Southwestern Chicken Salad Recipe with Avocado Ranch

This easy Southwestern Chicken Salad recipe is a healthy spin on a chain restaurant favorite loaded with black beans, sweet corn, avocado, tomato, and blackened southwest chicken breast all tossed with a creamy homemade Avocado Ranch dressing. 

Southwestern Chicken Salad served on a platter with avocado ranch dressing

Healthy  Southwestern Chicken salad with Creamy Avocado Dressing – party on a platter!

This Southwestern Chicken salad is my healthy and light version of a Restaurant-Style Southwest Salad, also often referred to as Sante Fe Chicken Salad!  A deliciously vibrant salad packed with our favorite flavors for an amazing meal! Easy to make, filling and satisfying, and a lot more delicious, fresher, and healthier than the fast-food restaurant salad – all that at a fraction of the price.

Healthy Southwestern Chicken salad with drizzled with avocado Ranch Dressing

While I keep things pretty classic with my corn, tomato, and bean combo, you can play around and add in other legumes and veggies.

I personally like the crisp, freshness of chopped romaine for this salad, but you can use spinach, iceberg, kale, arugula or any mixed greens for the base of this Southwestern chicken salad.

overhead shot of Southwestern Chicken salad drizzled with avocado ranch dressing

On to the dressing. Oftentimes, Southwestern Salad is served with a mayo-based cilantro dressing or a creamy Ranch-style dressing. I use my Creamy Dairy-free Avocado Ranch Dressing – a new reader favorite on the blog that has also become my got to dressing for so many salads. It is PERFECT for this chicken salad and really is the best finishing touch for along with the Southern seasonings and the corn and beans.

How to make Chicken For Southwest Chicken Salad

picture collage demonstrating how to pan-fry chicken for making Southwestern Chicken Salad

Step 1 – In a large bowl, mix together lime juice, cumin, chili powder, and sea salt.

Step 2 –  Add the chicken halves and toss to cover them with marinade. Place in the fridge and marinate for 20 minutes while you prep the rest of the ingredients (I recommend prepping the avocado once the chicken is cooked to avoid browning)

Step 3 – Heat oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. Remove visible garlic pieces from the chicken (to avoid them burning) and brown 2-3 minutes on each side. Reduce heat and continue cooking for 6-7 minutes or until chicken is cooked through (no longer pink inside) but still tender.

Place the chicken on a cutting board, allow to cool slightly, and slice (I use a tong to hold the chicken while I cut it).

How to arrange the chicken salad:

overhead shot of restaurant-style Southwestern Chicken Salad drizzled with Avocado Ranch Dressing

Arrange all salad ingredients (except dressing and lime wedges) in a large salad bowl or two plates, top with chicken pieces and drizzle with avocado-ranch. Serve with extra lime wedges and enjoy!

Tips:

  • Make your chicken breast even. With a boneless chicken breast, one end is usually much thicker than the other.  I cut the chicken and/or use a meat mallet to gently pound all of the chicken breasts to an even thickness to allow for even cooking.
  • Rest your chicken for at least 5 minutes to allow the juices to settle before you slice it up. This will help keep your chicken tender and delicious!
  • The restaurant version adds tortilla chips on top of the salad. While they would add another great texture to this Chicken Salad, I skip them to keep the calories down.
  • Make this Southwest Salad meatless, by adding more corn, avocado, and beans and omitting the chicken. You could use the same marinade for tofu and fry that up!
  • I used black beans here but pinto beans, or red beans all pair well here.
5 from 5 votes
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Southwest Chicken Salad with Avocado Ranch Dressing

This easy Southwestern Chicken Salad recipe is a healthy spin on a chain restaurant favorite loaded with black beans, sweet corn, avocado, tomato, and blackened southwest chicken breast all tossed with a creamy homemade Avocado Ranch dressing. 

Course Main Course
Cuisine American
Keyword healthy chicken salad recipe, southwest chicken salad recipe
Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Total Time 40 minutes
Servings 2
Calories 362 kcal

Ingredients

Chicken:

  • 2 tbsp lime juice
  • 1/2 tsp cumin
  • 2 tsp mild chili powder
  • 1 garlic clove minced
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • 1 large boneless skinless chicken breast cut in half length wise
  • 1 teaspoon avocado oil or olive oil

Salad:

  • 3 cups romaine lettuce chopped
  • 1/2 cup sweet corn either fresh, canned
  • 1/2 cup black beans from a can, drained and rinsed
  • 1/2 ripe avocado sliced
  • 1 cup cherry tomatoes cut in half
  • 1/4 cup fresh cilantro roughly chopped

Dressing

  • Avocado ranch dressing recipe see notes
  • limes wedges to serve

Instructions

  1. In a large bowl, mix together lime juice, cumin, chili powder and sea salt. Add the chicken halves and toss to cover them with marinade. Place in the fridge and marinate for 20 minutes while you prep the rest of the ingredients (I recommend prepping the avocado once the chicken is cooked to avoid browning)

  2. Heat oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. Remove visible garlic pieces from the chicken (to avoid them burning) and brown 2-3 minutes on each side. Reduce heat and continue cooking for 6-7 minutes or until chicken is cooked through (no longer pink inside) but still tender.

  3. Place on a cutting board, allow to cool slightly and slice (I use a tong to hold the chicken while I cut it)

  4. Arrange all salad ingredients (except dressing and lime wedges) in a large salad bowl or two plates, top with chicken pieces and drizzle with avocado ranch. Serve with extra lime wedges and enjoy!

Recipe Notes

  • Nutritional facts do not include dressing
  • For the dressing, use this recipe. 
  • Make your chicken breast even. With a boneless chicken breast, one end is usually much thicker than the other.  I cut the chicken and/or use a meat mallet to gently pound all of the chicken breasts to an even thickness to allow for even cooking.
  • Rest your chicken for at least 5 minutes to allow the juices to settle before you slice it up. This will help keep your chicken tender and delicious!
  • The restaurant version adds tortilla chips on top of the salad. Why they would add another great texture to this Chicken Salad, I skip them to keep the calories down.
  • Make this Southwest Salad meatless, by adding more corn, avocado and beans and omitting the chicken. You could use the same marinade for tofu and fry that up!
  • I used black beans here but pinto beans, or red beans all pair well here.
Nutrition Facts
Southwest Chicken Salad with Avocado Ranch Dressing
Amount Per Serving
Calories 362 Calories from Fat 126
% Daily Value*
Fat 14g22%
Saturated Fat 2g13%
Trans Fat 1g
Cholesterol 72mg24%
Sodium 766mg33%
Potassium 1317mg38%
Carbohydrates 31g10%
Fiber 11g46%
Sugar 5g6%
Protein 32g64%
Vitamin A 7458IU149%
Vitamin C 34mg41%
Calcium 74mg7%
Iron 4mg22%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.

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Chicken Clean Eating Gluten free Low carb Main Dishes Meat Paleo Primal Quick & Easy Meals Recipes
10 Comments
  1. What an incredible looking salad! That dressing looks absolutely fantastic, I can see myself putting that on much more than just this dish too!

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