Many of my clients have asked me how to recreate this salad because they love the southwest salads from various restaurants! This Southwest BBQ Chicken Salad is full of delicious veggies like tomatoes, avocados, and onions. It is topped with a spicy bbq ranch with an ingredient you may not expect... buffalo sauce! The best part about making salads at home is that you spend a fraction of the cost compared to one you order out! Caesar salads, wedge salads, and chop salads can easily be made at home with fresh ingredients and a homemade dressings, saving you time and money!
Why You'll Love This Recipe
Easy to make: This is the perfect summer salad. You can grill the chicken or use leftover chicken you have in the fridge and lots of fresh veggies. It has a spicy ranch made with buffalo sauce and bbq sauce to give it a little kick.
Dietary Restrictions: This recipe is completely gluten-free and dairy-free! There are some very popular southwest chicken salads from Panera, Chick-Fil-A, and even Red Robin that people love, however all of those are made with ingredients that may not sit well with you if you have certain intolerances. This recipe is Paleo and Whole30 friendly so you know that what you are eating will also make your body happy, too.
Ingredients You Will Need
Chicken Breast: I love using chicken breast for this recipe because it is a lean protein that grills nicely and stays very juicy. Lean protein is important to have in your diet because it helps with muscle development and tissue repair.
BBQ Rub: You can use your favorite bbq rub to season the chicken prior to grilling. I really like Primal Palate's BBQ seasoning because it is super flavorful without any added ingredients. It is completely gluten-free and additive-free.
Romaine Lettuce: This is the base of the salad. Romaine lettuce is one of the leafy greens that is great for your heart! It is packed full of vitamin C, potassium and folate help lower cholesterol and decrease blood pressure.
Red Onion: Red onions are full of antioxidants which help fight inflammation. They also have folate, manganese, and some vitamin C. They are antibacterial, help digestion (for some), and can help reduce your risk of cancer.
Avocado: Not only are avocados a source of healthy fats, but they have magnesium, potassium, and lots of fiber. They help reduce the risk of many health conditions!
Cherry Tomatoes: This sweet little tomatoes are perfect for a salad because they add some acidity and also sweetness! They also pack a punch in the nutrition department too. They are full of lycopene, which is a powerful nutrient that helps fight inflammation and blood clotting.
Jalapeño: These spicy peppers are one of my favorites! They add some heat and crunch to this salad, however you can always leave them out if extra spice is not your thing. They are full of Vitamin C and B6, but did you know that the spice actually comes from a compound called capsaicin? Jalapeños are good for your heart, can promote weight loss, and fight cancer.
Corn: While many people think corn is a vegetable, it is actually a grain! It is full of fiber and when eaten in moderation can be part of a healthy diet. I like to look for organic corn when I do eat it.
Green Onion: These onions are very small, but are packed full of nutrients! They are an excellent source of Vitamin K which is essential for blood clotting, heart health and longevity.
Dairy Free Ranch Dressing: This is my absolute favorite ranch dressing whether you are dairy-free or not! It is made with coconut milk, avocado mayo, and lots of fresh or dried herbs. It is very creamy and goes great on this salad as an added fat to help fuel your body.
Buffalo and BBQ Sauce: One of the most important parts of this recipe! My absolute favorite bbq sauce and buffalo sauce come from Nobel Made. They have no extra ingredients or sugar in them and they taste AMAZING.
Preheat the grill to medium heat. I have a Blackstone griddle and use medium-low heat, but on a regular grill I use medium heat.
Cook the chicken and corn Season the chicken with the Nobel Made Classic BBQ Seasoning and place on the grill at the same time as the corn on the cob. Cook both for 8-10 minutes then flip and cook for another 8-10 minutes. When the chicken has reached 165°F it is finished and when the corn starts to get grill marks on both side it is finished.
Chop the veggies While the chicken and corn are cooking wash and chop the romaine lettuce, tomatoes, red onion, avocado, jalapeno, and green onions.
Make the Spicy Ranch dressing by combining 1 cup of the dairy free ranch dressing, ⅓ cup buffalo sauce, and ⅓ cup bbq sauce in a mason jar on mixing until combined. You likely will have leftovers and it can be stored in the fridge for up to 5 days! I love dipping veggies in this too.
Assemble the salads. When the chicken and corn are cooked, slice the chicken into thin sliced and cut the corn off the cob. Be careful cutting the corn off the cob because it will be hot to the touch. Then assemble the salads into 4 equal sized salads. Top with the spicy ranch, serve, and enjoy!
Recipe Tips and Tricks
Make it faster: You can use any shredded chicken or pre-cooked rotisserie chicken that you have to cut down the cook time. You can also use frozen corn instead of corn on the cob.
Serving: You can use all the veggies that I have in this recipe, leave some out, or top it with others that you enjoy. It is also really good with your favorite crispy tortilla strips and black beans if you are not doing a Whole30. If you are taking this to a party, you can make the salad and keep the dressing on the side- dress when ready to eat.
Additions: If you are not doing a Whole30 or Paleo lifestyle, you can add crispy tortilla strips either from corn tortilla chips or making your own from Siete tortillas or other corn tortillas. You can also add black beans for extra protein.
Buffalo and BBQ Sauces: You can use any other buffalo or bbq sauce that you prefer or have on hand. If you are doing a Whole30, just be sure to double check your ingredients to make sure they are compatible.
If you are wanting to meal prep this salad, I recommend chopping all the veggies ahead of time and storing in separate glass containers in the refrigerator to keep fresh. Store the dressing in a mason jar for up to 5-7 days in the refrigerator. Then making the salad and dressing it when you are ready to eat.
Another option for meal prepping is make mason jar salads. You can get large mason jars and put the dressing on the bottom, then the chicken, various veggies, and the lettuce on top. Close the lid and store in the fridge for 3-5 days. When you are ready to eat dump the salad into a bowl and enjoy.
FAQs About Recipe
What is a southwest salad made of?
A typical southwest salad is made with romaine lettuce as the base, protein (chicken, steak, etc), corn, beans, tomatoes, onions, avocado, cheese, and tortilla strips. The typical dressing is a ranch dressing or some variation of ranch dressing.
What is in the Chick-Fil-A southwest chicken salad?
The Chick-Fil-A southwest chicken salad was an inspiration to this recipe because I always get asked by clients for a healthier version! While their's is a better for you option while eating out, my recipe is dairy-free and gluten-free, too!
Southwest Bbq Chicken Salad
- 2 lbs Chicken breast
- 1 tablespoon Classic BBQ Seasoning I like Nobel Made
- 2 heads Romaine Lettuce washed and chopped
- 1 Avocado thinly sliced
- 1 Corn Cob
- 1 cup Cherry tomatoes quartered
- ½ Red Onion thinly Sliced
- 1 Jalapeno thinly sliced
- 4 Green Onions thinly sliced
- Turn the grill on to medium heat.
- Season your chicken breast with BBQ seasoning and place on the grill. Add the corn on the cob to the grill at the same time. Cook both for 8-10 minutes then flip and cook for another 8-10 minutes. When the chicken has reached 165°F it is finished and when the corn starts to get grill marks on both side it is finished.
- While the chicken and corn are cooking wash and chop the romaine lettuce, tomatoes, red onion, avocado, jalapeno, and green onions.
- Make the spicy ranch dressing by combining 1 cup of the dairy free ranch dressing, ⅓ cup buffalo sauce, and ⅓ cup bbq sauce in a mason jar on mixing until combined.
- When the chicken is complete, pull it off the grill and slice it into ¼ inch slices. Pull the corn off and cut it off the cob, being very careful because it will be hot to the touch.
- Assemble the salad into 4 equal sized salad. Top with the dressing and enjoy!