This fresh avocado salad recipe makes a healthy side dish that pairs nicely with barbecued mains or other proteins. Chopped fruits and vegetables are tossed in a bold cilantro lime dressing and everything comes together in just 30 minutes!
Tired of drenching lettuce with dressing to get your daily quota of vegetables? Time to switch things up! This salad lets creamy chunks of avocado be the star of the dish. All of the components come together in a snap! Just chop the produce, whisk the vinaigrette, and you’ve got a fresh and flavorful side salad ready to eat.
The base flavors are inspired by those irresistible bowls of pico de gallo but amplified to salad form. The fruits and vegetables are cut into hearty pieces to catch all of the zesty cilantro lime dressing. I love how the natural creaminess of the avocado coats and adds extra richness to each bite.
I like to use Hass avocados as they have a creamy flesh and light nutty flavor. They have dark, pebbly skin, with a bright green interior. Other avocado varieties like Zutano or Fuerte work well, however, they may have slight texture differences due to their fat levels.
Make sure to pick ripe avocados, but firm enough that it has a slight give when squeezed. Also, if you remove the small stem the area underneath should be green, if brown then it’s too ripe. If the interior flesh is too soft it won’t hold its shape when mixed. It’s okay for some breakdown on the surface to create a creamier salad, but we aren’t going for guacamole.
Avocado size for the salad
Cut the avocados into big chunks, about ¾-inch in size. Because the flesh is extremely soft, it will start to break down even with gentle mixing. Therefore, make large pieces so that you still get a nice creamy bite. Wait to cut the fruit until just before serving.
The flesh is prone to oxidation, so it will begin to turn from green to brown if exposed too long to air. The natural acids and antioxidants in the citrus juices of the dressing will help preserve the color, but only for a short period of time.
To create a colorful and flavorful salad, I like to add a variety of mix-ins that give contrasting textures. I chop English cucumbers into bite-sized pieces to provide a nice crunch. Ripe cherry tomatoes add sweetness and some acidity to the salad. Sliced radish and red onion give some peppery and pungent flavor. For a little heat, I add finely minced jalapeno peppers.
Tangy homemade vinaigrette
A good sweet and tangy vinaigrette brings all of the salad components together. For the dressing, I felt that lime juice naturally complements the creamy avocado. This first step is to grab a medium bowl and whisk together the lime juice, zest, apple cider vinegar, honey, garlic, mustard, fresh cilantro, salt, and pepper.
This allows the seasonings to infuse, sweeteners to dissolve, and emulsifying agents like mustard to be incorporated to help keep the dressing stable. Make sure to very slowly drizzle in the avocado or olive oil, constantly whisking to break the fat into small droplets. This creates a thickened, emulsified dressing.
How to make avocado salad
In a large bowl add in diced avocado, cucumber, tomato, onion, and chili peppers. Pour the vinaigrette over the ingredients and very gently stir to combine. You’ll notice that the avocado will make a light creamy coating over the ingredients as it’s being mixed.
Do not over mix or the fruit will break down too much. I recommend serving the salad the same day for the best texture. Otherwise, if you have leftovers serve it with some tortilla chips for a dip the next day, it’s really good!
What to serve this with
Keeping diced avocados green
Use acidulated water to slow the browning by combining 4 cups of cold water with 1 tablespoon of lime or lemon juice. The natural ascorbic acid in the citrus acts as an antioxidant, which interacts with the oxygen instead of the enzymatic browning enzymes in the flesh. Keep the soaking process under 10 minutes max or the exterior softens too much.
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- 3 cups diced avocado, ¾-inch dice (about 3 large avocados)
- 2 cups English cucumber, quartered, ¼-inch thick slices
- 2 cups cherry tomatoes, halved
- ½ cup radish, halved, cut into ⅛-inch thick slices
- ½ cup red onion, ⅛-inch thick slices
- 2 teaspoons minced jalapeno pepper, optional
Cilantro Lime Dressing (about 1 cup)
- Cut the avocados into ¾-inch dice. Transfer to a large serving bowl.
- To the bowl of avocados add the cucumbers, tomatoes, radish, red onion, and jalapeno pepper.
- In a medium bowl whisk together lime juice, apple cider vinegar, cilantro, minced garlic, lime zest, dijon mustard, salt, and black pepper. Slowly drizzle in the avocado oil, consistently whisking using a thickened dressing is formed. Taste and season with more salt and pepper as desired.
- Drizzle the dressing over the avocado salad, gently toss to combine. Season with salt and pepper as desired.
- Garnish avocado salad with cilantro on top and serve immediately.
- Recipe Yield: 6 cups
- Serving Size: ½ cup
- MAKE IT VEGAN: Use maple syrup instead of honey in the dressing.
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