Southwestern Layered Salad with Spicy Avocado Ranch Dressing

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Memorial Day is around the corner so Chef Karista Bennett, founder of the blog Karista's Kitchen, joined us to share a recipe perfect for barbecues or picnics. For more delicious recipes, visit Karista's Kitchen.

Southwestern Layered Salad with Spicy Avocado Ranch Dressing

Serves 6-8


  • 3-4 cups shredded Iceberg lettuce, romaine lettuce or cabbage. Or a mixture of the three.
  • Salt
  • 1 cup crumbled cornbread (you can also sub with coarsely crushed tortilla chips)
  • 1 pint cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 1-2 avocados, diced
  • 1 cup diced red onions
  • 1 15 ounce can black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 15 ounce can corn, drained or 1 ½ cups cooked and cooled corn
  • 1 bunch cilantro, coarsely chopped
  • ½ cup crumbled Cotija Cheese
  • Sliced green onions for garnish

For the dressing

  • 1 large avocado
  • Juice of one lime
  • 1 cup mayonnaise
  • ½-3/4 cup buttermilk
  • 1 chipotle pepper in adobo
  • 1 packet of Ranch dressing mix


In a food processor or blender add the avocado, lime juice, mayonnaise, buttermilk, chipotle pepper and ranch dressing seasoning mix. Pulse until thoroughly combined and smooth. If needed add a few tablespoons of water to thin the dressing. This should make 2 cups of dressing.

To assemble the salad. Using a glass salad bowl or trifle bowl, add the lettuce to the bottom of the bowl. Lightly sprinkle with salt. Then sprinkle the cornbread or tortilla crumbles over the lettuce. Top with half the dressing.

Next, cover the cornbread and dressing with the tomatoes, then the avocados, next the red onions, black beans and corn. Then top the corn with the cilantro, then the Cotija cheese and garnish with green onions.

Chill the salad until ready to serve. Serve with a side of the remaining dressing.

Options: Feel free to sub or add additional fresh ingredients like chopped red, yellow or green peppers, chopped poblano, pepper jack cheese, etc.