This easy BBQ Chicken Salad has a tangy barbecue ranch dressing and is packed with healthy, flavorful toppings. It’s perfect for lunch or dinner and is a great way to eat healthy while satisfying your craving for barbecue.
Easy BBQ Ranch Chicken Salad
If you are a fan of loaded, hearty chopped salads, then this BBQ Chicken Salad recipe will absolutely hit the spot. It’s packed with fresh flavors, has a full serving of protein and plenty of delicious, colorful veggies. You can stay healthy and “eat the rainbow” while satisfying your craving for barbecue.
This salad can be served fully assembled, but most of the time I’ll serve it family style with each ingredient in a separate bowl. That way, everyone can build the salad that they want.
While grilled chicken is preferred, you can absolutely use oven-baked chicken, leftover chicken or even rotisserie chicken. If you do grill the chicken, here’s a meal prep pro tip: grill extra and use it to make this Grilled Chicken BLT Salad or our Easy Chicken Salad with Pesto Ranch Dressing.
Ingredients in this Grilled Chicken Salad Recipe
- Chicken Breast - this can be grilled or baked, and sliced or diced. Plan on 4-6 oz of uncooked chicken per person. Chicken is low in saturated fat and an amazing source of protein.
- Salt and Pepper - for seasoning the chicken.
- Cheese - our family likes shredded pepper jack, but any type of shredded cheese would taste great. Cheese is a great source of calcium, fat and protein.
- Bacon Bits - these are simple to make on your own. Just slice your bacon into ½” strips, cook, and transfer to a paper towel to drain using a slotted spoon. Voila! These are just delicious, and add a little protein, too!
- Black Beans - if using canned, be sure to rinse them first. They provide an excellent source of fiber, vitamin B1, protein and iron.
- Black Olives - you can buy these pre-sliced in the can. They are a great source of fiber, beta carotene and vitamin E.
- Tomato - these provide potassium, fiber, vitamin A, vitamin B6 and vitamin E.
- Bell Peppers - use your favorite color, or a mixture. These are a great way to get more color and crunch into your salad and provide folate, vitamin E, fiber and vitamin B2.
- Avocado - sprinkle your sliced avocados with a little salt to really enhance their flavor. They are a source of healthy fat as well as vitamin K, vitamin B6, potassium, vitamin E, and vitamin C.
- Tortilla Strips - you can purchase these in a bag, or make your own. Either way, they add a great crunchy texture and are super tasty. Tortilla chips can also be used, but you may want to break them up into bite sized pieces.
- Corn - cooking the corn in butter, garlic and lime juice is optional but super delicious. It’s like a party in your mouth! Use fresh, grilled, or frozen corn - they all provide a great source of dietary fiber and vitamin B6.
- Romaine Lettuce - this is so much healthier than iceberg lettuce. It’s got calcium, potassium, vitamin C and vitamin K.
- BBQ Ranch Dressing - use your favorite brand of BBQ sauce to make this dressing.
More Topping Ideas
You don’t have to stop here! These are a few more of our favorite topping ideas:
- Red onions
- Green onions
- Baby spinach
- Shelled edamame
- Green peas
How to Make BBQ Chicken Salad
- Cook the corn. In a small saucepan, melt the butter over medium high heat, then add the minced garlic and cook until the garlic is golden brown, or about 4 minutes. Add the corn and stir together until warm. Remove from heat, add the lime juice to the corn, mix and set aside.
- Prep the ingredients. Slice, dice and season your ingredients as desired.
- Make the BBQ Ranch Dressing. Mix together the ranch dressing and barbecue sauce, adjusting with a little more or less of either to your own taste.
- Assemble the salad. Place romaine lettuce in a large serving platter or large bowl, then arrange your chicken, cooked corn, tomatoes, bell peppers, cheese, bacon bits, black beans, avocado and tortilla strips over the top. Drizzle with BBQ Ranch Dressing.
Tips for Cooking the Chicken Breasts
You can honestly use any type of cooked chicken for this BBQ Chicken Salad recipe, including leftovers and rotisserie chicken. Grilling the chicken is preferable, but some days that just isn’t going to happen.
Here are a few tips to get you the best results, whether you fire up the grill or decide to bake your chicken:
- Our Southwest Chicken Breast recipe gives great tips on how to grill chicken breast.
- If you would rather use the oven, check out our simple Oven-Baked Chicken Breast post and video.
- For extra juicy chicken, make a simple brining solution of about ¼ cup salt dissolved in 1 quart of water. Let your chicken soak for about 30 minutes while you preheat the grill or oven. Remove from the brine, brush with olive oil on both sides and cook as directed.
- Once the chicken is cooked, let it rest for 5-10 minutes off of the heat before slicing in order to allow the juices to redistribute.
- If your chicken sticks to the grill, don’t force it! Let it cook a bit longer, then it should release naturally.
Recipe Tips and Tricks
- Serve with warm chicken - not hot, just a little warm--so good!
- I like to serve this salad buffet style, with each ingredient in a separate bowl, so everyone can create a salad they love.
- It makes the salad so much more flavorful if each topping is already pre-seasoned, and you can also get by with less dressing.
- This recipe for Baked BBQ Chicken Breast is a great alternative to grilled chicken for days when you don’t have the grill fired up.
- To really save yourself some time, you can use store bought rotisserie chicken.
BBQ Chicken Salad Recipe
- 3 large Chicken Breasts grilled or baked, then diced or sliced
- 2 Tablespoons Butter
- ½ teaspoon Garlic minced
- 1 cup Corn frozen or fresh
- 1 teaspoon Lime Juice
- 2 heads Romaine Lettuce torn or chopped
- 1 large Tomato diced
- 1 large Bell Pepper sliced
- 1 6-oz can Black Olives sliced
- 2 cups Pepper Jack Cheese shredded
- 1 cup Bacon Bits
- 1 15-oz can Black Beans
- 1 large Avocado sliced
- 2 cups Tortilla Strips
BBQ Ranch Dressing
- 1 cup Ranch Dressing
- ¼ cup Barbecue Sauce your favorite brand
- In a small saucepan, melt the butter over medium high heat, then add the minced garlic and cook until the garlic is golden brown, or about 4 minutes.
- Add the corn and stir together until warm. Remove from heat, add the lime juice to the corn, mix and set aside.
- Place romaine lettuce in a large serving platter or large bowl, then arrange your chicken, cooked corn, tomatoes, bell peppers, cheese, bacon bits, black beans, avocado and tortilla strips over the top. Drizzle with BBQ Ranch Dressing, and enjoy!
BBQ Ranch Dressing
- Mix together the ranch dressing and barbecue sauce, adjusting with a little more or less of either to your own taste.
- Use immediately or store in an airtight container for up to 1 week.
More of the Best Salad Recipes
- Fall Harvest Salad
- Winter Fruit Salad
- Cucumber Tomato Avocado Salad
- Grilled Chicken Salad with Pesto Ranch
- Creamy Pesto Pasta Salad
- Broccoli Salad with Bacon
- Grilled Chicken BLT Salad
- More Salad Recipes
- More Healthy Chicken Recipes
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This healthy grilled BBQ Chicken Salad with tangy barbecue ranch dressing is perfect for lunch or dinner. It's quick, easy and packed with plenty of veggies, bacon bits, tortilla strips and more.