Southwestern Chopped Chicken Salad

Fiesta in a bowl! This easy, make ahead chopped chicken salad is full of southwestern flavor and is on the table in minutes! Recipe on sallysbakingaddiction.com

Here’s what I’m putting on the table this 4th of July weekend! We’re having some friends over tonight and I’m planning out my best party spread: another giant bowl of this southwestern inspired salad, aka inspired by my years working at Chili’s/insert nerd emoji here. We’ll fire up the grill for burgers and there will also be skillet cornbread, plenty of cookies, and another icebox cake. I want to hear everything you’re making, so spill the beans below!

Fiesta in a bowl! This easy, make ahead chopped chicken salad is full of southwestern flavor and is on the table in minutes! Recipe on sallysbakingaddiction.com

Can I just say something? It’s so refreshing to finally have space in our backyard to entertain. It’s most certainly not an outdoor oasis or one of those dreamy HGTV backyards with hanging porch lights and glistening garden fountains but there’s a place to roast s’mores, a table, and bug spray so really… what else does one need?

Cool backyard space = future project.

For now, let’s focus on the eats. That’s definitely something we can perfect.

Whether you’re hosting a party this weekend or headed to a potluck BBQ, make this easy chopped salad. It’s got everything from fresh corn and avocado to grilled chicken and zesty taco seasoning. Something to please everyone at the party and oh yeah, there’s tortilla chips* too. It’s quite literally a giant fiesta of flavor and texture in 1 bowl.

*The best salad crunch!!

We had something like this at Chili’s called the explosion salad– I think it’s still on the menu, right? I hope you’ve had it before. For this homemade version, I just chopped everything up and used less lettuce. So it’s a “stuff” salad, not a lettuce salad. I know you get me.

Grilled chicken for southwestern chopped chicken salad on sallysbakingaddiction.com

Fiesta in a bowl! This easy, make ahead chopped chicken salad is full of southwestern flavor and is on the table in minutes! Recipe on sallysbakingaddiction.com

These are the ingredients you’ll need and some substitutions you can make:

  • Grilled chicken or cooked ground beef.
  • Cilantro if you love it, leave it out if you despise it.
  • Corn– canned if its easiest, chopped off the cob if you’ve got it leftover.
  • Avocado and more avocado.
  • Red onion or no onion.
  • Tomatoes, bonus if they’re fresh from your garden.
  • Taco seasoning or make your own!!
  • Beans, whatever kind you like.
  • Lettuce! I like crunchy romaine for this.
  • Cheddar cheese or whatever cheese.
  • The saltiest, crunchiest tortilla chips around or leave them out but that’s no fun.

You could certainly leave out the chicken to make this more of a side salad, which would be especially perfect if you’ve got a lot of meat happenin’ on the grill. Also: there might be gluten conscious folks at your festivities this weekend, so make sure you’re using corn based (and certified GF) tortilla chips. Sometimes tortilla chips can be made with wheat-based tortillas, so check the bag if it’s a concern.

This dressing. Honey jalapeño greek yogurt dip (with fresh lime juice) making another appearance!

Southwestern chopped chicken salad Greek yogurt salad dressing on sallysbakingaddiction.com

But this time as a salad dressing. And this time, a few slight changes and a hefty dose of taco flavor. The taco seasoning addition really finishes the entire salad off with the necessary fiesta flavor it needs. Tasty without it, bangarang with it.

YUP, bangarang.

The “dressing” is intense with flavor. Also very thick since the base is all Greek yogurt– and not mayonnaise. I figure we can keep our savory food healthier and indulge in 2nd helpings of homemade whipped cream, yes?

Fiesta in a bowl! This easy, make ahead chopped chicken salad is full of southwestern flavor and is on the table in minutes! Recipe on sallysbakingaddiction.com

A salad for people who get bored with salad. And also for people who love Chili’s.

Print

Southwestern Chopped Chicken Salad

  • Author: Sally
  • Prep Time: 10 minutes
  • Cook Time: 0 minutes
  • Total Time: 10 minutes
  • Yield: serves 6
  • Category: Salad
  • Method: Cooking
  • Cuisine: American

Description

This flavor-packed Southwestern chopped chicken salad comes together in minutes and you can get started on it the day before!


Ingredients

  • 6 cups chopped romaine lettuce
  • 6 cups cubed cooked chicken*
  • 1 and 1/2 cups corn
  • 1 and 1/2 cups black beans
  • 2 tomatoes, diced
  • 1 avocado, diced
  • 1/2 red onion, diced
  • 3/4 cup shredded cheddar cheese
  • 1 cup crushed tortilla chips
  • handful chopped cilantro

Dressing

  • 1/2 cup plain Greek yogurt (I use nonfat)
  • 3 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons honey
  • 2 teaspoons apple cider vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon minced garlic
  • juice of 1 lime
  • 1/2 jalapeño, finely diced
  • 2 heaping teaspoons taco seasoning (I use mild)
  • salt, to taste and if needed

Instructions

  1. Add all of the salad ingredients to a large bowl. (If you’re not serving it right away, add the tortilla chips on last right before serving. They’ll stay crunchy that way.)
  2. Whisk the dressing ingredients together, except for the salt. Taste, then add salt to your preference.
  3. Spoon dressing over salad, then give everything a big toss to combine. Serve cold.

Make ahead tip: You can prepare this salad the day before through step 3. The flavors get even better on day 2! Add the tortilla chips right before serving.


Notes

  1. Chicken: For the grilled chicken, I drizzled 3 large chicken boneless skinless breasts with olive oil and seasoned with salt and pepper before grilling. This was about 5-6 cups of cubed chicken. You can also use store-bought rotisserie chicken or just any leftover cooked chicken you have.

Keywords: southwestern chopped salad, southwestern chicken salad

I love serving cookies as dessert because they’re the essential make-ahead recipe. I default to cookies since cookie dough usually has to chill and even if not, cookies are always still just as tasty the next day or day after. Not to mention, everyone LOVES cookies especially ones with sprinkles and/or M&Ms. And cookies travel well! I made these cake batter chocolate chip cookies yesterday. Chilled the dough in the early afternoon, then baked them later on. Dessert for the entire weekend!

Also made these rainbow M&M cookies on Snapchat yesterday! (@sallysbakeblog) 🙂

4th of July Cake Batter Chocolate Chip Cookies

Fiesta in a bowl! This easy, make ahead chopped chicken salad is full of southwestern flavor and is on the table in minutes! Recipe on sallysbakingaddiction.com

108 Comments

  1. I made this salad tonight and it was so delicious!! My husband and I loved it! The only thing I did different was saute the chicken in grapeseed oil. Thank you very much!

    1. Do you have problems with the salad getting soggy the next day? After making this last night there was a lot leftover so I had it for lunch. Everything was pretty soggy. Just wondering if you had any tips. Thanks!

      1. I always make salads the night before for lunches, and they keep well as long as you keep the dressing separate.

  2. Had my eye on this salad for a while, but hesitated to make it, because I prepare meals for one. Since I meal prep, I decided to try separating the ingredients out, then putting them together the night before with the dressing on the side. I prepared the recipe as written, and got four nice sized salads out of it for a week. This was so delicious! Definitely not just a lettuce salad. I seasoned my chicken breasts with some Goya Adobo and some taco seasoning, let that sit in the fridge for a few hours, then sauteed in a pan after bringing to room temperature for about 25 minutes. I was skeptical of the dressing when I first made it, and was a little underwhelmed the first day, but the second day, the flavors really came together! It was cool thanks to the yogurt with a little heat from the jalapenos, a touch of sweetness from the honey, with some brightness from the lime. Very well-balanced, and much better than the bottled stuff! I will be adding this to my rotation for lunches. As Sally said in her blog post, this is a “stuff” salad that kept me full until dinner time! Will be great in the summer, too! Thanks, Sally!

  3. I’ve been thinking about southwestern salad recipes and wondering how i should make them. I’m definitely going to try this one:) it looks really good.

    1. You can make a DIY taco seasoning (there are tons of recipes for this if you Google it!) or play around with the spices to your liking!

  4. Made this for dinner and my husband & I loved it! We had more than enough for the 2 of us, so I set some aside without adding the dressing (which is delicious & tucked away in its own container). It’ll be lunch tomorrow!

    I know how good your dessert recipes are and this one is right up there with them. Thank you for sharing.

  5. I made this for my ceramics group today & everyone loved it & asked for the recipe. This will be a summer staple for me, it is so delicious & feels healthy. I was a bit reluctant about the dressing (because of the taco seasoning) but because it’s a Sally’s recipe, I went with it. I didn’t have jalapeños so I substituted Trader Joe’s Chili Lime seasoning which added just enough heat. I have loved every one of Sally’s recipes that I’ve tried so far although until now, they’ve all been sweets

  6. I’m not a huge chicken salad fan and I like Greek yogurt even less, BUT…I took my chances AND even used the Greek Yogurt that the recipe called for. Out of this world DELICIOUS!!!
    I did make a two changes: 1) I used seasoned tortilla strips from the salad topping section to top when serving. 3) I used bagged cole slaw mix, instead of romaine lettuce, so that leftovers would hold up well.

    Finally a little tid-bit…Don’t cheat and use a pre-made dressing like I considered doing. Trust me, the few extra minutes that it took to make the dressing were worth it.

    Thank you so much for sharing!

  7. Sally, somehow every recipe I look for I end up stumbling on your blog and I have to say everything I have made from your recipes have been amazing! This salad was delicious and I will definitely be making it again. Your crispy buffalo chicken fingers have also become a go to at home, it is healthy and delicious! Next on my list is your cinnamon role recipe!

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