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Chicken Taco Salad with Avocado Dressing

Grilled chicken taco salad with grilled peppers, shredded cheese, avocado and salty, crunchy tortilla strips on a bed of crisp romaine lettuce make this salad completely satisfying. Taco seasoned chicken is grilled to perfection and combined with all of your favorite southwest flavors.

overhead view of chicken taco salad
Delicious chicken taco salad with avocado buttermilk dressing.

This chicken tortilla salad will become your new favorite. It packs a ton of flavor in every healthy bite. It combines all of the flavors from chicken tacos into a delicious, crunchy salad.

Chicken taco salad

This salad checks all the boxes for weeknight meals. It’s easy, it’s quick, it’s good for you and there is minimal clean-up.

It also makes an excellent option for meal planning. The recipes serves 4, so you can portion it out into individual containers and have lunch for the week.

Chicken Taco Salad

I always keep washed, chopped romaine in the refrigerator. This makes salad prep even easier. Doing something as simple as chopping lettuce and storing it in the fridge for quick lunches makes a big difference.   

All that’s needed at that point is adding veggies and some protein and you’re done.   

How to make crispy tortilla strips

What would a “Chicken Taco Salad” be without crispy tortilla strips? Salty, crunchy fried tortilla strips sprinkled on top give this salad that extra something. It makes it taste just like a chicken taco.

They were the highlight of my salad! Definitely not to be skipped.

First, get your widest pot with tall sides. Fill it with 2 – 3 inches of oil. The oil should not come more than halfway up the side of the pot.

Heat over medium high heat, then gently lower the cut strips of corn tortilla into the oil. Use a spider skimmer to move them around in the oil and remove them to drain on paper towels when they are golden brown and crispy.

Chicken tortilla salad

This grilled chicken taco salad is a tasty twist on “Taco Tuesday”.

These types of salads can be on the less healthy side, but if you have plenty of veggies and lean protein, there is no reason you can’t enjoy them more often. 

Chicken taco salad

Especially when you swap out sour cream based dressings for avocado and buttermilk dressing. This dressing blends up easily with freshly squeezed lime juice and a bit of cilantro. It is the perfect compliment to the taco seasoned chicken.

How to make this salad

First, make sure the grill is clean and preheated. Then, pound the thicker end of the chicken with a mallet to flatten it out a bit. This will help the chicken to cook evenly, if one end isn’t significantly thicker than the other.

If grilling is not an option, the chicken and veggies can be done in the oven under the broiler.

Next, season the chicken and place it on the grill with the peppers. Cook for 5 – 6 minutes per side.

The internal temperature of the chicken should be 160°F. You can remove it from the grill as soon as it hits 155°F. The temperature will continue to rise – this is called “carryover cooking”.

Set the chicken and peppers aside to cool before slicing.

Finally, assemble the chicken taco salad by piling the remaining ingredients on top of a bed of chopped romaine lettuce.

Tools and equipment

In addition to the skimmer mentioned above, these two tools are very helpful.

  • Chef’s knife – This is the same knife I own. I’ve had it for almost 20 years.
  • Meat tenderizer – The design of this one is easy to hold, it’s heavy enough to do the job without being too heavy.

FAQ’s

Can I make the dressing ahead of time?

Yep! You can make the dressing the day before you plan to have the salad.

How long to cook tortilla strips?

The tortilla strips should only take a few minutes in the hot oil. Take them out BEFORE they look too brown. Otherwise, they may burn.

More salad recipes

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Yield: 4 servings

Chicken Taco Salad with Crispy Tortilla Strips

Chicken Taco Salad with Crispy Tortilla Strips

Grilled chicken taco salad with grilled peppers, shredded cheese, avocado and salty, crunchy tortilla strips on a bed of crisp romaine lettuce. 

Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 12 minutes
Total Time 27 minutes

Ingredients

For the Salad

  • 2 large heads romaine lettuce, chopped, washed & spun dry
  • 2 chicken breasts, pounded
  • 2 bell peppers, seeded and cut in quarters
  • 2 avocados, peeled and sliced
  • 1/2 red onion, finely sliced
  • 2 large tomatoes, cut into bite-sized chunks
  • 2 corn tortillas, sliced into strips
  • 4 ounces pepper jack cheese, shredded
  • 2 limes, quartered (optional)
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable or canola oil
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon granulated garlic
  • 1/2 teaspoon granulated onion
  • Oil for frying

For the Dressing

  • 1/2 ripe avocado
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk
  • 2 tablespoons fresh cilantro
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper

Instructions

  1. Preheat grill to 400°F. Or put oven on broil if you are cooking inside.
  2. Place chicken breast in a freezer zip top bag. (I use the freezer bags because they are thicker and won't rip as easily as the regular storage bags)
  3. With a meat pounder mallet, pound the thick part of the chicken to flatten it out a bit. (We're aiming for about 3/4 of an inch, but it doesn't need to be perfect).
  4. Season chicken with chili powder, cumin, granulated garlic and onion, salt and pepper. Drizzle with half of the oil and rub spices in. Set aside.
  5. Drizzle the remaining half of the oil on the peppers and sprinkle with salt and pepper.
  6. Place chicken and peppers on grill. Cook chicken for 5 - 6 minutes on each side.
  7. Cook peppers for 5 minutes per side as well, until slightly charred and softened. Remove peppers and chicken from grill and cut a small slit in the thicker end of a chicken breast to visually check for doneness. (Or use a thermometer - 160°) Set chicken and peppers aside to cool before slicing for the salad.
  8. In a 4 to 6 quart pot, add enough oil to come up about 2 - 3 inches. Make sure that the oil doesn't come up more than half the height of the pot.
  9. Heat over medium high for a few minutes. When oil is hot (350°F), carefully add strips of tortilla to hot oil. Move tortilla around with a skimmer so they don't clump together. Fry for a few minutes until crispy and golden. Remove and drain on paper towel.
  10. Add all ingredients for the dressing to a blender or food processor and blend until smooth.
  11. Slice chicken and bell peppers. Layer all ingredients on top of romaine and serve with dressing.

Notes

CHEF'S NOTES:
Start with a CLEAN GRILL. I know this sounds obvious, but believe me, it can't be said enough. Clean the grates and it will save you the headache of trying to pry your chicken off of them.
Pounding the chicken breast will help it to cook more evenly, ensuring you won't end up with overcooked, dry chicken.
Toss cut avocado in fresh lime juice to stop the avocado from turning brown

Dressing recipe adapted from Cook's Country.

Nutrition Information:

Yield:

4

Serving Size:

1/4 recipe

Amount Per Serving: Calories: 571Total Fat: 38gSaturated Fat: 10gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 26gCholesterol: 77mgSodium: 1376mgCarbohydrates: 33gFiber: 13gSugar: 8gProtein: 32g

Nutrition information calculated by a third-party company as a courtesy. It is intended as a guideline only.

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