This grilled chicken taco salad was our dinner twice last week. It was so good, it garnered a repeat performance. The past week was unseasonably warm here, unlike the rest of the country. While parts of the midwest were getting slammed with winter storms, we were hovering near 90. That called for cooking outside.
Grilled chicken with taco seasoning, grilled peppers, shredded cheese, avocado and salty, crunchy tortilla strips on a bed of crisp romaine lettuce make this salad completely satisfying.
Chicken taco salad
A few weeks ago, I made this salad in a meal prep version for clients. It was so tasty, it went on our menu for the next week. We liked it so much we ate it again the next day. The great thing about dinners like this chicken taco salad is that it checks all the boxes for weeknight meals. It’s easy, it’s quick, it’s good for you and there is minimal clean-up. Thank you very much.
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. Do you see those perfectly ripe avocados? I feel like we all need to take a second and admire those beauties. We lucked out and got 4 perfect avocados, which you know is not an easy task.
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 like an actual chicken taco. They were the highlight of my salad! Definitely not to be skipped.
TACO SALAD with tortilla strips
Taco salads can tend to 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.
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.
If grilling is not an option, the chicken and veggies can be done in the oven under the broiler for an equally delicious salad. Whichever method you prefer, you must make this delicious chicken taco salad and tag me @pookspantry to show me your creation!
USED IN THIS RECIPE:
- Thai Chicken Salad
- Arugula, Butternut & White Bean Salad
- Mediterranean Chicken Meal Prep Salads
- Israeli Salad
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
- Preheat grill to 400°F. Or put oven on broil if you are cooking inside.
- 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)
- 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. 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.
- Drizzle the remaining half of the oil on the peppers and sprinkle with salt and pepper.
- Place chicken and peppers on grill. Cook chicken for 5 - 6 minutes on each side. 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. Set chicken and peppers aside to cool before slicing for the salad.
- 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. You do not want hot oil spilling over. Heat over medium high for a few minutes. When oil is ready, 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.
- Add all ingredients for the dressing to a blender or food processor and blend until smooth.
- Slice chicken and bell peppers. Layer all ingredients on top of romaine and serve with dressing.
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.
Adapted from Dressing recipe from Cook's Country