Are you stuck in a food rut? We've all been there! Mix things up with these easy and delicious Cowboy Salad Bowls that will please even the toughest crowd!

Close up image of Cowboy Salad Bowls with lettuce, tomatoes, red peppers, shredded beef, black beans, and dressing. - Shelf Cooking

Ugh, it's that time again. Yep, dinner time. Somehow it manages to roll around every day, and you have a house full of hungry people looking to be fed. The bad news? Everyone's sick of the usual meal rotation.

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So herein lies the most confounding of questions: what is a meal that everyone will like, that is easy to make, nutritious, and doesn't cost a small fortune? Impossible? No! We have the perfect solution with these fantastic Cowboy Salad Bowls!

Why We Love Cowboy Salad Bowls

Image of a large Cowboy Salad with dressing being poured on it. - Shelf Cooking

There's a few reasons why this tasty salad makes us want to shout “Yeehaw!” whenever it's on the menu.

  1. It's so super easy to make.
  2. It's a fantastic way to repurpose leftover beef.
  3. It's full of veggies and healthy black beans. It's a salad, but so full of deliciousness that your family will eat it without protest!
  4. The dressing is full of flavor! We love to make extra to use as a dipping sauce or in wraps.
  5. It's easy to customize! Don't have shredded beef? Sub in chicken or pork instead. No black beans? Use pinto or kidney beans! Want to throw in some tortilla strips? Go for it! Have some leftover rice that needs to be used? Toss it in! It's the shelf cooker's dream.

What To Pair With This Dish

Overhead image of cornbread muffins on a white plate. - Shelf Cooking

One of the beauties of this recipe is that it can totally work as a stand-alone meal. You've got protein, veggies, fats, and carbs all in one bowl, so you are good to go!

But what if you want to add a little more oomph to your meal? Maybe you have some big appetites joining you at the table (teenage boys, we're looking at you!) and need to make sure everyone is happy. Here's a few things that we like to include alongside Cowboy Salad Bowls:

Honestly, there's not a wrong answer here. You can also pair sandwiches or a cup of soup or just a plate of fresh, seasonal fruit. We love all of it!

How To Make Cowboy Salad Bowls

The central ingredient in this salad is shredded BBQ beef, and we love using leftover BBQ beef to do it. If you aren't familiar with how to make it, don't worry! It's amazingly simple to throw into a slow-cooker.

We recommend using a 3-4 lb chuck roast. Season it with salt and pepper, a tablespoon or two of garlic powder and paprika, and two tablespoons of brown sugar. Place it in the slow cooker with 1 cup of beef broth, 1/4 cup of Worcestershire sauce, and 2 cups of your favorite BBQ sauce. Let it cook on high for 4-6 hours or low for 8-10 hours. When done, shred with two forks. You can eat it as is, in sandwiches, wraps, or this delicious salad! Freeze leftovers in zipper freezer bags to be used for later.

Ok, now that we have that established, let's talk about how to throw these Cowboy Salad Bowls together in only a matter of minutes!

Cowboy Salad Bowls

This hearty salad is perfect for using up leftovers and is a major crowd pleaser!
Prep Time 10 minutes
Total Time 10 minutes
Course Main Course, Salad
Cuisine American
Servings 6



  • 1/2 cup mayo or Greek yogurt
  • 1/4 cup BBQ sauce
  • 1 Tbsp Dijon mustard or yellow mustard
  • 1 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 Tbsp lime juice


  • 2-3 heads romaine lettuce, chopped
  • 1 (15 oz) can black beans, drained and rinsed or pinto beans
  • 1/2 red onion, diced
  • 1/2 cup chopped cilantro
  • 6 slices bacon, cooked and chopped or ⅓ cup real bacon bits
  • 1 red bell pepper, diced can sub green or orange bell pepper
  • 10 oz grape tomatoes, chopped or 1 cup diced tomatoes
  • 1 cup shredded monterey jack or cheddar cheese
  • 3 cup shredded BBQ beef, or 3 cups shredded beef combined with 1 cup of BBQ sauce


  • For the dressing, whisk together all of the ingredients until combined and refrigerate until ready to use.
  • Toss together all of the salad ingredients in a large bowl and serve with dressing on the side.
Keyword bbq beef, salad, salad bowl

How does your family feel about salads for dinner? We bet that if they are full of flavorful protein like bacon and bbq beef, they'll be big fans! This is a perfect way to round up the crowd for a quick and healthy dinner that is sure to satisfy.

Needing more meal inspo to get you through the week? You're in the right place!

  • Our Shelf Cooking Meal Subscription will take the headache out of weekly meal planning so you can get back to actually enjoying dinner time!
  • Did you know there are five different ways to cook bacon? We cover them all in this post!
  • This Chicken Fajita Pasta is a favorite one-dish meal and another great way to use up leftovers!

Enjoy your meal, partner!