Spicy Southwest Salad

5 from 2 votes
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Spicy southwest salad has the crunch, creamy tangy dressing and juicy, spiced marinated chicken.

Grey bowl with salad, chicken and cheese in it on a counter.
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Why Make This Spicy Southwest Salad

This Spicy Southwest Salad is such a filling, veggie loaded meal. It has a lot of great textures, the dressing is creamy and tangy and the chicken is so moist. The meal comes together quickly and can be on the table ready to eat in about 30 minutes. Keep this meal as is, or skip the chicken and use shrimp instead with the same marinade (it’s so good).

Ingredients Needed

  • Chicken. Chicken breasts that are boneless/skinless. I like to cut the big breasts in half so they cook evenly.
  • Fresh Orange. For the chicken marinade. The acidity helps to break down the chicken and keep it moist and flavorful.
  • Olive Oil. A neutral light tasing olive oil.
  • Apple Cider Vinegar. This is for the marinade.
  • Garlic. Fresh garlic cloves, minced are best for flavor.
  • Shallot. Minced. Shallots over a mild delicious flavor. Typically found in the onion area in produce.
  • Seasoning. cayenne, paprika, salt, pepper. For the dressing: cumin, chili powder, red pepper flakes, dried cilantro.

Toppings/Mix Ins For This Salad

  • Tortilla Chips. This is an optional topping for the salad.
  • Cherry Tomatoes. These are for color and texture on the salad.
  • Canned Black Beans. Drained and rinsed. These add color and a little mexican flair to the salad.
  • Corn Kernels. Use fresh corn or frozen/thawed corn.
  • Red Bell Pepper. Diced into small pieces to add crunch to the salad.
  • Shredded Cheese Or Cojita. I use mexican blend shredded cheese which has some good flavor but my favorite is using cojita crumbles.
  • Pumpkin Seeds. Aka pepita seeds. These add a wonderful crunch and add a lot of antioxidants.

Dressing Ingredients

  • Fresh Lime Juice. This is for the dressing. It adds a little tang and flavor to it.
  • Sour Cream. This is the base of the dressing. You can also use whole milk greek yogurt or dairy free sour cream.
  • Seasonings. Listed above in the listed seasonings.
  • Honey. or maple syrup. This is to bring the flavors together.

Steps To make

Clear bowl with chicken marinating and a white bowl with dressing in it.

Step One. In a large bowl, make chicken marinade with ACV, orange, oil, garlic, shallot, cayenne pepper, paprika, salt, pepper. Cut the chicken breasts in half and add to the marinade. Let them sit for at least 10 – 20 minutes. The longer the better. Meanwhile, gather all other ingredients.

Step Two. Once the chicken has marinated, preheat the oven to 350º. Add the chicken and the marinate to a baking dish. Bake for about 20-25 minutes or until the chicken is fully cooked. *chicken will vary in size so please be sure to check that internal temp is at 165º

Step Three. Let the chicken rest. While it’s resting, slice and seed the pepper, slice tomatoes, chop romaine and microwave the corn and beans in a microwave safe bowl for about 1 minute to get the “chill” out of them.

Big salad bowl with all the ingredients piled in.

Step Four. In a small high speed blender or food processor, add all the dressing ingredients together and whiz until it’s well combined. The dressing will taste a little tangy, it’s so good on the salad. Feel free to add a little more salt if needed.

Step Five. Slice or cube up chicken. In a large bowl add romaine, peppers, tomatoes, seeds, cheese, beans, corn, dressing and mix well. Top with chicken and serve. Optional to add sliced avocado as well. Sprinkle crushed tortilla chips over the top and enjoy.

Bowl with salad inside up close with a silver fork.

Tips & FAQ’s

Is this salad really spicy?

This salad is not too spicy at all, you can add more heat to it if you want with the cayenne pepper. It’s easy to customize the spice.

Will this salad keep in the fridge well?

Unfortunately not, the romaine can get pretty soggy. If you want to make head be sure to read that section for tips.

Is this a good filling meal?

Yes, this is a very filling salad from all the veggies. It will definitely hold you over and keep you full.

Recipe Variations

Chicken. You can skip the chicken and have it meatless or use shrimp in the marinade instead. If using shrimp, cook them in a frying pan on the stove for about 4 minutes each side.

Beans. You can use any beans of choice in place of the black beans, you can also skip them.

Veggies. Feel free to skip any veggie you don’t have or like. The corn, bell pepper and tomato combo is really delicious together.

Sour Cream. Sub plain greek yogurt or vegan sour cream.

Romaine. Use spinach or kale if you want more nutrient dense greens.

Make Ahead & Storage Tips

If you want to make this recipe ahead of time or if you want to meal prep it, just wait to add the dressing on/mix it in. The dressing makes the romaine soggy if it sits for a bit.

To Make This Recipe Healthier

To cut out some calories and make it a bit healthier, skip the cheese and tortilla chips to save 100 calories. You can also use plain greek yogurt for the dressing which will offer more protein and a few grams less of fat.

Other Salad Recipes To Try

If you loved this recipe let me know! Also, follow me on Instagram & Pinterest for even more fun recipes to make you feel good from the inside out. Thanks for being here.

Salad in a bowl with dressing next to it.
5 from 2 votes

Spicy Southwest Salad

Spicy southwest salad has the crunch, creamy tangy dressing and juicy, spiced marinated chicken.
Prep: 10 minutes
Cook: 25 minutes
Servings: 4

Equipment

  • baking sheet
  • blender or food processor

Ingredients 

  • 1 lb chicken breasts, cut in half
  • ¼ cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1 orange, squeezed
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 tbsp shallot, minced
  • ¼ tsp pepper
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ½ tsp cayenne pepper
  • ½ tsp paprika

Salad Mix In's

  • 1 large red bell pepper
  • cup pepita seeds
  • cup cherry tomatoes
  • 1 cup cooked black beans, *see notes
  • 1 cup thawed/fresh corn kernels
  • cup shredded cheese, *see notes
  • ½ cup tortilla chips, crumbled
  • 10 cups chopped romaine, about 2 large romaine

Southwest Dressing

  • 1 cup sour cream, *see notes
  • 1 lime , squeezed
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • tsp chili powder
  • 1 tsp shallot, minced
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • ½ tsp cumin
  • 2 tsp dried cilantro
  • ½ tsp salt , more to taste as needed
  • ½ tsp cayenne pepper, more as needed for spicer
  • ½ tsp red pepper flakes
  • 1 tsp honey, more to taste as needed

Instructions 

  • In a large bowl, make chicken marinade with ACV, orange, oil, garlic, shallot, cayenne pepper, paprika, salt, pepper. Cut the chicken breasts in half and add to the marinade. Let them sit for at least 10 – 20 minutes. The longer the better. Meanwhile, gather all other ingredients.
  • Once the chicken has marinated, preheat the oven to 350º. Add the chicken and the marinate to a baking dish. Bake for about 20-25 minutes or until the chicken is fully cooked. *chicken will vary in size so please be sure to check that internal temp is at 165º
  • Let the chicken rest. While it's resting, slice and seed the pepper, slice tomatoes, chop romaine and microwave the corn and beans in a microwave safe bowl for about 1 minute to get the "chill" out of them. Skip if corn is fresh.
  • In a small high speed blender or food processor, add all the dressing ingredients together and whiz until it's well combined. The dressing will taste a little tangy, it's so good on the salad. Feel free to add a little more salt if needed.
  • Slice or cube up chicken. In a large bowl add romaine, peppers, tomatoes, seeds, cheese, beans, corn, dressing and mix well. Add chicken to the top and serve. Optional to add sliced avocado as well. Sprinkle crushed tortilla chips over the top and enjoy.

Notes

*or any bean 
*or cojita
*use plain greek yogurt or vegan sour cream

Nutrition

Serving: 2cup | Calories: 655kcal | Carbohydrates: 42g | Protein: 38g | Fat: 39g | Saturated Fat: 11g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 7g | Monounsaturated Fat: 17g | Trans Fat: 0.03g | Cholesterol: 112mg | Sodium: 995mg | Potassium: 1163mg | Fiber: 9g | Sugar: 11g | Vitamin A: 2779IU | Vitamin C: 88mg | Calcium: 242mg | Iron: 4mg

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

Additional Info

Author: Bailey
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 25 minutes
Course: Salad
Cuisine: American
Servings: 4
Calories: 655
Keyword: 30 minute, salad
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5 Comments

  1. Thank you for this recipe it looks amazing! Love your book by the way, we’ve been working our way through your recipes.

    I’m wondering how spicy this is as we have a 3 year old that will be eating this. What would you reduce to make it ok for that age group as well?

    1. Hi Helen! Thank you so much for purchasing my cookbook so happy to hear that you are enjoying that! For your Littles, I would suggest cutting back or skipping the red pepper flakes and cayenne pepper. You can always add those to your personal salad if you want to kick up the heat for yourself. Happy eating.

  2. 5 stars
    Delish! 2 of us devoured the whole thing. The chicken was super flavorful…I marinated it for a few hours. The dressing was the show stopper though. We licked our bowls clean. *chefs kiss 😘

    1. This makes me so happy to hear! Licking the bowls is the ULTIMATE COMPLIMENT! Thank you, and Happy eating!
      -bailey

  3. 5 stars
    This salad was FANTASTIC. Best salad I have honestly ever had, let alone one I have made at home. Thank You! – Margot