This Steak Salad is hearty enough to serve as the full meal, and has tons of flavor. Steak is pan seared and sliced thinly, then paired with queso fresco, avocado, tomatoes, and a fresh Cilantro Lime Dressing. It is SO satisfying and made in 20 minutes!
If you’re averse to dainty salads that border on rabbit food, this filling and delicious steak salad is for you.
My husband and I try to eat salad at least once a day, and we usually prefer to go the “hearty salad” route. We like to have it as our main meal for lunch or dinner so we can take care of the entire meal with minimal prep.
Something like a California Cobb Salad or this steak salad works great, where there’s a good mix of protein, greens, vegetables, cheese, and a great dressing to tie it all together. It certainly qualifies as a dinner salad.
Sometimes when I get salad at a restaurant and it’s little more than dressed greens, I feel like that just isn’t salad. I need a party in a bowl with some fun ingredients going on. That’s what makes each bite magical and exciting to eat.
Ingredients You’ll Need
To make this steak salad, we’ll use mixed greens, pan seared steak (though you could also do Carne Asada, Grilled Ribeye, or Grilled Flank Steak), queso fresco, cherry tomatoes, pepitas, avocado, and red onion (which I forgot to put in the below picture of my cutting board).
Sometimes if I have it around, I’ll swap a scoop of homemade Guacamole for the avocado.
Tips for Best Results
Make sure the greens are very dry – Wash and dry the salad greens well in advance, then keep chilled in the fridge with paper towels to wick away any moisture. Nothing ruins a salad more than wet greens, because it totally waters down the dressing.
Use the freshest ingredients – Most people don’t realize how quickly fresh produce loses its flavor as it sits in the fridge. Try to make your grocery trip pretty close to actually making this.
Use room temperature steak – The best steak for your salad will be a piece of beef that’s freshly made, but this is also a great place to use leftover steak. If you’re using leftovers, try to pull the cooked beef from the fridge 30-60 minutes beforehand and let it warm up to room temperature. This will ensure the most juicy steak. If you slice it first, it will warm up faster.
What Cut of Beef to Use
You can use top sirloin steak, ribeye, strip steak, skirt steak, flat iron steak, flank, New York strip steak, or even filet mignon. My preference and what I believe to be the best steak for salad is top sirloin because it’s one of the cheaper options, but still has a tenderness to it and sears beautifully.
Do you need to season the beef?
Because the cilantro lime dressing is so flavorful, adding a spice rub or flavoring to the steak is not necessary. You can certainly sear the steak plain with some salt and pepper. However, you may add extra seasoning if you enjoy it. I have a pre-mixed mole seasoning that I like putting on the beef sometimes, and that flavor profile fits in nicely here.
Here is a detailed post I have on Pan Seared Steak with complete instructions and step-by-step photos, so you can sear any piece of beef like a boss. You could also do a Grilled Ribeye or Grilled Flank Steak.
For the steak salad dressing, I’m using my Creamy Cilantro Lime Dressing:
This homemade dressing has absolutely incredible flavor, and all you have to do to make it is blend up fresh cilantro, jalapeño, garlic, lime juice, greek yogurt, olive oil, salt and black pepper. It’s really easy and so delicious!
Other Options for Dressing
The Cilantro Lime Dressing with the Queso Fresco is incredible paired with the steak. However, if you don’t enjoy cilantro or prefer another flavor profile, you may use a Balsamic Vinaigrette and replace the queso fresco with crumbled blue cheese, feta cheese, or goat cheese, which goes better with balsamic vinegar.
Then it’s just a matter of putting all the ingredients together for your fresh salad.
This is one of my top 3 favorite salads, and I really hope you give it a try.
It’s good enough to be served at a restaurant, and actually better than a lot of restaurant salads dare I say, but incredibly easy to make at home. Once you’ve given this a try, check out my Mexican Corn Salad, Carrot Raisin Salad, and Shrimp Avocado Salad. Happy cooking!
The best steak salad recipe is to some degree, a personal preference. Though this is my absolute favorite combination of ingredients and flavors, the below variations are also great to try.
Greens – Romaine lettuce is really nice here, as it has a more crisp texture than mixed greens. You can also use baby spinach, kale, or your favorite green.
Sweet corn – Grill some corn on the cob, cut off the kernels, and add to the salad. It’s absolutely incredible and a strong flavor affinity here.
Vegetables – Feel free to add any of your favorite veggies to the salad. Bell pepper is a really nice complementary flavor here.
Recipe Tips and FAQ
Once a salad is dressed, it won’t keep well for very long. I recommend not storing for more than a day, and know that the greens will be slightly wilted. If you think you might have leftovers, keep the greens and dressing separate, each in an airtight container, and the salad will keep for at least 2 days.
- 12 ounces top sirloin steak *
- 5 ounce package mixed greens
- 2 ounces queso fresco crumbled**
- 1 cup cherry tomatoes halved
- 1/4 cup sliced red onion
- 1 avocado cut into chunks
- 1/2 cup toasted pepitas (pumpkin seeds)
- 1/4 cup Cilantro Lime Dressing
- black pepper
- Start by searing the steak per these instructions for How to Sear a Steak or grill your beef with the method in Grilled Ribeye or Grilled Flank Steak. Spice the steak if you wish, but it's not required. I have a mole seasoning I like to rub on the outside of the steak, but you can also just do salt and pepper since there's so much flavor in the salad. For 12 ounces of steak, I recommend 3/4 tsp salt and 1/4 tsp black pepper, assuming you're not adding seasoning that already includes salt.
- Once the steak has been seared, let it rest for 5 minutes, then slice thinly.
- In a large bowl, toss to combine the remaining ingredients.
- Taste and see if it needs more dressing or any adjustments. Serve immediately.
Nutrition is estimated using a food database and is only intended to be used as a guideline for informational purposes.