Easy Chipotle Chicken Salad

A spicy twist on classic chicken salad! This chipotle chicken salad is creamy, bursting with flavor & has the right amount of heat! Wrap it in a tortilla, serve it as a sandwich or pair with your favorite tortilla chips for an easy meal prepped lunch!

A toasted chipotle chicken salad sandwich made with sliced avocado and lettuce sitting next to a bowl of tortilla chips

I’ve been having a moment with chicken salads lately and this spicy chipotle version is top tier! It’s a fiery combo made with shredded chicken, fresh veggies and cilantro all tossed in a creamy chipotle lime “dressing”. Smoky, zesty, creamy – this salad is packed with flavor!

I love that it comes together in less than 30 minutes too! We love meal prepping it for an easy lunch and it can be served it in a variety of ways. Sandwiches, wraps, serve it on toast or lighten things up and top it over shredded lettuce – there’s so many options!

This is the BEST chipotle chicken salad!

Ingredients used to make chipotle chicken salad

Ingredients You’ll Need

Shredded chicken: Use store bought rotisserie chicken for ease or make your own shredded chicken at home! (Directions for our homemade shredded chicken are listed below.)

Mayonnaise: A necessity for any chicken salad recipe! You’ll use this as part of the base for your chipotle “dressing.”

Plain Greek yogurt: Also used as part of the base to lighten up the dressing. It’s creamy, tangy, cuts down on fat and adds more protein to the overall recipe! (We use 0% plain Greek yogurt from Fage for ours.)

Chipotle peppers in adobo sauce: You’ll be using one chipotle pepper + the sauce from a can of chipotle peppers in adobo sauce. (These can be very spicy – make sure to look at the note section in the recipe if you’re concerned with the spice level.)

Red onion: We love using red onion for this recipe but white onion or green onion can be used instead. (If using red or white onion, I’d suggest finely dicing them so you’ll get a little bit in every bite.)

Celery: Celery adds the perfect texture and crunch to your chicken salad. Feel free to add as little or as much as you want!

Cilantro: Use the leaves and stems for maximum flavor! You’ll need about 2 tablespoons of chopped cilantro for the chicken salad.

Limes: 2 tablespoons of lime juice (about 2 limes) are needed for the ch0ipotle “dressing”.

Garlic: You’ll need to mince 1 large garlic clove for the dressing.

Spices: Smoked paprika, salt and black pepper are needed to season your chicken salad! (I love using smoked paprika – it elevates the smoky chipotle pepper flavor in the dish. Regular paprika can be used instead though.)

A clear mixing bowl filled with creamy chipotle dressing for chicken salad
A large clear mixing bowl filled with shredded chicken, diced celery, red onion, chopped cilantro and a creamy chipotle dressing

How To Make Chipotle Chicken Salad

1. Prepare the chicken. If making homemade shredded chicken, cook and shred the chicken using 2 forks then add it to a large bowl. If using store bought shredded chicken, break the chicken into smaller shreds then add it to a large bowl.

2. Prep the veggies. Finely dice the celery and red onion and chop the cilantro then add it to the bowl with your chicken.

3. Make the “chipotle dressing”. Mix the mayonnaise, Greek yogurt, lime juice, adobo sauce, diced chipotle peppers, garlic, smoked paprika, salt and black pepper together in a small bowl. (You may want to leave out the chipotle pepper seeds if you don’t want your chicken salad too spicy.)

4. Toss! Pour the dressing over the chicken and veggies and toss until it’s fully coated.

5. Serve. Serve immediately with your favorite tortilla chips, crackers or use the salad as a filling for a wrap or sandwich instead.

A large clear mixing bowl filled with freshly made chipotle chicken salad

Make Homemade Shredded Chicken

We usually make our own shredded chicken for chicken salads. (It’s so easy and we prefer like the consistency of the salad more.) Here’s how we do it:

  1. Season 1-1½ lbs. of chicken tenders with salt and pepper.
  2. Bake at 400 degrees for 15-18 minutes (or until they reach an internal temperature of 165 degrees).
  3. Shred using 2 large forks!
A close up photo of a chipotle chicken salad sandwich made with sliced avocado and lettuce

Let’s Talk Chipotle Peppers

Chipotle peppers can get spicy – fast! (Especially when they have a lot of seeds.) But the great part about this chicken salad is that you can make it as spicy or as mild as you want!

  • If you prefer it mild – completely leave out the seeds.
  • Want a little bit of heat? Use about half of the seeds.
  • Like it fiery hot – use the biggest pepper you can find and add the whole thing!
A small serving bowl filled with chipotle chicken salad topping with chopped cilantro

Serving Suggestions & Variations

Make a chicken salad wrap! Add shredded lettuce and avocado wrap it in a large flour tortilla.

Serve with your favorite tortilla chips or crackers! We love using Late July’s tortilla chips for ours!

Sandwich it! Add sliced avocado, fresh tomatoes or even cheddar cheese and sandwich it between your favorite bread slices. (Try toasting the bread too – it’s soo good!)

Spoon it over some greens! Top a bed of lettuce, mixed greens or even spinach with your chicken salad and add a squeeze of lime juice! (Shredded cabbage would be a great option too!)

Why you’ll love this chicken salad recipe!

  • A healthier chicken salad! Lean shredded chicken + Greek yogurt means 2x the protein plus a TON of flavor!
  • Great way to use up leftover chicken! Turn your leftovers into a quick & delicious lunch! It’ll last for a few days too making it a perfect meal prep idea!
  • So versatile! Serve it a s a sandwich, wrap or eat it with your favorite tortilla chips – there’s so many options!

[Made one of my recipes? Tag my Instagram @kalefornia_kravings & leave a review in the comments – I love seeing what you create!]

Easy Chipotle Chicken Salad

A spicy twist on classic chicken salad! This chipotle chicken salad is creamy, bursting with flavor & has the right amount of heat! Wrap it in a tortilla, serve it as a sandwich or pair with your favorite tortilla chips for an easy meal prepped lunch!
Prep Time10 minutes
Cook Time15 minutes
Total Time25 minutes
Course: Lunch
Cuisine: American
Keyword: chicken recipes, chicken salad, chicken salad recipes, creamy chipotle dressing, lunch recipes, meal prep recipes
Servings: 4 servings
Author: Caitlin

Ingredients

  • 2 cups shredded chicken, homemade or store bought*
  • ¼ cup red onion, finely diced
  • 1-2 celery stalks, diced
  • 2 Tbsp cilantro, chopped (leaves & stems are ok)
  • ¼ cup mayonnaise
  • ¼ cup plain Greek yogurt
  • 2 Tbsp lime juice
  • 1 chipotle pepper (in adobo sauce), chopped**
  • 2 Tbsp adobo sauce
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • ½ tsp smoked paprika
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ¼ tsp black pepper

Instructions

  • Prep the salad. Add the shredded chicken, celery, red onion and chopped cilantro to a large bowl then set it aside.
  • Make the "dressing". Mix the mayonnaise, Greek yogurt, lime juice, chipotle pepper, adobo sauce, garlic, smoked paprika, salt and black pepper together in a small bowl.
  • Toss. Pour the dressing over the chicken and veggies and mix until fully combined.
  • Serve. Serve immediately with your favorite tortilla chips or use the salad as a filling for a sandwich or wrap.

Notes

*To make homemade shredded chicken:
  1. Season 1-1½ lbs. of chicken tenders with salt and pepper.
  2. Bake at 400 degrees for 15-18 minutes.
  3. Shred using 2 large forks.
 
**Tailoring the spice level of chipotle pepper:
  • If you prefer it mild – completely leave out the seeds.
  • Want a little bit of heat? Use about half of the seeds.
  • Like it fiery hot – use the biggest pepper you can find and add the whole thing!

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