Add a pop of color to your plate with this Mexican Salad recipe! It’s loaded with black beans, jalapeno, cotija cheese, corn, and red bell pepper, and then gets tossed with a Cilantro Lime Vinaigrette. It is an absolute flavor bomb!
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The BEST Mexican Salad
This Mexican Salad recipe is the perfect healthy lunch or dinner! It’s loaded with fresh veggies and is super easy to make. I made this chopped kale salad without meat however you could always serve this with chicken, steak, or fish to make it even more filling. This recipe comes together in less than 20 minutes and is perfect for sharing at a bbq or potluck, or add it to tacos and burritos!
For the dressing, I use freshly squeezed lime juice, honey, olive oil, cilantro, and garlic. It’s light and refreshing and the perfect complement to this Mexican salad. I recommend making a double batch of the vinaigrette – it goes on literally everything!
This is a great salad recipe for meal prep, especially work lunches. Store the vinaigrette separately and it’ll keep really well for up to 4 days! This Mexican salad already has a little protein included from the black beans, but I like to amp up the protein with grilled chicken, fish, or shrimp for a well-rounded meal that’ll keep you going until dinner.
Key Ingredients for this Mexican Salad Recipe
- Kale: I chose kale as the green in this recipe as it holds up crispy and fresh really well and doesn’t get limp quickly.
- Red bell pepper: Red bell pepper adds a pop of color and flavor. You can substitute another sweet bell pepper, like yellow or orange if desired.
- Corn: Corn is used throughout Mexican cuisine and is a staple in their kitchens, so I just had to toss some corn into my salad. It adds a delicious sweetness.
- Black beans: Black beans are another Mexican staple, bringing in some hearty protein. Another kind of bean-like pinto beans or chickpeas would be a great substitute.
- Cilantro: Fresh, herby flavor comes from the cilantro.
- Cotija cheese: Cojita cheese is creamy and tangy at the same time. I love it! If you can’t find cojita cheese, feta is a good alternative.
- Jalapeno: Just a little heat! Skip it if you’re not a fan of heat.
For the Cilantro Lime Vinaigrette:
- Lime juice: Lime juice is puckeringly addictive in this cilantro lime dressing! Lemons would be okay too, but limes are preferred for this recipe.
- Olive oil: This is the base of the vinaigrette, along with the lime juice. It helps to cut the tartness and also adds a little richness.
- Honey: Also helping to cut the tartness, honey is our sweet note in this vinaigrette.
- Garlic and cilantro: Fresh herbs pack in so much flavor! The freshness of the garlic and cilantro help to balance all of the other flavors.
How to make this Mexican Salad Recipe
Start by prepping the kale. Wash and dry the kale thoroughly. Add the kale to a large bowl and drizzle with oil. Massage the kale with the oil. (This helps soften up the kale and makes it tender!) Top the salad with diced red bell pepper, black beans, corn (I like to grill my corn or saute it before putting it on the salad. It adds so much more flavor!), cilantro, cotija cheese, and jalapeños. Serve immediately with a drizzle of the homemade cilantro lime vinaigrette.
How to make Cilantro Lime Vinaigrette
This vinaigrette goes great on everything! It is the perfect balance of sweet and tangy. To make the dressing simply whisk together fresh lime juice, extra-virgin olive oil, garlic, honey, and cilantro in a small bowl. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Set it aside until you are ready to dress the Mexican Salad!
Tips for Success
- If you can’t find Cojita cheese use feta instead. It’s a little firmer and tangier, but it works really well in this Mexican Salad recipe.
- If you’re saving it for later keep the dressing separate and store the Mexican Salad in a container lined with a damp but not soaking wet paper towel. It helps to keep the fresh vegetables crisp for longer. A dry paper towel will dry them out, a soaking wet one will make them mushy.
Store this Mexican Salad recipe in an airtight container for up to 4 days. Line the container with a damp but not soaking wet paper towel before adding the salad. Store the vinaigrette separately.
What to serve with Mexican Salad
- Mexican Chicken Rice Bake
- Slow Cooker Mexican Beef
- One Pan Mexican Pasta
- Mexican Stuffed Shells
- Slow Cooker Mexican Chicken
- Instant Pot Barbacoa Beef
- Homemade Croutons
Here are more healthy salad recipes to try!
Mexican Kale Salad
Mexican Kale Salad
Mexican Kale Salad
- Prep the kale by washing and drying.
- Add the kale to a large bowl and drizzle with oil. Massage the kale with the oil. (This helps soften up the kale)
- Top the salad with the rest of the ingredients.
- Serve immediately with a drizzle of the cilantro lime vinaigrette.
Cilantro Lime Vinaigrette
- Whisk all of the ingredients together in a small bowl. Season with salt and pepper to taste.