just be sure to drain and rinse them really well, so you get rid of the excess sodium.
Pepitas – These crunchy little seeds are full of nutrients, antioxidants, and healthy fats. You can pick up roasted salted pepitas at the store, or use raw pepitas and season and roast them yourself. If you can’t find pepitas, skip them altogether, or sub them with sunflower seeds, pine nuts, or chopped almonds.
- For a variation, mix in a little Mexican shredded chicken and/or cilantro-lime cauliflower rice, for extra protein and flavor! You can switch up the veggies you use in your Mexican salad, too – roasted red peppers and jalapeños would be great here.
- Let the cilantro-lime dressing chill in the fridge at least 30 minutes, though longer is better if you have the time. This gives all the flavors time to really develop!
- Careful not to burn your tortilla strips – they’ll fry quickly! If you don’t want to pan fry them, you can bake them or air fry them instead. Super handy if you’re prepping a lot of tortilla strips. To bake them, toss them in oil & salt and spread them out on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Bake 10 minutes at 400° Fahrenheit, then flip them and bake another 5 minutes until crisp. For air fryer tortilla strips, place the strips in the air fryer basket and spray lightly with oil. Add salt and toss to coat. Air fry at 375° Fahrenheit for 8-10 minutes, shaking the basket after 4-5 minutes.
- For the best flavors in your Mexican salad, use as many fresh ingredients as you can. If you need to save some time and energy, though, you can use salad mix, store-bought tortilla strips (or even crumbled tortilla chips – I won’t tell), and frozen corn, in addition to the canned black beans.
More Delicious Salad Recipes
Hey – you’ve made it this far, and now we’re best friends! If you make this recipe, I’d love for you to give it a star rating ★ below. Make sure you follow me on Instagram, Pinterest, and Facebook, too!
Mexican Salad with Cilantro-Lime Dressing
- Food processor or blender
- Large skillet
- Paper towels
- Large salad bowl
- Tongs or salad servers (to toss and serve)
For the Cilantro-Lime Dressing
For the Tortilla Strips
- 3 corn tortillas sliced into ½-inch strips
- oil for frying
- salt to taste
For the Salad
- 1 large head romaine lettuce chopped into approximately ½-inch pieces, about 8 cups
- ¼ of one medium red onion diced, or halved and sliced thinly
- 1 cup grape tomatoes halved
- ½ of one cucumber chopped, about 1 cup
- 2 ears of corn see Notes
- 1 ½ cups canned black beans drained, rinsed
- 4-5 radishes sliced thinly
- 1 avocado peeled, pitted, sliced thin
- ½ cup queso fresco or feta, crumbled
- ¼ cup roasted salted pepitas
- finely chopped cilantro for garnish, optional
For the Cilantro-Lime Dressing
- Add jalapeño and garlic to food processor or blender and pulse until finely chopped.
- Add mayonnaise, yogurt, lime juice, honey, salt, and cilantro leaves. Pulse several times until fully blended.
- With food processor running, slowly add in oil until fully incorporated. Taste, adding more salt if necessary.
- Transfer to jar with lid and chill until ready to serve.
For the Tortilla Strips
- Heat oil in large skillet over medium-high heat.
- When oil is hot, lay strips in skillet. Work in batches if needed.
- Fry tortilla strips 3-5 minutes. Stir or flip as needed to cook evenly, careful not to burn.
- Transfer fried tortilla strips to plate lined with paper towels. Sprinkle salt over strips to taste and let rest on paper towels until oil is drained.
Assemble the Salad
- Add lettuce, onion, tomatoes, cucumber, corn, black beans, and radishes to large salad bowl and toss to distribute all ingredients as evenly as possible.
- If serving entire salad immediately, add dressing to bowl and toss to coat. If serving individual portions or if you expect leftovers, skip this step and serve the dressing separately.
- Garnish with avocado, queso fresco, pepitas, tortilla strips, and cilantro if desired.
- Serve immediately.
- Honey: For a tangier dressing with a slight hint of sweetness, use just 2 tablespoons of honey. For a sweeter, smoother dressing use 3 tablespoons up to 4.
- Corn: Cut your corn right off the cob. Grill or broil it before using it in your salad, or use it raw. You can also substitute 1 ½ – 2 cups of frozen or canned corn. Be sure to drain and rinse the canned corn first.
- Dressing: You likely won’t use all of the dressing in your salad. Refrigerate any leftover dressing in an airtight container up to 5 days.
- Make it Vegan: For the dressing, use vegan mayo and plain, dairy-free yogurt. Use maple syrup instead of honey. For the salad, skip the queso fresco or try a vegan feta in its place.
If you enjoyed this recipe, be sure to check out 40 Aprons Premium! 40 Aprons Premium offers exclusive recipes, monthly meal plans, grocery lists, and more – all completely ad free!
Cheryl Malik is the recipe developer, writer, and photographer behind the healthy, flavorful, family friendly recipes at 40 Aprons. She’s been a blogger for 10+ years and is known for her delicious recipes and detailed recipe instructions. Cheryl is a mom of three who lives in Memphis, TN.