Post updated March 11, 2023
This is my take on Newman’s Own Southwest Dressing Recipe. Just like McDonald’s southwestern salad dressing you can make at home. It’s a tangy blend of spices combined to make a great Southwestern salad dressing.
If you’re someone who loves Tex-Mex flavors and is always on the lookout for a perfect dressing to complement your salads, rice bowls, and grilled chicken, then you’re in luck!
Today we’ll be sharing a great recipe for homemade southwest dressing that’s easy to make, packed with fresh flavors, and uses real ingredients. Plus, you can customize it according to your taste preferences and dietary needs.
On our way back to Minnesota from Florida, MaryJo and I make some quick stops for lunch. My favorite quick stop is McDonald’s to get a Southwest salad with grilled chicken.
McDonald’s is at every other interchange and you know what you are getting when you buy there.
I don’t know if you are familiar with this, but it is a big salad with greens, cilantro, corn, black beans, grated cheddar cheese, topped with spicy tortilla chips with a packet of Newman’s Own Southwest Restaurant Dressing.
It is a really delicious, low-calorie lunch that really hits the spot.
The thing is, Newman’s Own Southwest Dressing is not sold in stores. Bummer! The Southwest Dressing Recipe is a total secret and you can’t buy it.
Why Make Your Own Southwest Dressing
Before we dive into the recipe, let’s talk about why homemade dressing is a healthier option than store-bought dressing.
Many store-bought dressings contain soybean oil, which is high in omega-6 fatty acids, and may lead to inflammation in the body. They also contain xanthan gum, a thickening agent that can cause digestive issues in some people.
Additionally, store-bought dressings often have artificial flavors, and preservatives to enhance their shelf life, which is not ideal for people who are trying to eat clean and avoid processed foods.
On the other hand, homemade salad dressing allows you to control the ingredients that go into your dressing, and you can avoid allergens or ingredients that you don’t like.
Moreover, making your own dressing is more cost-effective in the long run, and you can store it in an airtight container in the fridge for up to two weeks. Plus, it tastes as good or better than any store-bought dressing you can find!
Developing the Southwest Salad Dressing Recipe
While we were at one of the McDonald’s stops I told MaryJo that I should try to duplicate the recipe for the Southwest Dressing, so I took a picture of the ingredient label. Logical first step.
There were things like corn syrup solids, corn vinegar, cornstarch, whey, and sour cream powder. Curious ingredients. I’m sure that if you are Paul Newman you could call up friends and have this stuff delivered to your front step! No problem.
Well, I am Joe and not Paul and have no idea what this stuff is. So I experiment.
One of the ingredients is egg yolks mixed with soybean oil and cider vinegar.
The egg yolks make the oil and vinegar mix together to make an emulsion that will not separate, (the old oil and water thing).
Well, I throw this together and added the spices I thought were in the dressing and made a pretty good likeness to the original, (not really).
Then I make another blend. Not quite right.
By then I’m thinking that if I come up with a Newman’s Own copycat recipe, it would contain uncooked eggs. That could mean…Salmonella city!
I went back to the store and bought pasteurized eggs. Turns out they are hard to separate, yolks and whites, but I got the job done.
I then tried another spice blend and I was not close again.
The Dressing Solution…Use Mayonnaise!
MaryJo sensed my frustration and suggested that I use already processed oil, water, and eggs which makes…Mayonnaise. I thought. okay, I give up. Bring on the Hellman’s.
So, with a new sense of purpose and determination, I tried at least 5 more spice blends which required MaryJo to go to the store once and for me to go to the store once more, for spices that we would try and to get more sour cream since I used all that we had.
Finally, I found a blend of spices that worked and my Southwestern Dressing Recipe is pretty close to Paul’s. Store-bought dressing flavor that you can make at home.
He must have spent a lot of time perfecting these recipes! His is exceptional but mine is dang good.
Here Are The Ingredients You Will Need
These are the essential things you will need to make this creamy, homemade southwest dressing.
- Sour cream
- Karo syrup You can use agave or honey as a substitute.
- Apple cider vinegar
- Lime juice
- Onion powder
- garlic powder
- Dried cilantro Finely chopped fresh cilantro would also work.
- Chili powder
- Cayenne pepper
- Ground cumin
- Tap water To use for thinning the homemade dressing so that it pours.
For the salad itself here is what I use.
- Lettuce Iceberg or Romaine.
- Fresh cilantro
- Red onion
- Fresh corn Frozen corn that has been thawed is best.
- Black beans
- Tomatoes Grape tomatoes or chopped Roma tomatoes.
- Cheddar cheese
- Tortilla strips I used Mrs. Cubbison’s southwest flavor tortilla strips.
- Grilled chicken breast This is optional but the chicken is quite good with the Tex-Mex flavors.
My recipe makes enough for two salads, but if you enjoy this homemade southwest dressing recipe, feel free to double or triple the ingredients. There is a slider in the recipe card to increase the number of servings up to 20 servings. That would give you the correct ingredients needed for 25 ounces of dressing.
It should store in the refrigerator for one or two weeks. Store it in a Mason jar with a tight-fitting lid or any suitable airtight container.
McDonald’s used to have a southwest salad that came with Newman’s Own Southwest Dressing.
This recipe post was updated on December 9, 2021, and McDonald’s has discontinued making the Southwest salad. They also stopped selling salads in 2020 presumably because they were not that popular.
According to McDonald’s.com, they have Chicken Caesar Salad, Garden Salad, and Garden Salad with Crispy Chicken. According to my local restaurant, they don’t offer salads anymore.
I thought that it might be Covid that made them stop selling salads. This article from “Eat This, Not That” gives another explanation, which for a fast-food restaurant, makes sense.
They had to buy 2 different kinds of lettuce…one for sandwiches and one for salads.
So give my Southwest Salad Dressing Recipe a try. You won’t be disappointed.
Hey. Did you make this recipe? Let me know how you liked it in the comments below. Take a photo of your creation and post it on your Instagram…tag @joeshealthymeals so I can take a look.
And here are a few more tasty recipes to try:
- Tex-Mex Chopped Chicken Salad
- Caramelized Onion Crostini with Mushrooms
- Jalapeno Potatoes au Gratin
- Make-ahead Mashed Potatoes
- Smoked Salmon Appetizer with Arugula
- Pimento Cheese Deviled Eggs
The Best Southwest Salad Dressing Recipe
- 2 tbsp mayonnaise
- 1 tbsp sour cream
- 2 tsp light Karo syrup (agave or honey as substitutes)
- 1 tsp water (or more to thin)
- 1/2 tsp cider vinegar
- 1/2 tsp lime juice
- 1/4 tsp onion powder
- 1/4 tsp garlic powder
- 1/2 tsp dried cilantro
- 1 tsp McCormick hot mexican style chili powder
- 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
- 1/2 tsp cumin
- Romaine lettuce
- red onion
- black beans
- grape tomatoes
- thin sliced carrot
- grated cheddar cheese
- Mrs. Cubbison's southwest flavor tortilla strips ,
- Whisk ingredients together in a medium sized bowl.
- Place into an air-tight container and refrigerate to store.
- Assemble the salad to your liking and top with the dressing.
- The salad ingredient proportions are up to you. Corn and beans are a must. I added red onion because I like it. If you can't find the tortilla strips, (near salad croutons in the store), you could substitute spicy Dorito chips.
- This recipe makes 4 1/2 tbsp or approximately 2, 1 1/4 fl. oz. servings.
- To adjust the recipe to make a larger batch, click on the "2" in the servings in the header above and use the slider to increase the serving size.
- Nutrition information is for 1 serving of the salad dressing. Not the salad ingredients.
I loved it tasted just like McDonald’s
Thanks so much for sharing this great recipe — great job! I’ve looked online for it for years, as I love that dressing/salad, and yours is the first & only one that I could tell was close enough to make it. I lightened it up by using light mayo and fat-free Greek yogurt in place of the sour cream, and added quite a bit more liquid (water and a little extra lime juice) to thin it out since the yogurt is so thick. I also used honey in place of the corn syrup. It is very good! The only ingredient I haven’t been able to find in stock is ANY brand of southwest tortilla salad topping. Thanks again!
Thank you for the nice comment. The variations you made are consistent with the seasonings of my recipe. And the dressing is thick so adding water and lime juice is perfect.
This salad (due to your fabulous dressing recipe!) has become one of my go-to’s since finding it. I just made up my second batch of the lightened-up version. This time, I only used 1 t. cayenne so that my heat-averse hubby can enjoy it as well, as the last batch was too much for him to handle 😀 . Thank you so much, again for sharing!!!
Thank you Sandi. Comments like yours make my day.
THANK YOU! THANK YOU! THANK YOU! I would also drive to McDonalds and get a salad just to get this southwest salad dressing! Because you couldn’t buy it! I was so excited to try your recipe, and you nailed it! I loved it. For my tastes, ext time, I will half the agave, and use chipotle instead of cayenne. Thank you so much for all the hard work to create this wonderful recipe!
I’m really glad that you found my recipe. And I used to love those salads too. Thank you for taking the time to comment.
This was exactly what I was looking for! Even though I had to tweak a little to make it vegan (darn allergies!), the flavors were still spot on. Thank you for a keeper Joe!
Thank you for the nice comment. I’m glad that you were able to make the recipe work for you,
Absolutely delicious. Fabulous flavor.
Thank you for the nice comment.
Made it a couple times now, definitely a keeper. I make a salad with a hearty leaf like Romaine, black beans, roasted corn, shredded Parm, and whatever else sounds good. Sooo tasty. Bet this would punch up a sandwich, too, maybe leave out the thinning water. Imma try that next time.
Hi Amanda. Thanks for your comment and glad that you found my recipe.
Just made a batch to the southwest salads for lunches this week. I used semi dried cilantro and honey because that’s what I had on hand. Finished mixing it up, tasted it, and decided to make a double batch on the spot. Thanks for the recipe.
Happy that you found my website.
Glad that you like the southwest dressing recipe.
Thanks for the comment.
I really wanted a southwest salad with our taco night but didn’t have any of our usual dressing left. This was so easy (had everything in the cupboard already) and delicious! We used light mayo and sour cream, and added corn, green onions, cilantro, and tex mex cheese to ours! Definitely keeping the dressing recipe on hand.
I’m so glad that you found my website and recipe.
Thanks for the nice comment and glad you liked the recipe.
Hi! I’m very excited to try this out! Do you use fresh squeezed lime juice or bottled?
Thanks for asking. You can use either fresh or bottled and I really don’t think the flavor boost from fresh would be that noticeable. It would probably be just a bit brighter tasting though with fresh.
I made this last night and it was absolutely delicious! I added a little extra karo, lime, acv and cumin (I like a lot of flavor). I’m making it again for lunch today!
Glad you like it Dawn.
Thank you for all your research. I made the dressing to go along with a homemade sw salad and they loved it. It was a win for dinner. Thank you
I’ve never tried the Southwest dressing but I didn’t have one from Panera that I enjoyed. Didn’t have the taco seasoning so I just used the basics, used some smoked paprika, minced garlic and whatever else I had on hand that I thought would work. The final result was good but I wanted it to have some heat so I added a couple splashes of habanero hot sauce, and it was amazing!