This Southwest Salad is a fresh and colorful combination of seasoned chicken, veggies, beans, jicama, cheese and tortilla strips, all tossed in the most delicious avocado dressing. From the zesty spices, to the best toppings, this Southwest-inspired recipe has it all, even the tortilla crunch!

southwest salad topped with chicken, cheese and tortilla strips

I have to say, this Southwest Salad has got to be one of my top ten favorite recipes ever. It’s so addicting and delicious — try one bite and you will see what I mean.

When I’m not enjoying my simple spinach salad with chicken, I turn to this incredible salad recipe with all of the Mexican toppings. It’s full of amazing flavors and textures with the crunch of the tortilla strips and the jicama (game changer!), plus the tender chicken, it’s so good!

And don’t even get me started with the dressing. It’s a blend of avocado, cilantro, tomatillo and lime. You’re sure to LOVE this salad and the dressing just as much as I do!  

southwest salad with avocado dressing

Ingredients needed

Like most salad recipes, this southwest salad recipe is completely customizable with whatever ingredients you love best. Here’s a list of everything we like to use:

  • Protein. This salad includes the recipe for my favorite easy baked chicken to add to salads, wraps and other dishes. Feel free to pair this salad with a different protein or leave it off and enjoy the salad as a light plant-based meal.
  • Dressing. We love the creamy avocado dressing listed in the recipe, but feel free to use any favorite salad dressing. Chipotle ranch dressing would also be a great choice.
  • Greens. I usually use chopped romaine lettuce, but a bag of mixed spring greens works great too. Use whatever you have in the fridge!
  • Tomatoes. I like to use cherry or grape tomatoes. If it is tomato season and your garden is producing lots of large tomatoes, you can chop up regular-sized tomatoes and add them to the salad.
  • Black beans. Feel free to substitute red kidney beans, pinto beans etc. No matter what bean you use, rinse and dry them before adding them to the salad.
  • Corn. You can use fresh or canned corn. We love fresh corn kernels in the spring and summer months, but canned works too. If using canned corn, take care to rinse and drain it first.
  • Red onion. Sliced red onion gives the salad a pop of flavor and color. If you are not an onion fan, you can leave it out.
  • Jicama. For the perfect crunch and fresh flavor!
  • Cheese. Mexican blend, pepper jack or cheddar cheese all taste wonderful in this salad. You could even add a sprinkle of cojita cheese for an authentic southwest flavor.
  • Tortilla strips. Definitely don’t forget the chips! You can purchase tortilla strips, which are usually located near or in the produce department or down the salad dressing aisle. I particularly love the Santa Fe Style tortilla strips from Fresh Gourmet.
southwest salad ingredients

How to make this recipe

Make the chicken:

Southwest chicken salad is a complete meal with plenty of protein from the chicken, complex carbs from the veggies and healthy fats from the avocado. If you happen to have leftover chicken or rotisserie chicken, that works great tossed in the salad. However, this simple chicken recipe is really tasty and it’s my go-to baked chicken to meal prep, use in casseroles and also pair with other dishes.

Simply season the chicken with a generous sprinkling of chili powder, cumin, paprika, and salt & pepper. Once the oven has preheated to 450ºF. Bake the chicken for about 17-20 minutes, (or until 165 degrees internally). We recommend using a meat thermometer to accurately check and see when the chicken is cooked without slicing it open and loosing valuable juices. Once cooked, cover with foil for 10 minutes to seal in the juices. Easy, peasy!

Make the avocado dressing: 

The wonderfully creamy southwest salad dressing is so delicious over this southwest salad and the star of the show here. It’s easy to make and you’ll want to drizzle it on everything. Here’s how to make it:

  1. Add the avocado, lime juice, sour cream, garlic, cilantro, tomatillo, oil and salt to the bowl of a food processor. Not a fan of cilantro? Feel free to omit or use another fresh herb.
  2. Blend until the dressing is smooth and creamy, and there are no longer chunks of garlic, cilantro or tomatillo.
  3. Taste it and add more salt or you could even add a little hot sauce if you like spicy!

Pro tip: Check out these helpful tips from Avocados From Mexico to ensure your avocado is perfectly ripe.


To put everything together: In a large bowl, toss the chopped romaine lettuce with tomatoes, black beans, corn, red onion, jicama, cheese, and sliced/diced chicken. Drizzle and toss with avocado dressing just before serving. Enjoy!


There are so many different ways to customize this salad recipe to make it your own, based on the ingredients you have on hand. Here’s some tasty options:

  • Dressing. As previously mentioned, we love this salad tossed with the avocado dressing, but you can use any dressing you’d like from balsamic vinaigrette to homemade ranch dressing.
  • Other add-ins. You can add other ingredients to the mix such as bell pepper, banana peppers, sliced cucumber or black olives.
  • Protein. Try another protein like grilled salmon or shrimp.
  • Cheese. Switch things up by swapping the shredded cheese with crumbled cotija or feta cheese.
drizzling southwest salad dressing over a salad topped with chicken

Expert tips

  • Prepping the ingredients. We recommend chopping the lettuce and other veggies well, so you get a little of everything in each bite. To save time, prep the ingredients and dressing while the chicken is cooking.
  • Dressing. If you choose to use a store-bought dressing, we recommend the freshly made ones typically found in the produce section (such as Marie’s, Litehouse, etc.).
  • Seasoned chips. If you can find the southwest flavored tortilla strips in the crouton area, grab those. They are extra delicious!
  • Serve immediately. For best results and the freshest salad, serve it right away after assembling.

Serving suggestions

  • Rice. Prepared cilantro lime rice or cilantro lime cauliflower rice make a delicious pairing for this Tex-Mex dish.
  • Beans. For a hearty, filling side dish, try this southwest salad with refried beans or pinto beans. You can serve these either in addition to or in place of the black beans used in the salad.
  • Cornbread. Serve with a crowd-pleasing side like Mexican cornbread.
  • Margarita. Add a fun and festive skinny margarita, and call it a success!
salad with chicken, tomatoes, corn and cheese

Frequently asked questions

What is a southwest salad made of?

This particular recipe is filled with chopped chicken, beans, corn, tomatoes, red onion, jicama, tortilla strips and topped with a homemade avocado dressing. This refreshing, hearty dish is very similar to the Chick-Fil-A Southwest salad.

Is southwest salad healthy?

Yes, this is a great addition to your diet! The salad itself is loaded with all sorts of veggies which means it’s a nutrient powerhouse. The vegetables provide important nutrients including potassium, dietary fiber, folate, vitamin A, and vitamin C which provide a myriad of health benefits. The avocado in the dressing is a great source of healthy monounsaturated fat which are good fats known to lower cholesterol, promote heart health and boost brain function. They are also chock full of vitamins such as vitamins B, E and K, minerals, and are a good source of fiber. Avocados even boast 60 percent more potassium than bananas!

How much protein in a southwest salad?

This particular southwest salad recipe has a whopping 36 grams of protein. The fat grams could vary quite a bit from what is listed because you more than likely would not use all of the dressing. All of the nutrition information can be found, below, in the recipe card.

Storage & make ahead tips

  • To store. Place leftovers in an airtight storage container in the refrigerator for up to 2 to 3 days. For best results, store ingredients separately.
  • To make ahead. Prep the veggies and cook the chicken in advance, storing them individually in the refrigerator. You can quickly assemble individual portions and add any other toppings you desire throughout the week.
  • Dressing. The cool thing about the avocado dressing is that it doesn’t turn brown like an avocado will. The dressing stays good in the fridge for up to a week!
southwest salad topped with a creamy avocado dressing

This southwest salad is bright, colorful and loaded with flavor. If you’re searching for a light and fresh meal option, this one will definitely be a winner!

If you try this recipe, let me know! Leave a comment and if your family loves it as much as mine does, be sure to give it a five star ⭐️ rating! Also, tag @kimscravings on Instagram with a picture of your creation. Be sure to subscribe to our mailing list to receive more healthy delicious recipes straight to your inbox.

southwest salad topped with chicken, cheese and tortilla strips
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Southwest Salad with Avocado Dressing

This southwest salad is a delicious blend of our favorite Tex-Mex ingredients tossed in a creamy avocado dressing!
Author: Kim


For the chicken (optional)

  • 1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breast or tenders
  • a generous sprinkling of each – chili powder, cumin, paprika, and salt & pepper

For the avocado dressing

  • 1 medium avocado, peeled and seed removed
  • juice of 1 1/2 limes
  • 1/4 cup sour cream
  • 1 to 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 cup chopped cilantro
  • 1 large or 2 small tomatillo(s), paper skin removed and roughly chopped
  • 3 tablespoons avocado or olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon salt

For the salad

  • 4 to 6 cups (or more) romaine lettuce, chopped
  • 1 1/2 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 1 cup black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 cup corn, rinsed and drained
  • 1/3 cup red onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 cup diced jicama (highly recommend!)*
  • 1/2 to 1 cup shredded Mexican blend cheese
  • tortilla strips found in the salad dressing aisle of the grocery store or use crushed tortilla chips


  • To make chicken (if using): Preheat oven to 450ºF. Season chicken and bake for 17-20 minutes, (or until 165 degrees internally). Once cooked, cover with foil for 10 minutes to seal in the juices. Then slice into strips or dice into cubes.
  • While the chicken is cooking, you can make the dressing and prep the salad ingredients.
  • To make the dressing: Add all dressing ingredients to a food processor and blend until the mixture becomes very smooth and creamy, and there are no longer chunks of garlic, cilantro, or tomatillo.
  • To assemble the salad: In a large salad serving bowl, toss the chopped romaine lettuce with tomatoes, black beans, corn, red onion, jicama, cheese, and sliced/diced chicken. Drizzle and toss with avocado dressing just before serving. Enjoy!


*I typically buy pre-chopped or sliced jicama. It can be found in the produce department of most grocery stores.
**In my opinion, salad recipes are just a guide. Feel free to use as much or as little of the ingredients as you like.
***Nutritional information can vary quite a bit depending on the amount of dressing and other ingredients used. Chicken is calculated in the nutritional info.
Serving: 1salad, Calories: 503kcal, Carbohydrates: 32g, Protein: 36g, Fat: 28g, Saturated Fat: 6g, Polyunsaturated Fat: 3g, Monounsaturated Fat: 15g, Trans Fat: 1g, Cholesterol: 89mg, Sodium: 850mg, Potassium: 1276mg, Fiber: 11g, Sugar: 6g, Vitamin A: 4902IU, Vitamin C: 33mg, Calcium: 233mg, Iron: 3mg

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