Southwest Salad with Chicken & Pico de Gallo

This Southwest Salad is topped with a chipotle seasoned chicken breast, black beans, avocado, fresh pico de gallo & a zesty lime vinaigrette.

Want to add a little crunch? These easy homemade tortilla strips are a great topping as well!

It’s definitely been comfort food season around here! More and more dishes like these have been finding their way onto the blog lately:

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. 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…

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!

I may just survive the winter slump with this dish in my arsenal.

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!

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

What’s in a Southwestern Chicken Salad?

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.

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, cilantro lime crema or guacamole!

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

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

Wine Pairings for Southwest Chicken 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.

If you loved this Southwest Chicken Salad 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.

More tasty salad recipes: 

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

Southwest Salad with Chicken & Pico de Gallo

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
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Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 40 minutes
Servings: 2 servings


  • 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.
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 recipe was originally published in 2018. It was updated in 2021 to add new information. The Southwestern Chicken Salad recipe remains the same. Enjoy!

24 thoughts on “Southwest Salad with Chicken & 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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