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5 from 13 votes

Southwest Chicken Salad

Southwest chicken salad is a hearty "main dish" kind of salad. It's simple to make, filled with bold flavors, hearty enough to fill you up, and also makes for delicious meal prep.
Prep Time: 10 mins
Cook Time: 10 mins
Marinade: 6 hrs
Total Time: 6 hrs 20 mins
Course: Salad
Cuisine: American
Keyword: Southwest chicken salad, Southwestern chicken salad
Servings: 4 servings
Calories: 518kcal
Author: Lisa Bryan


For The Chicken & Marinade

  • 4 boneless skinless chicken breasts approximately 6 ounces each
  • 3 tablespoon olive oil (divided)
  • 2 limes juiced and zested
  • 1/4 cup chopped cilantro leaves
  • 3 cloves garlic minced
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper

For The Salad

  • 4 cups 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

Avocado Dressing

  • 1/2 large avocado
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1/4 cup water or more for thinner consistency
  • 1/4 cup cilantro, basil or parsley leaves
  • 1 lime juiced
  • 2 cloves garlic minced
  • salt and pepper to taste


  • In a mixing bowl, whisk together two tablespoons of olive oil, with the lime juice, cilantro, garlic, chili powder, cumin, salt, and pepper. You can also pulse in a food processor until it's combined.
  • Combine the marinade and chicken fillets in a shallow dish or plastic bag. Marinate the chicken for 2-6 hours in the fridge.
  • When the chicken is done marinating, make the avocado dressing. Place all the dressing ingredients to a food processor and blend until creamy. Set aside.
  • Heat the remaining one tablespoon of olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Then sear the chicken for 4-5 minutes on each side, until they're golden brown and have reached an internal temperature of 160 degrees fahrenheit.
  • Let the cooked chicken rest for a couple of minutes. Then slice into strips.
  • In a large salad bowl, layer the chopped lettuce with beans, corn, tomatoes and chicken strips. Then drizzle the avocado dressing on top.


To Meal Prep: Make the cilantro lime chicken and pre-cut into strips. Store the chicken, chopped lettuce, and avocado dressing into their own containers. Then toss together the corn, beans, and red onion together in another container.
To Store: All the ingredients can be stored for up to 5 days in the fridge.
To Reheat: Simply reheat the chicken in the microwave for a 1-2 minutes, then assemble the rest of the salad as is.
I also love this mini food processor for making the marinade and dressing. It's the perfect size for smaller quantities!


Calories: 518kcal | Carbohydrates: 32g | Protein: 31g | Fat: 32g | Saturated Fat: 5g | Cholesterol: 72mg | Sodium: 441mg | Potassium: 1063mg | Fiber: 9g | Sugar: 5g | Vitamin A: 4539IU | Vitamin C: 33mg | Calcium: 71mg | Iron: 3mg