Taco, the beloved Mexican classic, is reinvented into a healthy, colorful bowl of salad in this chicken taco salad recipe. The ingredients are pretty much the same, but instead of being wrapped in a tortilla, they’re all laid out on a plate. This gives the dish the same flavor-bursting qualities as the original recipe, only here it’s with the refreshing twist of a regular salad.
Each bite is a texture fiesta, thanks to the combination of lettuce, cherry tomatoes, corn, black beans, red onion, tortilla chips, and chicken cubes. The salad is drizzled in a cilantro-lime dressing, instantly tingling the taste buds with a zesty undertone that complements the fresh veggies and sweet-spicy chicken.
Is Chicken Taco Salad Healthy?
With a diverse mix of veggies and meat, along with moderate ingredient portions, this chicken taco salad is a relatively healthy choice for your everyday meals. Following standards set by our nutrition guidelines, each serving contains approximately:
2.3 g saturated fat
294 mg sodium
Since this salad’s main ingredient is chicken, it provides around 15 g of protein in each serving. Accompanied by cherry tomatoes, romaine lettuce, and black beans, the dish also contains a decent amount of fiber, vitamins A, C, and E, as well as minerals like potassium, magnesium, and calcium.
As mentioned above, this salad includes almost any ingredient that you’d find in a typical taco. Here is what we used:
1. For the Salad
Chicken: We went with boneless, skinless chicken breasts, but you can go with whatever meat cut you prefer for this recipe.
Vegetables and Legumes: We used veggies that you would normally find in regular taco recipes, such as cherry tomatoes, lettuce, red onion, corn, and black beans. Feel free to add anything else that you want to the salad.
Tortilla Chips: This sounds like a strange ingredient to include in a salad, but you’ll be surprised how exciting the dish becomes with the chips’ crispy texture and salty taste.
Spices: We seasoned the chicken with Cajun seasoning, paprika, and garlic powder to give it a mildly spicy and deeply smoky taste that immediately kicks up the dish’s flavor profile.
2. For the Dressing
The dressing is a simple mixture of salt, pepper, cilantro, olive oil, garlic, and lime juice that ties everything together in a bright and zesty flavor combination.
Variations & Add-ins
Taco itself is pretty customizable, so it’s no surprise that its salad spin-off also carries the same versatility. If you want to give a few tweaks to this recipe to avoid repetition, we suggest going with the following changes:
Avocados, bell peppers, jalapeños, arugulas, zucchinis, and pickled onions, are some other veggie options you can consider for this dish.
Besides the breasts, ground chicken or chicken thighs are also excellent choices for this salad. You can go for ground beef or ground turkey, too, if you want the meat to have a deeper, slightly more pronounced taste.
For a vegetarian version, simply swap the meat for tofu, quinoa, or any other grains of choice.
For a sweet and tangy taste, consider adding a dollop of sour cream, heavy cream, or Greek yogurt to the salad. You can also sprinkle shredded cheese onto the surface as a finishing touch, just as you would do for regular tacos.
How to Store the Leftovers
This salad can last up to 2 days when kept in airtight containers in the fridge. If possible, keep the dressing separated to preserve the texture of the meat and veggies.
Indulging Chicken Salad Ideas
This Southern chicken salad recipe tosses shredded chicken that has been seared until golden brown with celery, pickle, pecans, and a mayo dressing. The dried fruits added to it really add a fun texture.
This one features greens, chicken cubes, parmesan shavings, and crisp croutons the size of the chicken. A bright lemon-mustard dressing is used to tie everything together.
Taco, the beloved Mexican classic, is reinvented into a healthy, colorful bowl of salad in this chicken taco salad recipe. The ingredients are pretty much the same, but instead of being wrapped in a tortilla, they're all laid out on a plate. This gives the dish the same flavor-bursting qualities as the original recipe, only here it's with the refreshing twist of a regular salad.
Dice the Onion: Slice the red onion in half lengthwise, then lay it vertically and thinly slice downward, leaving the roots intact. Place the onion in a horizontal position and cut crosswise into slices. Next, slice further into small cubes.
Mince the Garlic: Press the flat side of the knife onto the cloves to remove the peel, then thinly slice them into pieces. With a rocking motion, slice the cloves further with the knife until they're finely minced.
Season the Chicken: Dry rub 1/2 tsp Cajun seasoning, 1/2 tsp paprika, and 1/2 tsp garlic powder onto 8 oz skinless, boneless chicken breast until the meat is fully coated with the spices.
Sear the Chicken: On a pan over medium heat, sear the seasoned chicken on both sides with 1 tbsp olive oil. Do so for 7 minutes until the meat turns golden brown.
Make the Dressing: In a food processor or blender, blend 1/2 tbsp garlic, 1/2 cup cilantro, 2 tbsp olive oil, 1 tbsp lime juice, 1/4 tsp salt, and 1/4 tsp pepper together, until the sauce turns a grassy green shade with a slightly syrupy texture.
Slice the Chicken: Lay the cooked chicken vertically on the chopping board and slice it into thick strips. Turn the strips horizontally, and continue slicing them into small cubes.
Assemble the Salad and Serve: On a plate, lay the sliced chicken with 4 oz cherry tomatoes, 4 oz romaine lettuce, 0.5 oz red onion, 1 oz corn, 1 oz canned black bean, and 1.5 oz tortilla chips. Drizzle the dressing over the food. Enjoy!
Chicken Taco Salad
Amount Per Serving (1 serving)
Calories 239Calories from Fat 138
% Daily Value*
Saturated Fat 2.3g
Polyunsaturated Fat 2.6g
Monounsaturated Fat 8.5g
Vitamin A 3690.2IU
Vitamin C 10.6mg
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.
Tuyet Pham is an award-winning Saigonese chef who believes that joy is the secret ingredient to delicious food. At Healthy Recipes 101, Tuyet personally tests and simplifies every recipe, ensuring maximum flavor with minimal effort. With a background at prestigious French restaurants P’TI Saigon and Le Corto, Tuyet knows how to make every dish exceptional.
Luna Regina is an accomplished writer and author who dedicates her career to empowering home cooks and making cooking effortless for everyone. She is the founder of HealthyKitchen101.com and HealthyRecipes101.com, where she works with her team to develop easy, nutritious recipes and help aspiring cooks choose the right kitchen appliances.