Looking for a simple, healthy option for dinner tonight? This Grilled Chicken Salad recipe is perfect—juicy grilled chicken breast on a bed of fresh lettuce. You can dress it up any way you like to suit everybody’s tastes, what could be better!
This recipe is head and shoulders above your average everyday grilled chicken salad. With spices, avocado, BBQ sauce, ranch salad dressing, and a myriad of other ingredients, this is a salad that is more than just a salad!
What ingredients Go into a grilled chicken salad?
Although you can make a grilled chicken salad with just a few ingredients, why would you? When with just a few more items, you can make it taste absolutely fantastic!
- Chicken breast
- Ancho chili powder
- Cayenne pepper
- Garlic powder
- BBQ sauce
- Ranch dressing
- Romaine lettuce
- Cherry tomatoes
- Red onion
- Black beans
- Cheddar cheese
- Bacon bits
- Fried onions
How do you make grilled chicken salad?
Prepare your grill or smoker by preheating it to 450 degrees F (if you have a Traeger, use the “high” setting). If you are using your grill you should use a smoker box or prepare an aluminum foil smoker package. I find that mesquite wood or pellets work best for this recipe.
Start by combining all your BBQ rub ingredients in a small bowl. Mix together ancho chili powder, cayenne pepper, paprika, and garlic powder. Season all sides of the chicken breasts with the rub. Once your grill or smoker is preheated, place the chicken breast on the grill grates and close the lid.
While the chicken breasts are cooking you can prepare the remaining ingredients. Wash and chop the romaine lettuce into roughly 1-inch pieces and place in a large salad bowl. Wash, cut and add the cherry tomatoes to the bowl also.
When the chicken reaches about 150 degrees F, it’s time to brush with your favorite BBQ sauce and place the peeled cob of corn on the grill to char. You can test the internal temperature using a Thermoworks product, such as a quick check Thermapen; they work great!
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While the chicken is cooking thinly slice the onion, dice the avocado, and slice the jalapeno, removing the seeds if you like. Or if you prefer it a little spicier, you can leave them. Drain and rinse the black beans and add to the salad.
Remove the chicken and allow it to rest for 5-10 minutes. Remove the corn cob from the grill. Using a knife, cut the corn off the cob and add it to the salad bowl. Gently toss the salad, then add the pepperoncini, bacon bits, and jalapenos on top.
Slice the BBQ grilled chicken breasts on a 45-degree angle and place them on top of the salad. Drizzle with BBQ sauce over the salad, then sprinkle the fried onions over top. Yummo!
Is grilled chicken salad good for you?
Is grilled chicken salad good for you? Well, the short answer is that depends! The salad itself can actually be really, really healthy, but it can also be not so healthy…depending upon what you put into and on your salad.
I remember a few years ago, I was really watching what I was eating and picked up a prepared salad from the cafeteria for lunch. You know, I thought to myself, here is a healthy lunch, and it was until I picked up the little packet of salad dressing to put on it. 2 Tbsps of salad dressing, over 200 calories! Needless to say, I put the salad dressing back and just got the basic salad.
I guess the moral of that story is you really have to read the labels to make sure you are not being fooled. Anyone can be easily fooled into thinking something is healthy when it isn’t. You gotta read those labels.
Fast food and fast-casual restaurants like Wendy’s, Applebee’s, Zaxby’s, and other roadhouse-style restaurants may have a chicken salad item on their menu. Be it a wrap, a sandwich, a burger, a taco, or even a chicken caesar salad. Beware, just because it has the word salad in it doesn’t necessarily mean that it is a healthy choice for lunch or dinner.
Serving it up!
Just because it’s called grilled chicken “salad” doesn’t necessarily mean that you have to serve it in a bowl. This recipe, however, is really a full meal all in one dish.
The great thing about a recipe like this is that you can totally make it your own. If you prefer spinach over romaine lettuce, you can do that! You want to add some sliced apple, go right ahead. This recipe can also become gluten-free simply by omitting the fried onions. Using fresh corn brightens the flavors, but frozen corn works well and is a great substitute.
Swap the BBQ sauce for olive oil and lemon juice to add some zing to the salad. Or how about trying some Greek yogurt instead of your favorite ranch dressing. My daughter loves ranch dressing. To quote an old TV commercial, “she puts that s*** on everything.” LOL.
A salad like this really can rival some of the best salads that are out there, like a Cobb salad, for example. The variety of tastes and the options for making changes to the ingredients in this recipe are simply amazing. The sky is the limit regarding what you can add and or change.
I know some kids, and even some people who aren’t kids, can be a little picky, especially when it comes to something new or different. Using familiar ingredients and sliding in some healthy items is a great way to get your family to eat a little healthier!
So the next time you are thinking about serving a plain old garden salad or even a Greek salad, think again. Try serving something with a flavor that your family is totally familiar with, but something that might be totally new too!
Pin it HERE!!
Pin it HERE!!
- 1 lb boneless skinless chicken breasts (about 2 large chicken breasts)
- 1 tsp ancho chili powder (can be substituted for regular chili powder)
- ½ tsp cayenne pepper
- 1 tsp paprika
- 1 tsp garlic powder
- ½ cup bbq sauce
- ½ cup ranch dressing
- 3 romaine lettuce hearts
- 1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
- 1 corn cob
- 1 avocado
- 1 red onion
- 5-6 Pepperoncini
- 1 can of Black beans
- 1 cup Shredded Cheddar cheese
- ½ cup bacon bits (premade will work great! Or, cook and chop 6-7 slices of bacon)
- 1 jalapeno
- 1 cup fried onion straws
- Preheat the smoker to 450* for 15 minutes with the lid closed (if using a Traeger, this is the “high” setting). We recommend mesquite pellets or wood chips for this recipe.
- Prepare the bbq rub. Add chili powder, cayenne pepper, paprika, and garlic powder to a ramekin and stir to combine.
- Season both sides of the chicken breast generously with bbq rub. For this part, I prefer rubbing the seasoning directly onto the chicken breast with my hands, so it holds well.
- Add chicken breasts to the grill directly on the grill grates. Smoke for 20 minutes, flipping halfway through. Check to be sure the internal temperature of the chicken has reached 150* before starting the next step.
- Brush both sides of the chicken breast with your favorite bbq sauce. The flavor of a Kansas City bbq sauce for this recipe works well, as the smokey flavor pairs perfectly with the heat from the peppers.
- Then, place corn directly on the grill grates. These will both smoke for 7 minutes. Turn the corn halfway through.
- Wash and prepare produce. Cut romaine hearts into 1” pieces. Toss and add to a large salad bowl. Cut cherry tomatoes in half, thinly slice the red onion, and dice the avocado. Seed and slice the jalapenos. (skip seeding if you prefer more of a kick to the salad) Drain the black beans from the can and rinse under cold water. Add to the salad and toss to combine.
- Remove corn from the grill. Use a knife to cut the corn off of the cob. *For this step, use a corn holder to hold the corn in place upright as you cut with the knife.* Add to the salad and toss.
- Remove chicken from the grill. Place on a wooden cutting board and thinly slice.
- Top the salad with pepperoncini, bacon bits, sliced jalapenos, and bbq chicken.
- Drizzle bbq sauce and ranch over the salad and sprinkle onion straws on top. Enjoy!
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Amount Per Serving: Calories: 430Total Fat: 22gSaturated Fat: 6gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 14gCholesterol: 66mgSodium: 682mgCarbohydrates: 31gFiber: 8gSugar: 10gProtein: 28g
Recipe calculation was provided by Nutritionix and is estimation only. If you need nutritional calculations for medical reasons, please use a source that you trust.