Southwestern Chicken Salad

By: Cassy Joy Garcia

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This Southwest Chicken Salad is the perfect spin on traditional chicken salad to spice up your everyday lunch!  Chicken is tossed with mayo, lime juice, cilantro, bell peppers, and Mexican spices, then stuffed into jicama tortilla shells for a grain-free, portable, and flavor-packed meal.

Southwestern Chicken Salad with Jicama Tortillas

This cold salad can be prepped quickly, requires no reheating, and can be used all week! I love a traditional chicken salad for lunch (like this traditional version with fresh veggies or this pesto version) but the same version served over greens can get old quickly. This Southwestern Chicken Salad has your typical chicken-tossed-in-mayo base but adds a lot more spice and fresh veggies in the form of onions and bell pepper, cilantro, beans, and corn.  The amazing thing about this recipe is that you can omit any ingredients that don't suit your dietary needs, and it will still taste amazing.

Pair this Southwestern Chicken Salad with regular tortillas, or for a fun veggie-twist, thinly sliced jicama (we found these pre-made tortillas at Whole Foods, but you can also make your own!), and you've got a wonderful, travel-friendly meal.  This one will be a great addition to your lunchtime lineup!

Southwestern Chicken Salad with Jicama Tortillas

Ingredients

Here’s what we used to make our Southwest chicken salad. Remember, if you don’t like a veggie that we’ve included (or simply just don’t have it in the fridge right now), you can absolutely omit it or swap it with one that you do have! 

For the Chicken

  • Chicken Breasts – to start, you’ll need about 3 pounds of boneless, skinless chicken breast. If you already have leftover rotisserie or grilled chicken at home, feel free to use that! 
  • Extra-Virgin Olive Oil – to get the chicken just a little bit crispy on the outside, you’ll need 1 tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil.
  • Sea Salt + Black Pepper – 1 teaspoon of sea salt and ½ a teaspoon of black pepper will add a really delicious, simple flavor here!

For the Dressing

  • Avocado Oil Mayo – the base of the dressing will be a ½ cup of avocado oil mayo. If mayo isn't your thing, feel free to sub in an equal amount of Greek yogurt here.
  • Dijon Mustard – 2 tablespoons of dijon mustard gives the dressing a really nice tang! 
  • Seasonings – to season (and really bring some Southwestern flair!), you’ll use a blend of a ½  teaspoon of sea salt, a ½ teaspoon of garlic powder, a ½ teaspoon of smoked paprika, and a ½ teaspoon of cumin.

For the Add-Ins

  • Red Bell Pepper – to add some texture, nutrition, and brightness in the form of fresh vegetables, you’ll need 1 cup of finely diced red bell pepper.
  • Red Onion – 1 cup of finely diced red onion lends a really yummy punch of flavor!
  • Black Beans – 1 cup of canned black beans (drained and rinsed!) adds an extra dose of protein and fiber.
  • Corn – you’ll also want to grab 1 cup of (defrosted) frozen corn. 
  • Cilantro – fresh cilantro is a no-brainer here! For this salad, you’ll need 1 cup of chopped cilantro (but I won’t tell if you add more!).
  • Jicama (or Regular) Tortillas of Choice – if you’re planning on eating your Southwest chicken salad in a tortilla or wrap, you’ll want to grab those too! We used 1 package of prepared jicama tortillas (visit HERE for tips on how to make your own!), but you can choose any wrap or tortilla that you love!

How to Make Southwest Chicken Salad

This chicken salad is really simple to make! Here’s exactly what you’ll need to do:

  1. Prep – preheat oven to 350°F, and either lightly grease a baking sheet or line with parchment paper. Then, rinse and pat dry the chicken breasts, place them on the baking sheet, rub them with olive oil, and season them with the salt and pepper.
  2. Bake the chicken – bake the chicken for 30 minutes, then remove it from the oven and let it cool for at least 20 minutes.
  3. Prepare the dressing – while the chicken is baking (and cooling), prepare the dressing by combining the mayo, dijon mustard, sea salt, garlic powder, smoked paprika, and cumin in a medium-sized bowl and whisking until smooth.
  4. Chop the chicken + combine with the veggies and dressing – chop the chicken into 1-inch pieces, then add it to a large bowl with the vegetables, corn, beans, and cilantro. Pour the salad dressing over the chicken and vegetables and toss to combine.
  5. Load up your favorite tortilla vessel with chicken salad and ENJOY!
Southwestern Chicken Salad

What to Serve with Southwest Salad

As mentioned above, this chicken salad can be enjoyed in a jicama tortilla (that’s what we did!) OR in a regular tortilla or wrap. It would also be really tasty on top of salad greens (tortilla strips sprinkled over top would be delicious here!) or between to slices of bread if that’s your thing! Alternatively, you can totally chow down on some of this chicken salad straight from the container with tortilla chips (that's what I would do!).

Can This Salad be Made Ahead?

Absolutely! This is a really great salad to make ahead of time because the veggies are all sturdy enough to stand up to a few days in the refrigerator. If you are making this ahead of time and you plan on enjoying it on a tortilla (jicama or regular), we suggest waiting to assemble until just before eating; this means that if you’re packing your lunch, you’ll want to pack the chicken salad and tortillas in separate containers. 

How to Store Leftovers

Leftovers are best stored in an airtight container in the fridge. Stored this way, your Southwest chicken salad will last for 4-5 days!

We hope you love this Southwest chicken salad recipe as much as we do – it really is the most delicious answer to your lunchtime woes!

More Easy Lunches to Make

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Southwestern Chicken Salad

Southwestern Chicken Salad with Jicama Tortillas sitting on a taco stand in front of a tan napkin on a marble surface

An easy cold salad, perfect for week day lunches!

  • Author: Jess Gaertner
  • Prep Time: 15 minutes
  • Cook Time: 30 minutes
  • Total Time: 45 minutes
  • Yield: 8 1x

Ingredients

Scale

For Chicken:

For the Dressing:

For the Add-Ins:

  • 1 cup red bell pepper, finely diced
  • 1 cup red onion, finely diced
  • 1 cup canned black beans, drained and rinsed (omit for Whole 30)
  • 1 cup frozen corn, defrosted (omit for Whole 30)
  • 1 cup chopped cilantro
  • 1 package of prepared jicama tortillas or visit HERE for tips on how to make your own!

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Lightly grease a baking sheet.
  3. Rinse and pat dry chicken breasts, then place them on the greased baking sheet.
  4. Season with salt and pepper then bake for 30 minutes, then remove and let cool for at least 20 minutes.
  5. While chicken is baking, prepare the dressing by combining all of the ingredients in a medium bowl and whisking until smooth.
  6. Chop the chicken into one-inch pieces, then add to a large bowl with the vegetables, corn, beans, and cilantro. Pour the dressing over the chicken and vegetables and stir to combine.
  7. Load up your favorite tortilla vessel with chicken salad and ENJOY!

Notes

  • For grain-free: omit the corn
  • For paleo: omit the corn and beans
  • For nightshade-free: omit the bell peppers

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Recipe rating

  1. Sharon Hansen says:

    I was surprised to see beans and corn in this. I thought they were no-nos for paleo.

  2. Susannah says:

    What would you recommend for storing? Would you combine all the ingredients together and store them or just mix the dressing with enough for one serving at a time?

    I’m very excited to try freshly sliced jicama as a tortilla for the first time! Can slices of jicama be stored in the fridge for several days?