Cowboy salad is loaded with goodies and flavor. It is hearty and delicious and will become the star of the dinner plate. This is no boring lettuce salad. It just might become your new favorite.
Cowboy salad is perfect for BBQs and potlucks. It is full of corn, black beans, jalapenos, cheese, and more. The simple dressing ties it all together and adds more layers of flavor.
It goes perfectly with grilled meat. We had this batch with BBQ pork chops and a tasty onion casserole.
But I enjoyed the leftovers with some tamale casserole. So it really is quite versatile.
If you like cowboy caviar, you are going to love this green salad twist on that theme. It’s just a hearty and loaded with flavor, but it is a little less dense thanks to the romaine lettuce, and the dressing adds a nice touch.
What’s in a cowboy salad?
Like most salads, this one starts off on a bed of greens. A couple of good-sized heads of Romaine act as the base.
I like to cut the lettuce in small pieces, chopped salad style. It makes the salad easy to eat and gives plenty of room for the goodies to distribute themselves.
Adding corn adds a bit of sweetness and color to the mix. I used some defrosted frozen corn, but you could drain a can of corn or even use fresh.
Black beans add great fiber and texture to the mix. Just rinse and drain a can of beans and toss them in.
Cherry tomatoes add more great color and that little bit of acidity. Of course, you could use chopped romas or whatever you have.
A little cheese makes almost anything better, and this salad is no exception. We used shredded cheddar, but queso fresco, pepper jack, or your favorite cheese would work.
Adding fresh cilantro to the mix is a great way to really add a flavorful punch. Of course, if you are one of the people who think cilantro tastes like soap, you can leave it out.
Jalapeno adds a nice bit of heat to the mix. You can use fresh, pickled, or use cowboy candy like I did. That way, they add both a bit of sweet and a bit of heat.
Avocado adds a bit of creamy richness to the mix. I like to wait until the last minute to add it in so it doesn’t oxidize, but you can leave it out if you are worried about it turning brown.
Pro Tip: If you don’t think you will eat the whole salad in one sitting, only put dressing on the part you will eat now. Put the rest in an airtight container in the refrigerator. It will last longer without the dressing.
Other Great Add Ins:
There are so many tasty things you could add to this salad if you wanted to. Here are a few suggestions:
- Bell pepper
- Red onion
- Black olives
- Grilled chicken
- Browned ground beef
- Sliced steak
Of course, you need a great salad dressing to tie this whole thing together. I decided to keep this one super simple with just mayonnaise, BBQ sauce, and a little bit of lime juice.
The mayonnaise adds a great creamy texture and helps to bring everything together. You can use Miracle Whip or something similar if you prefer.
BBQ sauce adds a big depth of flavor with almost no effort. Use your favorite sauce to add that sweet and savory flare.
A little bit of lime juice helps to cut through the richness of the mayo and BBQ sauce. It adds a little bit of acidity to help wake your taste buds up.
You can prepare the salad and the dressing ahead of time. Just don’t add the dressing until you are ready to serve. Then, drizzle it on and toss everything to coat it.
Of course you can use another dressing if you would like. An Italian dressing would work in a pinch. So would a green goddess style dressing or fiesta ranch.
How long can you store salad?
Without dressing, salad will keep for about 3 days in the refrigerator. It helps if you put a paper towel on top of the salad to absorb any extra liquid then put the lid on the container or wrap it with plastic wrap. Dressed salads usually wilt much faster.
More Great Salad Recipes
If you like this salad, you will love Frito salad. It is a classic potluck side dish, or you can make it a main dish if you add ground beef.
For a salad with more Italian flavors, try making my copycat Portillo’s chopped salad. It has greens, meat, cheese, and even a little bit of pasta for good measure!
It is hard to go wrong with a great cobb salad. In fact, they are one of my favorite salads, so I’m surprised I don’t have a recipe. Luckily, Cooking With Curls has one in case you are in the mood.
Check out my full collection of salad recipes for more tasty inspiration.
- 2 heads romaine lettuce
- 1 cup corn
- 15.25 oz. black beans rinsed and drained
- 1 pint cherry tomatoes halved
- 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
- ½ bunch cilantro chopped
- ¼ cup chopped pickled jalapenos
- 1 avocado diced
- ½ cup mayonnaise or Miracle Whip
- ¼ cup BBQ sauce
- 1 Tablespoon lime juice
- In a small bowl, stir together the mayonnaise, BBQ sauce, and lime juice. Cover and refrigerate until ready to use.
- Clean and dry romaine lettuce. Chop into small bite sized pieces. Place in a large bowl.
- Prepare all of the toppings, beside the avocado, and add to the lettuce. If serving now, go ahead and add the avocado and dressing. Otherwise cover and chill until ready to serve.
- Toss the salad with dressing when you are ready to enjoy.