Loaded BBQ Chicken Salad with Cilantro Lime Dressing

Loaded with chopped bbq chicken, black beans, corn, tomatoes & onion all tossed in a creamy cilantro lime dressing! This bbq chicken salad is so tasty & easy to make!

A close up photo of loaded bbq chicken salad tossed in a creamy cilantro lime dressing

The first time I ever had bbq chicken salad was at California Pizza Kitchen and I was hooked! So this is my take on their tasty salad.😊 It’s loaded with fresh ingredients like corn, tomatoes, black beans and avocado and tossed in the best homemade cilantro lime dressing! Hearty enough for dinner yet refreshing for those hot summer days! You’re whole family’s going to love this loaded bbq chicken salad recipe!

Ingredients used to make loaded bbq chicken salad
Ingredients used to make a creamy homemade cilantro lime dressing

Ingredients For BBQ Chicken Salad

  • Chicken: I used chicken tenders for mine because they’re easy and cook fast. Chicken thighs or breasts can be used instead though. (Or use your favorite rotisserie chicken to really cut down on time!)
  • BBQ sauce: Try using a sweeter bbq sauce if possible. It gives a nice contrast to the tanginess of the dressing. (We love Stubb’s Sweet Heat!)
  • Lettuce: Sturdier lettuce like romaine or green leaf tend to work the best for this recipe. (They hold up better to the rest of your ingredients.)
  • Canned black beans: A necessity for bbq chicken salad! (We always use low sodium/salt free beans!)
  • Corn: I’ll always use fresh corn if I can find it. (It tastes the best!) But canned or frozen corn can be used instead. if using fresh – cook the corn using your favorite method!
  • Tomatoes: Any type of tomatoes work for this recipe!
  • Red onion: Adds texture and compliments the rest of your flavors. (It’s a little sweeter than white or yellow onion.)
  • Avocado: I love adding avocado to all my salads!🥰 You can add as little or as much as you want here!
  • Cilantro lime dressing: Creamy, tangy, slightly smoky and all made in the food processor! It’s the perfect dressing to tie all your salad ingredients together!
A large clear bowl filled with chopped lettuce, black beans, corn, tomatoes, red onion and avocado sitting next to wooden salad tongs
An overhead photo of a food processor filled with creamy cilantro lime dressing surrounded by a small bowl of lime wedges and fresh cilantro

How To Make BBQ Chicken Salad

1. Cook your chicken. Season your chicken tenders with salt, pepper and paprika and brush them with bbq sauce on both sides. Then bake them at 375 degrees for 15-18 minutes. Once done, allow them to cool completely and cut them into bite-sized pieces. (Sometimes I’ll toss them in a little extra bbq sauce before adding them to the salad.

2. Make your dressing. Place your dressing ingredients in a food processor and blend them together until smooth. Keep your dressing stored in the refrigerator while you prepare the rest of your salad.

3. Prepare the rest of your salad ingredients. Chop your lettuce and add it to a large bowl. Then cut the kernels off your corn (if using fresh), chop your tomatoes and onions and drain & rinse your black beans.

4. Mix & serve! Then add your prepared ingredients to the bowl with your lettuce and pour your desired amount of dressing over the top. Toss the salad until it’s fully coated then top with your chopped bbq chicken and serve!

A metal sheet pan filled with cooked bbq chicken cut into bite-sized pieces surrounded by a bowl of bbq sauce and fresh lime wedges

Let’s Talk Chicken!

Any cut of chicken can be used for this salad! Chicken tenders, thighs, breasts…even shredded rotisserie chicken can be used to really cut down on time! (The only difference between them all is cooking time.) Below you’ll find the times and temps for each – just pick your favorite and go from there!

  • Shredded rotisserie chicken: No cooking time! (Obviously😉) Just toss it in your bbq sauce and top it over your salad!
  • Chicken tenders: Bake at 375 degrees for 15-18 minutes.
  • Boneless & skinless chicken thighs: Bake at 400 degrees for 15-20 minutes depending on their size.
  • Chicken breasts: Bake at 400 degrees for 20-25 minutes depending their size.

Your chicken should always have an internal temperature of 165 degrees when it’s done. Then simply let your chicken cool and cut it into bite sized pieces before serving! (We’ll usually toss ours in a little extra bbq sauce before adding it to our salad.)

A large white serving bowl filled with bbq chicken salad surrounded by a plate of tortilla chips, fresh cilantro and lime wedges

Variations and Additions

We’ve made this salad a few different ways (depending on what we have on hand) and they’ve all turned out delicious! Here are a few of our favorite ideas:

  • Add your favorite shredded cheese!
  • Sprinkle crushed tortilla chips on top!
  • Add chopped red bell pepper for extra crunch!
  • Toss in a sprinkle of freshly chopped cilantro! (I love adding fresh herbs to my salads – it’s such a simple way to elevate them!)
  • Use grilled bbq chicken or shredded bbq chicken instead!
  • Try grilling your corn for extra smoky flavor!
A hearty salad made with lettuce, black beans, corn, tomatoes, red onion, and avocado tossed in cilantro lime dressing topped with chopped bbq chicken

Why you’ll love this loaded bbq chicken salad recipe!

  • Use up your leftover bbq chicken! Always have leftovers after a big barbecue?! Put them to use & make a healthy bbq chicken salad for dinner the next night!
  • Hearty & nutritious! Chicken, black beans, lots of fresh veggies & Greek yogurt as the base for your dressing! What’s not to love?!
  • Customize it! Not a fan of red onion? Leave them out or swap them for green onion! Love bell pepper? Add in a handful! Obsessed with grilled corn? Use that instead! You can make this salad any way you want it!
  • Hearty enough for a group! Toss some bbq chicken on the grill & whip up a big batch your salad & dressing! Then serve it as a side dish to your chicken or dice the chicken & have each guest top their salad with it!

More salad recipes you might like:

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Loaded BBQ Chicken Salad with Cilantro Lime Dressing

Loaded with black beans, corn, tomatoes & onion all tossed in a creamy cilantro lime dressing! This healthy bbq chicken salad is so tasty & easy to make!
Prep Time15 mins
Cook Time15 mins
Total Time30 mins
Course: Main Course, Salad
Cuisine: American
Keyword: avocado, bbq chicken, black beans, cilantro lime dressing, corn, salad recipes
Servings: 4 servings
Author: Caitlin

Ingredients

For the salad:

  • 1 lb. chicken tenders (see notes for other cuts of chicken)
  • Salt, black pepper & paprika (to season the chicken)
  • ½ cup bbq sauce
  • 6 cups lettuce, chopped
  • ¾ cup black beans, drained and rinsed
  • ¾ cup corn kernels (fresh, frozen or canned)*
  • ¾ cup cherry tomatoes, halved
  • ¼ of a red onion, sliced thin
  • 1 large avocado, diced
  • Tortilla chips (optional)

For the cilantro lime dressing:

  • ½ cup plain greek yogurt
  • ½ cup cilantro, roughly chopped & packed (leaves & stems)
  • ¼ cup fresh lime juice
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • ½ tsp cumin
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • Black pepper, to taste

Instructions

To make the dressing:

  • Add your dressing ingredients to a food processor and blend them together until smooth. Store your dressing in the refrigerator while you prepare the rest of your salad.

To make the salad:

  • Preheat your oven to 375 degrees and spray a baking dish with cooking spray.
  • Then season your chicken tenders with salt, pepper and paprika and place them in the dish. Brush both sides of your tenders with bbq sauce and bake for 15-18 minutes. Let them cool completely then chop them into bite-sized pieces.
  • Next add your lettuce, black beans, corn, tomatoes, onion and avocado to a large bowl and toss with your desired amount of dressing. Top the salad with your chopped chicken and tortilla chips (if using) and serve immediately.

Notes

Directions for preparing other chicken:
  • Chicken thighs (boneless & skinless): Bake at 400 degrees for 15-20 minutes depending on their size.
  • Chicken breasts: Bake at 400 degrees for 20-25 minutes depending on their size.
  • Shredded rotisserie chicken: Shred your chicken and mix it with your favorite bbq sauce.
*For the corn:
  • Fresh corn: Cook the corn using your preferred method then cut the kernels off the cob.
  • Canned corn: Drain & rinse the kernels before adding the to your salad
  • Frozen corn: Cook the kernels according to the package and let cool before adding to your salad.
 

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