Southwest Rice and Bean Salad with Sweet and Spicy Dressing

Continuing on the theme of the delicious southwest flavors, please let me introduce to you my new favorite salad. Oh, this salad. I could wax poetic about it’s lovely qualities.

But I won’t. Lucky for you.

My cousin Tami passed it along to me when I had declared the Great Bean Crusade in my home (a fight against the gagging and whining that occurs when beans are served at our dinner table).

Southwest Rice and Bean Salad with Sweet and Spicy Dressing

The end result of this salad is incredible. Delicious, in fact. The salad ingredients are traditionally tasty and paired with the tangy, sweet dressing – it’s a knockout. My husband devoured it, and that’s fairly impressive since he’s not crazy about having salad for dinner. Never in a million years would I have expected the flavors of the dressing to be so melded and perfectly complete. This is definitely going to be a salad to grace our home and future potlucks for years to come.

Thanks, Tami. I owe you. Oh, and my kids even ate a bean or two. So actually, I owe you big time.

Southwest Rice and Bean Salad with Sweet and Spicy Dressing

Yield: Serves 8-10

Southwest Rice and Bean Salad with Sweet and Spicy Dressing

Note: this salad is so adaptable. Iโ€™ve added 1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro, subbed red onions for the green, doubled the dressing (just because!), and my favorite variation was made with a combination of wild and brown rice.


  • 5 cups cooked rice, warm or at room temperature (white, brown, wild rice or a combination!)
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 (15-oz.) can black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 (15-oz.) can pinto beans, drained and rinsed
  • 2 cups cooked, cubed chicken
  • 1 (12-oz.) can corn, drained
  • 4 green onions, chopped
  • Dressing:
  • 1/4 cup fresh lime juice
  • 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons packed brown sugar
  • 2/3 cup canola oil
  • 4 pickled jalepeno pepper rounds (found in the glass jars next to the olives, usually)
  • 2 teaspoons chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon cumin


  1. Combine all of the salad ingredients together in a large bowl.
  2. Combine dressing ingredients in blender until peppers are finely minced. Toss with salad. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Recipe Source: from my cousin-in-law, Tami

Southwest Rice and Bean Salad with Sweet and Spicy Dressing

70 Responses to Southwest Rice and Bean Salad with Sweet and Spicy Dressing

  1. Stacy says:

    This is an oldie but a goodie! Tried this tonight and am in LOVE!!

  2. Rachel says:

    We love this recipe! I’m wondering if anyone has figured out a calorie count/nutrition facts for this?

    Thanks, all!

  3. Jennifer says:

    Delicious! I added fresh garden chopped tomatoes, cilantro and a dollop of Daisy because well, I can’t not have sour cream with any mexi-dish. ๐Ÿ™‚ Husband put it in a tortilla and loved it too – he asked why I didn’t try it soon. Lesson learned…move your recipes to the top of the ‘to try’ pile. Cheers from Kansas

  4. Jill says:

    Made this tonight for dinner. One word: DELICIOUS!

  5. Allison says:

    After having this pinned for way too long, I finally made it tonight and it is amazing!!! All three of my kids gobbled it up too. My husband loves Mexican food to the point of being happy to have it every day, so finding a great recipe in that genre is as good as gold. Thank you!!

  6. Lloyd says:

    We take a container of this for our lunch instead of sandwiches. This will make seven 14 ounce portions. Our first change was adding 50% more dressing, mixing it in a bowl. We also substituted a diced Red Bell Pepper, not putting it in the dressing but adding it to the other ingredients. The last time we made it we had 3 to 4 extra cups of torn up chicken, so we tossed that in. It made it really good. After putting it together we divide it into portion sized containers, packing one each in our lunch all week. Believe me, we love it. Like the idea of adding diced tomatoes…

  7. Melissa says:

    Absolutely delish!! I made it vegetarian and halved the salad, but kept the sauce the same. It’s perfectly yummy!! Thank you!!

  8. Whitney says:

    Mmmm…this one is a favorite at our house. I use a can of green chilies instead of the jalapeno rounds. I also used a mix of brown rice and wild rice and red beans. I am trying to get my son to eat more rice and this is a good way to go! My 2 year old says “This is too nummy Mom”. ๐Ÿ™‚

  9. Sheila says:

    Just made this Southwest Rice and Bean Salad for hubby and I’s lunches this week. It is so good! I make your Brown Rice Boiled and then covered for 10 minutes to go into it. We also like it with the dressing doubled. Thank you for so many excellent (nope, not good but excellent) recipes.

  10. Katie B says:

    Made this tonight after coming across the recipe on Pinterest. YUM! Looking forward to taking the leftovers to lunch!

  11. Amanda Z says:

    Yummy!! Hubby and I love this salad! The dressing is so good!! I doubled the dressing, and added some fresh cilantro. We ended up with a lot of leftovers, but I am sure they will be eaten! I like the idea I have seen in some other comments of putting this in a warm tortilla. Thanks Mel!

  12. Lorie Hainsworth says:

    This salad has become a regular in our house.

  13. Jocelyn says:

    My family really enjoyed this refreshing salad. I cut back a little bit on the oil and used green chiles instead of the jalapeรฑos because it’s what I had on hand. I’m thinking of using some of the leftovers in tacos. Thank you!

  14. Jill says:

    I had this salad when visiting my mom and dads. We had it cold and it was so refreshing after a day at the beach. I also LOVED that its gluten-free since I have celiac.

  15. Robin says:

    Made this without the chicken (vegetarian) and absolutely adore it. The flavor is addictive and the combo is protein packed. Thanks!

  16. TamiBee says:

    I made this tonight – WOW! What a nice recipe! I think I might make some extra dressing next time – and maybe even add in a bit of grated carrot? I eat mostly vegetarian meals while the rest of my family are meat-eaters, and I love how flexible this recipe turned out to be. The rest of the family added chicken to their tortillas and I added a bit of sharp cheddar cheese to mine. Wonderful!

  17. Tiff says:

    Thank you!

  18. Melissa says:

    I have made this several times over the past year or so and use one can black beans drained and one can chili beans, not drained. It adds a little bit more flavor. Just an idea. We love this salad plain as a main dish or wrapped up in a tortilla

  19. Tiff says:

    I’d like to make this for an upcoming family gathering. Since we’ll be traveling about an hour to reach our destination, I’m wondering if this salad would do better tossed with the dressing when I arrive or if it would be better to let the dressing mix with the rice ahead of time? Any suggestions? Thanks!

    • Mel says:

      Tiff – this salad should be fine tossed with the dressing for a couple hours in advance. It will give everything a chance to soak up the yumminess!

  20. Jess in ND says:

    This dressing is heaven! I whipped this up yesterday, only with breaded chicken strips since I had no grilled chicken, and everyone raved about it. Anything with beans (2 cans!), rice,, and corn makes me happy, but pulling it together with that dressing is sensational!

  21. Lindsey says:

    I’m going to try this with avocado instead of chicken. I bet it could be a lovely vegetarian dish. Have you ever tried using xantham gum or guar gum mixed with water to replace the oil in dressing? It is an amazing way to cut calories and fat!

  22. […] from Mel’s Kitchen Cafe Published: October 25, 2012 Filed Under: Chicken, Dinner, Healthy, Rice, So.. it's 5pm […]

  23. Amber says:

    I really love the flavor of this salad. Now I will say that maybe it was something I did wrong but it was just too much rice (I used white rice) which caused it to be a little on the dry side. I think the next time I make this I will only use 3 cups of rice. I think this would be excellent with uncle ben’s wild rice too!

  24. MaryAnn says:

    I just had to comment…made this for dinner tonight and it was amazing! Used wild rice, fresh corn, and red onion but otherwise followed recipe exactly. The dressing totally made the salad. Thanks so much for sharing this recipe, definitely a keeper and it will reappear frequently! ๐Ÿ™‚

  25. Carrie says:

    This dressing was the best find! I wanted something that would go well with taco meat, corn, cheese and in my taco salad. With sour cream and cheese in the same bite it is the perfect creamy and flavorful compliment to the taco meat. I hope to make this into a southwest salad for the family dinner.

  26. Kristina M says:

    I loved this recipe! We threw it in a warm tortilla with some lettuce and it was delicious. So glad we have lots of leftovers! Thanks for another great recipe!

  27. Noelle says:

    This recipe is SOOOO delicious!!! I made this for my husband and myself, so you can imagine we had a lot of leftovers, which was GREAT. I took it to work a few times for lunch, and so did my husband. Mine never got dry, even when reheating it. I had this recipe for a while and I am kicking myself for not making this earlier. This is a great and easy recipe that I will definitely be making over and over!!!

  28. Marcie M. says:

    Well, once again you’ve made me look less like an amateur and more like a chef! This stuff is absolutely amazing! I added big chunks of avocado and tiny cherry tomatoes sliced in half along with fresh, seeded jalapenos and it is KILLER. I woke up this morning excited that I get to eat it again. Thanks again!

  29. Valerie says:

    We loved the stroganoff and the vegetarian lasagna! Yum

  30. Mel says:

    Thanks, Valerie – I hope you like the beef stroganoff also!

  31. Valerie says:

    Hi Melanie,
    Another wonderful recipe! We are trying the beef stroganoff in the slow cooker tonight – smells yummy already.

  32. Allison says:

    I made this last night and it was AMAZING! I didn’t know what to expect, but my entire family loved it, including my 4 year old daughter who hates beans. My husband put some of his in a tortilla with sour cream & hot sauce. I can’t wait to eat the leftovers tonight. ๐Ÿ™‚ I had a bunch of limes laying around, and the fresh lime taste in this salad was perfect. Thank you!

    • Mel says:

      Allison – so glad this salad was a hit! It’s a bit different from your everyday salad so I’m glad you loved the result and I think your husband is on to something with the “stuffing inside a tortilla” thing. Thanks!

  33. Dani Eaton says:

    How many servings or how many people does this feed? It looks very yummy.

  34. Janae says:

    I made it last night and it is seriously good! Seriously…

  35. Ann says:

    Made this last night and we loved it. So glad I finally got around to this one. It makes tons! I think it is just crying out for some fresh cilantro, so I will try that next time. I may even make it without the chicken for a filling meatless meal. But I love the flavor the dressing brings to it.

    Thanks for another awesome recipe.

  36. Linda says:

    oh yeah, not to mention all the yummiest photos to go with it…. !!! You take some great food photos, I must say!

  37. Linda says:

    LOVE your blog. I also love that you don’t use any “Cream of” soups…those are so full of crap and preservatives anyway. Hats off to you for sharing all these recipes!! thank you.

  38. Erica says:

    does this have tomatoes in it? i thought it looked like it in the pic but they aren’t listed in the recipe. i LOVe tomatoes and thought they might be good here if not originally included.

    • Mel says:

      Hi Erica – the recipe list doesn’t include the tomatoes but every so often when I make this, I’ll throw in a can of drained, petite diced tomatoes. I probably took the picture when I made it with this variation. Feel free to add them – this salad is pretty adaptable!

  39. Ryan and Julianne says:

    Made this again tonight…you seriously cannot go wrong with this meal. Yay.

  40. the mama monster says:

    i’m trying this tonight but adding some jalepeno jelly to the dressing as i’m out of peppers. thanks for all your great recipes!

  41. Melanie says:

    Camille – yes, this does make a ton. I’m glad it worked out ok as leftovers. I can’t wait to see what creations we come up with for Thanksgiving together!

  42. camille says:

    Mel, I just made this and it made a TON for my little family. I was super excited to eat it for lunch leftovers, but when I warmed it up it was a little dry. No worries – I ate it with tortilla chips and some homemade guac and it was amazing again! ๐Ÿ™‚

  43. Melanie says:

    Melanie – thanks for giving this unusual salad a try. So glad you liked it!

  44. Melanie says:

    OMG, this was yummy. I too was skeptical, but glad I gave it a chance. I can’t wait to make it for friends. Thanks, Melanie.

  45. Anonymous says:

    I made this for dinner last night and it was surprisingly delicious! Given the ingredient list, it WAS a little surprising to me honestly. We all loved it, my husband, 9 year old son, and toddler son. Very good! Will make again, for sure. Thanks for sharing!


  46. Melanie says:

    Nalene – I’ve been waiting for someone to make this! I’m so glad you did and that you liked it. Thanks for taking the time to let me know.

  47. Queen B. says:

    OOooo yum !!I love all those flavors……will try this TOOOOOOOO !

  48. grace says:

    southwestern flavors are my favorite, hands down. lovely side, melanie!

  49. Cara says:

    I’ve seen lots of dishes that combine beans/rice/corn/chicken, but I’ve never seen one with this type of dressing! It looks yummy, and I’m sure my husband would love it.

  50. camille says:

    This looks great. Did you serve it as a main dish or a side?

  51. Kristy says:

    Melanie- I am wondering if you ever make “extras” and freeze meals for later use. I am participating in a freezer meal swap and would be interested to hear what recipes you think freeze well. I know the honey lime chicken enchiladas freeze great…any other ideas?

  52. teresa says:

    oh yummy! i love all the flavors that go into this!

  53. Julianne says:

    Oh dear – this stuff is so good. The dressing is the best part — the lime just works so well.

  54. Tami says:

    Wow. I feel so famous being featured. This is really, truly, one of the best main course salads ever. Glad you liked it.

  55. the mama monster says:

    oh yum… i love all those ingredients and this sounds amazing!

  56. ARLENE says:

    I agree that this looks delicious. I may try half a batch for a few tasty lunches.

  57. Melanie says:

    camille – I served this as a main dish with a crusty roll. It was perfect and very filling.

  58. Melanie says:

    Is this dish spicy? I don’t really care for jalepinos, due to the heat. Thanks.

  59. Splendid Things says:

    This looks delicious! I have a recipe somewhat similar that incorporates some of the same ingredients as well as sour cream casserole style.
    By the way, I made your chocolate chip cake today and everyone loved it. Next time I am going to serve it with seasoned whipped cream. Thanks for all the great recipes. My family is glad I found your blog!

  60. Melanie says:

    Melanie – no, this dish is not spicy at all. The jalapenos don’t add heat just flavor.

  61. Melanie says:

    Splendid Things – so glad that you liked the chocolate chip cake! I bet it would be wonderful with whipped cream.

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