Southwest chicken salad is a perfect salad that can be enjoyed all year long. It’s packed full of fresh and vibrant ingredients and made with easy chili lime salad dressing. The spicy chicken breasts are marinated in cilantro lime goodness and seared until golden brown. Whether it’s a weeknight dinner or brought to a BBQ or potluck, this southwestern chopped chicken salad will always hit all the right spots!
Best Chicken Salad Recipe
Spring is just a few weeks away and all I am thinking of BBQs, soft drinks, tasty dip recipes, and a lot of refreshing summer salads. One of my favorite foods to eat during spring is healthy salads – they are easy to make, refreshing, light, and super filling.
Salads are super simple and delicious with just a few ingredients and you can get as creative as you love.
This southwest chicken salad is no different! It’s healthy, fresh, and topped with spicy and warm chicken breast with easy-to-make chili lime salad dressing. The dressing is so rich and creamy without mayo!
Let’s just say this salad will have your taste buds craving for one extra bowl of it. So don’t forget to make some extra pieces of chicken!
Why You’ll Love Southwest Chicken Salad
- Easy to make // Ready in under 20 minutes
- Loaded with protein, fiber, nutrients, and it’s full of flavor
- Best healthy and easy BBQ side dish.
- Store well as a leftover, making it a great make-ahead or meal prep
- Perfect for the next potluck, birthday, holidays, and celebration
- A healthy homemade version of Classic takeout
- A crowd-pleasing recipe // Kids and picky eaters approved
Ingridents for Spicy Mexican Chicken salad
Here’s the list of ingredients that goes in the southwestern chicken salad recipe. With just a few pantry staples and fresh ingredients, this healthy salad recipe comes together quickly.
Do not hesitate to switch up the ingredients of your preference. Here are some additional notes and possible variations for the salad’s ingredients –
- Grilled Chicken or Cilantro lime chicken: Usually I use bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs to make cilantro lime chicken. But in this salad recipe, we’re tossing chopped chicken into the salad, so, chicken breast will be much easier and suitable for this chicken salad recipe.
- Lettuce: To get the crispy texture, use romaine lettuce. Though you can add any type of lettuce.
- Black bean: I am using the canned black beans that have been rinsed and drained. If you have cooked black beans, you can also use that for some extra flavor. Black beans provide filling fiber to help to make this a kind of a “main” salad dish for the dinner.
- Corn: we can use canned corn, but make sure to rinsed and durian it properly before using it. But if you prefer some extra smokey flavor to your chopped chicken salad, you can use grilled corn on the cob.
- Red onion: It adds color and has a mild flavor, you can also use chopped spring onions, but it’s totally optional.
- Tomatoes: I love cherry tomatoes, but you can use grape or Roma tomatoes as well.
- Cilantro: use a handful of fresh chopped cilantro to add some freshness to the salad.
- Tacos seasoning: You can use store-bought to try to make it own at home.
How to make Southwest chicken salad from scratch
Now that your chicken is fully marinated and ready to cook, let’s get cooking and assembling the southwestern chicken salad from scratch.
- Marinade the chicken: place the chicken breast in a shallow bowl and add olive oil, lime juice, minced garlic, and seasoning. Rub the mix all over the chicken breast, cover the bowl, and marinate for at least 45 minutes or up to 2 hours. For even better results, you can marinate in the fridge overnight.
- Prep the chili lime dressing: Combine all the dressing ingredients in a small bowl and combine until smooth and creamy.
- Cook the chicken: Heat a skillet over medium-high heat. Add the marinated chicken breast and cook for 4 to 5 minutes on each side, or until golden brown and fully cooked through. Transfer the chicken piece to a plate and allow it to cook and then slice or chop it into small pieces.
- Assemble the Southwest chicken salad and serve: While the chicken cools, add all the chopped veggies to a large bowl. Chopped lettuce, tomatoes, onion and rinsed and drained corn and black beans. Classic southwestern ingridents. Tops with juicy chicken pieces and drizzle the chili lime dressing. And finally, toss to combine everything properly and then serve immediately. Enjoy!
Frequently asked Questions –
Southwestern Chicken salad recipe – meal prep and storage tips
Meal prep: Make the cilantro lime chicken and cut them into strips or cubes. Store chicken, corn, lettuce, and avocado, and lime dressing into separate containers. It’s best not to mix the salad dressing in with the salad and store it in a separate airtight container for longer shelf life.
To store: The grilled southwest chicken salad can easily be stored in the fridge for about 5 days.
Reheat the chicken: Simply reheat the grilled chicken in the microwave for 1 to 2 minutes, or in the air fryer for about 30 to 1 minute. Then assemble salad as it is as.
Is a Southwest Chicken Salad healthy?
If the chicken is grilled or seared and topped over a salad bowl (filled with healthy and fresh ingredients), it certainly healthy and good for your health. It is packed with healthy veggies, protein, vitamins, antioxidents, and nutrients.
Is it OK to eat a salad every day?
If you are prepping a well-balanced salad bowl with the correct amount of protein, carbs, and fresh veggies. It is perfectly ok to have it every day as a side dish or even as a main meal. If you are making your salad from scratch, make sure to make your salad dressing at home and avoid high fat and unhealthy store-bought salad dressings filled with preservative and processed sugar.
More Healthy Dinner Salads –
- Black Bean and Corn Salad
- Thai Peanut Pasta Salad
- Southwest Pasta Salad
- Greek Chickpea Salad
- Mediterranean Chickpea Pasta Salad
- Quinoa Tabbouleh Salad
- 4 boneless skinless chicken breasts, (approx 6 ounces each)
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 1 tbsp chili powder
- 2 tsp paprika
- 1 tsp ground cumin
- ½ tbsp salt
CHILI LIME DRESSING
- 1 cup plain greek yogurt
- 1 tsp chili spice
- ½ tsp paprika
- ½ tsp ground cumin
- Dash of garlic salt
- 2 tbsp lime juice
SOUTHWEST CHICKEN SALAD
- 4 cups lettuce
- 1 cup cherry tomatoes (sliced)
- 1 cup black beans (rinsed and drained)
- 1 cup corn (rinsed and drained)
- 1 large avocado (chopped)
- Southwest Chicken Breasts (chopped)
- 4 tbsp Chili Lime Dressing
- 1 tbsp lime
- 1 cup fresh cilantro
- Place the chicken breast in a shallow dish and add olive oil, lime juice, minced garlic, and seasoning. Rub the mix all over the chicken breast and cover the bowl and all it to marinate for at least 45 minutes or up to 2 hours. For even better results, you can marinate in the fridge overnight.
- Now, take a small bowl and combine all the chili lime dressing ingredients and whisk until creamy and smooth.
- Heat a pan over medium flame. Place the marinated chicken breast and cook for 5 minutes on each side, or until golden brown and fully cooked through. Allow the chicken to cool and then chop it into cubes or just simply slice.
- While the chicken cools, place all the chicken salad ingredients into a large mixing bowl.
- Finally, add the sliced chicken and the chili lime salad dressing over the salad.
- Toss everything properly and serve immediately. Enjoy!