This hearty Southwest Salad with Crispy Chicken is a satisfying meal that’s full of flavor and packed with texture. It’s topped with a creamy Southwest dressing that coats every last bite.
Southwest Chicken Salad with Crispy Chicken
As salads go, it doesn’t get much more delicious than this Southwestern Salad with Crispy Chicken. Not only is it full of crispy breaded chicken, sauteed corn, shredded cheese, and even more veggies, it’s also doused with our homemade Southwestern ranch dressing and topped with crunchy tortilla strips.
For busy weeknights, feel free to use frozen chicken tenders from the grocery store. But, if you are feeling up to it, you can give our easy Homemade Chicken Tenders a try. For a healthy option, feel free to use grilled chicken breasts, oven-baked chicken breasts, or even leftover shredded chicken.
Crispy Chicken Salad recipes are also a meal-prep dream because each component can be stored separately and thrown together whenever you need during the week.
Ingredients in this Southwest Chicken Salad Recipe
- Breaded Chicken Tenders - you can save time by using frozen chicken tenders, or feel free to make your own Homemade Chicken Tenders or Air Fryer Chicken Tenders If you want to make this salad gluten-free, you could also substitute grilled or oven-baked chicken breasts, either sliced or shredded. I recommend planning on serving about 4-6 ounces of chicken per person.
- Olive Oil - you can use a little olive oil or butter to cook the corn.
- Corn - frozen corn works great, or you can use fresh sweet corn if it’s available.
- Salt and Pepper
- Romaine Lettuce - I love romaine for salads, but you can use iceberg lettuce or any kind of greens that you’d like.
- Shredded Cheese - I like to use shredded cheddar cheese or pepper jack cheese.
- Diced Tomatoes - canned diced tomatoes work great. Or, you can dice fresh tomatoes.
- Black Beans - make sure to rinse and drain the beans before using. You could substitute pinto beans, chickpeas, or really any kind of beans that you like.
- Red Onions - you’ll want to chop these into small pieces so that no one gets a huge bite of onion.
- Avocado - you can dice this into smaller pieces, or add slices to top the salad with.
- Tortilla Stips - these add great crunch, and complete the “taco” part of the salad. You can also use broken or whole tortilla chips.
- Fresh Lime - a squeeze of fresh lime juice adds an amazing tangy flavor to the prepared salad.
- Ranch Dressing - while I love a good Southwestern ranch dressing, you could substitute Greek yogurt if you are trying to make this a little healthier.
- Salsa - use your favorite store-bought version or use some homemade salsa.
More Topping and Salad Bowl Ideas
- Sliced green onions
- Sliced radishes
- Cherry tomatoes
- Sour cream
- Bell peppers
- Pico de gallo
- Sliced jalapenos
How to Make This Crispy Southwest Chicken Salad
- Prepare the chicken tenders. Prepare the frozen Chicken Tenders according to package instructions and cut into bite-sized pieces.
- Saute the corn. Meanwhile, heat a saucepan over medium heat and add the oil. Once hot, add the frozen (or fresh) corn and cook, stirring frequently, for about 5 minutes or until lightly sauteed and warm. Remove from the heat and season with salt and pepper. Set aside to cool.
- Assemble the salad. In a large bowl, add the chopped lettuce, sauteed corn, cheddar cheese, diced tomatoes, black beans, onions, avocado, and prepared chicken tenders.
- Make the dressing. In a small bowl, mix together the ranch dressing and salsa until well combined, then drizzle over the salad.
- Serve. Top with tortilla strips and a squeeze of fresh lime juice just before serving. Enjoy!
Frequently Asked Questions
Many of the components in this Southwest Breaded Chicken Salad can be prepared ahead of time, however it’s best to store them all separately. You can store them all in the fridge for up to 2 days, then assemble just before you want to serve. I recommend waiting to cut the avocado and cook the chicken tenders until just before you want to serve.
Since crispy chicken tenders don’t taste nearly as good cold, I recommend serving them warm or at least room temperature in this salad. You can check the package to see how long they take to cook, then plan when to pop them into the oven accordingly.
To reheat and crisp up leftover chicken tenders, I recommend placing them on a wire rack on top of a baking sheet in a preheated 400 degree oven. This allows air to circulate on all sides. You could also pop them into an air fryer preheated to the same temperature.
- Refrigerator: store components separately in the fridge for up to 3 days. Do not cut the avocado ahead of time, or it will turn brown.
- To reheat: to reheat the crispy chicken, you can either microwave or warm in a 400 degree oven.
Southwest Chicken Salad Recipe
- 1½ lb Breaded Chicken Tenders frozen or homemade, prepared and cut into bite-sized pieces
- 1 teaspoon Olive Oil
- 1 cup Corn Kernels fresh or frozen
- ¼ teaspoon Salt
- ⅛ teaspoon Pepper
- 6 cups Romaine Lettuce washed and cut into 1" pieces
- 1½ cups Cheddar Cheese shredded
- 1 cup Tomato diced
- 1 cup Black Beans rinsed and drained
- ¼ cup Red Onions chopped
- 1 large Avocado diced
- 2 cups Tortilla Strips or crushed tortilla chips
- 1 Lime cut into wedges
- ¾ cup Ranch Dressing
- ¾ cup Salsa
- Prepare the frozen Chicken Tenders according to package instructions and cut into bite-sized pieces.
- Meanwhile, heat a saucepan over medium heat and add the oil. Once hot, add the frozen (or fresh) corn and cook, stirring frequently, for about 5 minutes or until lightly sauteed and warm. Remove from the heat and season with salt and pepper. Set aside to cool.
- In a large bowl, add the chopped lettuce, sauteed corn, cheddar cheese, diced tomatoes, black beans, onions, avocado, and prepared chicken tenders.
- In a small bowl, mix together the ranch dressing and salsa until well combined, then drizzle over the salad.
- Top with tortilla strips and a squeeze of fresh lime juice just before serving. Enjoy!
More Easy Salad Recipes
- Thai Chicken Chopped Salad
- BBQ Chicken Salad
- Taco Salad
- Ramen Cabbage Salad
- Thai Chicken Salad
- BLT Pasta Salad
- Caprese Pasta Salad
- Fall Harvest Salad
- Winter Fruit Salad
- Cucumber Tomato Avocado Salad
- More Salad Recipes
- More Tex-Mex Recipes
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This easy Southwest Crispy Chicken Salad is super satisfying and full of flavor. It's loaded with crispy breaded chicken, shredded cheese, veggies, beans, and covered in our homemade Southwest dressing.
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