This Southwest Chicken Salad is absolutely packed with flavor and heat! It's really similar to the Chick-fil-A Southwest Salad, but even better! It only takes less than an hour to make this spicy salad, with most of the time allowing the chicken to marinate. It's loaded with protein, and definitely filling enough to be a full meal!
This is the freshest salad EVER and it's loaded with healthy ingredients. It's topped in my 5 minute, Homemade Southwest Salad Dressing, for another level of Chipotle Smoky flavor.
My husband is a meat and potatoes kind of guy and he loved eating this salad for dinner. It has black beans, corn, avocado, and tons of chicken on top, so you'll actually be satisfied from eating just a salad.
Why You'll Love This Recipe:
- It's loaded with fresh, delicious ingredients
- There are so many different textures in this recipe, which is what makes the best salads
- The only cooking required is sautéing the chicken breast
- A simple marinade for the chicken brings in tons of flavor and gives us nice, juicy, spicy flavors
Chicken Breast- Thinly sliced, then marinated in olive oil, lime juice and seasoning for a Spicy Southwest Flavor. I love the Smart Chicken brand and if you're lucky, the grocery store may carry the already thinly sliced breasts in the package. These are always super clean, pre-trimmed and so tasty.
Romaine Hearts-My go to lettuce for its crispy crunch and refreshing taste. It simply makes the best salads. I like to chop mine as bite size as possible.
Black Beans- For additional protein and texture. Black beans are a traditional staple in Southwest Salads.
Corn-Added for sweetness and a slight crunch.
Southwest Seasoning-A blend of Cumin, Coriander, Chili Powder, Smoked Paprika and more come together for a spicy, smoky flavor that marinates the chicken breast.
Tomato, Jalapeño, Cilantro, Bell Pepper, Onion, Avocado, and Tortilla Strips- Delicious toppings that add freshness, spice, crunch and all the things to this salad. Any of these can be left out, but I suggest them all for the ultimate flavor experience!
*See full recipe card below for recipe ingredients & quantities.
Substitutions and Variations:
For the dressing, instead of the Southwestern Salad dressing, try adding a few tablespoons of water to my Avocado Crema Recipe, which will give you a similar taste to the Chick-fil-A Avocado Lime Ranch Dressing. Ranch dressing is delicious on this Southwest Salad too, so that is an easy option.
If you don't want to make the Chicken breast, you could pull chicken from a Rotisserie Chicken to save time.
Because this is just a salad, feel free to leave out any of the ingredients.
Not big on Black beans, pinto beans would be tasty too.
If you want to add in cheese, Cheddar cheese or Monterrey Jack or Colby would be delish!
How to Make Southwest Chicken Salad:
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Here are the Step by Step Instructions for this Southwest Salad.
If you're making my Southwest Dressing, prepare that recipe first and place it in the fridge.
Step 1: Slice each chicken breast into two thinner breast. This will leave you with four thinly sliced chicken breast. Add them into a large bowl with 2 tablespoons of olive oil, lime juice, salt and southwest seasoning. Toss to combine and spread the marinade onto all sides of the chicken breast. Cover with plastic wrap and allow to sit at room temperature for 20 to 30 minutes.
Step 2: Prepare a large skillet over medium heat on the stovetop. Pour in olive oil and allow it to heat up. Place the chicken breast in the pan and cook for about 3-4 minutes.
Step 3: Flip the chicken breast and cook for an additional 3 to 5 minutes until the internal temperature reaches 165 degrees. Remove chicken to a plate and tent with foil. Allow it to cool for 5 minutes.
Step 4: Slice the chicken into strips or cubes for the salad.
Step 5: Chop the lettuce into bite size pieces and add into a large bowl. Toss with ½ cup of salad dressing of your choice.
Step 6: To the top of the salad, add black beans, corn, bell pepper, onion, cilantro, avocado, tomato, jalapeño, and chicken breast. Drizzle on remaining ¼ cup of salad dressing and top with tortilla strips. Serve and enjoy!
Expert Tips for Spicy Southwest Salad:
- Try to have the thickness of each chicken breast be similar for even cooking.
- Make sure to dry the lettuce and drain and dry the black beans and corn to eliminate extra water in the salad.
- I like to leave the salad really pretty with all the toppings separated on top, then toss the salad at the table right before serving.
Southwest salads usually have lettuce, black beans, corn, onion, tomatoes, peppers, and tortilla strips. I like to add chicken to mine for extra protein. The salads are then topped with a dressing like Southwest Salad Dressing or Ranch dressing.
I made this salad earlier in the day and we ate it for dinner. It was super fresh still. The biggest thing to remember is to make sure you get the lettuce dry, along with the black beans and corn. Water will make it soggy and not keep as well.
Store the salad in a sealed container in the fridge and eat within 24 hours for the best flavor. I made a wrap the next day with this salad in a flour tortilla and was really good!
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