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Southwest Salad Recipe

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Are you ready for a fresh and modern Southwest salad recipe? Because I’m here to deliver. While it still maintains the Southwest vibes, they come in a slightly unexpected way – we swap some of the expected ingredients (hi corn and black beans) for some different ones like taco spiced garbanzo beans. This Southwest chicken salad is inspired by an old menu item from Lake Park Diner in Florida and I always loved that it was a bit different in a really fresh way. You’re going to love it!

One of my criteria when it comes to meal salads is that they’ve got to be filling enough to not leave me scrounging for snacks an hour later. This combination of protein, fiber, and carbs (energy) keeps us nice and satisfied until our next meal. Leave one of them out? You may find yourself hungry. And if you’ve ever tried to cut out food groups before, you might remember how it left you feeling! So we’re not going to do that anymore, ok?

Southwest chicken salad with taco ranch

Estimated reading time: 10 minutes

What is a Southwest salad?

Unlike some dishes with a clear definition, there are so many different versions of Southwest salads out there! Many versions have ingredients like chicken, cheese, corn, black beans, avocado, and sour cream. Chick-Fil-A makes a popular Southwest salad with chicken, tomatoes, cheese, corn, black beans, poblano chiles, and red bell peppers.

What You’ll Love About Southwest Chicken Salads

  • Fresh and modern flavors
  • A variety of textures
  • Filling and satisfying combination of ingredients
  • So much delicious flavor
  • Made with simple ingredients
  • Easy to make for the whole family

Southwest Salad Ingredients

  • Mayonnaise – Use your favorite mayonnaise for best flavor.
  • Sour cream – This adds creamy texture and flavor to the dressing, so I recommend full-fat, but you can use your favorite variety. You can also use plain Greek yogurt if you prefer.
  • Milk – I would recommend using your favorite type of plain milk, you can really use any variety, but don’t use anything with vanilla or sweetener.
  • Taco seasoning – I used a taco seasoning packet to keep things easy, but you could also use a homemade blend if you prefer.
  • Chicken breast – I recommend chicken breasts, but you could also use chicken thighs if you prefer.
  • Oil – Use olive oil or a vegetable oil like avocado or canola if you prefer.
  • Garbanzo beans – Also known as chick peas! You can use canned beans or cook them yourself, up to you!
  • Tomatoes – Use whatever type of tomatoes you prefer. If it’s summer, you can use whatever is ripe and delicious, but any other season I prefer to use a cherry or grape tomatoes.
  • Avocado – Look for a ripe avocado. You could also use pre-made guacamole if you prefer.
  • Lime – This is for the smashed guacamole and for serving. It adds a great pop of flavor, but you could also skip it if you prefer.
  • Cheese – Ok, I’m all about smart shortcuts, but I highly recommend shredding your own cheese for this one, it’s just so much better! I recommend using sharp cheddar, but you could also use a different variety if you prefer.
  • Chips – Use your favorite tortilla chips.
  • Mixed greens – I love the mixed greens in this salad, but you could also use romaine or iceberg if you prefer.
Ingredients to make Southwest salad recipe

How to Make Make a Southwest Salad

This is an overview on how to make a southwest salad, the detailed instructions can be found below in the recipe card.

Mix dressing. In a medium bowl, combine mayonnaise, sour cream, milk, and taco seasoning. Whisk until smooth and chill in the refrigerator.
Bowl with taco ranch saladdressing
Prep ingredients. Slice tomatoes, smash avocado, shred cheese, and drain and rinse garbanzo beans.
Grill chicken. Drizzle chicken breasts with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and black pepper. Grill over direct flames until chicken reaches an internal temperature of 165 degrees F. Set aside to rest and thinly slice.
Grilling chicken for southwest salad
Make spiced garbanzo beans. Heat oil in a nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add beans and season with taco seasoning. Stir to coat and cook for a few minutes.
Taco spiced garbanzo beans in a skillet
Assemble salads. Layer greens onto salad plates. Top with chicken and drizzle with dressing. Top with spiced garbanzo beans, tomatoes, avocado, shredded cheese, and tortilla chips. Drizzle with more dressing if desired.
Salad greens with toppings on them


What is a Southwest salad dressing?

There are so many different varieties of Southwest salad dressing! For this particular recipe I went with a taco-seasoned ranch style dressing that adds great flavor and creamy texture to the salad. There are also avocado-based dressings (I made one for these breakfast tostadas), some use a vinaigrette-based dressing, and salsa-based dressings.

Is a Southwest chopped salad healthy?

I love looking at this question in a bit of a different way – using my background in Nutrition and Intuitive Eating. Instead of jumping to negative conclusions, I tend to look at the food in a bigger view, so here’s what I see in this meal. 

I see protein, fiber, fresh produce, satisfying fats, a variety of textures, and SO much flavor. Anything that makes eating more veggies appealing is generally a win in my book!

Storage Instructions

Store any leftover salad components in an airtight container in the refrigerator for 2-3 days.

How to reheat

If you want to reheat the chicken for the salad, lightly heat in a skillet, until just warmed for best results. I also think it’s delicious served cold or at room temperature.

How to prep ahead

If you want to prep some of the southwest chicken salad ahead, you can do the following:

  • Mix dressing a day or two in advance
  • Grill chicken a day in advance
  • Make spiced garbanzo beans a day in advance
Southwest salad with toppings

What to Serve with Southwest Salad Recipe

I consider this to be a full meal, but if you’d like to serve it with a side, here are a few ideas:

How to Feed Salads to the Whole Family

I get it, feeding kids can be tough! But following the Division of Responsibility and knowing your job and your child’s job makes it SO much more enjoyable. You’ll be able to feed your kids any meal, which will help ensure that they are eating a variety of nutritious foods – with plenty of play food sprinkled in.

I would recommend serving the salad components in this serving tray and letting everyone build their own salads. (I do recommend putting the components on a plate for toddlers and young eaters!) Serve the meal with a few items you know your kids will eat, like fruit, milk, and/or bread and butter if they don’t do chips.

Want More?

Follow Emily on Instagram or TikTok for family dinner recipe videos and tips for feeding kids.

Southwest salad with fresh toppings

More Salad Recipes

If you like this southwest salad recipe, you might also like these other delicious salad recipes:

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Southwest chicken salad with taco ranch

Southwest Salad Recipe

  • Author: Emily Dingmann of myeverydaytable.com
  • Prep Time: 10 minutes
  • Cook Time: 25 minutes
  • Total Time: 35 minutes
  • Yield: 4 servings 1x
  • Category: Salad
  • Method: Grill
  • Cuisine: Tex Mex
  • Diet: Gluten Free
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Are you ready for a fresh and modern Southwest salad recipe? The Southwest vibes are there, but in an unexpected way. You’re going to love it!


Units Scale

Taco Ranch:

Southwest Salad:

  • 1 lb. chicken breast
  • 1 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp. sea salt
  • 1/8 tsp. black pepper
  • 15 oz. can garbanzo beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 Tbsp. taco seasoning
  • 1 cup sliced cherry tomatoes
  • 1 medium avocado, skin and pit removed, lightly smashed
  • 1 lime, cut into wedges
  • 4 oz. sharp cheddar, freshly shredded
  • 2 cups blue corn tortilla chips, lightly crushed
  • 8 oz. mixed greens



  1. Mix dressing. In a small bowl or 2 cup glass measuring cup, combine mayonnaise, sour cream, milk, and taco seasoning. Whisk until smooth and set aside in the refrigerator.
  2. Prep ingredients:
    Wash and cut tomatoes in half lengthwise.
    Smash avocado and season with a squeeze (about 1 tablespoon) of lime juice and a pinch (about ¼ teaspoon) sea salt.
    Shred cheese.
    Rinse and drain garbanzo beans.
  3. Grill chicken. Preheat the grill to medium-high heat. Season chicken with a drizzle of olive oil, sea salt, and black pepper. Grill over direct flames about 4-6 minutes per side, or until it reaches an internal temperature of 165 degrees F. Let rest for about 5 minutes, then slice thinly against the grain.
  4. Make spiced garbanzo beans. Heat 1 tablespoon of oil in a nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add beans and sprinkle with taco seasoning, stirring to coat. Cook for 4-5 minutes.
  5. Assemble salad. Layer greens onto salad plates. Top with sliced chicken cheese and drizzle with dressing. Add spiced garbanzo beans, tomatoes, smashed avocado, shredded cheese, and tortilla chips. Drizzle with more dressing if desired and serve with lime wedges.


  • You will probably have some extra dressing, store in the refrigerator in an airtight container for 3-4 days.

Keywords: southwest salad, southwest chicken salad, southwestern salad

Food styling and photography by Loren Runion.

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