Southwest Chicken Salad is complete with grilled marinated chicken breasts, fresh veggies, protein packed beans and the most amazing cilantro lime dressing. This salad makes all other salads look boring in comparison! Serve it for lunch or dinner and enjoy all of the fresh, zesty flavors it has to offer.

A fully assembled southwest chicken salad is topped with dressing.

Southwest Chicken Salad

This is NOT one of those salads that leaves you wanting for more. Fresh veggies, two different beans and lots of grilled chicken all hit the spot in the best way possible. You really don’t need any other dish to accompany this southwest chicken salad recipe because it’s a full meal all by itself. It’s got protein, carbs, and a bounty of nutrients that you’ll love.

Of course, a truly great salad isn’t just good for you… It’s also downright delicious! Homemade cilantro lime dressing is what ties it all together in the most mouthwatering way. Plus, the chicken is marinated with ingredients like lime juice, cilantro and a ton of bold seasonings to make it flavorful before it gets grilled to absolute perfection. This is a salad worth craving!

Now that we’re officially (slowly but surely) moving into spring and summer, it’s time to whip out all of our favorite salad recipes. And honestly, this one might just sit at the tip top of the list for me! It’s so filling from the grilled chicken and beans and I love the amount of nutrients in each bite from corn, bell peppers, avocados and more.

A salad on a plate has no dressing on it.

How to Make Southwest Chicken Salad

This easy southwest salad always impresses at potlucks and parties! For more detailed step by step instructions and ingredient measurements, scroll down to the recipe card below.

  1. Marinate the chicken. Pat the chicken dry with a paper towel. Then, whisk together olive oil, lime juice, cilantro, garlic, cumin, chili powder, paprika, salt and pepper. Add both the chicken and marinade to a bowl or zip-top bag and marinate for 1 hour or overnight in the fridge.
  2. Grill the chicken. Heat the grill and remove the chicken from the marinade. Cook for 3-4 minutes then flip and continue cooking until a meat thermometer inserted into the chicken reaches 165°F. Allow it to rest for 5 minutes before slicing.
  3. Assemble the salad. Use a large bowl to layer all of the salad ingredients to your liking, or simply toss it all together. Add the sliced chicken.
  4. Add the dressing. The Cilantro Lime dressing is so easy to make! Just toss all of the ingredients in a food processor (or blender) and pulse until smooth. Drizzle the dressing all over the salad and serve immediately.

PRO TIP: You can use your stove top instead of the grill! Just sear the chicken for 4-5 minutes per side over medium-high heat in a pan. It’ll still be delicious!

A large white serving bowl is filled with chicken salad.

How To Make In Advance

Once the salad is fully tossed together, it’s best served right away. However, you can make the dressing and chicken ahead of time.

Store the dressing and chicken in two separate airtight containers in the fridge until ready to use.

Can I use chicken thighs instead?

Sure thing! Just note that the cook time may vary with different cuts of meat.

Make it Spicy

The answer to this is almost always YES! To spice things up, add in some freshly chopped jalapeños. Keep the seeds for extra spice, omit the seeds to tame it a little bit.

You can also add some crushed red pepper flakes to the chicken marinade. Or, serve your salad with a little hot sauce on top.

Cilantro lime dressing is drizzled across the top of southwest chicken salad.

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A fully assembled southwest chicken salad is topped with dressing.

Get the Recipe: Southwest Chicken Salad Recipe

A vibrant and flavorful salad bursting with the best of the Southwest. Juicy chicken, black beans, sweet corn, creamy avocado, and a zesty cilantro lime dressing create a satisfying and healthy meal. Perfect for a quick lunch or light dinner.
5 from 4 votes


For the marinated chicken breast:

  • 3 boneless skinless chicken breasts
  • 3 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons lime juice
  • 1/2 cup chopped cilantro
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/2 tablespoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper

For the salad:

  • 4 cups chopped romaine lettuce
  • 2 cups cherry tomatoes, cut in half
  • 1 cup chopped cucumber
  • 1 cup chopped bell pepper
  • 1 cup black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 cup pinto beans, rincsed and drained
  • 1 cup frozen corn, thawed
  • 1/2 cup diced red onion
  • 1 avocado, thinly sliced and drizzled with lime juice

Cilantro Lime Dressing

  • 1/2 cup yogurt
  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • 3/4 cup cilantro
  • 1/4 cup parsley
  • Juice and zest of 2 limes
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • Salt and pepper to taste


  • 1 grill or grill pan
  • 1 mini food processor or blender


  • Pat the chicken breasts dry with paper towel and set aside.
  • Whisk together the olive oil, lime juice, cilantro, garlic, cumin, chili powder, paprika, salt and pepper.
  • Combine the marinade and the chicken in a shallow dish or zip top bag. Marinate the chicken for 1 hour or overnight in the refrigerator.
  • Heat a grill and remove the chicken from the marinade.
  • Place the chicken on the grill and cook for 3-4 minutes. Flip and continue cooking until the internal temperature reaches 165˚F with an instant read thermometer. (Alternatively, you can cook the chicken on the stovetop in a skillet. Sear over medium high heat on each side for 4-5 minutes.)
  • Allow the chicken to rest for 5 minutes and then slice. Keep warm.
  • In a large bowl, layer the salad ingredients and top with the chicken.
  • Add the ingredients for the dressing to a food processor or blender and process until smooth.
  • Top the salad with the dressing and serve immediately.


Make the dressing up to 5 days in advance. We like to double the recipe to use for topping roasted vegetables, grilled meats and to marinade everything.
Calories: 522kcal, Carbohydrates: 37g, Protein: 33g, Fat: 29g, Saturated Fat: 5g, Polyunsaturated Fat: 3g, Monounsaturated Fat: 18g, Trans Fat: 0.01g, Cholesterol: 75mg, Sodium: 357mg, Potassium: 1290mg, Fiber: 11g, Sugar: 8g, Vitamin A: 4523IU, Vitamin C: 63mg, Calcium: 101mg, Iron: 4mg