This Southwest Chicken Caesar Salad is loaded with all of the goods and is perfect for meal prep lunches for the week. Delicious, juicy grilled chicken sits atop a bed of romaine lettuce alongside tortilla chips and avocado, and is topped with grated parmesan cheese and the tastiest chipotle caesar dressing!

This recipe is…

This salad takes meal prepped lunches to the next level, y’all! Modeled after a very popular chain restaurant, this Southwest Caesar Salad is loaded with romaine lettuce, juicy grilled (on the stovetop or outside on the grill) and sliced chicken breasts, grated parmesan cheese, cilantro, avocado, and the YUMMIEST homemade chipotle caesar salad dressing.

If you’re looking for more meal prep lunch recipes, we’ve got you. These turkey burrito bowls are incredible, this Thai-inspired beef salad is spicy and delicious, and if you’re craving something other than a salad, these beef gyros are the perfect pick.

Why You’ll Love This Recipe

  • It’s easy – it doesn’t get easier than blending up a quick, homemade dressing (and marinade, in this case), grilling up a couple of chicken breasts, and assembling a salad!
  • It’s perfect for meal prep – these salads are the absolute best meal prep recipe. They’re easy to store (we’ll tell you how to store each component below) and taste just as good on day 3 as they do on day 1!

Southwest Caesar Salad Recipe Ingredients

You’ll need a handful of ingredients for the homemade caesar salad dressing and then ingredients for the salad itself. Find ingredient notes (including substitutions and swaps) below.

  • Anchovy paste – this is a KEY ingredient for the caesar dressing (and actually, what gives caesar dressings, in general, their signature taste). That said, if you can’t find it or just don’t like the idea of it, feel free to use an equal amount of Worcestershire sauce instead.
  • Egg yolk – you will need an egg yolk for the dressing, and no, it will not be cooked at any point. This is really common in dressings! As long as you’re sourcing quality eggs, including a raw egg yolk in your dressing shouldn’t be an issue.
  • Romaine lettuce – we went with classic, crunchy romaine lettuce here, but you can use any green that you love!
  • Blue corn tortilla chips – while we love the pop of color that blue corn tortilla chips add to the salad, know that any corn tortilla chip will do the trick here.

A full ingredient list with exact amounts can be found in the recipe card below.

Recipe Variations and Modifications

  • Make it spicier – if you want a spicier salad, include an extra couple of chipotle peppers in the dressing.
  • Make it dairy-free – this recipe is super easy to make dairy-free! Simply nix the parmesan cheese and you’re good to go.
  • Make it grain-free – use grain-free tortilla chips (these Siete chips are delish) or nix the chips altogether to make this recipe grain-free.
  • Make it gluten-free – this recipe is gluten-free as-is, so no modifications needed.
  • Make it egg-free – grab a vegan caesar dressing from the grocery store to make this recipe egg-free.

How to Make a Southwestern Caesar Salad

This recipe is incredibly easy to make! Follow along below.

Step 1: Blend the olive oil, lime juice, Dijon mustard, chipotle peppers, anchovy paste, egg yolk, salt, and pepper together until smooth. Pour half over the chicken and let it marinade for 30 minutes to 24 hours.

Step 2: Brush a grill or grill pan with the olive oil and then grill the chicken on high heat for 4-6 minutes on each side, or until the inner-most temperature reaches 165°F. Let the chicken rest for 10 minutes, then slice into bite-sized strips.

Step 3: Toss the romaine with half of the remaining dressing. Top with parmesan, avocados, and chicken. Drizzle with the remaining dressing, and top with the corn tortilla chips and cilantro.

Recipe Tip

Use leftover chicken – you don’t have to grill your own chicken for this recipe to be delicious! Feel free to use leftover chicken (sliced or shredded) that you have hanging out in the fridge or shred a rotisserie chicken and use that.

How to Serve

This salad is a complete and delicious meal all on its own! It’s perfect for a light summer dinner or for a tasty meal prepped lunch.

How to Store

If you’re making these salads ahead for the week, go ahead and store the romaine, sliced chicken, avocados, cilantro, and parmesan cheese together in lunch containers. Then, store the dressing in separate, small containers and the tortilla chips in zipper bags or mason jars. When it’s time to grab your lunch and head out the door, you’ll grab one salad container, one dressing container, and one chip container/bag. Assemble the salad just before eating and enjoy!

If you made this salad dinner-style and you have leftovers, feel free to store in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 3 days. Because the salad is already dressed (and likely has tortilla chips on it), expect the romaine to be slightly wilted and the chips to be slightly softer than when it was fresh.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is spicy southwest salad healthy?

I think this salad is a healthy option, for sure! It definitely depends on how your body tolerates the ingredients, but overall, yes, a healthy option for most.

What’s in the Southwest Caesar salad at Panera?

This Southwest Caesar salad is actually modeled after Panera’s, so it’s super similar. Panera actually retired the recipe (so it’s no longer available), so if you loved it, try using our recipe to make your own!

If you tried this Southwest Caesar Salad or any other recipe on my website, please leave a 🌟 star rating and let me know how it went in the 📝 comments below! 

Southwest Caesar Salad

No ratings yet
Prep: 5 minutes
Cook: 25 minutes
Inactive Time: 30 minutes
Total: 1 hour
Servings: 4 Servings
This Southwest Chicken Caesar Salad is loaded with all of the goods and is perfect for meal prep lunches for the week. Delicious, juicy grilled chicken sits atop a bed of romaine lettuce alongside tortilla chips and avocado, and is topped with grated parmesan cheese and the tastiest chipotle caesar dressing!

Ingredients  

For the Chipotle Caesar Dressing

  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • ¼ cup lime juice
  • 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
  • 2 chipotle peppers in adobo (just the peppers, not the sauce)
  • 1 tablespoon anchovy paste
  • 1 egg yolk
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon ground black pepper

For the Salad

  • pound boneless, skinless chicken breast
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 head romaine lettuce, chopped
  • ½ cup grated parmesan cheese
  • 2 avocados, halved
  • 2 cups blue corn tortilla chips
  • ½ cup fresh cilantro, chopped

Instructions 

  • Blend the dressing ingredients together until smooth. Pour half over the chicken and let it marinade for 30 minutes to 24 hours.
  • Brush a grill or grill pan with the olive oil and then grill the chicken on high heat for 4-6 minutes on each side, or until the inner-most temperature reaches 165°F. Let the chicken rest for 10 minutes, then slice into bite-sized strips.
  • Toss the romaine with half of the remaining dressing. Top with parmesan, avocados, and chicken. Drizzle with the remaining dressing, and top with the corn tortilla and cilantro.

Recipe Notes

  • Make it dairy-free – this recipe is super easy to make dairy-free! Simply nix the parmesan cheese and you’re good to go.
  • Make it spicier – if you want a spicier salad, include an extra couple of chipotle peppers in the dressing.

Nutrition

Calories: 694kcal | Carbohydrates: 32g | Protein: 42g | Fat: 47g | Saturated Fat: 9g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 5g | Monounsaturated Fat: 25g | Trans Fat: 0.02g | Cholesterol: 154mg | Sodium: 961mg | Potassium: 1489mg | Fiber: 11g | Sugar: 3g | Vitamin A: 14144IU | Vitamin C: 23mg | Calcium: 205mg | Iron: 3mg

Additional Info

Course: Dinner, Lunch
Cuisine: American
Servings: 4 Servings
Calories: 694
Keyword: caesar salad, southwest caesar salad, southwest salad

Like this recipe?

Leave a comment


About the Author

Brandi Schilhab


More Like This

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Recipe Rating




2 Comments

  1. Question from a mom new on her healthy eating journey… There’s a lot of calories in one serving! How do you manage calories, when alot of the meals are high in calories?

    1. Hi Lisa! Everyone’s caloric needs and preferences are different, so it’s hard to say exactly how to change it for your specific goals, but you could remove the avocado (or reduce the amount) and/or cut the parmesan cheese to reduce the calories. Keep in mind that those two are full of healthy fats, though, so they do help to balance the salad!