Southwest Salad with Avocado Dressing
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!
This salad. I hate to toot my own horn, but it’s definitely one of my top ten favorite recipes ever. It’s so addicting and delicious — try one bite and you will see what I mean.
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 ingredients
Like most salad recipes, this southwest salad is completely customizable with whatever ingredients you love best. Go ahead and get creative and make this recipe your own! Below are the ingredients my family enjoys most in this salad.
- 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.
- Southwest salad dressing. My favorite dressing for southwest salad is the creamy avocado dressing listed in the recipe, but feel free to use any favorite salad dressing. My 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, feel free to chop up big 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 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 work great in this salad. You could even add a sprinkle of cojita cheese for an authentic southwest flavor.
- Tortilla strips. No southwest salad would be complete without chips! You can purchase tortilla strips for salads, 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.
how to bake chicken for salads
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 your oven has preheated to 450ºF. Bake the chicken for about 17-20 minutes, (or until 165 degrees internally). Once cooked, cover with foil for 10 minutes to seal in the juices. Easy, peasy!
how to make southwest salad dressing
The wonderfully creamy avocado dressing is the perfect dressing for 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:
- 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.
- Blend until the dressing is smooth and cream, and there are no longer chunks of garlic, cilantro or tomatillo.
- Taste it and add more salt or you could even add a little hot sauce if you like spicy!
customize this southwest salad recipe
There are so many different ways to make this recipe for southwest salad your own based on the ingredients you have on hand. Here’s some tasty options:
- Southwest salad 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 mix-ins. You can add other ingredients to your salad 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 cotija or feta cheese.
southwest chicken salad storage & make ahead tips
- To store. Place leftover salad in an airtight storage container in the refrigerator for up to 2 to 3 days.
- 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!
what goes with southwest salad?
- Rice. Prepared cilantro lime rice or cilantro lime cauliflower rice make a delicious side for this Tex-Mex dish.
- Beans. For a hearty, filling side, 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 this easy southwest salad with a crowd-pleasing side like Mexican cornbread.
- Margarita. Add a fun and festive skinny margarita, and call it a success!
is southwest chicken salad healthy?
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.
Overall, this southwest salad is a great addition to your diet!
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!
more tasty salad recipes
- Italian Salad
- Greek Pasta Salad
- Spinach Strawberry Salad with Poppy Seed Dressing
- Healthy Greek Chickpea Salad
If you try this southwest chicken salad 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. It’s so fun to see what you’re cooking! Be sure to subscribe to our mailing list to receive more healthy delicious recipes straight to your inbox.
Southwest Salad with Avocado Dressing
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-sized avocado, peel 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!