Southwest Chicken Salad, marinated in garlic, onion, cumin and oregano and served over a bed of Romaine and salad leaves with sweetcorn, black beans, red onion and avocado, and topped with a homemade Cilantro Lime Dressing.
What ingredients do I need for Southwest Chicken Salad?
I like to use skin on, boneless chicken thighs for this salad as I think thigh meat has a little more taste and isn’t so prone to drying out as chicken breast, plus I love the crispy skin if I cook it in the oven.
You can use ready cut chicken tenders, or chicken breast too if you prefer that, or are counting calories.
For the salad, I used corn and beans as they are pretty much classic ingredients in any Southwestern style salad and they add a little texture too.
I love red onions and avocado so you know I’ve added them to this salad! Green onions would work too though, so you can substitute with those.
Romaine lettuce makes a good base for any salad, but I think it’s kind of boring on its own so I added in some mixed salad leaves to provide a little more interest.
The cilantro lime dressing is a simple one to make in a blender or food processor. In a pinch, you can finely chop the cilantro but that’s a little bit of a chore to do by hand!
And lastly, no salad would be complete without tomatoes! I used two different kinds of cherry tomatoes as I think that they taste great and the size is perfect for this dish. If you have in season regular sized tomatoes then I would use them chopped up. I think that the out of season tomatoes in the grocery store don’t always taste great so I usually skip them.
How to Make Southwest Chicken Salad
This is an easy salad to make, you need to marinade the chicken ahead of time but not for very long. I find that an hour or so is usually enough.
I have used chicken thighs, chicken tenders, and chicken breast to make this recipe on different occasions and they all work well. If you have bone in thighs then you can cook them in a hot oven for about 45 minutes or until they reach an internal temperature of 165° F or 75°C, but you will need to cut the bone out after they are cooked if you want to serve it sliced.
While the chicken is cooking you can prepare the onions, tomatoes, salad leaves and romaine, and avocado into the salad bowls you’ll serve it in.
The Cilantro lime dressing came from a local Jackson Mississippi restaurant, a friend shared it with me. It’s really tasty and almost creamy, but it’s totally dairy free.
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More Easy Recipes you’ll enjoy!
We travelled to the Cayman Islands last summer and my boys enjoyed some fabulous authentic Jerk Chicken from a roadside stand, they loved it! Sadly it was not gluten free so I recreated my own version when I came home.
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Southwest Chicken Salad
- 1 lb chicken tenders, or boneless thighs
- 2 cups romaine lettuce
- 2 cups mixed salad leaves
- 1 cup cherry tomatoes , halved
- 1/2 cup sweetcorn
- 1/2 cup black beans , rinsed
- 1/2 small red onion , sliced
- 1 avocado , sliced
Grilled Southwest Chicken Marinade
Southwest Chicken Salad Dressing
This recipe is not a precise one, if you want more beans, corn and chicken just add them in! You may need more dressing to compensate.
Rub the marinade onto chicken pieces and let it marinate for 1 hour.
Make the dressing by adding all the dressing ingredients listed into a blender and blend until smooth.
Heat a non stick, or Cast Iron Skillet over a medium high heat and add a little olive oil.
For Chicken tenders they will take about 3-5 minutes per side in a skillet, or until they reach an internal temperature of 165° F or 75°C
For boneless, skin on, chicken thighs, you can cook them in a skillet for about 5 minutes per side, or until they reach an internal temperature of 165° F or 75°C
For bone in, skin on chicken thighs you can cook them on a sheet pan in a 375F oven for about 40-45 minutes or until they reach an internal temperature of 165° F or 75°C
In your serving bowls add in salad leaves, corn, beans, tomatoes, red onion, sliced avocado, and then top with the sliced cooked chicken, drizzle on your dressing and mix well.