Southwest Chicken Salad is a nutritious meal full of sweet, savory, citrus flavors! We marinate chicken breasts in a sweet soy sauce mixture and cook them until tender. Then, we pair them with vegetables, cilantro lime rice, and yogurt dressing, for a salad that’s better than anything you’ll get at a restaurant!

Spice up Your Salad Game with Our Irresistible Southwest Chicken Salad Recipe!

Many fast food places have Southwest chicken salads. They are tasty and have lots of good stuff like fiber, nutrients, protein, and healthy fats to keep you satisfied. 

However, it turns out that they’re simple to make at home, too. Prepare the ingredients ahead of time, and you can whip up a meal in minutes. 

Plus, you can easily combine various ingredients to use what you have and satisfy your tastebuds. Pack it for lunches on the go, or make it for an easy weeknight dinner!

Southwest Chicken Salad Ingredients

Below is an overview of the ingredients and instructions to make this southwest chicken salad recipe. Be sure to scroll down to the recipe card for the complete details, prep time, nutrition information, etc.!

Chicken 

  • Citrus Juice – A combination of freshly squeezed orange juice and lime juice helps tenderize the chicken while infusing it with a bright, zesty flavor. 
  • Seasonings – Chili powder, salt, and pepper enhance the flavor of the rest of the ingredients while adding just a hint of spice. 
  • Garlic – Use fresh garlic cloves, and mince them yourself. 
  • Soy Sauce – The acid works to tenderize the chicken and balances out the citrus flavors. 
  • Olive Oil – This helps combine all the ingredients, creating a smooth marinade and infusing the chicken with flavor. Choose a high-quality olive oil with bold, peppery notes. 
  • Honey – This creates a subtle sweetness. Maple syrup will also work. 
  • Cilantro – Use fresh cilantro leaves for a bright, refreshing taste. 
  • Chicken – We prefer to use boneless, skinless chicken breast for this recipe. If preferred, you can substitute chicken thighs. 

Cilantro Rice

  • Rice – Use white, long-grain rice. 
  • Lime – Freshly squeezed lime juice and lime zest infuse the rice with bright flavor. 
  • Cilantro – Again, you’ll want to use finely chopped cilantro leaves.

Salad

  • Mixed Greens – Use any blend you like best for the base of your salad. 
  • Tomatoes – We prefer to use Roma tomatoes, but grape or cherry tomatoes will taste great, too. 
  • Corn – We use frozen corn to keep things easy. Just make sure to thaw and drain it before adding it to the salad! Fresh corn works well too if you have it on hand.
  • Black Beans – Use canned beans, and rinse and drain them before adding them to the salad. 

Creamy Yogurt Dressing

  • Yogurt – Full-fat Greek yogurt works best to create a creamy consistency and rich, tangy taste. Plus, it adds a boost of protein! 
  • Lime Juice – This helps cut through some of the heaviness of the fats, infusing the salad dressing with a bright, citrus flavor. 
  • Garlic – Use whole garlic cloves, and mince them finely. 
  • Cilantro – Parsley will also work. 
  • Olive Oil – This helps combine the ingredients, creating a sort of emulsion
a bowl of southwest chicken salad with rice, beans, chicken, corn, tomatoes, and cilantro dressing in the center.

How to Make the Best Southwestern Chicken Salad

  1. Create the dressing. Add all the ingredients for the dressing to a blender, and pulse until smooth. Transfer the mixture to a small bowl or jar, and chill in the fridge to chill until you’re ready to use. 
  2. Marinate the chicken. Whisk all the marinade ingredients together in a large bowl. Then, add the chicken, submerging it completely. Cover the bowl, and transfer it to the fridge. 
  3. Prepare the rice. Cook the rice according to the package instructions. Then, fold in the lime juice, lime zest, and cilantro, and fluff the rice with a rice paddle or fork. 
  4. Cook the chicken. Heat a skillet over medium-high heat, and add the oil. Once it’s warm, arrange the chicken in a single layer. Cook on both sides until the juices run clear and the chicken has reached an internal temperature of 165 degrees Fahrenheit.
  5. Rest. Set the chicken pieces aside to rest and redistribute the juices. 
  6. Assemble the salad. Add the veggies, beans, rice, and chicken to a large bowl. Pour the dressing on top, and toss to combine. Enjoy while the chicken is warm! 
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02/29/2024 10:19 pm GMT

Ways to Customize Your Meal

One of the best things about salad recipes, like this southwest chicken salad, is that there are no strict rules. So, you can mix and match various ingredients to make them your own!

  • Swapping out the protein. Replace the chicken with any other protein you like best such as beef kofta, ground turkey, salmon, or shrimp
  • Make It plant-based. Replace the chicken with a plant-based protein source like chickpeas, tempeh, or tofu. 
  • Include extra fats. Make your salad extra creamy with a sprinkle of feta, Monterey Jack, Cheddar cheese, or diced avocado. 
  • Using a different dressing. Feel free to mix and match any store-bought or homemade dressings you have on hand. 
  • Add crunch. Sprinkle in chopped nuts, crispy chickpeas, or tortilla chips for extra texture. 
  • Use different produce. Clear out your fridge with any extra produce you have on hand like red onion, cucumber, and avocado.  
  • Swap the seasonings. Use different seasonings like taco seasoning or all-purpose seasoning to add flavor to the chicken.
a jar of creamy cilantro yogurt dressing.

Meal Prep

You can prep the chicken, rice, veggies, and dressing ahead of time, and store them in separate airtight containers in the fridge. 

Or, you can layer the ingredients in a specific order. Put dry, heavy ingredients like chicken, rice, beans, and corn at the bottom. Put lighter, moist ingredients on top. Finish with the dressing. 

How to Store

Store all the ingredients in separate airtight containers in the fridge for up to five days. 

To serve, reheat the chicken in a skillet over medium heat or the microwave. Then, give the dressing a good shake, and assemble all the ingredients as usual. 

Serving Suggestions

This chicken salad has lots of protein, carbs, veggies, and healthy fats, so it can be a full meal by itself. However, you can never go wrong with a side of pita bread or cheesy focaccia bread

More Delicious Salad Recipes

a bowl of southwest chicken salad with creamy yogurt dressing on the side

Southwest Chicken Salad

5 from 1 vote
Author: Food Dolls
Servings: 6 servings
Prep: 40 minutes
Cook: 8 minutes
Marinate Time: 30 minutes
Total: 1 hour 18 minutes
This easy chicken salad features marinated chicken, cilantro rice, veggies, beans, and corn tossed with a creamy yogurt dressing!

Ingredients  

For the Dressing:

  • ½ cup full-fat Greek yogurt
  • 1 lime juiced
  • 1 clove garlic minced
  • 1 cup fresh cilantro chopped
  • ¼ cup olive oil

For the Chicken:

  • 1/ cup orange juice freshly squeezed
  • 1 Tablespoon chili powder
  • 3 garlic cloves minced
  • 1 Tablespoon soy sauce
  • 2 Tablespoons olive oil
  • ½ lime juiced
  • 1 Tablespoon honey
  • 2 Tablespoons cilantro
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • ½ teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 ½ pounds chicken breast tenders

For the Cilantro Rice:

  • 2 cups long-grain rice cooked
  • ½ lime juice and zest
  • 2 Tablespoons fresh cilantro chopped

For the Salad:

  • 4 ounces mixed greens
  • 1 cup tomatoes chopped
  • 1 cup frozen corn thawed
  • 1 15 ounce can beans, pinto or black, drained and rinsed

Instructions 

  • In a blender, combine all the ingredients for the dressing. Blend until smooth. Store in the fridge until ready to use.
    ½ cup full-fat Greek yogurt, 1 lime, 1 clove garlic, 1 cup fresh cilantro, ¼ cup olive oil
  • Whisk the ingredients for the chicken marinade together in a large bowl. Add the chicken, submerging it completely. Cover, and refrigerate it at least 30 minutes or ideally up to overnight.
    1 ½ pounds chicken breast tenders, 1/ cup orange juice, 1 Tablespoon chili powder, 3 garlic cloves, 1 Tablespoon soy sauce, 2 Tablespoons olive oil, ½ lime, 1 Tablespoon honey, 2 Tablespoons cilantro, ½ teaspoon kosher salt, ½ teaspoon black pepper
  • Prepare the rice according to the package instructions. Once cooked, fold in the juice of half a lime, lime zest, and cilantro. Fluff with a fork, and set aside.
    2 cups long-grain rice, ½ lime, 2 Tablespoons fresh cilantro
  • Heat a skillet over medium-high heat. Add the olive oil. Once warm, arrange the chicken in a single layer. Cook 3-4 minutes. Then, flip and continue to cook another 3-4 minutes or until the juices run clear and the chicken has reached an internal temperature of 165 degrees Fahrenheit. Rest 5 minutes.
  • In a large bowl, add the mixed greens, tomatoes, corn, beans, rice, and chicken. Pour the dressing on top, and toss to combine.
    4 ounces mixed greens, 1 cup tomatoes, 1 cup frozen corn, 1 15 ounce can beans, pinto or black, drained and rinsed
  • Serve while the chicken is warm!
  • Store ingredients in separate airtight containers in the fridge for up to 5 days.

Nutrition

Serving: 1serving | Calories: 650kcal | Carbohydrates: 84g | Protein: 39g | Fat: 18g | Saturated Fat: 3g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 2g | Monounsaturated Fat: 11g | Trans Fat: 0.01g | Cholesterol: 73mg | Sodium: 535mg | Potassium: 1062mg | Fiber: 9g | Sugar: 6g | Vitamin A: 1108IU | Vitamin C: 29mg | Calcium: 88mg | Iron: 3mg

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

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Meet Alia & Radwa

Welcome to Food Dolls! We’re so glad you found us. We are Alia and Radwa, sisters who want to share simple and easy recipes with you. We hope you find recipes here that you enjoy making as much as we do! Learn more about us!

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