This Southwest Chicken Salad brings layers and layers of delicious flavors and textures like lean chicken, crisp lettuce, juicy tomatoes and sweet corn. And the creamy homemade avocado ranch dressing is so tangy and smooth!
This healthy salad is gluten free, low in carbs, high in protein and super satisfying. You’re going to love this one!
Eating healthy can be hard sometimes. It takes more effort and expense to create meals that consist of a good balance of healthfulness and flavor. I look for healthy shortcuts wherever I can, especially on busy weeknights.
Let me show you how this easy layered Southwest Chicken Salad with Avocado Ranch Dressing can fit easily and deliciously into a healthy lifestyle.
WHAT’S IN THIS SOUTHWEST SALAD
This Southwestern chicken salad is sort of like those yummy 7-layer Mexican dips that are always a fan favorite for football Sundays and potlucks. Here is what you’ll need:
- Crisp lettuce: I like to use iceberg because it’s super crispy and cool, but romaine lettuce would be a more nutritious choice.
- Tomatoes: smaller varieties like grape tomatoes or cherry tomatoes work well in this salad, but any kind you like will do.
- Lean protein: chicken breast is my go-to, but you could also substitute cooked ground beef or turkey.
- Avocado: a super-satisfying source of healthy fats.
- Black beans: these add a creamy texture along with extra protein and fiber.
- Corn: it adds sweetness, which is a nice balance to the other ingredients.
- Scallions (a.k.a. green onion): sprinkle them on top for a pop of bright green.
How to Assemble this Southwest Chicken Salad
You can play around with the mix of ingredients and how you layer them all together to make it look really pretty. Here’s how I like to do it:
First, slice the lettuce into thin shreds and lay them on the bottom of a large salad bowl (use a trifle bowl if you have one).
Then, spread the diced tomatoes over the lettuce layer.
The diced avocados go on next.
Spread the black beans over the avocados. A simple can of black beans, drained and rinsed, is what we’re using.
We’re jazzing up the corn by stirring in some diced jalapeños and cumin for extra kick. Then, the corn goes on top of the black beans.
Next, the chicken. Using a pre-cooked rotisserie chicken is a great way to save prep time. If you’re starting with raw chicken, just roast it in a baking dish with a little bit of salt and pepper.
Top it all off with chopped green onions.
The Avocado Lime Ranch Dressing
I’m more than a little obsessed with this creamy southwest dressing. The best part is that it can double as a dip for raw veggies or chicken wings! Here’s what you’ll need to make the easy recipe:
- Sour Cream (or Greek yogurt)
- Lime juice
- Dried spices like parsley, garlic powder, onion and salt
Just blend it all together in a food processor and watch it turn a pretty pale green color. It’s awesome!
HOW TO SERVE THIS SOUTHWEST SALAD
If you don’t have a trifle dish like the one pictured here, you can use whatever large bowl you have, as long as it’s glass. Don’t worry, all of those beautiful colors will look great in whatever vessel you choose.
Be sure to drizzle the dressing onto this Layered Southwestern Salad with Avocado Lime Ranch Dressing after you’ve divided it among separate serving plates.
Customizing this Easy Southwest Chicken Salad Recipe
There are lots of different ways to customize this salad with your favorite Southwest flavors. Here are some great options for additions and swaps:
- diced red onion
- grated cheddar cheese
- chopped fresh cilantro
- crumbled queso fresco
- diced black olives
- tortilla strips
Make Ahead and Storage
This Southwest salad recipe can be assembled completely in advance and will keep for up to 3 days in the refrigerator. Just cover it over with plastic wrap first. Be sure to start with super fresh ingredients so that the lettuce won’t wilt and the avocado won’t turn brown.
Pour on the homemade ranch dressing just before you’re ready to eat it. A dressed salad won’t keep, but if you cover whatever is left of this salad with plastic wrap and store it in the fridge, it will last another day or two.
When you make this Layered Southwest Salad, I’d love to know what you think! Drop a star rating or leave a comment below. Here’s to healthy eating – until cheat day, of course! Enjoy!
For more salad recipes, try these:
- Fried Goat Cheese & Cherry Salad with Roasted Shallot Vinaigrette
- Italian Antipasto Salad with Parmesan Peppercorn Dressing
- Greek Panzanella Salad with Fresh Oregano Vinaigrette
For more Southwestern recipes, try these:
- Easy Black Bean & Corn Salad w/ Homemade Tortilla Chips
- Honey Lime Chicken & Corn Tacos
- Healthy Burrito Bowls
Southwest Chicken Salad with Avocado Ranch Dressing
- 1 15 oz. can sweet corn drained
- 1 15 oz. can black beans rinsed and drained
- 1 bunch scallions diced
- 2 cups cooked chicken breast diced
- 3 avocados diced
- 2 1/2 cups cherry tomatoes halved
- 1/2 head iceberg lettuce shredded
- 2 Tbsp. lime juice + zest of 1 lime
- 1 Tbsp. jalapeños diced
- 1/2 tsp. cumin
- 1 cup mayonnaise
- 1 cup sour cream
- zest and juice of 1 lime
- 1 avocado pitted, skins removed
- 1/2 Tbsp. dried minced onion
- 2 tsp. salt
- 1 tsp. dried parsley
- 1/2 tsp. garlic powder
- In a small bowl, combine the corn, lime juice, lime zest, jalapeños and cumin. Season with salt and pepper.
- Layer the salad: shredded lettuce, tomatoes, avocados, black beans, corn mixture, chicken and scallions.
- Combine all the dressing ingredients in a food processor and puree until smooth.