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!
What is a southwest salad made of?
- Romaine Lettuce – Or, your favorite lettuce. Chopped cabbage or a slaw mix would also be tasty.
- Chicken Breast – I cook them in a skillet. But, you could also make air fryer chicken breasts or sous vide chicken breasts.
- Black Beans (have you tried making Instant Pot black beans?)
- Pico de Gallo – My version is quick and easy to make at home. Or, use store-bought.
- Tortilla Strips – Or, crushed tortilla chips.
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!)
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.
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.
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.
Meal Prep + How to 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.
- 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
- Thai Beef Salad
- Berry Salad with Poppyseed Dressing
- Summer Chicken Cobb Salad
- Kale Caesar Salad with Chicken
- Mediterranean Chickpea & Tuna Salad
- Chickpea Avocado Salad
- Mexican Street Corn Salad with Couscous
Did you try this southwest chicken salad recipe?
If you loved this salad with pico de gallo I would appreciate it so much if you would give this recipe a ⭐️star review⭐️! Also, be sure to snap a picture of your finished dish and share it with me on Instagram using the hashtag #platingsandpairings and tagging me @platingsandpairings.
Southwest Chicken Salad Recipe
- 2 Chicken Breasts
- 3 1/2 Tablespoons Olive Oil (divided)
- 1 teaspoon Chipotle Chili Powder
- 1 Lime (zested and juiced )
- 1 Red Onion (finely chopped)
- 1 15.5 ounce can Black Beans (drained and rinsed)
- 1 teaspoon Cumin
- 1 teaspoon Oregano
- ¼ cup Chopped Cilantro
- 1 cup Grape Tomatoes (quartered)
- 1 Jalapeño Pepper (ribs and seeds removed, minced)
- 1 Romaine Heart
- 1 Avocado (peeled and pitted)
- Tortilla Strips (for topping)
- 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.
This post was originally published in 2018. It was updated in 2023 to add new content. The pico de gallo salad recipe remains the same. Enjoy!