Southwestern Brown Rice Salad

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Note: Originally published on August 24, 2018, updated on November 8, 2022. A Pin image and link to the recipe video were added. Also, the serving amount listed in the recipe was adjusted. 

I’ve been all about hearty grains lately.  My crew loves dishes made with comforting white rice, but I’ve been trying to increase our nutritional game a bit, so I’ve been mixing grains such as bulgur, barley and brown rice into the menu rotation more regularly.

For my finicky kids, the least bothersome of these menu changes have been recipes using brown rice. In their minds, rice is rice…. works for me because it’s definitely not always that easy! Bulgur and barley, however, are taking a bit more time for the home front to warm up to.  As for Evan and I, we enjoy them all and we even like making sweet brown rice or barley for breakfast to take a break from our overnight oat addiction.

These days I’m not pushing a new food agenda too zealously on to my kids. At least they liked one out of three new menu items I’ve put on the table recently… that’s not too bad. I’ve learned to be patient with them when it comes to trying new things at meal time and I definitely pick my battles on the subject of new foods. They may not appreciate some of the “weird” ingredients I serve right away, but repeated exposure works wonders for my kids and they will eventually try a bite (I just know it!!).

On Sunday evenings, I’ve been cooking a few cups of brown rice and then keeping it in the fridge to use through the week. This little bit of food prepping has really been helping me out too because brown rice takes a bit longer than white rice to cook on the stove top. For the kids, I’ll warm some rice up and mix it with a little bit of butter, salt and pepper and they love it as a simple side dish to go with whatever protein we’ve prepared.

But, sometimes I’ll make a really big batch and I’ll mix it with some of my favorite fixings, like I did in this spicy southwestern brown rice salad! I combined cooked brown rice, lots of veggies, chopped cilantro and black beans with a light lime and olive oil dressing. With all it’s vibrant, colorful vegetables, I must say that this salad is pretty easy on the eyes and it packs a good punch of both flavor and nutrition too.

Evan and I have been putting a lot of effort into meal-prepping lately, so we made quite a large batch of this salad and we’ll enjoy eating it with lunch and dinner for the next few days. So, please notice that this recipe makes a huge batch and if you will need less, be sure to use half the amounts on the ingredients list.

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Southwestern Brown Rice Salad

Recipe by Marcelle at A Little Fish in the Kitchen Course: SidesCuisine: AmericanDifficulty: Easy


Prep time


Chill time



This Southwestern Brown Rice Salad is a flavorful make-ahead dish that is healthful, gluten-free, vegetarian. It also keeps very well in the fridge for several days. Share this at your next potluck or family barbecue! This recipe make a large batch of this rice salad, so please adjust the amount of ingredients according to your needs.


  • For the dressing
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

  • 2-3 tablespoons lime juice (to taste)

  • 1 tablespoon honey

  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin

  • 1/2 teaspoon chili powder

  • 1/8 teaspoon garlic powder

  • 1/4 teaspoon salt (to taste)

  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper

  • For the salad
  • 4 cups cooked brown rice *see notes below

  • 1 medium orange or red sweet pepper,
    seeded and finely chopped

  • 2 medium jalapeno peppers,
    seeded and finely chopped

  • 1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved

  • 1 can (15 oz) sweet corn, drained

  • 1 can (15 oz) black beans,
    drained and rinsed

  • 3 green onions, finely sliced

  • 1/2 cup fresh cilantro or Italian parsley leaves
    coarsely choppped

  • Optional ingredients for garnish
  • crumbled Mexican Queso Fresco

  • coarsely chopped fresh cilantro (or Italian parsley)

  • fresh jalapeno slices

  • sliced black olives

  • cubes of fresh avocado


  • First prepare your dressing. Using a small whisk, mix all dressing ingredients together in small bowl and then set it aside so the flavors can marry a bit.
  • Next, in a large mixing bowl, combine cooked rice and all the prepared veggies. Stir well. Stir the dressing and then pour it over the rice salad. Gently stir until the salad is evenly coated with dressing. Cover and chill salad for 20-30 minutes before serving.
  • Stir salad, taste and adjust seasoning with salt and pepper as necessary. Top with the garnish ingredients of your choice and serve. Enjoy!

Recipe Video


  • Use 1-1/2 cups dried rice cooked according to package directions to make 4 cups cooked rice. Be sure to salt the water it cooks in! Or use use convenient frozen, steamable bags of brown rice.
  • Recipe from A Little Fish in the Kitchen All content is owned by Marcelle G. Bolton. Please contact the author for permission to republish.


  1. Thank you, Laura!

  2. Salads like this are awesome for busy nights. I don't even need meat or fish when I eat something like this.

  3. Hi Karen, thank you!! πŸ™‚

  4. I'm a big fan of rice salads and yours sounds great. I love brown rice's nutty, chewy texture that will stand up well to the other ingredients.

  5. Hi David!! πŸ™‚ Thank you!

  6. Hi Grace, thank you!

  7. Thank you, Chef Mimi! πŸ™‚

  8. I bet all these wonderful ingredients make brown rice taste good! (Can you tell I prefer white rice??) Looks just delicious, Marcelle!

  9. southwestern ingredients add such great color and flavor to a dish! love this, marcelle. πŸ™‚

  10. I only use brown rice. Always have and I prefer it. I like chewing my food. If you use barley, make sure to buy hulled barley, not pearled. You may know this already, but pearled is processed and therefore much less healthy. Love your salad.

  11. Hi Susan, thank you! πŸ™‚

  12. I love brown rice! Beautiful and flavorful salad!

  13. Thank you very much, Angie!!

  14. It looks filling and delicious! I love the ease of preparation and that salad dressing sounds incredible too. Thank you for sharing, Marcelle.

  15. Hi John, thank you so much!! πŸ™‚

  16. Brown rice has such a nice flavor, doesn't it? Great idea to make a big batch, then use it as an ingredient in other dishes throughout the week. And what a dish THIS is! Terrific looking salad — thanks.

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