This delicious Southwest Chicken Salad is bursting with flavor! Chock full of greens, tender chicken, avocado, beans, and corn, this healthy recipe is perfect for lunch or dinner.
Southwest Salad with Chicken
This Southwest Chicken Salad is an explosion of tastes and textures. The chicken is marinated in avocado oil and spices, then seared or grilled to perfection! The dressing is thick and full of healthy, decadent avocado, a well-rounded list of seasonings, and fresh lime juice and zest that brighten up the entire salad.
Ingredients for Southwest Chicken Salad
Here’s a quick overview of what you’ll need for this recipe. For exact measurements, keep scrolling down to the printable recipe card below.
- Chicken Breasts – Boneless, skinless. You can also use chicken thighs if you prefer; they’ll stay juicier and are more difficult to overcook. If you have leftover shredded chicken or a rotisserie chicken, you could use that and skip the marinating step.
- Avocado oil, Lime juice and zest, Chili powder, Garlic powder, Cumin, Salt, Mexican oregano – These are mixed together to create a super flavorful marinade with a slight spicy kick! If you don’t have Mexican oregano, you can use regular.
- Avocados, fresh Cilantro, Greek yogurt (plain), Avocado oil, Garlic cloves, Lime juice, Salt, Water – This avocado dressing is like a thick ranch, but you can add in extra water to thin it out to your preferred consistency. This makes a good amount, and you’ll likely have leftovers. This makes an amazing dip for chicken, wraps, and veggies.
- Romaine lettuce, Cherry tomatoes, Avocado, Red onion – Romaine has just the right amount of crunch for me, but you could swap this out for your favorite greens or a super healthy blend. The tomatoes and red onion provide a super bright flavor, and the avocado is the creamy bite that brings everything together!
- Black beans, Corn – These canned goods provide protein and a ton of extra flavor without a lot of extra work.
- Cotija cheese – This crumbly cheese adds a great tangy flavor that perfectly complements the dressing and chicken marinade!
- Tortilla strips – Perfect for a salty crunch! Totally optional and not as healthy, but toasted tortilla strips add a great crisp texture.
How to Make a Southwest Salad with Chicken
This easy Southwest Chicken Salad is so easy. Here’s a step-by-step process for this amazing healthy recipe.
In a bowl or plastic bag, combine the chicken marinade ingredients together, then add in the chicken and refrigerate for 6-8 hours.
Spray a skillet or grill pan and heat it on medium. Add the chicken breasts and cook the chicken for 5-6 minutes on each side. If your chicken pieces are too large, you may need to do this in two batches. You don’t want to crowd the pan; overcrowding will lead to the chicken steaming and losing the great sear you want. When chicken is cooked to 165 degrees F throughout, set aside to rest.
Using a food processor, combine all dressing ingredients and process until smooth. Add additional water if you prefer a thinner dressing.
Allow chicken to rest 5-10 minutes, then slice. Place the chicken on top of a bed of lettuce with the tomatoes, red onion, black beans, cotija, corn, avocado, and tortilla strips. Finally, add dressing to taste.
This dish is best served immediately. Feel free to garnish with green onions, toasted walnuts, or extra cheese. These Keto Dinner Rolls make a great side without increasing the carbs!
What to serve with salads
This salad really needs no side dish–It has everything you could want! However, sometimes you might want to stretch the meal further or want to provide other foods for other tastes. For a bread, consider this Jalapeno Cornbread, Keto Dinner Rolls, or these Zucchini Tortillas. You could add Corn Fritters or Cilantro Lime Cauliflower Rice as well. Try serving some Avocado Bacon Dip with chips for a great appetizer!
The dressing can be made ahead of time, and tastes really great in wraps and as vegetable dip, too!
The avocado dressing can be stored for 4-5 days in the fridge in an airtight container! It can also be easily doubled!
If you love this recipe, you’ll love these chicken salads!
- Grilled Chicken Caesar Salad – This is a classic, but it definitely isn’t boring! Sharp parmesan cheese and crunchy croutons put this tasty salad over the top.
- Buffalo Chicken Cobb Salad – Spicy chicken on top of a full salad with hardboiled eggs, peppers, tomatoes, and more… All topped off with a creamy ranch. Perfection!
- Green Goddess Salad – If you love a good herby dressing, this salad is made for you! The amount of flavor from these simple ingredients is astounding.
- Spicy Thai Salad with Chicken – This is a copycat of my favorite (sadly, discontinued) Panera salad! The peanut dressing is a recipe you’ll want to use for wraps and dips in the future, too.
- Spring Salad with Chicken – This salad is made with very simple ingredients, but the lemon parmesan vinaigrette is a great dressing to remember for later!
Southwest Salad FAQs
This is entirely up to personal preference! If you want something lean and easy to slice/dice, chicken breast or tenders are great choices. Chicken thighs are great if you prefer your chicken as juicy as possible! You could easily skip the marinating step and instead use shredded chicken or a leftover rotisserie.
Possibly! The dressing is quite thick, so some blenders may not be able to process the mixture of ingredients very well. To make sure yours can handle it, you could pre-mash the avocado and mince the garlic. Start by blending all other ingredients (to make sure the cilantro gets processed well), then add in a spoonful of avocado at a time. Add more water to thin out the dressing and make it easier on your blender.
Southwest Chicken Salad
Chicken + Marinade (optional but highly recommended)
- 2 chicken breasts butterflied if large
- 2 tbsp avocado oil
- 1 lime juiced and zested
- 2 tsp chili powder
- 1 tsp garlic powder
- 1 tsp cumin
- ½ tsp salt
- ½ tsp Mexican oregano or regular oregano
- 2 medium avocado
- ½ cup cilantro leaves loosely packed
- ½ cup plain Greek yogurt
- ¼ cup avocado oil
- 4 garlic cloves
- 1 lime juiced
- ½ tsp salt
- 2-3 tbsp cold water add more or less based on your preferred dressing consistency.
- 6 cups romaine lettuce chopped
- 1 cup cherry tomatoes halved
- 1 cup black beans drained and rinsed
- 1 cup corn
- 1 large avocado sliced
- ½ cup cojita cheese crumbled
- ½ red onion sliced
- Tortilla strips
- In a large ziplock bag or bowl, combine all chicken ingredients together. Marinate the chicken in the refrigerator for 6-8 hours.
- Spray a grill pan or skillet with cooking spray, and heat on medium. Add the chicken breasts, and cook the chicken for 5-6 minutes on each side (you may have to do this in batches depending on how large your pan is). Ensure the chicken is cooked through to 165 degrees, then set aside to rest.
- While the chicken is cooking, add all dressing ingredients to a food processor and blend until smooth. Set aside.
- Slice the chicken, then assemble your salads with the remaining ingredients. Serve!
- Nutrition values calculated based on using 2 6-ounce chicken breasts, then adding 2 heaping tablespoons of dressing.
- The dressing for this salad is very thick like ranch, but you can add as much water as you need to until it reaches desired consistency.