southwest salad with taco ranch dressing

$8.23 recipe / $1.37 serving

It’s crisp, it’s crunchy, it has an amazing, tangy, homemade dressing, and it goes perfectly along side your lentil tacos ;D

Honestly, this recipe started out with me craving a crunchy salad, but it ended up being nothing more than a vehicle for this delicious dressing. I didn’t expect the dressing to be so amazing, but I love it… And it took only about five minutes to whip together! Normally I would use a buttermilk substitute rather buying a whole quart when I only need a little, but with this dressing you really need that authentic buttermilk flavor. What will I do with the rest? Make buttermilk biscuits, of course.

Actually, the whole salad will probably take less than 30 minutes to make; dressing, tortilla crisps, and all. Which means that you *can* have a delicious salad on a week night when you’re exhausted from work. I did, anyway.

If you want to make a whole meal out of this, just grill up some chicken and toss it in!

Oh, and yes, I know iceberg is nutritionally void and all of that great stuff. I eat a ton of vegetables so I’m not worried about using iceberg once in a while. I needed a REALLY crisp green for this salad and iceberg kind of takes the cake. Romaine is also really crunchy and has more green, if you want it.

Southwast Salad with Taco Ranch Dressing

southwest salad with taco ranch

5.0 from 1 reviews
southwest salad with taco ranch dressing
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Total Cost: $8.23
Cost Per Serving: $1.37
Serves: 6-8
  • ¾ cup plain yogurt $0.41
  • ½ cup buttermilk $0.27
  • ¼ cup mayonnaise $0.33
  • ½ tsp salt $0.02
  • ½ tsp garlic powder $0.03
  • ¾ tsp chili powder $0.04
  • ¼ tsp cumin $0.03
  • ⅛ tsp cayenne pepper $0.02
  • 6 small corn tortillas $0.39
  • as needed non-stick spray $0.05
  • a dash salt $0.02
  • 1 head iceberg lettuce $0.87
  • 1 can black beans $1.19
  • 1½ cup frozen corn kernels $0.70
  • 1 large tomato $1.23
  • 1 bunch green onions $0.75
  • 1½ cups shredded cheese $1.88
  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Use a pizza cutter to slice the tortillas into thin strips. Line a baking sheet with foil and coat it with non-stick spray. Spread the tortilla strips out in a single layer and spritz lightly with more non-stick spray. Sprinkle lightly with salt.
  2. Bake the tortilla strips for 15-20 minutes or until they are golden brown and crispy. Stir the tortilla strips half way through cooking.
  3. While the tortilla strips are baking, cut the head of lettuce into small pieces. Rinse the lettuce and drain well (or use a salad spinner). Also chop the tomato and slice the green onions. Rinse the black beans in a colander to remove the starchy canning liquid. Remove the corn from the freezer and allow it to thaw.
  4. Whisk together all of the ingredients for the dressing (yogurt, buttermilk, mayonnaise, salt, garlic powder, chili powder, cumine, and cayenne). Makes about 1.5 cups or 6 servings of ¼ cup each.
  5. Once the tortilla strips are finished cooking, the dressing is made, and all of the salad ingredients are prepped, build the salad! You can either build one big salad and then serve or build individual portions. Layer the lettuce first, then black beans, corn, tomato, shredded cheese, green onion, and a few tortilla strips on top.

southwest salad with taco ranch dressing

Step By Step Photos

slice tortillasFirst, preheat your oven to 400 degrees. Cut the tortillas into thin strips. I found that a pizza cutter made this a quick and easy task.

prepare tortilla stripsSpread the tortilla strips out onto a baking sheet covered with foil and coated with non-stick spray. Spray the strips lightly with non-stick spray and then sprinkle lightly with salt.

baked tortilla stripsBake for 15-20 minutes or until golden brown and crispy. Stir the strips about 10 minutes in.

chop lettuceWhile the tortilla strips are baking, chop, rinse, and drain the lettuce. I cut my lettuce into small squares. Make sure to drain the lettuce really well so that your salad is not watery.

prep other salad ingredientsAlso prepare the other toppings. Rinse the black beans to remove the starchy canning liquid. Take the corn out of the freezer and allow it to thaw. Dice the tomato and slice the green onions.

make dressingLastly, whip together the taco ranch dressing. It’s really easy, just whisk together all of the ingredients. All of the spices are in 1/4 tsp increments so you only need to use one measuring spoon! (You’ll have to fill it half way for the cayenne, but it doesn’t have to be exact.)

tortilla crisp and dressingI’m not gonna lie, I was really, really hungry when making this and I couldn’t stop dipping the tortilla crisps in the dressing!

taco ranch dressingYou can also make this dressing as light or “heavy” as you want. I used non-fat yogurt, low fat mayo, and regular buttermilk (same fat content as 2% milk). It still tasted rich and delicious!

build saladYou can build the salad in any order you want, but I found this order to be most visually appealing: lettuce, black beans, corn, tomato, cheese, green onion, and tortilla crisps on top. You can either build one big salad and then serve single portions, or just build single serving portions to begin with.


  1. Your salad and dressing recipe look delicious! I recently purchased a Dole Southwest Salad bag mix and loved the dressing. I bought some Wishbone South of the Border, thinking it would be a good. Not bad, but jus not as good. Rather than just throw it away, is there anything I can do to make it a bit tastier as the Taco Ranch?

    • Hmm, it’s really tough to say without having tasted it myself. I suppose you could always try adding more spices, though!

  2. Jordan says:

    I’m not much of a salad eater, no matter how good the dressing or ingredients are. But this dressing made the salad amazing!! I ate three times this week for lunch.

  3. This looks really good and healthy! I have a $2 (a serving) taco salad recipe on my blog that would take this to the next level… but also leaves out some of the work like making your own tortilla strips. A combination of this recipe and mine would be super delicious!

  4. Diana says:

    Would it be possible to use previously frozen buttermilk?

    • Yes, I believe I’ve made ranch with previously frozen buttermilk before. It kind of separates a bit as it thaws, but give it a good stir and then it’s as good as new.

  5. Christy says:

    I never have been much of a salad eater but this is the best salad I have ever had, even in a restaurant! My husband and I have made this multiple times now and each time, after we both eat some the first night, I separate all the ingredients and eat it 3 days straight while he has spaghetti for two nights. I actually LOOK FORWARD to eating this salad, even on day 3! To the point of thinking about it and getting excited 3-4 times a day while at work. Lol. Thanks for this amazing recipe! Going to be trying TONS more of your recipes and I can’t wait! :0)

  6. OMG that looks so good. I have a weakness for this type of stuff. Have to go to the store now.

  7. Thanks! It didn’t quite last that long. >.>

    I really love this recipe…I just made it again! In my quest to try ALL THE THINGS, I almost never do that. So thanks!

  8. Made this tonight. Most satisfying meal I’ve had in a while! And I normally do not eat salad dressing but I made this anyways. I went overboard on the cumin (~1 tsp) and am glad I did it was delicious!!!

  9. Wow! This is so colorful & looks delicious too.

  10. Beth J – It will probably last about a week in the refrigerator.

  11. makin’ this for dinner too-night!

  12. Yum! The salad and dressing look fantastic! Thank you for sharing this recipe!

  13. 28.5 weeks pregnant and haven’t wanted to eat much the last 7 months. I did, however, want to drink this dressing last night, so, you know. Huge complement. :-)

  14. I made the ranch tonight, and it was so good! How long do you think it’ll last in the fridge?

  15. Anonymous says:

    Sounds amazing! Can’t wait to make this next week. I love that all the ingredients are easy and I have everything but the buttermilk already!

  16. There must be a Mexican theme here because I made your chicken taco bowls the other night and they were delicious! We are having fajitas tonight so I am going to use up the rest of the tortillas by making this salad on Monday! yum x

  17. I cannot wait to try this! The dressing looks fantastic!

  18. This looks great. Love the ranch dressing!

  19. Oh man that looks so good! I have to make this! No Siracha in the dressing though, I’m shocked.

    This kind of salad is what I love to order when eating out. Your version is much healthier, including the dressing. I’ll add this to my “to make”list.

  20. This salad sounds fantastic! Love it!

  21. Paige says:

    Yes, yes, yes, yes, YES!! I am so excited to make this!!

  22. I’m drooling now! I’m so glad you gave me a recipe to actually make the ranch dressing because I live in Amsterdam and its no ranch land here, sad but true. But now I can make it myself!

  23. Oh wow. This would really hit the spot right now. Looks like another winner, thanks for the recipe!!

  24. Anonymous says:

    Nice, looks delish! I’ve taken to growing my own green onions on my window sill to save even more $$$:

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