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Mexican Chopped Salad transforms ordinary ingredients into a flavorful fiesta. A true celebration of Mexican flavors, it’s the kind of salad that’s just as at home at a bustling dinner party as it is on a quiet weekday evening. Made in just 30 minutes, it’s perfect for those days when a regular salad just won’t do, but you don’t have much time to spare.

Mexican Chopped Salad served on a gray plate and photographed from the top.

Instead of the typical chopped salad components, there’s a vibrant play of textures and tastes — the crunch of romaine and crushed tortilla chips, the zing of quick pickled carrots (even better when made a day in advance), and the creaminess of avocado and crumbled queso fresco all tossed in a zesty Cilantro Lime Vinaigrette that brings it all together.

Mexican Chopped Salad Ingredients

Pickled Carrots:

Pickled Carrot Ingredients on a white marble board.
  • Carrots: Look for carrots with a vibrant orange color that don’t bend easily or have cracks or splits.
  • Apple Cider Vinegar: Look for a raw, unfiltered variety for the best flavor.
  • Honey: or agave nectar or maple syrup
  • Salt

Salad Components:

Mexican Chopped Salad Ingredients on a white marble board.
  • Romaine Lettuce: Choose firm Romaine hearts with crisp, fresh-looking leaves.
  • Radishes: Select bright red radishes that are firm to the touch.
  • Tortilla Chips: Fresh and lightly salted.
  • Queso Fresco: Or substitute with cotija cheese, but note that it’s saltier.
  • Avocado: It should feel slightly soft when gently pressed, but be firm enough to cut into cubes.
  • Cilantro: Look for fresh looking, vibrant green leaves that aren’t droopy or wilting.

For the Cilantro Lime Vinaigrette:

Cilantro Lime Vinaigrette Ingredients on a white marble board.
  • Lime Juice: Freshly squeezed for the best flavor.
  • Apple Cider Vinegar: Again, raw, unfiltered varieties are best.
  • Garlic: Fresh garlic clove that’s small and firm without discoloration.
  • Fresh Cilantro: Again, vibrant green without any wilting.
  • Honey: Opt for raw honey or replace with agave nectar or maple syrup.
  • Olive Oil: Extra-virgin olive oil is best.
Mexican Chopped Salad served on a gray plate and photographed at a 45 degree angle.

Recipe Tips

  • Prep Ahead: The pickled carrots develop more robust flavor the longer they marinate. If you can, prepare them a day in advance.
  • Dressing Consistency: If your dressing seems too thick, add a bit of water or additional lime juice to thin it out to your liking.
  • Tortilla Crunch: To keep your tortilla chips crunchy in the salad, add them right before serving to keep them from getting soggy.
  • Avocado Browning: If preparing the salad in advance, add the avocado chunks last, just before serving to be sure they stay fresh and don’t start to brown.
  • Vinaigrette Storage: If you end up with extra Cilantro Lime Vinaigrette, store it in an airtight container in the refrigerator. It pairs well with other dishes too, just plan to enjoy it within a week.
  • Radish Tips: Use a mandoline slicer for consistently thin and even radish slices. But be careful with your fingers!
  • Herb Freshness: Cilantro is notoriously fragile! To keep it fresh longer, store in the refrigerator with the stems in a glass of water, like a bouquet. Cover the leaves with a plastic bag.
  • Salad Tossing: Use your hands or large salad servers to toss the salad to ensure that everything gets coated evenly without crushing delicate ingredients.
a bite of Mexican chopped salad on a fork.

Recipe Variations

  • Swap out romaine hearts for other crisp greens like iceberg lettuce or butter lettuce. Or go for a more nutrient-dense base like kale or spinach.
  • If you want an alternative to carrots, consider adding jicama. It has a similar crunchy texture but is slightly sweeter.
  • Don’t like radishes? Cherry or grape tomatoes can add a pop of color and a juicy element to the mix.
  • If you’d rather not add tortilla chips, use roasted pepitas or sunflower seeds for added crunch.
  • Can’t find queso fresco or cotija cheese? Feta cheese is a tangy substitute that blends well with these flavors.

Optional Additions

  • Add extra spicy kick with sliced, fresh jalapeños.
  • Fresh corn or grilled corn cut from the cob is a great addition for little pops of sweetness (and smokiness if the corn is grilled).
  • For added protein and heartiness, add cooked and cooled black beans or pinto beans.
  • Toss in some diced red bell pepper for extra sweet crunch a pop of color.

More Must Try Mexican Salads

How to Make Mexican Chopped Salad

To pickle the carrots: Mix apple cider vinegar, honey, and salt in a bowl. Add carrots, coat, and chill for at least 10 minutes, ideally a day.

For the vinaigrette: Combine lime juice, apple cider vinegar, garlic, cilantro, and honey. As it blends, add olive oil slowly. Season and blend briefly. Store if not using soon.

Salad assembly: Drain pickled carrots. In a large bowl, combine romaine, carrots, radishes, chips, and queso fresco. Add vinaigrette as desired. Serve topped with avocado, cilantro, and extra cheese.

Recipe Video

Mexican Chopped Salad

5 from 2 votes
Prep: 30 minutes
Total: 30 minutes
Course: Main Course, Salad
Cuisine: Mexican
Calories: 461
Servings: 4 servings
Whether it's a sunny day BBQ or a family dinner, this salad brings a touch of zest and color to any table. Enjoy it on its own or pair it with your favorite Mexican mains!

Ingredients  

For the pickled carrots

  • 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • 1/2 teaspoon honey
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 2 carrots peeled and diced small

For the Cilantro Lime Vinaigrette

  • 1/4 cup fresh lime juice
  • 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
  • 1 small clove garlic minced
  • 1/2 cup coarsely chopped fresh cilantro leaves and tender stems, plus more for salad
  • 2 teaspoons honey or agave nectar
  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

For the Salad

  • 2 large romaine hearts 3 or 4 romaine hearts if small
  • 2 radishes thinly sliced
  • 1 cup crushed tortilla chips or more
  • 2 ounces crumbled queso fresco or cotija cheese, plus more for garnish
  • 1 large avocado seeded, peeled and diced small
  • fresh cilantro leaves for garnish (I recommend a generous amount)

Instructions 

For the quick pickled carrots:

  • In a medium bowl, whisk together apple cider vinegar, honey and salt until honey and salt dissolve; add carrots and toss to coat. Cover and refrigerate at least 10 minutes and up to 3 days. (I recommend doing this at least a day in advance if possible for the best flavor.)

To make vinaigrette:

  • Combine lime juice, apple cider vinegar, garlic, cilantro and honey in a blender and blend until smooth, scraping down sides with a spatula as needed. With blender running, add olive oil in a steady stream. Season to taste with salt and pepper and blend just until emulsified (take care not to over-blend as olive oil may become bitter). (Cover and refrigerate if not using right away.)

For the salad:

  • Remove pickled carrots from refrigerator; drain well. Add romaine, pickled carrots, radishes, tortilla chips and queso fresco to a large bowl; drizzle with 1/3 cup of the vinaigrette and toss to coat. Taste and add more dressing if desired; toss once more. Serve in the same bowl or transfer to platter or individual salad bowls. Sprinkle diced avocado evenly over salad and garnish with fresh cilantro leaves and more crumbled queso fresco (optional). Serve immediately.

Notes

  1. You may not use all of the vinaigrette, but note that the nutrition information includes the full amount. Store any leftover dressing in an airtight container in the refrigerator and enjoy within a week.

Nutrition

Calories: 461kcal | Carbohydrates: 34g | Protein: 7g | Fat: 35g | Saturated Fat: 6g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 6g | Monounsaturated Fat: 21g | Trans Fat: 0.1g | Cholesterol: 10mg | Sodium: 378mg | Potassium: 598mg | Fiber: 7g | Sugar: 7g | Vitamin A: 10348IU | Vitamin C: 15mg | Calcium: 152mg | Iron: 2mg

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

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6 Comments

  1. David @ Spiced says:

    5 stars
    What a fun salad! We eat a lot of salads in the summer months, but I’ve never made anything with quick pickled carrots. Yum! (We have bought pickled carrots at store, but I’m more intrigued at the idea of making them ourselves.) Thanks for the inspiration here – time to up our salad game!

  2. Ben | Havocinthekitchen says:

    5 stars
    What a beautiful and colourful salad packed with great textures and flavours (but I may skip the cilantro for myself though lol). And those pickled carrots? I bet they’re good on its own!

  3. Valentina says:

    The pickled carrots are genius in this recipe, Marissa. What a punch of flavor. This is perfect for the hot summer days we’re having. 🙂 ~Valentina

    1. Marissa Stevens says:

      Thanks so much, Valentina! I hope you’ll give it a try.

  4. angiesrecipes says:

    Such a colourful and crunchy salad!

    1. Marissa Stevens says:

      Thanks, Angie!