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McDonald's Southwest Salad

I've never liked any of the McDonald's salads...until now.

The salad ingredients are really fresh and the combination of flavors...grilled chicken, black beans, tortilla strips, the Paul Newman dressing...and the slice of lime on the side. I'm actually impressed! And at $4.59 and about 450 calories including dressing, I think it's a winner.

Has anyone else tried it?

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    1. It grosses me out that McDonald's uses artificial flavors in items like salads. As a result, their salads have always tasted completely weird to me, and I gave up on them a long time ago. Give me actual grilled chicken, not smoke flavored chicken, bleh.

      7 Replies
      1. I, myself, have found McDonald's salads to be very fresh - at least at my local McDonald's, I've found nary a wilted piece of lettuce!!! : ) Don't know how they do it --
        I haven't tried the new Southwestern one yet, but I'm looking forward to it.

        1. re: aurora50

          Agreed, the lettuce is better there than at most "chain" sit down establishments. Both the caesar w/ grilled chicken and bacon ranch w/ grilled chicken are fantastic without the added calories of the croutons or dressing.

          Yes I eat them without dressing and they're great. Although admittedly I pick off the clumps of cheese on the bacon ranch salad.

          1. re: mruser

            The cheese and dressings have less fat than the grilled chicken. If you are picking out stuff for calories' sake, keep that in mind.

            1. re: mojoeater

              No, just avoiding fat calories... the calories from the chicken are protein, which, for me, the more the better. The chicken only adds 2 g. fat and .5 g. saturated fat but 24 g. of protein!

              I'm pretty sure the base 3.5 g of saturated fat is coming from the cheese and bacon.

              1. re: mruser

                All of McD's grilled chicken is coated in margarine before cooking. And each salad has a different glaze, which adds to the fat.

                1. re: mojoeater

                  The bacon ranch and ceasar do not contain a glaze.

                  1. re: mruser

                    ok guys, I've just finished the Southwestern Salad. It's very good!! : )
                    And I only used half of my dressing, because the salad really didn't need much of it, and as I said before, the lettuce is so fresh!

      2. McDonald's salads are by far the best thing they have. I actually prefer then to most salad bars. They are, astonishingly, almost always fresh (better than most grocery stores), all the ingredients seem to be of reasonable quality, and without the meat, cheap. They are only calorie laden if you get them with meat and use the high fat dressings and croutons. Southwest without chicken is 140 calories, the Asian salad is 150 calories and the Ceasar salad is 90 calories. The balsamic vinagrette, which I think is just fine, adds 40 calories. The salads ordered with judgment, are fewer calories than one of those puny cheeseburgers. If one salad doesn't fill you up (and it probably will), getting two is a lot less calories than a quarter pounder with cheese or a Big Mac or a medium fries or a small shake. A Big Mac plus a small shake and medium fries is the equal of nearly three of the highest calorie salads (bacon ranch) with the highest fat dressing.

        1. I tried it and thought it was horrible. The grilled chicken tasted great, but the greens were almost 100% white iceberg -- not even in the same galaxy as the (generally) excellent mix of greens they use in the $1 side salad. Won't be wasting my money on that again. . .

          9 Replies
          1. re: Covert Ops

            Whoa! Where do you live? I definitely did NOT get the same salad as you did. I work in West Covina, California, and all the McDonald's salads I've ever gotten have been a fresh mix of mescalun and various other greens - I mean, every single time I order one. Maybe talk to the management where you are? Sounds like they have the good greens, they just didn't use them on your salad for some reason --

            1. re: aurora50

              Mesclun at McD? I'm in L.A. and have probably eaten 3 or 4 McD's salads, ever. Each one was ALL iceberg. Except maybe that little side salad that had some sort of darker green lettuce thrown in. I haven't had one of their salads in over a year, though.

              1. re: slacker

                I'm tell'n ya - I get mesclun greens!!! (Unless I'm totally whacked out on that weed I've been smoking - JUST KIDDING) -
                Really, try it again, you just might be surprised!

                1. re: aurora50

                  I agree - there is usually little iceberg in my experience.
                  According to McDonald's their "Salad Mix", which is in all their salads, is defined as:
                  "Salad Mix: Iceberg lettuce, romaine lettuce, spring mix (may contain baby red romaine, baby green romaine, baby red leaf, baby green leaf, baby red Swiss chard, baby red oak, baby green oak, lolla rosa, tango, tatsoi, arugula, mizuna, radicchio, frisee)"
                  I have heard from others that sometimes you get mostly iceberg. Wonder if they use iceberg when they run out of the Mix. Maybe from the burger assembly area?

                  1. re: Griller141

                    The local McDonald's here makes salads with a sprinkling of mesclun mix (mostly baby red and green romaine, but I've seen a couple stray pieces of oakleaf, too) on top of a bed of iceberg lettuce. They're overwhelmingly iceberg, though. I suspect there may be regional differences, as here in the Midwest I suspect many people are still preferring iceberg lettuce.

                    In fact, I was in a sit down restaurant last night and overheard a male customer saying he like iceberg and romaine, but didn't want "any of that mixed salad greens" in his salad. To be clear, there are plenty of sit down places that serve mesclun, etc. salads here, but it's less common in fast food here. Wendy's does the same thing with their salads.

                    1. re: Griller141

                      I work for McDonalds and have made each salad that we sell. There are two seperate bags of salad mix, one of all Iceberg and carrots and a seperate bag with a mixture of" baby red romaine, baby green romaine, baby red leaf, baby green leaf, baby red Swiss chard, baby red oak, baby green oak, lolla rosa, tango, tatsoi, arugula, mizuna, radicchio, frisee". You mix the two bags together in order to assemble the salad but the iceberg bag is easily 5 times larger than the more premium smaller bag. If all you're getting when you get a salad is iceberg, it is the person assembling the salads at the store you are purchasing the salads at. ALL mcdonalds nationwide receive the same salad mix, any variation from one store to another is human error. Also if your side salads are all no iceberg/ a minority of iceberg then they aren't being prepared correctly either.

                      1. re: AnyaMind

                        Interesting! Where do you work, AnyaMind? What part of the country? (Just curious)

                    2. re: aurora50

                      You're not high, aurora, I always get great greens on the dollar side salads. (I live in Florida BTW.) Very little iceberg, sometimes none.
                      When I got the Southwest Salad, they also forgot to give me tortilla strips. (I didn't realize they must come separately, like croutons, until I finished half my salad and noticed they were gone.) So yeah, it might be that particular location. :-P

                  2. re: aurora50

                    My salad also had mesclun - I'm in NJ. It had a couple of pieces of iceberg but was mostly composed of a very good mix of mesaclun and other greens. Incredibly fresh too. I was very impressed - I NEVER buy salads from fast food places and this one could convert me.

                2. I did not care for it either. Southwest salads never appealed to me but I thought I would give it a shot and that I may like it. Nope, didnt care for it. The tortilla chip strips were awful like the cheap flavored chips. I ate it but it took awhile to want to eat it all.
                  I will stick to the salads I know I like....Bacon Ranch mmmm. I also loved the BK Ceaser salad but they only sell the garden salads now and I didn't like it as much.