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. 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!
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.
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!
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.
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?
A salad for people who get bored with salad. And also for people who love Chili’s.Print
This flavor-packed Southwestern chopped chicken salad comes together in minutes and you can get started on it the day before!
- 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
- 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
- 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.)
- Whisk the dressing ingredients together, except for the salt. Taste, then add salt to your preference.
- 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.
- 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.
- Corn & Black Beans: You can use freshly cooked corn and beans as well as canned corn and beans. (Drain first. Rinse the beans if desired.) You can use thawed frozen corn as well.
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) 🙂