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Cowboy Salad

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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.

Close up plate of cowboy salad showing lettuce with tomatoes, corn, black beans, cheese, cilantro, and creamy salad dressing.

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.

Cowboy salad on dinner plate served with a bbq pork chop and cheesy 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.

Ingredients including romaine lettuce, black beans, cherry tomatoes, cilantro, corn, cheese, jalapenos, mayonnaise, bbq sauce, and lime juice ready to be made into cowboy salad.

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.

Large bowl of lettuce topped with various toppings including corn, beans, cheese, and tomatoes with the dressing ingredients in the background.

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.

Cowboy salad topping tossed with lettuce and topped with drizzled creamy bbq dressing.

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:

  • Cucumber
  • Bell pepper
  • Red onion
  • Black olives
  • Bacon
  • Grilled chicken
  • Browned ground beef
  • Sliced steak

The Dressing

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.

Served cowboy salad on small plate with remaining salad bowl in the background.

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.

Forkful of cowboy salad with beans, tomatoes, cheese, and creamy bbq salad dressing.

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.

Close up plate of cowboy salad showing lettuce with tomatoes, corn, black beans, cheese, cilantro, and creamy salad dressing.

Cowboy Salad

Servings: 12 Servings
Author: Carlee
Cowboy salad is loaded with goodies and flavor. It is hearty, delicious and will become the star of the dinner plate. This is no boring lettuce salad, it just might become your new favorite.
4.74 from 26 ratings
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 0 minutes
Total Time 15 minutes


  • 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.
    ½ cup mayonnaise or Miracle Whip, ¼ cup BBQ sauce, 1 Tablespoon lime juice
  • Clean and dry romaine lettuce. Chop into small bite sized pieces. Place in a large bowl.
    2 heads romaine lettuce
  • 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.
    1 cup corn, 15.25 oz. black beans, 1 pint cherry tomatoes, 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese, ½ bunch cilantro, ¼ cup chopped pickled jalapenos, 1 avocado
  • Toss the salad with dressing when you are ready to enjoy.


Serving: 1servingCalories: 399kcalCarbohydrates: 63gProtein: 24gFat: 7gSaturated Fat: 3gPolyunsaturated Fat: 4gCholesterol: 9mgSodium: 177mgFiber: 23gSugar: 5g

Nutritional Disclaimer

“Cooking With Carlee” is not a dietitian or nutritionist, and any nutritional information shared is an estimate. If calorie count and other nutritional values are important to you, we recommend running the ingredients through whichever online nutritional calculator you prefer. Calories and other nutritional values can vary quite a bit depending on which brands were used.

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4.74 from 26 votes (25 ratings without comment)
Recipe Rating


Friday 2nd of June 2023

Well, DUH. If I'd looked at the pictures and recipe good enough, I would have seen the corn. And corn is also listed in the ingredients. I guess these old eyes aren't what they used to be. Can you forgive this old lady, please.


Friday 2nd of June 2023

Of course, and yes there is corn. It adds a pop of fresh flavor and little bit of sweetness to the mix.


Friday 2nd of June 2023

I hate to be a dummy, but do I see some corn kernels in the salad? It looks really good, and I love corn, so that would not be a problem. Love all your recipes.


Friday 2nd of June 2023

There is! Thank you so much!


Friday 2nd of June 2023

Add a little bit of fajita steak or any steak..I prefer ribeye straps, and it gives it a whole new taste. It's delicious with or without the meat


Friday 2nd of June 2023

That is a great idea!


Sunday 28th of May 2023

Made this today. Yummy!! So good. We left the jalepeno out. This would be so good with grilled chicken on top as a meal! The dressing was so good! Can’t wait to make this again!


Sunday 28th of May 2023

I agree, grilled chicken on top would make a perfect summer dinner. I am so glad you liked it!

Sandy ReesSandy

Sunday 21st of May 2023

Looks delicious. I think I would especially like to try the dressing!


Sunday 21st of May 2023

It's such an easy dressing, but still has big flavor.