This Southwest salad recipe is made with BBQ chicken, cilantro lime dressing, corn, black beans and more for an easy protein packed salad.
This Southwest salad recipe is my go to weeknight dinner when I’m out all day. After a long day it’s easy to throw together, plus the chicken and dressing can be made ahead of time.
There are so many flavors going on with the light cilantro lime vinaigrette and tender smooth lettuce offsets the smoky barbecue chicken and fire roasted corn, I could eat an entire serving bowl myself. Call it butter lettuce, Boston lettuce or Bibb lettuce; it is my favorite lettuce to serve in salads because of the light, sweet flavor and tender leaves.
Chicken thighs – Chicken thighs are one of the more inexpensive cuts of chicken so it’s the perfect choice when cooking for a large number of people. I also love how tender they are after they are cooked in BBQ chicken.
Butter lettuce – Butter lettuce (which includes Boston and Bibb lettuce) has tender, thin leaves that are almost silky in texture. I love using this delicate lettuce for this salad though it can easily be swapped with romaine.
Fire roasted corn – While you can certainly make your own fire roasted corn for this recipe I typically buy a bag of frozen fire-roasted corn and thaw it to toss in the salad.
Queso fresco – Queso fresco is a soft cow’s milk cheese used in Mexican dishes to balance spicy flavors.
How to Make Southwest Salad with BBQ Chicken Salad
For the dressing:
Whisk dressing. Place all of the ingredients for the dressing in a small mixing bowl and whisk until all ingredients are combined.
For the chicken:
Grill chicken. Heat the grill to high. Brush the chicken with the barbecue sauce until completely coated. Grill the chicken until completely cooked through.
Cool and chop. Remove the chicken from grill and let stand on a cutting board for 5 minutes. When cool to the touch cut the chicken into 1” pieces.
To assemble the salad:
Toss lettuce with dressing. Place the butter lettuce in a large mixing bowl. Next, add dressing to the salad, 2 tablespoons at a time and toss until all lettuce is lightly and evenly coated.
Toss with toppings. Add the green onions, corn, black beans and avocado then toss to combine.
Serve with chicken and cheese. Divide the salad evenly into bowls, top each with some of the chicken and queso fresco. Serve immediately.
Tips and Tricks for This Recipe
You can easily swap chicken breasts in this recipe though they may require a bit longer cooking time.
While I cook this chicken on the grill it can also be made in a cast iron pan over medium heat.
Other Recipes to Try
If you enjoy this Southwest salad recipe, I recommend checking out some of these:
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