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With the perfect balance of tangy and bright, this Creamy Southwest Salad Dressing is perfect for more than just salads. Use it to add a bit of zest to tacos, burgers, or even as a dip for veggies. You’ll love the punch of Southwestern flavors from chili powder, cumin, cilantro, and salsa!
Want more spice? Try Jalapeno Ranch Dressing!
Homemade Southwest Salad Dressing
If you like ranch dressing, I think you’ll love this creamy Southwest salad dressing! It’s a lot like a good homemade ranch, but with a bit of smoky, spicy flavor from chili powder and cumin and a bit of bright freshness from salsa and cilantro.
As you’d expect, it’s the perfect topping for a taco salad, but it adds a nice punch of flavor to everything from grilled steak to burgers to roasted veggies. And, of course, don’t forget to add a drizzle to all of your Tex Mex favorites, like fish tacos or chicken tostadas.
The nice thing about this dressing is that you can make it as spicy as you like, or use mild salsa and it will hardly have any heat at all; just lots of flavor.
What Makes this Recipe “Southwestern?”
Southwestern food is really diverse and beautiful! It’s a collection of recipes, techniques, and ingredients that have become part of the culture of the Southwestern United States. Mexican cuisine, cowboy cookery, and Native American influences all combine to make this colorful cooking style.
I love being inspired by some of my favorite flavors of these styles of cooking to create something I can quickly and easily enjoy in my own kitchen using items I can find in my pantry or the local grocery store. While not always the most authentic, it’s a simple and accessible way to enjoy the tastes that I find so delicious and comforting.
This dressing uses some common Southwestern ingredients like chili powder, cumin, and salsa to create a flavorful condiment with a nice hit of acid and spiciness. It’s a treat for your tastebuds!
What You’ll Need
I use a blend of mayonnaise and heavy whipping cream as the base for my creamy dressing. The texture and flavor are to die for! But I do give you a lighter option, if you prefer, that’s just as smooth and tasty. Here’s a quick overview, but the full amounts are in the recipe card at the bottom of the post.
- Mayonnaise: Use your favorite mayonnaise. Keto-friendly is fine!
- Cream: Adds richness and a lovely mouthfeel to this zesty dressing. Don’t have cream? Try using some yogurt, though you might need a little milk to thin it out.
- Salsa: This is a great way to use up that last bit of salsa in the jar! You can use no-sugar-added salsa to make it low carb.
- Garlic & Onion Powder.
- Chili Powder & Cumin: Gives this dressing a classic taco taste.
- Salt & Pepper
- Cilantro: Adds freshness, but you can certainly omit this or substitute parsley if you don’t care for cilantro!
Swap the mayo and cream for 3/4 cup plain Greek yogurt, 2 Tablespoons of olive oil, and 2 Tablespoons of apple cider vinegar. It will have a slightly more tangy flavor, but it’ll have fewer calories and more protein. Add a little more oil and vinegar if you want to thin it out, use less if you want to thicker, more like a dip.
How to Make Creamy Southwest Dressing
It’s super easy to make this one, guys! And it’s so flavorful that I recommend making double the spice mixture and saving half. Then, the next time you want to make the dressing, half the work will be done already!
- Measure Ingredients: Measure all of your ingredients into a bowl.
- Combine: Whisk or stir the ingredients together well.
- Store: Using a spatula, scrape the salad dressing into your container of choice.
Tips for Success
This salad dressing is nice and simple in the realm of homemade condiments. Here are a few extra tips to keep in mind for guaranteed success:
- Add Some Heat: If you’d like a spicier salad dressing, feel free to use a hot salsa, or add a pinch of cayenne pepper. You can also finely chop up a small amount of jalapeno, to taste. Careful though, they can be very spicy!
- Make It Creamier: You can try substituting some (or all) of the heavy cream with sour cream or even Greek yogurt; this will make a tangier and thicker dressing, more like a dip.
- Lighten it Up: Skip the mayo and heavy cream in favor of plain Greek yogurt plus a little olive oil to keep the richness and some apple cider vinegar to thin it out to your desired consistency.
- Change It Up: You can also use different salsas for a different flavor in your dressing; mango salsa, salsa with roasted red peppers, and other varieties are fun to try out!
How to Use this Dressing
This savory Southwest salad dressing tastes good on just about everything! This dressing is super yummy on a colorful veggie salad, or to add a little zippy flavor to Shrimp Cobb Salad or Grilled Steak Salad in the summertime. I also think it goes wonderfully with some grilled or air fryer corn! Swap out the Aji sauce on my Grilled Street Corn for a new flavor combo! But here are some other great ideas:
- Taco Topping: Whether you are making classic Ground Beef Tacos or popping a batch of Baked Chicken Tacos in the oven, add this to your collection of fixin’s.
- Do a Dip: Use it for dunking everything from Chicken Taquitos to Popcorn Chicken.
- Enjoy with Eggs: Drizzle over scrambled eggs or with your favorite Breakfast Egg Tacos or Chilaquiles Verdes.
- Slather other Salads. Try it as a dressing for a Mexican Pasta Salad or even to toss with coleslaw.
- Bowls Made Better: Chicken Burrito Bowls are a favorite, but you can even jazz up BBQ Shrimp Bowls.
How to Store Salad Dressing
Keep your salad dressing fresh and tasty by storing it in the fridge in a bottle or jar with a tight-fitting lid. Salad dressing usually lasts for up to five days, but if you notice any change in texture, flavor, color, etc. discard it right away.
I recommend the Salad Dressing Shaker from OXO. I love it and use it all the time because you can mix it up right in the container – no need to dirty any extra dishes.
Creamy Southwest Salad Dressing
- 1/2 cup mayonnaise (see Note*)
- 1/2 cup heavy whipping cream (see Note*)
- 2 tablespoons salsa (no-sugar-added to make it low carb and keto)
- 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
- 1/4 teaspoon chili powder
- 1/4 teaspoon cumin
- 1/8 teaspoon salt
- 1/8 teaspoon black pepper
- 2 tablespoons minced fresh cilantro
- Whisk together all ingredients in a bowl.
- Store in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 5 days.
More Homemade Salad Dressing Recipes to Try
Need another kind of salad dressing for the dish you have in mind? Try one of these!