May 25, 2021

The Best Healthy Southwestern Cobb Salad

This Healthy Southwestern Cobb Salad is a Mexican twist on the classic California cobb salad with quinoa, black beans, charred corn, Mexican cheese, cilantro, and an avocado ranch dressing. It's so hearty you won't miss the chicken!

To say I love salads is an understatement. And I'm not talking about a pathetic salad with roughly chopped iceberg lettuce, lazily diced tomatoes, and some store-bought ranch dressing. I'm talking about real salads that are packed full of nourishing produce, lean protein, and incredible flavor!

These salads might take a little extra time to prepare, but they are well worth the effort. In fact, this Southwestern Cobb Salad is everything you could ever want in a salad and MORE! It also happens to be my new favorite salad recipe here on the blog.

A platter of Southwestern Cobb Salad with bacon, eggs, avocado, cheese, and tomatoes

What is a Cobb salad?

Cobb salad is a hearty American salad that dates back to the 1930s. Although there are a few different claims on the origin of the salad, the most recognized story comes from Hollywood in 1937.

Robert Cobb, a chef in an acclaimed Hollywood restaurant, hadn't eating anything all day long and needed a quick midnight meal before heading home. He threw a bunch of leftover ingredients from the kitchen into a big bowl and tossed them in his signature French dressing. This later became what we know now as the Cobb Salad.

Although it's not much of a story, cobb salads are common across the United States in both restaurants and homes alike. The ingredients are simple, tasty, and come together quickly for a delicious and hearty salad.

What are the ingredients in a Cobb salad?

Traditionally, cobb salads are made with mixed greens, grilled chicken, crispy bacon, hard boiled eggs, chopped tomatoes, diced avocado, Roquefort cheese, minced chives, and a light vinaigrette.

What's the difference between a Cobb salad and a chef salad?

Cobb salads are served with a mixture of leafy greens, grilled chicken, crumbled cheese, and a light vinaigrette.

Chef salads are served with chopped lettuce, cubed deli meats (ie ham or turkey), cubed cheddar cheese, diced cucumbers, and a creamy dressing.

Both salads have diced tomatoes, hard boiled eggs, and avocados.

Ingredients for a Southwestern Cobb Salad

What makes this a "Southwestern Cobb Salad?"

While this healthy cobb salad is made with traditional ingredients like mixed greens, crispy bacon, hard boiled eggs, chopped tomatoes, and diced avocado, I added tex-mex favorites like:

  • Black beans: a great source of plant-based protein, fiber, and iron. Black beans are a classic Spanish staple and perfectly compliment the corn and quinoa.
  • Charred corn: a great source of fiber, potassium, and folate. We're "grilling" the corn in some simple Mexican seasonings to boost the flavor and increase nutrient absorption. If you don't have time to grill the corn, you can just add it straight out of the can!
  • Fluffy quinoa: one of the only plant-based sources of complete protein, the quinoa adds a nice subtle texture to the salad and, combined with the beans and corn, replaces chicken in this Southwestern Cobb Salad. It's also ready much faster than chicken to keep this amazing salad a 30-minute meal!
  • Shredded Mexican cheese: a unique blend of Monterey Jack, cheddar, and colby cheese. Feel free to use whatever "Mexican" cheese you like best, whether it's plain cheddar, cotija (my favorite!), or queso fresco.
  • Chopped cilantro: the perfect touch to the best healthy Southwestern Cobb Salad... unless you think cilantro tastes like soap. If that's you, don't worry. Just omit it!
  • Creamy Avocado dressing: I thought about creating a homemade dressing kind of like this avocado crema, but then I remembered one of my favorite brands had an Avocado Green Goddess dressing and I thought, "why reinvent the wheel?" I highly recommend their dressings (not sponsored) because they're yogurt-based and much more calorie-friendly (aka low-calorie) than any other dressing! They also have other incredible flavors that I recommend in some of my other recipes like their Chunky Bleu Cheese or Classic Ranch.

Southwestern Cobb Salad tossed with hard boiled eggs, cilantro, bacon, avocado, tomatoes, corn, black beans, and a creamy dressing.

Why You'll Love This Healthy Cobb Salad!

  1. First of all, just LOOK at all that color! Foods with lots of color tend to have more nutritious ingredients, and this healthy cobb salad is no exception. I love creating salads that feel like a main dish rather than a small side. You will not be disappointed with this one!
  2. Then there's the protein content. There might not be chicken in this Southwestern Cobb Salad, but there's still 26g of protein per serving! In fact, every single ingredient in this healthy cobb salad contributes protein to the entire meal, but the main sources are the hard boiled eggs, quinoa, and black beans.
  3. I wrote this healthy cobb salad to be a main dish, which means it's perfect for meal prep! 30 minutes of work and you've got an incredible lunch ready to go for the next four days!
  4. You can also use this recipe as a side dish at a family BBQ or potluck! The nutrition facts are calculated for 4 large servings, but this hearty Southwestern Cobb Salad can feed up to 8-10 people.
  5. Lastly, this salad recipe is easily customizable. Are you dairy-free? Just swap out the cheese and dressing for your favorite non-dairy substitutes. Are you vegetarian? Just omit the turkey bacon! Don't love black beans? Try pinto beans instead. Want more protein? Add grilled chicken or steak!

A platter of Southwestern Cobb Salad

Ok ok if you've made it this far, congratulations! Now it's time to enjoy the best healthy Southwestern Cobb Salad!

Don't forget to leave a star rating and review for this recipe if you try it! It helps other readers know they should try the recipe and it helps me know what types of recipes you enjoy!

This Healthy Southwestern Cobb Salad is a Mexican twist on the classic California cobb salad with quinoa, black beans, charred corn, Mexican cheese, cilantro, and an avocado ranch dressing. It's so hearty you won't miss the chicken!


Brooke Harmer













  • 8 C mixed greens
  • 4 strips Jennie-O turkey bacon
  • 4 hard boiled eggs, chopped
  • ½ C quinoa, uncooked (or 1½ C cooked quinoa)
  • 1 can black beans, drained
  • 1 can corn, drained
  • 1 avocado, diced
  • ½ C reduced fat shredded Mexican-style cheese
  • ½ pint cherry tomatoes, diced
  • ½ C chopped cilantro
  • ½ C Bolthouse Farms Avocado Green Goddess Dressing (or yogurt-based dressing of choice)
  • ¼ tsp cumin
  • ¼ tsp chili powder
  • ¼ tsp salt


  1. Bring one cup of water to a boil. Stir in the quinoa, turn the heat down to simmer, and cover with a lid for 15-20 minutes. Fluff with a fork before serving.
  2. Meanwhile, heat a large skillet to medium-high heat and spray with cooking spray. Add the corn and season with cumin, chili powder, and salt. Saute for 7-10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the corn appears charred. Remove from heat and set aside.
  3. Prepare the turkey bacon according to package instructions, then dice into small pieces. Set aside.
  4. To assemble the salad, combine all ingredients (including quinoa, corn, and bacon) in a very large bowl and toss with the dressing.* Serve as an entree or a side dish.**


*Only toss the salad in the dressing if serving immediately with the expectation of little to no leftovers. If preparing for individual meal prep, use 2 tablespoons of dressing per serving. If preparing for a later event (more than 4 hours after preparation), toss with dressing just before serving.

**If serving as a side dish, divide all nutrition facts in half to accomodate 8 servings.

Nutrition facts are a calculated estimate of 1/4 of the prepared salad, including dressing.


Serving: 1/4 salad / Calories: 525 / Fat: 22g / Saturated Fat: 4.6g / Sodium: 792mg / Carbohydrates: 52.8g / Fiber: 15.8g / Sugar: 7g / Protein: 25.8g