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Southwest Chicken Salad

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This Southwest Chicken Salad is a delicious combination of grilled chicken, mixed greens, corn, cherry tomatoes, avocados, crispy strips, and the most amazing, healthier salad dressing. You’ll love this zesty, flavorful dinner salad!

Closeup side view of Southwest Chicken Salad in a white bowl.

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Southwest cuisine is known for its robust flavors and colorful platters filled with delicious food. I can’t think of a better way to enjoy both than a healthy and delicious Southwest Chicken Salad! This dish combines the zesty taste of Mexican flavors with the freshness of a chicken cobb salad, creating a meal that’s pleasing in every way!

Whether you are looking for a quick lunch, a hearty dinner, or a dish to serve for company on the patio, this easy recipe ticks all the boxes. Plus, the creamy yogurt southwest salad dressing adds a tangy twist that ties all the ingredients together beautifully. Let’s dive into how to make this mouthwatering salad!

A Perfect Blend of Fresh Ingredients and Bold Flavors

Southwest cuisine is all about bold flavors and fresh ingredients. This Southwest Chicken Salad recipe is no exception, as it brings together a variety of textures and tastes that are, literally, irresistible. From the grilled chicken’s smokiness to the creamy, zippy and tangy dressing, every bite tastes like a fiesta!

What You’ll Need for the Salad

To create this delightful salad, you’ll need the following fresh ingredients:

  • Grilled Boneless Skinless Chicken: You can use your choice of chicken thighs or chicken breasts. If using chicken breasts, I like to look for “thin cut chicken” or chicken cutlets.
  • Mixed Greens: My garden is producing an abundant crop of greens this season, so I’m using a combination of romaine, loose-leaf greens in several colors, spinach, arugula, frieze, and more. But off-season, a bag of fresh greens works well, too!
  • Corn: I love to use fresh corn on the cob, kernels removed and charred in a skillet, but frozen corn, cooked according to package instructions or charred works equally well.
  • Cherry tomatoes: halved
  • Avocados: Halved, quartered, or sliced
  • Crispy Strips or broken tortilla chips

Each ingredient contributes to the overall taste and texture of the salad. The lettuce provides a crunchy base, the corn adds a hint of sweetness and earthiness, and the avocado offers a smooth, buttery texture that contrasts with the crispiness of the tortilla strips.

Closeup view of grilled chicken salad with creamy and healthy Southwest Salad Dressing in a white bowl.

Southwest Marinated Grilled Chicken

The grilled chicken is so incredibly delicious that it truly is the star of this salad, and marinating it with a blend of Southwest spices will elevate the flavors to new heights. Here are the ingredients for a simple marinade to get that perfect grilled chicken:

  • Cooking oil: Like olive oil or vegetable oil
  • Seasonings: Garlic powder, ground cumin, dried oregano, salt and pepper
Top view of chicken marinating in a zip-top bag.
Top view of grilled chicken on a white plate.

Combine these ingredients, add your chicken, and make sure they are well coated. Let them marinate for at least 30 minutes to absorb all the flavors. Grill the chicken over medium heat until it’s cooked through and has nice grill marks. Once done, let it rest before slicing it to keep it juicy and tender.

A Healthier Dressing That’s Creamy Yet Light

Greek yogurt is the key ingredient in the dressing for this Southwest Chicken Salad. Yogurt is a healthier alternative to mayonnaise or sour cream, providing a tangy base for the other flavors to shine.

Top view of ingredients for Southwest Salad Dressing on a wooden cutting board.

Creamy Yogurt Southwest Salad Dressing Recipe

To make the dressing, you’ll need:

  • Greek yogurt: While yogurt makes this Southwest Salad Dressing healthier, you could also substitute sour cream if needed.
  • Freshly squeezed lime juice
  • Chili powder
  • Smoked paprika
  • Ground cumin
  • Garlic powder
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Cayenne: This is optional but so, so delicious!

Simply whisk all the ingredients together until smooth. If you prefer a thinner consistency, you can add a splash of water or milk to get it to your desired thickness. Taste and adjust the seasoning if necessary. The dressing can be made ahead of time and stored in the refrigerator until you’re ready to assemble the salad.

Assembling Your Southwest Chicken Salad

The beauty of this salad is in its layers of flavor and texture. To assemble, start with a bed of chopped mixed greens. Arrange the sliced grilled chicken, cherry tomatoes, sweet corn, and avocado on top of the lettuce. Sprinkle with crispy strips or chips, if desired.

Then, drizzle the salad with the creamy yogurt southwest salad dressing, and finish with a garnish of chopped cilantro. Serve with lime wedges on the side for an extra zesty kick.

A Healthy Chicken Salad That Doesn’t Skimp on Flavor

Salads can sometimes seem boring or not filling enough. But this Southwest Chicken Salad will challenge that notion. Not only is it packed with nutrients from the fresh ingredients, but the flavors are robust!

The combination of lean protein from the chicken, fiber from the corn, healthy fats from the avocado, and calcium from the yogurt dressing makes this a well-rounded meal that supports a healthy lifestyle.

Plus, it’s just simply delicious! Even the non-salad people in my family absolutely love this zesty and filling dish.

Tips for the Perfect Southwest Chicken Salad

Make It Ahead

This salad is perfect for meal prep. You can grill the chicken and make the dressing ahead of time. Store the components separately in the fridge, and assemble the salad when you’re ready to eat. This will keep everything fresh and prevent the salad from becoming soggy.

Customize It

Feel free to adjust the ingredients based on what you have on hand or your personal preferences. Want more veggies? Throw in some bell peppers or red onion for an extra crunch or add drained black beans or kidney beans.

Keep It Fresh

If you’re bringing this salad to a picnic or potluck, pack the dressing separately and toss it with the salad just before serving. This will ensure that every ingredient stays as fresh as possible.

Next time you’re in the mood for something fresh, give this Southwest Chicken Salad a try. It’s an easy, healthy, and delicious way to enjoy salad season!

Top view of grilled chicken salad with cherry tomatoes, mixed greens, avocados and more.

More Recipes to Try


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Closeup view of grilled chicken salad with creamy and healthy Southwest Salad Dressing in a white bowl.

Southwest Chicken Salad Recipe

Enjoy this zesty Southwest Chicken Salad with grilled chicken, mixed greens, corn, cherry tomatoes, avocados, and crispy strips. Plus, a healthier southwest salad dressing.
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Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 30 minutes
Servings: 4 servings


Southwest Salad Dressing

  • 3/4 cup Greek yogurt or sour cream
  • 1 medium lime juiced
  • 2 teaspoons chili powder (or adobo spice if you have it)
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt and pepper or to taste
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne
  • 1/4 cup water or to desired consistency

For the Chicken

  • 1 tablespoon cooking oil like olive oil or vegetable oil
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • 4 boneless skinless chicken thighs or boneless, skinless chicken breasts (thin cut)

For the Salad

  • 3-4 cups mixed greens
  • 2 cooked corn on the cob kernels removed (or frozen corn cooked to package instructions)
  • 1 cup cherry tomatoes halved
  • 1-2 avocados quarterred and/or sliced
  • crispy strips or broken tortilla chips


Southwest Salad Dressing

  • Combine the ingredients in a bowl and whisk until smooth. Add the water last and to taste. Increase the water by 2 tablespoons at a time until desired consistency is reached. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for 4-5 days.

For the Chicken Marinade

  • Combine the oil, garlic powder, cumin, dried oregano, salt, and pepper in a small bowl and whisk. Add the chicken to a large zip-top bag, pour the marinade over the chicken, and refrigerate for about 1 hour.

For the Salad

  • Heat an indoor or outdoor grill to medium high heat (about 400℉). Add the chicken and grill for 5-6 minutes per side, or until the chicken is cooked through. Remove from the grill and let rest 10 minutes before slicing. Meanwhile, prepare the salad.
  • On a large platter, arrange the greens. Then add the toppings (cherry tomatoes, avocados, corn kernels, crispy strips, etc). Drizzle the salad dressing over the top and serve!

Homemade Crispy Strips

  • Slice a handful of corn tortillas into 1/2-inch strips (I use four 6-inch corn tortillas). In a large pot, heat 1/4 cup cooking oil. Add sliced strips and cook, stirring as needed, until crispy, about 1 minute. Remove with a slotted spoon and drain on paper towels. Sprinkle with salt to taste.


Calories: 263kcal | Carbohydrates: 8g | Protein: 24g | Fat: 16g | Saturated Fat: 3g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 2g | Monounsaturated Fat: 9g | Trans Fat: 0.02g | Cholesterol: 107mg | Sodium: 699mg | Potassium: 679mg | Fiber: 4g | Sugar: 1g | Vitamin A: 637IU | Vitamin C: 21mg | Calcium: 35mg | Iron: 2mg

Nutritional information is only an estimate. The accuracy of the nutritional information for any recipe on this site is not guaranteed.

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Course: Main Course, Salad
Cuisine: Mexican, Tex Mex, Southwestern
Keyword: Southwest Chicken Salad

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