Layered Mexican Cornbread Salad

Yeah, yeah, I know yesterday was the big holiday wherein many of you got your fill of Mexican food and here I am posting a Mexican-type recipe today but don’t worry, I’m pretty sure this layered cornbread salad can be found absolutely nowhere in the actual country of Mexico and therefore probably shouldn’t be eaten on Cinco de Mayo anyway.

Instead, reserve this salad for the warm summer nights ahead when dinner should be light and refreshing but still dazzlingly yummy. I’m pretty sure if you were to add in grilled chicken, either on the side or layered in the salad with the rest of the goods, you might have the most perfect summer dinner ever.

Layered Mexican Cornbread Salad

A fabulous MKC reader, Jennifer J., sent me this recipe and I adapted it slightly to what you see here. I was a little worried, I’m not going to lie, about the potential of soggy cornbread. I know I’ve mentioned it before but soggy bread, in any form, and I? Well, we aren’t friends and could probably best be considered mortal enemies. I was very pleasantly surprised that the cornbread in this salad softens nicely but does not get anywhere near soggy (helped along by the fact that I basically ran the vegetables through a dryer cycle to eliminate any excess moisture).

To say that our expectations were exceeded by this salad is an understatement. Brian and I were oohing and aahing our way through dinner while the kids picked out the cornbread and other favorite morsels (I saw a lot of red peppers left on their plates but I was so enamored with my own plate of food that I let it go; just this one time of course). Super delicious, this one. Perfect, so perfect, for a potluck, or even better just for you and yours. You know, no obligated sharing. Who knew that adding cornbread to a mess (and yes, it looks like a mess once it’s dished up) of other ingredients and smothering it with a homemade creamy cilantro lime dressing could be such a beautiful thing?

Layered Mexican Cornbread Salad

One Year Ago: Classic Snickerdoodles
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Mexican Cornbread Layered Salad

Yield: Serves 8-10 as a side dish

Mexican Cornbread Layered Salad

A couple of notes: 1) make sure each ingredient is well dried before layering (like if the lettuce has been recently washed or after rinsing the beans) because you really don't want the cornbread to get soggy; major ick factor 2) I made an adapted version of my favorite cornbread for this recipe, reducing the sugar to 1/3 cup and using 1/2 cup coconut oil. I cut the cooled cornbread into small cubes. I had a bit leftover after I measured out the 3 or so cups - makes a great snack! 3) this salad can be layered in a variety of ways. If you want more dressing throughout the salad, add 1/2 of the dressing part way through the layers. You can also use a trifle dish to layer this but I like using a 9X13-inch dish because if you are scooping it out for a crowd, it's much easier to get all the ingredients in one scoop versus scooping into a really deep dish. Make sense? 4) adding grilled chicken to this (or on the side) would make a fantastic main course.


  • 3 cups chopped romaine lettuce
  • 3 cups cubed or crumbled cornbread (see note above)
  • 1 (15-ounce) can black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 1/2 cups corn kernels (fresh or frozen, thawed if frozen)
  • 1 red bell pepper, small diced
  • 1 (15-ounce) can black olives, drained and sliced
  • 3 green onions, finely chopped
  • 4 roma tomatoes, liquid squeezed out and chopped
  • 2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
  • Dressing:
  • 1/3 cup regular or light mayonnaise
  • 1/3 cup light or regular sour cream or plain yogurt
  • 1/3 cup lowfat buttermilk
  • 3/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
  • 1/4 cup fresh lime juice (from about 2 limes)
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder


  1. In a blender, combine all the dressing ingredients until smooth. Refrigerate until ready to use (this can be made several days in advance).
  2. In a 9X13-inch pan, layer the ingredients in the following order: lettuce, cornbread, beans, corn, red pepper, olives, green onions, tomatoes and cheese.
  3. Pour the dressing over the cheese. Cover with plastic wrap or foil and refrigerate for 1-2 hours. Serve chilled.

Recipe Source: adapted from a recipe Jennifer J. (a MKC reader) in California sent me. Thanks, Jennifer!

36 Responses to Layered Mexican Cornbread Salad

  1. Cheri WEgwitz says:

    I made this tonight and loved it! Fantastic recipe! Thanks for sharing!

  2. Sophie says:

    This looks so yummy! I have a similar recipe and for the cornbread you mix a package of jiffy cornbread muffin mix with 1 can of green chilies, 1/8 tsp. oregano, and 1/8 tsp. of cumin. Then bake at 400 for 25 minutes. It adds a lot of flavor. It also tastes really good if you add cooked bacon:)

  3. […] you are in the mood for a fresh, light salad, this one fits the bill. It features homemade cornbread and tex-mex flavors layered to make for one tasty […]

  4. Janelle says:

    Why did you adjust your cornbread recipe? Did you feel it was too sweet for the salad context, or what?

  5. AugustaPat says:

    I love, love, love recipes. I “stumbled” on your site and am glad that I did. I should be putting everything back into my pantry instead of reading recipes and drooling!! I decided to clean out my large, walk-in pantry -and now I am too tired (lazy??) to go through everything and put things back. Oh well, I’ll get to it. I so enjoy your recipes. I have never seen a salad exactly like this one before, but want to make it. My next covered dish that I will attend is the end of September -not exactly summer. I thought about making this to take; however, is this best in the summer and maybe I should take something else and make this while the weather is still warm? I am sure that I can find something else on your site that I would love too. Thanks for such a great recipe site!!!

  6. Alanna says:

    I’ve made this twice so far and we LOVE it. I think I’ll be making it every week all summer. I don’t know why, but I used a different salad dressing and it was fabulous– I made the dressing they make at Cafe Rio, which is basically this:

    1 packet Ranch Dressing (traditional kind, not the buttermilk kind)
    1 cup mayonnaise
    1 cup buttermilk
    2 tomatillos, remove husk, dice
    1/2 bunch fresh cilantro, chopped
    1 garlic clove
    juice from 1/2 lime

  7. Deb B says:

    Made this salad tonight. It was a great success! My only comment is to be careful with the dressing, a little goes a long way! I served on the side, and am glad I did. Will make again when family comes. Makes a large salad could feed 8-10 as a side.

  8. Katie says:

    When I told my husband we were having this for dinner he was very (emphasis on the very) skeptical. I think the only reason he tried it was because he loves me 🙂 He ended up loving it! So did I. I ate all the leftovers the next day (no problems with sogginess). I left out the red peppers, and threw in a couple handfuls of spinach. The blend of flavors was incredible. I thought the dressing to salad ratio was perfect.

    One comment about making the cornbread with coconut oil. Turns out my kitchen is overly warm and I can’t keep my coconut oil solid. The whole thing melted, which makes it easier to measure I guess. But add that cold milk and like Katie P. I had chunks of coconut oil in my batter. I just rolled with it, and it baked up perfectly.

  9. Katie P says:

    I kind of wisked it up about 10 minutes through the baking and it was fine. Love the texture of the corn bread! And the salad was delicious – everyone loved it. I doubled the dressing, but have tons left over. Thanks for another great recipe! I served it with Taco Salad Dippers for a casual dinner on the deck!

  10. Katie P says:

    I’ve got the cornbread in the oven doubled with the coconut oil substitution. Is your coconut oil solid or liquid? I have Trader Joe’s organic and it’s more like the consistency of crisco (eek!). I didn’t warm it to make it a liquid and now I hope I don’t regret it. The batter was lumpy – with lumps of coconut oil. Can’t wait to try the salad out with neighbors tonight!

    • Mel says:

      Hey Katie – my coconut oil is solid like that, too, and yes, I do warm it slightly (it melts at 70 degrees or something like that). However, your cornbread might turn out anyway. Good luck!

  11. Diana says:

    Brought this as a side to the family Memorial Day BBQ and this went over really well! It was a refreshing contrast to the traditional potato salad, beans, and mac and cheese sides. Couple of people turned their noses up (they’re meat and potatoes kind of people, salad isn’t a popular food around there) and only tried it because I have yet to bring a dud to the table (all thanks to you! You’re the only food blogger I trust without a test run for gatherings), but all of them ended up really liking it and one of them even took a whole plate of it home for lunch the next day!

    I did use a different cornbread recipe than yours, and I’ve learned never to do that again! I didn’t read the comments in the cornbread post until after I made it, but I used a different recipe to get rid of the buttermilk (we never use it and I was trying not to let it go to waste) and it didn’t come out nearly as well as your cornbread. It was a bit denser and harder than yours, which I figured would help guard against soggy bread, but all it did was fall apart into crumbs in the salad when disturbed. No one but me seemed to mind, but it became couscous-like, and I have major texture issues with couscous. I might try Barbara’s idea of drying it out next time too, or trying to make croutons out of the cornbread. A little crunch in the salad definitely wouldn’t hurt it. I’d also recommend doubling your dressing recipe and leaving half on the side. Maybe I just like a ton of dressing, but I’m glad I had the thought to do that because the drizzle on top wasn’t enough for me and most of the people there grabbed extra dressing too.

    This salad also does pretty well next day, with the exception of my couscous cornbread getting worse. Doesn’t get soggy at all.

  12. Marci says:

    What did you replace with the coconut oil in the cornbread?

  13. Stacie A. says:

    This was really yummy. We ate it as a vegetarian main dish and loved it. I added a cup or so of fresh spinach too… I wanted it a little more salad-y. My super picky 4 year old wouldn’t touch it, but my 6 year old snarfed it all up in minutes. Thanks for all the great recipes!

  14. Abby says:

    I made this recipe for my husband and I two nights ago and it was delicious! I’m not a huge cilantro fan so I halfed it and made the dressing completely smooth in the VitaMix, which helped a ton.

    Knowing that the two of us would never finish this in a night I kept the cornbread, assembled salad components and dressing all separate from each other and we layered it as we ate it. It kept perfectly for leftovers this way, with no soggy lettuce or cornbread. Such a summer treat!

  15. Melanie Walker says:

    I just made this salad and it looks beautiful. My dressing is darker and in the picture it looks like it should be white. Did I do something wrong?

    • Mel says:

      Hi Melanie – the pictures probably make my dressing look a bit more light colored than it really was. It is definitely kind of light and creamy but the color will vary depending on how much cilantro and other darker ingredients you use. As long as it tastes ok, there isn’t anything to worry about.

  16. Margaret Peck says:

    I made this for dinner and it was so good

  17. grace says:

    bah! a perfectly delightful salad has been tainted with olives!
    good thing this is highly adaptable. 🙂

  18. Karla says:

    This looks really good. 🙂 Is there anything that could be subbed for cilantro (hubby hates cilantro)?


  19. This looks so tasty! I love your new site design, by the way!

  20. rebecca says:

    First of all, I love your blog and I use your recipes all the time… so many have become staples and family favorites.
    Secondly, I really miss having the food picture print with the recipe. Is there any chance you’ll be changing that back how it was?

  21. Valerie A. H. says:

    Hi Mel!
    I’ve made a different version of this recipe. I was hesitant at first too but everyone seemed to love it and one of my sons friends (male) asked for the recipe. I changed the Swiss cheese in it to cheddar. Here’s the recipe I used from Southern Living Mag…

    Layered Cornbread-and-Turkey Salad
    • 1 (12-ounce) bottle Parmesan-peppercorn dressing
    • 1/2 cup mayonnaise
    • 1/4 cup buttermilk
    • 1 (9-ounce) package romaine lettuce, shredded
    • 2 1/2 cups chopped smoked turkey (about 3/4 pound)
    • 2 large yellow bell peppers, chopped
    • 2 large tomatoes, seeded and chopped
    • 1 red onion, chopped
    • 1 cup diced celery (about 3 celery ribs)
    • 2 cups (8 ounces) shredded Swiss cheese
    • 10 bacon slices, cooked and crumbled
    • 2 green onions, sliced
    1. Prepare cornbread according to package directions; cool and crumble. Set aside.
    2. Stir together dressing, mayonnaise, and buttermilk until blended.
    3. Layer crumbled cornbread, shredded lettuce, and next 7 ingredients evenly into 6 (3- to 4-cup) glass containers; spoon half of dressing mixture evenly over tops. Cover and chill at least 3 hours or up to 24 hours. Sprinkle with green onions just before serving. Serve with remaining half of dressing mixture on the side.
    4. Note: For testing purposes only, we used Martha White Buttermilk Cornbread Mix and Girard’s Parmesan-Peppercorn Dressing. We used 3-cup marquis-shaped canning jars with lid and screw ring.
    5. To make 1 large salad: Layer half each of crumbled cornbread, shredded lettuce, and next 7 ingredients in a large glass bowl; spoon half of dressing mixture evenly over top. Repeat layers ending with dressing mixture. Cover and chill at least 8 hours or up to 24 hours. Sprinkle top with green onions just before serving. Prep: 45 min., Chill: 8 hrs.
    6. Layered Southwest Cornbread-and-Turkey Salad: Substitute 1 (6-ounce) package Mexican cornbread mix for 1 (6-ounce) package buttermilk cornbread mix; 1 (16-ounce) bottle buttermilk-Ranch dressing for Parmesan-peppercorn dressing; 1 (8-ounce) package finely shredded Cheddar and Monterey Jack cheeses with jalapeño peppers for shredded Swiss cheese; and 1 (11-ounce) can sweet whole kernel corn, drained, and 1 (15-ounce) can black beans, rinsed and drained, for yellow bell peppers. Prepare recipe as directed, omitting mayonnaise.
    7. Note: For testing purposes only, we used Gladiola Mexican style cornbread mix and Ken’s Steak House Buttermilk Ranch dressing.

  22. Soggy bread actually really creeps me out so I totally feel you. But this salad is just so PRETTY! It sounds fantastic!

  23. Melanie S. says:

    A dear friend made this for me following knee surgery. My DH almost threw it in the oven, not realizing it was a salad. My kids looked at it with leeriness. I licked the platter clean! Thanks for posting, I had forgotten about this knockout salad. Its time to start whipping up some cornbread! Thanks, Melanie!

  24. Lacee says:

    I made your Chicken Quesadilla Pie yesterday for Cinco de Mayo, along with your citrus slush/drink. Both were hits! My 1 year old ditched his fork and started using his hands to shovel it in his mouth faster. He kept saying, “Mmmmm!” after every bite!

  25. Yum!! That dressing sounds fabulous!! So glad to hear about the soggy bread…soggy bread and I aren’t friends either!!

  26. Jen T says:

    oh yum! Can’t wait for summer!

  27. Teresa R. says:

    This recipe sounds delicious, and I’ll be trying it this week. We may have the thai noodles tonight or tomorrow. I bought the ingredients over the weekend, so I’m all set. Thanks for another great one dish meal!

  28. Oohh, this looks amazing!!!! Love it!

  29. Barbara says:

    I wonder if you dried out the cornbread a bit (think panzanella) if the soggy issue would be totally alleviated? Looks delish, making this week!

  30. This sounds delicious to me! I have your easy thai noodles on the menu this week! Can’t wait!

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