This Southwestern Steak Salad is an easy weeknight main dish salad with perfectly seasoned steak, black bean and corn salsa, and a tasty homemade dressing.
Southwestern Steak Salad combines a vibrant mix of corn, tomatoes, and black beans along with a smoky, creamy chipotle dressing and perfectly cooked skirt steak seasoned with fajita spices.
This is an easy weeknight salad that comes together quickly. It also makes a great summer recipe when you don’t want to heat up the kitchen. (You could even slice up some leftover steak if you’ve got it.)
What’s In A Southwestern Steak Salad?
The salad has three main components to prepare: the steak, the black bean and corn salsa, and the Chipotle-Lime dressing. These are served with your favorite spring salad mix and topped with sliced avocado and crispy tortilla strips.
Skirt steak, which you can read all about here, is a very long cut of beef, and needs to be cut in half or into 10 to 12-inch sections so they fit well in the skillet that will be used for cooking. One thing that I love to do is to make Carne Asada using a skirt steak for dinner one night, and then use the leftovers to make the Southwestern Steak Salad. If you like planning meals around using leftovers, that would be a great idea for you as well.
My recipe includes instructions for making your own black bean salsa and dressing, but of course you could also buy a prepared chunky salsa of any kind. My grocery store has good black bean and corn salsa in the deli section. If you don’t want to make your own dressing, try a Southwest Ranch or Cilantro Lime dressing from the store.
Similarly, you can buy the crispy tortilla strips, or you can use regular tortilla chips, or you can make your own. My favorite way to make crispy tortilla strips is in the air fryer, like this!
How To Cook The Skirt Steak
Make the steak first, and while it’s resting, the salsa and dressing are made.
Once the steak is cut in half (or in 10 to 12-inch pieces) to fit the pan, rub each piece all over with the fajita seasoning. If your fajita seasoning does not contain salt, combine equal amounts salt with the seasoning (for the recipe below, that’s 2 teaspoons of fajita seasoning mixed with 2 teaspoons of salt).
Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat until it’s shimmering. This will tell you it’s hot enough for pan-frying. Add the steak pieces and cook on each side for two to three minutes. The pan should hold at least two pieces of the steak. If there are more, you may have to cook them in batches to prevent overcrowding. When the pan is overcrowded, the steak will steam instead of fry in the pan. This means it will be difficult to brown and get that caramelized crust on the outside.
Transfer the steak to a clean cutting board and let it rest while you make the black bean and corn salsa and Chipotle-Lime dressing. By the time the salsa and dressing are ready, the steak will likely be fully cooled, which means it won’t be hot anymore, but that all the juices will stay in when you slice it. If you would prefer that your steak slices be warmer, prep the salsa and dressing before you cook the steak. Then, only let the steak rest for 5 minutes while you assemble the salad. Then slice the steak and serve it warm on top.
Have more steak than you need for your salad? Use the leftovers to make the best Steak Quesadillas ever!
Prepare The Salsa And Dressing
This salsa couldn’t be simpler and could also be made in advance. It’s great on its own as a chunky salsa or as a topping for chicken or fish if you want to make extra. The salsa is made with black beans, corn, red onion, cilantro, tomato, garlic, salt, and lime juice.
For the dressing, stir together sour cream, chipotle in adobo sauce, olive oil, red wine vinegar, the remaining lime juice, garlic powder, and salt until well combined, and then set this aside. The chipotle in adobo is key for the dressing. All you need is some of that amazing adobo sauce, but you can kick up the spice if you’d like by also chopping up one of the chipotle peppers and mixing it in as well.
Assemble The Southwestern Steak Salad
Now that the skirt steak has had a while to rest, slice this against the grain into ¼-inch thick slices and get the avocado and salad greens ready. With all of the components prepared, all that’s left to do is mix the salad together!
In a large bowl, add the spring lettuce mix. Top with the salsa and dressing, and using tongs or two large spoons, toss everything together until it is well coated in the dressing.
Add the steak and avocado to your salad and serve cold or at room temperature. I like to top this with additional fresh cilantro, crumbled queso fresco, and crispy tortilla strips.Print
For this salad, you steak will be fully-rested and cooled before you slice it. If you’d prefer that your steak is still warm, prep the salsa and dressing first. Let the steak rest for only 5 minutes while you assemble the salads, and then slice the steak and put it on top while still warm.
Listen to me explain briefly about how to make this salad, with some great tips along the way, by clicking the play button below:
- 1 (1 and 1/2 to 2 lb.) skirt steak
- 2 tsp. Fajita seasoning*
- 3 Tbsp. olive oil, divided
- 1 (15 oz.) can black beans, rinsed, drained, patted dry
- 1 (10 oz.) bag frozen yellow corn, thawed
- 1/2 cup finely chopped red onion
- 1/2 cup finely chopped cilantro, plus more for garnish
- 2 large tomatoes, finely chopped
- 1 garlic clove, peeled, minced
- 1 tsp. salt, divided
- 1 lime, juiced, divided
- 3/4 cup sour cream
- 1 Tbsp. sauce from chipotle in adobo**
- 2 tsp. red wine vinegar
- 1/4 tsp. garlic powder
- 5 oz. (about 5 cups) spring mix or favorite lettuce
- 2 avocados, pitted, peel removed, sliced thin or diced
- 1/2 cup crispy tortilla strips (optional)
- 1/4 cup crumbled queso fresco (optional)
- Transfer skirt steak to a cutting board. Cut steak in half, or into 10- to 12-inch long sections so that each piece fits into a large frying pan. Rub each piece of steak all over with fajita seasoning and set aside.
- In a large skillet heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add steak pieces, or cook in batches if all pieces will not fit together in pan to prevent overcrowding. Cook each side 2 to 3 minutes.
- Transfer steak to a clean cutting board and set aside to rest.
- In a medium bowl toss together black beans, corn, red onion, cilantro, tomato, garlic, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and half of the lime juice until well combined. Set aside.
- In a small bowl stir together sour cream, chipotle in adobo, 1 tablespoon of olive oil, red wine vinegar, remaining lime juice, garlic powder, and 1/2 teaspoon salt until well combined.
- Slice skirt steak against the grain into ¼-inch thick slices.
- In a large bowl, add spring mix. Top with black bean and corn salsa and dressing and toss to combine.
- Add steak and avocado to salad. Top with more fresh cilantro, and also with crispy tortilla strips and queso fresco, if using. Serve cold or at room temperature.
*If the fajita seasoning doesn’t contain salt, mix the 2 teaspoons of fajita seasoning with 2 teaspoons of salt and rub into all sides of the skirt steak before cooking.
**Store the extra chipotle in adobo in a small covered container or resealable bag and freeze up to three months.