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Southwest Chicken Salad

by Capri Lilly
Published: Last Updated on

This Southwest Chicken Salad is a hearty, healthy salad, filled with robust flavors and topped with a creamy, zesty avocado dressing. This easy salad recipe is gluten-free and perfect for meal prep so you can enjoy it for lunch or dinner throughout the week!

If you love hearty, nutritious salads, you’ll definitely have to check out our Cantaloupe Salad with Prosciutto and Arugula or Beet Orange Salad next!

grilled chicken cilantro onions corn black beans sliced avvocado and lime wedges in a bowl assembled to make a southwest chicken salad two wooden spoons on top right next to the bowl and on top left an sliced avocado and limes next to the bowl

Chick-fil-a Spicy Southwest Salad has NOTHING on this tasty homemade salad. You are probably familiar with Southwest Chicken Salad from places like Chick-fil-a, Panera Bread, and Wendy’s but I can guarantee you haven’t had it like this! Fast food salads are loaded with sugar, salt, and other preservatives. Making your salad at home allows control over the quality and quantity of ingredients. Nothing beats a salad made with fresh ingredients!

grilled chicken cilantro onions corn black beans sliced avvocado and lime wedges in a bowl assembled to make a southwest chicken salad two wooden spoons on top right next to the bowl and on top left an sliced avocado and limes next to the bowl

This Southwest Chicken Salad is made with bold flavors. The chicken breasts are marinated in a flavorful mix of herbs and spices before they are cooked to tender juicy perfection. The marinated chicken breasts are then placed on a bed of crisp romaine lettuce with an assortment of beans, corn, onions, avocado, and cilantro.

You’ll love Southwest Chicken Salad because it’s:

  • Healthy – This gluten-free, veggie-filled salad is packed with nutrients, fiber, and protein for a hearty meal.
  • Restaurant Quality – Instead of eating out and spending money, make a healthier, inexpensive version of the popular salad that’s sold at various restaurants and fast food chains.
  • Easy – Made with simple ingredients, you just cook your chicken and assemble your salad.
  • Versatile – Have a Southwest Chicken Salad bowl, burrito, or nachos. Once you make this salad, the meal possibilities are endless!
ingredients to make a southwest salad are shown there is avocado cooked chicken cilantro corn black beans lime romaine lettuce arugula red onion and avocado dressing shown

Ingredients You Will Need:

  • Chicken Breast: Use lean boneless chicken breasts and marinade them before cooking
  • Cilantro Lime Marinade Ingredients: The marinade is a simple mix of olive oil, limes, fresh cilantro, garlic, paprika, chili powder, cumin, pepper, and salt

For the Salad

  • Romaine lettuce: You can use other greens but nothing is as crisp as fresh Romaine.
  • Arugula: We love the peppery bites of arugula. It pairs well with romaine lettuce.
  • Black beans: This adds more substance to the salad, filling you up quicker.
  • Corn: Use can sweet corn, rinsed and drained. Grilled corn also works well.
  • Red onion: Adds a savory, crunchy depth.
  • Avocado: Grab a large, ripe avocado and slice it to add bites of creaminess to the salad.
  • Cilantro: Enhances the salad and provides fresh flavor.

Dressing Options

  • Cilantro Avocado Dressing: This is what we use to dress our southwest salad. It’s a creamy homemade sauce that is so easy to whip up. It’s made easily in the blender in just five minutes and has so many uses. It’s vegan and a healthier option than the typical dressing. I also like to use it on my tacos and nachos.
  • Chipotle Dressing: This is another option if you want a smoky, spicy dressing for your salad.
  • Ranch Dressing: Our vegan ranch dressing would taste great on this salad. It’s creamy, delicious, and completely dairy-free.
grilled chicken cilantro onions corn black beans sliced avvocado and lime wedges in a bowl assembled to make a southwest chicken salad two wooden spoons on top right next to the bowl and on top left an sliced avocado and limes next to the bowl

How to Make Southwest Chicken Salad

  1. In a small bowl, whisk together the ingredients for the marinade. Add the chicken breast to the marinade and toss to coat evenly. Cover and let the chicken marinate in the fridge for at least 30 minutes. (or overnight if time permits)
  2. Add one tablespoon of cooking oil to a large skillet or grill pan over medium-high heat. Cook the chicken breast for 5-6 minutes on each side, or until golden brown and they reach an internal temperature of 160 degrees Fahrenheit.
  3. Place the chicken on a plate and set it aside.
  4. Prepare the Avocado Dressing.
  5. Assemble the salad. Layer the chopped romaine, arugula, cilantro, black beans, sliced onions, diced avocado, and sweet corn in a large bowl. Then slice the chicken into strips and place it on top of the salad.
  6. Top the salad with Avocado Dressing (or your favorite dressing) and finally, enjoy!
grilled chicken cilantro onions corn black beans sliced avvocado and lime wedges in a bowl assembled to make a southwest chicken salad two wooden spoons on top right next to the bowl and on top left an sliced avocado and limes next to the bowl
The Southwest Chicken Salad Tossed In The Cilantro Avocado Dressing

Variations & Modifications

  • Make It Vegan: Swap out the chicken for another filling ingredient like crispy chickpeas or roasted sweet potatoes.
  • Make it Spicy: Throw in a few (fresh or pickled) jalapeno slices, and sprinkle with red crushed peppers.
  • Try Using Seafood: Replace the chicken with other meat or even seafood. Try boneless chicken thighs, salmon, or shrimp.
  • Grill The Chicken: Instead of cooking the chicken on a stovetop, consider putting it directly on the grill.
  • Want Crispy Chicken: Make crispy chicken easily with our Air Fryer Chicken Breast Recipe.
  • Add More Veggies: If you want to add even more fresh vegetables to the mix, consider red bell peppers and grape tomatoes.
  • Don’t want to add a dressing? Spritz your portion with fresh lime juice for a burst of citrusy flavor.
  • Want To Add Cheese? You can top the salad with freshly grated cheddar cheese for even more flavor.
  • Add Tortilla Chips: Tortilla strips are commonly added to a southwest salad for added crunch. Add a few to the mix if you’d like.
tossed southwest chicken salad in a large bowl

Can I make this salad ahead of time?

Absolutely! Southwest Chicken Salad is ideal for weekly meal prep. The chicken breasts can be prepared up to four days before you make the salad.

How to Store Leftovers

Store leftover salad separately from the dressing so the lettuce doesn’t get soggy. Store the chicken seperately if you wish to rewarm it before eating the salad. Enjoy the leftovers three days.

grilled chicken cilantro onions corn black beans sliced avvocado and lime wedges in a bowl assembled to make a southwest chicken salad two wooden spoons on top right next to the bowl and on top left an sliced avocado and limes next to the bowl

I hope you enjoy this Southwest Chicken Salad Recipe! 

If you try the recipe, don’t forget to rate the recipe and let me know what you think in the comments below! Take pictures, tag #goodfoodbaddie, and share them with me on Instagram and Pinterest! I love seeing my recipes come to life in your kitchen.

More Salad Ideas! 

southwest chicken salad in a large wooden bowl with two wooden spoons next to the bowl and a half avocado and limes in the top left corner

Southwest Chicken Salad with Cilantro Avocado Dressing

Southwest Chicken Salad is a hearty, healthy salad, filled with robust flavors and topped with a creamy, zesty avocado dressing. This easy Southwest Chicken Salad recipe is gluten-free and perfect for meal prep so you can enjoy it for lunch or dinner throughout the week!
5 from 14 votes
Print Pin Rate
Course: Dinner, Lunch, Main Course
Cuisine: American, Gluten-Free, Healthy Options
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 25 minutes
Servings: 4
Calories: 423kcal
Author: Capri Lilly

Ingredients

Cilantro Lime Marinade

  • 4 Chicken breasts (approx. 6 oz each)  boneless, skinless
  • 2 tbsp Olive oil
  • 2 Limes juiced
  • ¼ cup Fresh cilantro roughly chopped
  • 5 Garlic cloves minced
  • 2 tsp Paprika smoked paprika or regular
  • 1 tsp Chili Powder
  • 1/2 tsp Cumin
  • ¼ tsp Red chili flakes
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Salad

  • 4 cups Packed romaine lettuce or 1 large head of lettuce, chopped
  • 2 cup Arugula
  • 1 8 oz can Black beans rinsed and drained
  • 1 8 oz can Corn rinsed and drained
  • ½ Red onion thinly sliced
  • 1 Large avocado diced
  • ¼ cup Cilantro
  • 1 cup Cherry Tomatoes, sliced in half optional

Dressing

Instructions

  • In a small bowl, whisk together the ingredients for the marinade. Add the chicken breast to the marinade and toss to coat evenly. Cover and let the chicken marinate in the fridge for at least 30 minutes. (or overnight if time permits)
  • Add one tablespoon of cooking oil to a large skillet over medium-high heat. Cook the chicken breast for 5-6 minutes on each side, or until golden brown and they reach an internal temperature of 160 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • Place the chicken on a plate and set it aside.
  • Prepare the Avocado Dressing.
  • Assemble the salad. Layer the chopped romaine, arugula, cilantro, black beans, sliced onions, diced avocado, and sweet corn in a large bowl. Slice the chicken into strips and place it on top of the salad.
  • Top the salad with Avocado Dressing (or your favorite dressing) and enjoy!

Nutrition

Serving: 1g | Calories: 423kcal | Carbohydrates: 29.2g | Protein: 44.4g | Fat: 19.1g | Saturated Fat: 4.3g | Cholesterol: 99mg | Sodium: 128mg | Potassium: 1226mg | Fiber: 8.1g | Sugar: 3.7g | Calcium: 62mg | Iron: 4mg

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4 comments

Jules August 19, 2022 - 4:04 pm

5 stars
OMG this is like a taco salad, I am obsessed!

Reply
Capri Lilly August 20, 2022 - 2:48 am

Definitely, but even tastier! I am happy you like the recipe

Reply
Agnieszka August 19, 2022 - 7:59 pm

5 stars
Such great salad. Will be making it again and again!

Reply
Capri Lilly August 20, 2022 - 2:47 am

Yay! Glad you like 🙂

Reply

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