Southwest Chicken Salad with Pico de Gallo

This Southwest Chicken Salad is topped with black beans, avocado, fresh pico de gallo & a zesty lime vinaigrette. A sprinkle of tortilla strips adds a delicious crunch!

It’s definitely been comfort food season around our house. But… I thought it was time to switch things up a bit and add something with a bit more color, fresh flavors and crunch. Otherwise, I may just come out of this winter hibernation with no vitamins remaining in my system and not a single pair of jeans in my closet that fit.

This Southwest Chicken Salad with fresh pico de gallo is just that dish to break out of that fall/winter eating rut.

Packed with lots of bright, fresh vegetable flavors, using produce that is widely available year round – cherry tomatoes, romaine, avocado, and cilantro.

Don’t those flavors just make you think of a bright, cheery, sunny day?

We can pretend…

Why you will love this recipe

  • Easy to make: This southwestern chicken salad is easy to make with simple ingredients that can be put together in just 15 minutes.
  • Fresh and delicious: the ingredients used to make this chicken salad are fresh and the salad is just so flavorful and delicious.
  • Healthy: This salad is so healthy and just the perfect guilt-free meal. Also, it’s loaded with nutrients, with the right amount of carbs and protein.

The chicken breasts are rubbed in a chipotle chili powder, for a slightly spicy, smoky flavor. Then black beans are thrown into the mix, and a fresh lime vinaigrette finishes the whole thing off.

I also added on some of my easy homemade tortilla strips for some extra crunch!

PS – Have you tried making Instant Pot black beans? They turn out super flavorful and can be made in under an hour with no soaking! Or, try these Slow Cooker Black Beans or Instant Pot pinto beans.

Overhead shot of sw chicken salad in bowl with two forks.

Ingredients needed

Want to make this salad even more hearty? Try turning this into a Quinoa Southwest Salad by adding in some fluffy quinoa. (I love making my quinoa in the instant pot too!)

Try adding in your favorite toppings. Corn, olives, bell peppers, garbanzo beans, cheese, red onions (or pickled onions), guacamole… the possibilities are endless!

What’s the best southwest salad dressing?

I made a zesty lime vinaigrette to top this Southwest Chicken Salad. It’s a simple combination of lime juice, olive oil and cilantro with a pinch of salt and pepper.

I also love making this creamy southwest salad dressing or jalapeno ranch dressing.

You could also top this salad with some homemade ranch dressing that you dress up with a bit of lime juice and a pinch of chili powder.

This salad would also be delicious topped with my chipotle crema or creamy cilantro lime dressing.

Or, try topping your salad with some zesty, tangy mojo sauce or chimichurri sauce.

How to make it

  • Season the chicken: Chili powder, lime zest and salt give great flavor.
  • Heat the beans: Saute the beans with red onion, cumin & oregano.
  • Cook the chicken: Wipe out the skillet and cook the chicken.
  • Make the dressing: Whisk together lime juice, olive oil and cilantro
  • Make the pico de gallo: Combine tomatoes, jalapeno, red onion and cilantro.
  • Assemble: Top romaine with chicken, beans, avocado & pico de gallo. Drizzle with vinaigrette.

How to make ahead & store

To Meal Prep: Make the beans. Cook the chicken and cut into strips. Store the beans, chicken, chopped lettuce, pico de gallo and dressing in their own airtight containers. When ready to serve, toss it all together.

To Store: All the ingredients can be stored for up to 5 days in the fridge.

To Reheat: Simply reheat the chicken and beans in the microwave for 1-2 minutes, then assemble the salad.

Overhead shot of sw chicken salad in bowl with two forks.

Wine pairings

  • Rosé. It’s bold enough to stand up to the spices in the chicken, but its acidity will pair well with the vinaigrette.
  • Other great options for pairing would be Pinot Gris or dry Riesling.

More salad recipes 

Did you try this southwest chicken salad recipe?

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Overhead shot of sw chicken salad in bowl with two forks.

Southwest Chicken Salad

This Southwest Chicken Salad is topped with a chipotle seasoned chicken breast, black beans, avocado, fresh pico de gallo & a zesty lime vinaigrette.
5 from 2 votes
Print Pin
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 40 minutes
Servings: 2 servings



  • In a small bowl, combine ½ tablespoon olive oil, chili powder, lime zest, and a large pinch of salt. Rub the mixture onto the chicken breasts, coating well on all sides.
  • In a large pan, over medium heat, warm 1/2 tablespoon olive oil. Once hot, add ¾ the red onion, and cook until softened, approximately 5 minutes. Add black beans, cumin, oregano, and cook for another 1-2 minutes, until fragrant. Season with salt and pepper, to taste, and set aside. Wipe the skillet clean.
  • Add an additional ½ tablespoon olive oil to the now clean skillet. Heat over medium heat. Add the chicken and cook for 4-5 minutes per side, until cooked through. Remove to a plate, cover with foil and let rest 5 minutes.

Southwestern Salad Dressing:

  • Whisk together the lime juice, 2 tablespoons olive oil and half the cilantro. Season with salt and pepper, to taste.

Pico de Gallo:

  • Toss together the tomatoes, jalapeno, remaining red onion and remaining cilantro. Season with salt and pepper, to taste.
  • Chop the romaine heart, thinly slice the avocado, and thinly slice the chicken breasts.
  • Assemble the salad by plating the romaine, topping with the sliced chicken, black bean mixture, avocado slices, and pico de gallo. Drizzle with vinaigrette.
Did you make this recipe?Mention @platingsandpairings or tag #platingsandpairings!


Calories: 702kcal | Carbohydrates: 24g | Protein: 52g | Fat: 45g | Saturated Fat: 6g | Cholesterol: 144mg | Sodium: 302mg | Potassium: 1791mg | Fiber: 11g | Sugar: 6g | Vitamin A: 6265IU | Vitamin C: 47.9mg | Calcium: 98mg | Iron: 3.8mg

This post was originally published in 2018. It was updated in 2023 to add new content. The pico de gallo chicken salad recipe remains the same. Enjoy!

24 thoughts on “Southwest Chicken Salad with Pico de Gallo”

  1. This looks like a delicious light lunch! I do love food-themed costumes! One of my son’s friends went as bacon, another as a set of ketchup and mustard. I wonder if the people you saw dressed up as salt shakers had significant others that were dressed up as pepper shakers?

  2. This looks so good! I love how you include wine pairing suggestions. What a great, healthy fall recipe.

    I was also braving the rain at the coast (Lincoln City) on Halloween.

    • Thanks Brianne – Wine is the best part, right? Wasn’t the weather at the coast crazy over the weekend? It’s fun being there when it’s stormy like that!

  3. I am SO looking forward to trying this! Pinning for sure! Thank you for sharing!

    We had a wet Halloween trick-or-treating, but we still had a lot of fun. Our kids were Iron Man and Minnie Mouse this year, and I have to say that they were pretty cute. 🙂 We didn’t see any food costumes while we were out — just a lot of superheroes!

  4. Awesome!! I used 4 chicken breasts, doubled all the sauce ingredients except the sugar and red pepper flakes. I also used applesauce in place of the juice b/c thats what I had. We ran out of soy sauce so I only put in about 3/4 cup total…it was plenty!! Thanks for an awesome recipe.

  5. 5 stars
    Such lovely photos as always, Erin! Love the flavors of this southwestern bowl. I can easily replace the chicken with a juicy grilled portobello mushroom. Yum!


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