Mexican Chopped Salad

5 from 4 votes

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Colorful, crisp and full of flavor, this Mexican chopped salad has grilled corn that brings a little heat and smoke. It starts with chopped romaine as the base and has black beans, tomatoes, bell peppers and avocados. This salad is main dish worthy, and there are lots of ways to customize it with easy additions. 

Chopped salad in a bowl.

Why You’ll Love This Recipe

It is an incredible mix that will keep you going back for more. This salad has a little bit of everything, and it all works together beautifully. The grilled corn is seasoned with cumin and chili powder, which contrasts perfectly with the touch of sweetness in the dressing. 

The salad has grilled corn. In my opinion, this is one of the best ways to cook fresh corn for a salad. It’s easy, and I love seeing those lightly charred kernels. But don’t worry if you don’t have a grill, you can roast the corn instead. Those instructions are included in the recipe card below.

The honey lime dressing brings everything together. Honey adds a subtle amount of something sweet that pairs well with fresh lime juice, chopped cilantro and the rest of the components in the salad.

What Makes a Great Chopped Salad

Use fresh ingredients. Make sure your romaine is in peak condition, so it’s crisp and fresh. Avoid any wilted or limp leaves. Even though this salad has a lot of other elements, always think of lettuce as the starting point for any chopped salad. It’s important to kick off things on the right note.

Remember, the more variety, the better. This has to do with texture, color and flavor. Every time you put your fork into a chopped salad, each bite should be different. Here you have the crunch of red peppers and the juiciness of cherry tomatoes along with soft black beans, smoky grilled corn and creamy avocados tossed in a citrusy vinaigrette.

Embrace additions. Chopped salads are welcoming. What I mean by that is that you can throw in additional diced veggies or proteins like grilled chicken or shrimp. They are garbage salads in the best way possible. Don’t hesitate to add something extra. These salads are great for using up small quantities of leftovers.

The Ingredients

Ingredients including romaine, corn, black beans, tomatoes, peppers, onions, limes, tomatoes, oil and spices.

This is what you need:

  • Corn: Grilled corn is the only ingredient you have to cook in this recipe. The freshest ears of corn that aren’t dried out should be tightly wrapped in their husks, and the silk threads at the top should be damp. 
  • Romaine hearts are wonderful for chopped salads. They are the center leaves of romaine heads. These leaves tend to be more crisp and sweeter. Always wash romaine lettuce after you chop it because it tends to have lingering dirt on it.
  • Black beans are fantastic in salads. You can substitute with kidney beans if you want. 
  • Tomatoes: I prefer cherry tomatoes or grape tomatoes. They will hold together better when they’re tossed in the salad unlike dicing a larger tomato.
  • Bell peppers: The recipe calls for 1 pepper. I use an orange, yellow or red bell pepper because they are sweeter than green peppers which can be bitter.
  • Red onions are crisp and have a nice sharpness in salads.
  • Avocados: Just dicing an avocado adds a lovely creaminess.
  • Cheese: I use either crumbled cotija cheese or feta cheese. Both have a drier consistency and strong salty, milky flavor.
  • Cilantro is the perfect choice for chopped fresh herbs in the salad. It just makes sense with the other flavors. If you aren’t a fan of cilantro, then leave it out.
  • Spices: Other than salt and pepper, I also season the corn with cumin and chili powder.
  • Honey lime dressing: The name sums it up. The dressing has fresh lime juice, honey, garlic, olive oil, salt and pepper. Use extra virgin olive oil for the best taste.

Optional Additions

As mentioned, this salad can take on more ingredients depending what you have in your kitchen:

  • Chicken, shrimp, salmon or steak: Any of these proteins grilled would be very tasty in the salad.
  • Jicama gives the salad crunchy, almost juicy bites. If you do include it, dice it.
  • Cabbage: You can use a combination of romaine and shredded cabbage for more variety.
  • Tortilla chips can act like croutons. Just take some chips, crumble them in your hands and sprinkle them on top as you are spooning the recipe into salad bowls when you’re ready to serve it. 

How To Make This Mexican Chopped Salad Recipe

Preheat the gas or charcoal grill on high heat.

1. Marinate the corn. Whisk together the oil, cumin, chili powder, salt and pepper. Rub it or brush it all over the corn.

2. Grill the corn turning it every so often until it is lightly charred. This will take 5-7 minutes.

Marinated corn in a bowl. Corn on the grill.

3. Slice the corn kernels off the cobs.

4. Make the vinaigrette. Whisk together the the garlic, honey, lime juice, olive oil, salt and pepper.

Slicing kernels off ears of corns. Vinaigrette whisked in a bowl.

5. Combine the salad ingredients in a big bowl including the romaine, grilled corn, black beans, peppers, onions, avocados, cheese and cilantro.

6. Drizzle the dressing into the salad. Toss to combine.

Salad ingredients in a large bowl. Dressing stirred into salad.

You Can Roast Corn Instead of Grilling It

If you don’t have a grill, another way to cook the corn is to roast it. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Take a sharp knife and slice the kernels off the cobs. Stir the corn with the olive oil, cumin, chili powder, salt and pepper. Then spread it across a sheet pan. Roast it for 22-25 minutes until the kernels are lightly browned. 

Serving

This is a great choice for an entree salad, but you can also treat it like a side dish and pair it with tacos or burritos. It’s wonderful with Tex Mex dishes like fajitas too. Serve the salad with these Barbecue Tofu Veggie Skewers or Grilled Vegetable Burrito Bowls. Wait to dress the salad until right before you are about to serve it, so it stays crisp.

Leftovers & Storage

You can save the salad in an airtight container in the fridge up to 3 days. It’s best not to toss the salad in the dressing if you are planning to have leftovers, or the lettuce will become soggy. Keep the dressing in a jar separate from the salad.

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Mexican Chopped Salad

5 from 4 votes
Prep: 15 minutes
Cook: 8 minutes
Total: 23 minutes
Servings: 6
This Mexican chopped salad has grilled corn seasoned with cumin and chili powder along with black beans, tomatoes, peppers, avocados and romaine.

Ingredients 

For corn

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/4 teaspoon cumin
  • 1/4 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 3 ears corn

For dressing

  • 1 garlic clove minced
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • Juice of 2 limes
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper

For salad

  • 2 romaine hearts chopped
  • 1 15-ounce can black beans drained and rinsed
  • 1 cup halved cherry tomatoes
  • 1 bell pepper diced
  • 1/4 cup finely diced red onions
  • 1 avocado diced
  • 1/4 cup crumbled cotija cheese or feta
  • 1/4 cup chopped cilantro

Instructions 

  • Preheat a gas or charcoal grill on high heat.
  • For the corn, whisk together the olive oil, cumin, chili powder, salt and pepper in a small bowl. Drizzle the oil mixture over the corn, and rub it or brush it to coat it all over. Grill the corn until it is lightly charred, about 5-7 minutes. Let the corn cool slightly before slicing the kernels off the cobs.
  • For the vinaigrette, whisk the garlic, honey, lime juice, olive oil, salt and pepper in a bowl.
  • To assemble the salad, combine the romaine, grilled corn, black beans, peppers, onions, avocados, cheese and cilantro in a large bowl.
  • Drizzle the dressing into the salad. Toss to combine. 

Video

Notes

You can store leftovers up to 3 days in an airtight container in the refrigerator. Keep the dressing separate. If you are planning to have leftovers, try not to toss that portion of the salad into the dressing, so it does not become soggy when it is stored.
If you don’t have a grill, you can roast the corn in the oven:
  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. 
  2. Slice the kernels off the ears of corn.
  3. Stir the corn with the olive oil, cumin, chili powder, salt and pepper in a small bowl.
  4. Spread the corn across a sheet pan in a single layer. Roast for 22-25 minutes until the kernels are lightly browned. 
You can use frozen corn kernels as long as you thaw them or canned corn that has been drained and rinsed. If you make this substitution, roast the corn in the oven. 

Nutrition

Calories: 208kcal | Carbohydrates: 11g | Protein: 3g | Fat: 18g | Saturated Fat: 3g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 2g | Monounsaturated Fat: 12g | Cholesterol: 6mg | Sodium: 470mg | Potassium: 391mg | Fiber: 4g | Sugar: 5g | Vitamin A: 4177IU | Vitamin C: 40mg | Calcium: 58mg | Iron: 1mg

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

Additional Info

Course: Salads
Cuisine: Mexican, Tex-Mex
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Hi, I'm Paige.

Welcome to Last Ingredient where you will find simple seasonal recipes with plenty of fruits and vegetables, all for the home cook.

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4 Comments

  1. Paige, this makes my mouth water just reading this recipe! going to stop at store on my way home and make this to night!! Hope you are well!!

  2. 5 stars
    This was delicious! I’ll definitely make it again. I took a shortcut and “grilled” the corn over the flame of my gas stove, then after cutting it off the cob, I drizzled it with olive oil and sprinkled Tajín seasoning on it. Everything else was exactly according to the recipe.