This Spicy Southwest Salad is a picture-perfect copycat of the famous Chick-Fil-A salad! Spicy seasoned chicken over vibrant mixed greens, tomatoes, bell peppers, cork, black beans, shredded cheese, and crunchy pepitas and tortilla strips! The creamy salsa dressing included is really the perfect compliment to this flavorful salad.
Spicy Southwest Salad
Do you think salads are boring? Or maybe you’re just never quite as full as you want to be after eating one for lunch or dinner. Well this Spicy Southwest Salad will change your mind! It’s bursting with flavor and is sure to hit the spot with protein-packed ingredients like white meat chicken breast and black beans.
This is a great recipe to make for either lunch or dinner. While it’s certainly filling enough to make for dinner, you can portion it however you’d like for lunch for a quick and easy midday meal! If you’re a fan of meal prepping, this is an excellent recipe to do so with. Pack it up and take this spicy salad with you to work or whatever other errands you have so you can avoid the ever-tempting drive-thru that wastes both your time and money!
So, how spicy really is this salad? That all depends on your preferences. For me, I think this chicken has a pretty nice, noticeable kick from the ancho chili powder. You can always add more or less of that spice depending on just how pronounced you’d like that flavor to be. While there is enough spice here to make your mouth water, the other ingredients like black beans and fresh veggies do a pretty great job at taming the heat. Plus, since this is homemade, you can also control exactly how spicy you’d like the dressing to be as well.
This gorgeous salad is made with simple ingredients that you can easily find at your local grocery store!
- Chicken Breasts
- Seasonings – Salt, garlic powder, onion powder, ancho chili powder, paprika, white granulated sugar and black pepper are what you’ll need to make this copycat chicken SO flavor-packed!
- Olive Oil – You can opt for avocado oil instead if you’d prefer.
- Want More Spice? Add a pinch of cayenne pepper.
- Spring Salad Mix
- Vegetables – You’ll need a medley of cherry tomatoes, red bell peppers, and corn for this salad. I like to use canned corn that’s been drained since it’s the quickest and easiest option.
- Black Beans – Be sure to drain and rinse them before tossing them into your salad.
- Mexican Shredded Cheese Mix
- Roasted and Salted Pepitas – If you’ve never heard of pepitas before, fear not – they’re just pumpkin seeds!
- Toasted Tortilla Strips – These add the most satisfying crunch to your salad.
Creamy Salsa Dressing:
- Mayonnaise – You can use low-fat if you’d like. However, I find that regular mayo creates the best consistency.
- Salsa – I use spicy salsa, but you can opt for medium or mild if you’d prefer.
- Lime Juice – As always, be sure to only use freshly squeezed lime juice for the BEST flavor.
- Seasonings – You’ll need cumin, a pinch of salt, and black pepper to make this dressing even more flavorful.
Season and cook the chicken.
First, you’ll need to slice each chicken breast in half horizontally into two even pieces. Try to be as precise as possible!
Mix the spices together to create the seasoning mix. Season the sliced chicken breasts evenly on all sides.
Preheat a pan over medium heat and add the olive or avocado oil.
Cook the breasts for a few minutes on each side until cooked through. This should take about 3-5 minutes per side.
Let the chicken cool on the cutting board before slicing it into thin pieces.
Make the salad dressing.
Measure all of the ingredients with care and place them in a small blender. Pulse until smooth.
You can either use the dressing immediately or store it for later. To store it, transfer the creamy dressing into a storage container with a lid. Keep it in the fridge until you’re ready to use it.
Assemble the salad.
Divide the salad mix into four bowls.
Top off the salad mix with your sliced chicken, veggies, black beans, and shredded cheese. Add some pepitas and tortilla strips on top, serve with creamy salsa dressing, and enjoy!
Make Ahead Tips:
This dinner salad only takes about 30 minutes to prepare, but you can also make it even faster! If you prepare the chicken and the dressing ahead of time, the salad will only take you about 5 minutes to put together.
Chicken: Cook the chicken ahead of time per the recipe and let it cool down to room temperature. Store the cooked chicken in a food storage container in the refrigerator for 3-4 days. You can also make extra chicken and freeze it.
Creamy Salsa Dressing: You can make it ahead of time as well and store it in the refrigerator. Make sure to store it in a food storage container with an airtight lid. This dressing will also last about 3-4 days in the refrigerator. It does freeze well if you need to make extra and freeze it. You can freeze it in a freezer friendly zip-top bag for up to 2 months.
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Spicy Southwest Salad with Creamy Salsa Dressing
- 1.25 lb chicken breasts
- 1 tsp salt to taste
- 1 tsp garlic powder
- 1 tsp onion powder
- 1 tsp ancho chili powder
- 1/2 tsp paprika
- 1 tsp white granulated sugar
- 1/2 tsp black pepper
- 2 tbsp olive or avocado oil
- 8-10 oz spring salad mix
- 1 cup cherry tomatoes chopped
- 1 large red bell pepper sliced
- 1/2 cup corn drained
- 1/2 cup black beans drained and rinsed
- 1 cup shredded Mexican cheese mix
- 1/4 cup roasted and salted pepitas
- 1/2 cup toasted tortilla strips
- cooked chicken from above sliced thin
Creamy Salsa Dressing (4-6 servings):
- 1/2 cup mayonnaise
- 1/2 cup spicy salsa (or medium, or mild)
- 1/2 lime- juice only
- 1/2 tsp cumin
- 1/4-1/2 tsp salt to taste
- 1/8-1/4 tsp black pepper to taste
- Place a chicken breast on a cutting board and hold it flat with the palm of your non-knife hand (remember to hold your fingers up when cutting). Use a sharp knife to slice the chicken breast horizontally into two even pieces. Try to cut it as much in the center as you can to create two pieces with even thickness. Repeat with the other breast.
- Mix the seasoning for the chicken until thoroughly combined and season the four chicken breast halves evenly on both sides.
- Preheat a large cooking pan over medium heat and add oil.
- Cook seasoned chicken breasts for a few minutes on each side, until just cooked trough. It will take 3-5 minutes per side, depending on the thickness of the chicken.
- Take the chicken out of the pan and let it cool on the cutting board. When it's cooled enough to handle, slice it thinly.
Creamy Salsa Dressing:
- Combine the ingredients for the dressing in a small blender and pulse until it's blended smooth.
- Transfer it into a dressing storage container with a lid. You can store it in the refrigerator or use right away.
- Divide the salad mix among four salad bowls evenly.
- Top the salad mix off with sliced chicken, tomatoes, peppers, corn, black beans, and shredded cheese. Add some pepitas and tortilla strips on top and serve with creamy salsa dressing.