Southwestern Chicken Salad

For a spin on a traditional taco salad, this Southwestern chicken salad recipe livens up the mundane. The use of buttermilk in the dressing with white wine vinegar packs a tangy punch and is a distant relative of the buttermilk ranch that is often seen on taco salads. The shredded chicken is tossed in this dressing along with some chiles in adobo sauce and crunchy vegetables, creating a delicious medley of textures and flavors. The creaminess of the avocado balances out the dish making for a satisfying and filling dinner!

4-4 People

20 Minutes

40 Minutes

For the Shredded Chicken

  • 2 Boneless, skinless chicken breast

    Around 1.25 pounds

  • 2.5 Quarts Water
  • Whole White or Yellow Onion

    Peeled and cut into quarters

  • 2 Whole Cloves Garlic

    Peeled and crushed

  • 1/2 tsp Mexican Oregano, dried

    Regular oregano would also work

  • To taste Salt

For the Dressing

  • 2 Tbsp Lime juice

    Freshly squeezed, the juice of about a half of a lime

  • 2 Tbsp White wine vinegar
  • 1 small or medium, microplaned Garlic clove
  • 1 tsp Cumin seeds

    Toast over medium heat in a small sauce pan for about 5 minutes, or until fragrant and lightly browned. Coarsely grind in a mortar and pestle.

  • 1/4 cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 1/4 cup Buttermilk
  • 2 Tbsp Chicken Stock

    Add up to 4 Tbsp to get to the desired consistency

For the Salad

  • 1/2 Head of Lettuce Green Leaf Lettuce

    Can use any sort of desired salad green

  • 6 Radishes

    Dice four radishes and set aside in a mixing bowl, slice the remaining two into crescent moons

  • 1/4 Cup Cilantro


  • 3 Chipotle chiles


  • 1-2 Tbsp Adobo Sauce

    Reserve 1-2 Tbsp from the canned chipotle chiles to add to the salad mixture

  • 1 Avocado

    Use 1/4 avocado per salad serving

  • 1 15 ounce can Black beans

    Rinsed and drained, optional


  1. I have outlined one method of poaching chicken, but feel free to use a pressure cooker or any other method. For this recipe, combine the 2.5 quarts of water with the onion quarters and garlic cloves and bring to a simmer over medium heat. Add the chicken breasts and oregano, over the pot and continue to simmer for 15-20 minutes or until the chicken is cooked through. Remove the chicken from the stock, reserving two tablespoons for the dressing. Once it is cool enough to handle, shred the chicken and set aside.
  2. Prepare the dressing while the chicken is cooling by combining all of the ingredients as listed above. Shake the ingredients in a mason jar or dressing container until emulsified.
  3. Toss the chicken with the majority of the dressing, leaving about a quarter of the dressing for the salads. Add in the diced radishes, chopped cilantro, chipotle chiles, adobo sauce, and season to taste with salt and pepper.
  4. Wash and chop the lettuce and place into individual bowls. Place a quarter of the chicken mixture in each bowl and garnish with avocado and additional dressing. Add blackbeans if using.