BBQ Chicken Salad
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This BBQ Chicken Salad is a party on your plate and full of wonderful flavor. It’s a fresh and colorful combination of grilled BBQ chicken, veggies, beans, avocado and crunchy tortilla chips, all tossed in a barbecue ranch dressing. This dish is a real crowd pleaser!
This salad was incredible and so easy too! I’ll definitely be making it again!— Kristi
Even though California Pizza Kitchen is a pizza restaurant, I always have to order their BBQ Chicken Salad when I dine there. If you love their salad as much as I do, then today is your lucky day! It’s SO good and super easy to throw together! I actually think it’s way better than the original CPK BBQ chicken salad!
Why you’ll love this recipe
- Quick. Aside from marinating the chicken, this recipe is ready in less than 30 minutes making it perfect for a no-fuss lunch or dinner any time!
- Easy. All you have to do is marinate and grill the chicken and then assemble the salad. It’s incredibly simple to throw together.
- Healthy. Loaded with lean protein and vegetables, this BBQ chopped salad is really good for you and super satisfying! It’s also naturally gluten free.
- Hearty. This is one salad recipe that will fill you up! We love that it has two kinds of protein: black beans and chicken.
- Better than the original. Move over CPK! We’ve slashed the calories and fat and amped up the flavor by making this our own. It’s packed with amazing flavors and textures, I could probably eat it every day and never tire of it.
This grilled chicken salad combines crunchy romaine lettuce with grilled barbecue chicken, fresh tomatoes, corn, black beans, a drizzle of ranch and barbecue sauce, avocado and crushed chips. Here’s a note about each of the ingredients:
- Chicken. You’ll need two chicken breasts for this recipe. Grilled chicken is best, but feel free to bake it, if preferred.
- Barbecue sauce. We like to use a sweet honey BBQ sauce, but feel free to use any favorite brand and variety.
- Lettuce. Use a crisp green lettuce, like romaine lettuce. Leaf lettuce or iceberg lettuce are also good choices.
- Tomatoes. Use Roma tomatoes or cherry tomatoes to add juicy bursts in every bite.
- Corn. Freshly cut corn kernels are great, but if fresh corn is unavailable, use thawed frozen corn or canned corn.
- Black beans. Adds flavor, plant-based protein and fiber.
- Avocado. Can’t forget about creamy avocado! I like to pick a just slightly ripe avocado, so it stays firm in the salad.
- Dressing. This dish is finished with a drizzle of ranch dressing and barbecue sauce. I like to keep it simple by just using store bought ranch dressing. If you’d rather make your own, try this very popular homemade ranch dressing. You could also opt for a bbq ranch dressing.
- Chips. The perfect crunch in every bite! Crushed tortilla chips or corn chips are a great substitute for croutons.
- Fresh cilantro. For a pop of fresh flavor!
How to make this recipe
- Marinate the chicken. Add the 2 boneless skinless chicken breast and barbecue sauce to a large zip-top baggie and marinate for at least 30 minutes (or up to overnight).
- Grill the chicken. Prepare grill, as necessary. When ready, grill chicken at medium-heat until it is cooked thoroughly, about 4 minutes on the first side and 3-4 minutes on the other side. Once cooked, remove from grill, cover and let rest for 5 minutes.
- Assemble the salad. Meanwhile, prepare salad ingredients and divide salad into 4 salad bowls. When chicken has cooled slightly, chop into bite-sized pieces and divide over the 4 salads.
- Add dressing and enjoy. Drizzle salads with ranch dressing and sweet honey barbecue sauce (or other favorite barbecue sauce). Add salt and pepper to taste, top with crushed chips and fresh cilantro and enjoy!
- Some other options for the BBQ chicken. Instead of marinating and grilling the chicken, you can pan sear or bake it, then cut it into cubes and toss it in barbecue sauce. You can really use any cooked chicken here, leftover chicken or rotisserie chicken would also work great!
- Prepping the ingredients. We recommend chopping the lettuce and other veggies well, so you get a little of everything in each bite.
- 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.
Frequently asked questions
Yes! Barbecue sauce works great as a marinade. However, you can also dice leftover chicken breast, toss it in a little BBQ sauce, add to salad and drizzle with more sauce.
Look for an avocado with dark, bumpy skin. Push gently with your finger. It should yield slightly but not feel mushy. Check out these helpful tips from Avocados From Mexico if you’re still not sure.
Choose a tomato that’s completely red. Hold the tomato in your hand. It should feel heavy for its size. Smell it. It should smell sweet and earthy, like a tomato. Store tomatoes on the counter, not in the refrigerator. They will continue to ripen.
Because this salad uses such simple ingredients, it is very easy to customize to your taste preferences or what you have on hand. Here’s some options:
- To make it vegetarian. Simply omit the chicken and add more black beans or cooked, cubed tofu.
- Add cheese. This BBQ chicken salad would be delicious with a sprinkle of cheddar cheese, Monterey Jack cheese, a Mexican blend or even feta crumbles!
- For the veggies. Feel free to mix in any veggies you have on hand! Red onion and bell pepper would be delicious here, and I love adding pickled jalapeños for a little spice.
- Crockpot option. If you don’t have a grill, or you just prefer not to grill, you could use this slow cooker pulled chicken to make a shredded BBQ chicken salad.
- Make ahead. To get a head start, you can have the chicken already cooked and the vegetables chopped and combined (not the tomato or avocado). When ready to serve, add the chicken, tomato and avocado, top with dressing and add chips.
- Storing leftovers. Any leftovers can be refrigerated, in an airtight container, for up to 2 days. It’s best to store chips and dressing separately if possible.
If you try this recipe, let me know! Leave a comment and be sure to give it a star ⭐️ rating! Also, tag @kimscravings on Instagram with a picture. It’s so fun to see what you’re cooking! Be sure to subscribe to our mailing list to receive more delicious recipes straight to your inbox.
BBQ Chicken Salad
- 2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts thinly sliced or pounded thin
- 1/3 cup sweet honey barbecue sauce or other favorite barbecue sauce
- 4 small heads romaine lettuce about 20 ounces
- 2 medium tomatoes, chopped or 1 cup cherry tomatoes or grape tomatoes, halved
- 1/2 cup corn drained
- 1/2 cup black beans rinsed and drained
- 1 ripe avocado sliced
- light or regular ranch dressing and honey sweet barbecue sauce (or other favorite) for dressing
- Crushed tortilla or corn chips for serving
- Chopped fresh cilantro for serving
Marinate chicken breast in barbecue sauce in a large baggie for at least 30 minutes (or up to overnight).
Prepare grill, as necessary. When ready, grill chicken at medium-heat until it is cooked thoroughly, about 4 minutes on the first side and 3-4 minutes on the other side. Cover and let rest for 5 minutes.
Meanwhile, prepare salad ingredients and divide salad into 4 salad bowls. When chicken has cooled slightly, chop into bite-sized pieces and divide over the 4 salads. Drizzle salads with light ranch and sweet honey barbecue sauce or other favorite barbecue sauce. Top with crushed chips and enjoy!
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