southwest salad with taco ranch dressing

Written by Beth - Budget Bytes

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

Top view of southwest salad with taco ranch (bowl of tomato and corn on the side)

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5 from 5 votes

Southwest Salad with Taco Ranch Dressing

This quick and refreshing southwest salad with taco ranch dressing has black beans, corn, tomatoes, and more.
Author: Beth M
Prep Time: 20 mins
Cook Time: 20 mins
Total Time: 40 mins
Servings: 6 to 8 servings



  • 3/4 cup plain yogurt ($0.41)
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk ($0.27)
  • 1/4 cup mayonnaise ($0.33)
  • 1/2 tsp salt ($0.02)
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder ($0.03)
  • 3/4 tsp chili powder ($0.04)
  • 1/4 tsp ground cumin ($0.03)
  • 1/8 tsp cayenne pepper ($0.02)


  • 6 small corn tortillas ($0.39)
  • as needed non-stick spray ($0.05)
  • 1 pinch salt ($0.02)


  • 1 head iceberg lettuce ($0.87)
  • 1 15oz. can black beans ($1.19)
  • 1 1/2 cup frozen corn kernels ($0.70)
  • 1 tomato ($1.23)
  • 1 bunch green onions ($0.75)
  • 1 1/2 cups shredded cheese ($1.88)


  • 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.
  • Bake the tortilla strips for 15-20 minutes or until they are golden brown and crispy. Stir the tortilla strips half way through cooking.
  • 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.
  • 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 1/4 cup each.
  • 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.
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Serving: 1 ServingCalories: 418.75 kcalCarbohydrates: 45.9 gProtein: 19.02 gFat: 19.58 gSodium: 825.93 mgFiber: 12.28 g
Nutritional values are estimates only. See our full nutrition disclaimer here.

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bowl of southwest taco salad with ranch being poured on top

Step By Step Photos

slicing tortillas into small strips with pizza cutter
First, 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.

tortilla strips placed on baking sheet
Spread 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 strips on baking sheet
Bake for 15-20 minutes or until golden brown and crispy. Stir the strips about 10 minutes in.

chopped lettuce
While 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.

small bowls of corn, tomato, black beans and green onion
Also 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.

ranch dressing ingredients mixed up in mixing bowl with spoon
Lastly, 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 strip dipped in dressing to test
I’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 dressing in mason jar with bowl of salad in background
You 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!

top view of finished taco salad in bowl
You 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.