Make a simple Southwest salad dressing in less than 5 minutes with this easy-to-follow recipe! Creamy, spicy, and tangy flavors are featured in this multipurpose sauce. Use it for salads, as a dip, or as a marinade. The best part? It’s 100% plant-based!
Why you’ll love this recipe
- Quick & easy: Southwest salad dressing is ready in 5 minutes or less, and it can be stored in the fridge for up to a week.
- Versatile: It’s not just for salad! This bold dressing makes a delicious dip, sandwich or wrap spread, and marinade for tofu.
- Bold: Turn any boring dish into a flavor fiesta by adding a few tablespoons of this dressing.
- Simple ingredients: Most of the ingredients are pantry staples that you probably already have at home. There is nothing fancy here!
What is Southwest salad dressing?
Southwest salad dressing can honestly describe a million different sauces, but for the most part, it’s a creamy, slightly spicy sauce seasoned with garlic, onion, various chilis, and other Tex-Mex flavors.
It pairs extremely well with taco bowls, baked tofu, enchiladas, bean burgers, or seitan. You may even find yourself dipping veggie sticks right into it. The options are virtually endless when it comes to all of the new and exciting ways to use Southwest dressing!
Is it vegan?
The creaminess of Southwest salad dressing usually comes from mayonnaise, Greek yogurt, or sour cream. To make a vegan option, I opted for vegan mayo. It’s a simple swap, and once everything is mixed together, you’ll have a hard time telling it’s completely egg and dairy-free!
Ingredients & Substitutions
- Vegan mayo: Use your favorite brand, or try making your own vegan mayo! Alternatively, you can use vegan Greek yogurt or vegan sour cream.
- Maple syrup: To tame the spice and add a slightly sweet flavor. Agave, brown rice syrup, or coconut nectar can all be used as substitutes.
- Apple cider vinegar, lime juice: Both impart tangy, vibrant, and acidic notes. If you don’t have apple cider vinegar on hand, you can replace it with coconut vinegar, white wine vinegar, or red wine vinegar, but the flavor will be slightly different.
- Taco sauce: Use your favorite variety!
- Garlic, onion: Garlic and onion powder add a savory, zesty, and hearty taste. Make sure you have “powder” not “salt.”
- Cumin: For rich, earthy, and warm notes with an edge of citrus. You will want cumin powder, not cumin seeds.
- Paprika: I highly recommend smoked paprika for this dressing, but sweet paprika or regular paprika will work in a pinch!
- Salt, black pepper: To enhance the flavors of the dressing and add a little more heat. Season with both to taste.
- Jalapeños: Brings the heat with a garden-fresh flavor. Keep the seeds in for more spice, or remove them if you are sensitive to spice.
- Tomatoes: Fresh Roma tomatoes, cherry or grape tomatoes are my preferred choice. If you don’t have any fresh tomatoes, use canned diced tomatoes, but make sure they are drained.
- Cilantro: Fresh cilantro adds a bright, herbal, and citrusy flavor. You can use dried cilantro, but nothing beats fresh in my opinion!
- Step 1: Roughly chop the jalapeños, tomatoes, and cilantro. Then, place all dressing ingredients together in a personal blender.
- Step 2: Blend on high speed until creamy and smooth. Taste and adjust the seasonings to suit your preferences. Add more paprika for a smoky spice, maple syrup to balance the tang and spice, or salt to enhance the other ingredients.
- Step 3: Use your Southwest dressing immediately, or transfer it to an airtight container to chill for a few hours before serving.
What to serve Southwest dressing with
Follow these simple storage tips to get more out of your Southwest salad dressing:
- Fridge: Store your Southwest dressing in an airtight container for up to 5-6 days in the fridge. This recipe is great to have on hand for all your meals during the week.
- Freezer: If you won’t be able to get through your dressing within a week, keep it in the freezer in a freezer-safe container or bag for up to 3-4 months.
- Thaw: When you’re ready for more dressing, thaw it in the fridge overnight. If it’s too thick, add a teaspoon of water at a time to thin it out once more.
- Use salsa: If you don't have tomatoes, cilantro, or lime juice on hand, swap them out with ⅓ cup of your favorite salsa variety.
- Extra spicy: To add more heat, try adding habanero, arbol, or serrano peppers.
- Non-spicy: For a mild version, remove the jalapeño peppers altogether!
- Smoky: Make an even smokier version by adding chilis like morita, chipotle meco, chipotles in adobo, or ancho chili powder.
- Use fresh ingredients: The bold and vibrant flavors of this dressing come from the use of fresh, good-quality ingredients. Make sure your spices are aromatic and the produce isn’t going bad!
- Taste and adjust: Everyone’s palate is slightly different, so I always recommend tasting and gradually increasing the seasonings as per your preferences.
- Use a small blender: When blending sauces and dressings like this one, it’s best to use a personal blender to properly combine the ingredients.
- Make your mayo: To save money, try making your own vegan mayonnaise with neutral avocado oil, chickpea brine, Dijon mustard, lemon juice, and salt!
Yes, this recipe for Southwest salad dressing is completely gluten-free. However, if you have celiac disease, it’s best to double-check all of your ingredients to ensure there is no cross-contamination.
Southwest salad dressing can easily be part of a healthy diet. Just keep in mind that it is a cream-based sauce, so it may contain slightly higher calories than oil and vinegar dressings.
If you prefer to make a non-creamy Southwest salad dressing, feel free to omit the vegan mayonnaise. Just replace it with a neutral-flavored oil like avocado, canola, or safflower.
If you enjoyed this Southwest salad dressing recipe, be sure to check out some more of my favorite sauces like these:
- Sriracha aioli: A creamy dip or dressing seasoned with spicy Sriracha sauce.
- Vegan Caesar dressing: Creamy Caesar dressing made with plant-based ingredients.
- Maple balsamic dressing: Sweet and flavorful dressing perfect for salads, protein, and vegetables.
- Garlic chutney: A spicy Indian condiment made with just 7 simple ingredients.
Southwest Salad Dressing
- 1 cup vegan mayo
- 2 tablespoon maple syrup
- 2 tbsp apple cider vinegar
- 2 tbsp lime juice freshly squeezed
- 1 tbs taco sauce choose your favorite kind
- 1 teaspoon onion powder
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1 teaspoon cumin powder
- 1 teaspoon paprika powder
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- ⅛ teaspoon black pepper
- 2 tablespoon jalapeños diced
- 2 tablespoon tomoatoes diced
- ¼ cup cilantro leaves fresh
- Place all ingredients together in a personal blender.
- Blend until creamy and smooth.
- Use immediately or refrigerate in an air-tight container.