Mexican Salad with Cilantro Lime Dressing 

Trade in those boring salads for this Mexican Salad with Cilantro Lime dressing! Not only is this salad loaded with grilled chicken, black beans, creamy avocado, juicy cherry tomatoes, charred corn, crunchy bell peppers, red onions, buttery Oaxaca cheese, and crispy tortilla strips, but it’s also drizzled with a homemade creamy, citrusy dressing that you will want to put on everything. This salad is fresh, filling, and flavorful.

mexican salad with chicken and cilantro avocado dressing

Flavor is the biggest benefit, and it doesn’t hurt that it’s healthy and low in carbs, too.

When I wanted to create this recipe, I was thinking of all the things I love about Tex-Mex, specifically fajita tacos. It starts with the chicken; then you pile on the ingredients with various textures — some soft, some firm, some crispy, some crunchy. I learned a long time ago that the best salads have tons of texture in every bite.

The emphasis is on freshness when it comes to the dressing. This Cilantro Lime dressing is creamy, tangy, and zesty. It marries all the flavors and textures of the salad’s ingredients and only requires a few minutes in a food processor (paid link) — plus, you can make it ahead of time.

Ingredients you’ll need to make this Mexican Salad:

Make sure to check the recipe card below for a full list of ingredients and quantities.

chicken fajita taco salad ingredients
  • You can’t have a salad without lettuce, and I always use chopped romaine lettuce for my fajita salads.
  • Boneless chicken breast is the protein of choice for this salad. If made correctly, chicken breast can be very tender and is a great lean meat. You can also use chicken thighs.
  • The chicken is seasoned with paprika, chili powder, garlic powder, coriander, cumin, sugar, red pepper flakes, salt, and black pepper. You can use Fajita seasoning as a shortcut.
  • For the fresh veggies, you’ll need cherry tomatoes, red onions, and green bell peppers. Use red, orange, or yellow bell peppers if you prefer a sweeter flavor.
  • I prefer to char the corn for this recipe. So you can grab corn on the cob and roast them in the oven, uncovered. Or you can skip roasting the corn, remove it from the cob, and char it in a hot skillet. If using canned corn, drain and rinse it first. More on this below.
  • For the cheese, you’ll need shredded Oaxaca cheese. If that’s not available, pepper jack and any Mexican cheese blend work great.
  • Other toppings needed are avocado and black beans. You can substitute pinto beans or kidney beans for the black beans. Drain, rinse, and dry canned beans before adding them to your salad. You can slice or chop your avocados. Tip: A ripe avocado should yield slightly to pressure but not be overly soft.
  • I like to add crispy tortilla strips, so you want to flash-fry strips of soft corn tortilla shells.
  • The cilantro lime dressing is the perfect finisher. For the dressing, you’ll blend sour cream, fresh lime juice, minced garlic, avocado, ground cumin, salt, black pepper, water, and fresh cilantro leaves. You can use the leaves and the stems of the cilantro because the stems contain a lot of flavor!
large of of mexican salad with chicken

How to make this easy Mexican Salad recipe:

Chop the ingredients. Dice the red onion and green bell pepper into small pieces and set to the side. Slice the cherry tomatoes in halves and set them to the side.

Roast the corn. Season the corn on the corn with a dash of salt and pepper, then coat it with olive oil. Place on a baking sheet (paid link) and bake in the oven (uncovered) at 425 degrees for 10 minutes per side. Once cooled, shuck the corn over a bundt pan to capture the kernels. Place the corn in a small bowl and set to the side.

Prepare the chicken. Butterfly your chicken breast (cut lengthwise), and season them evenly with paprika, chili powder, coriander, cumin, garlic powder, sugar, red pepper flakes, sea salt, and black pepper. Spray or apply a little olive oil over the seasoned chicken on all sides to ensure the season sticks to the chicken breast.

Cook the chicken. Cook the chicken breast on high heat in a cooking pan for 4 to 5 minutes per side. Once done, remove from heat, slice, and set to the side.

Make the tortilla strips. Stack the soft corn shells (as many as needed). One to two shells should be good enough per person. Cut the stack into half-inch pieces lengthwise, then down the middle in the opposite direction. Place in hot cooking oil for 3 minutes per side until golden brown. Remove from heat and allow to drain.

small bowl of cilantro avocado lime dressing

Make the salad dressing. In a food processor (paid link), add half the avocado, fresh cilantro, sour cream, minced garlic, salt, black pepper, ground cumin, freshly squeezed juice from a small lime, and 1/4 cup of water. Blend until combined. Add another 1/4 cup of water and continue blending. Once you get the desired consistency, pour it into a small bowl or container.

Build your salad. Place the shredded romaine lettuce into a large serving bowl. Top off lettuce with chicken, corn, black beans, halved cherry tomatoes, chopped red onions, diced green bell peppers, fried corn tortilla strips, and shredded Oaxaca cheese. Add the cilantro avocado dressing and serve.

Mexican Salad Tips & Tricks

  • Lettuce: In my opinion, using shredded or chopped romaine lettuce makes the salad easier to enjoy. You can buy it pre-chopped or chop your lettuce when ready to serve. You can also switch it up with a spring mix, iceberg lettuce, butter lettuce, or kale, or create a special combination.
  • Red Onions: If you’re not a fan of raw red onions, swap them out for white onions or submerge your red onions in a bowl of ice water for 10 minutes to remove some of the “bite.”
  • Tortilla Strips: For a shortcut, you can use store-bought tortilla strips or chips.

Can I char my corn in a skillet?

Yes! Heat one tablespoon of oil in a cast iron skillet (paid link) over high heat to char frozen, canned, or fresh corn without using the oven. Add your corn and cook, stirring occasionally, until corn begins to char. This will take approximately 5 minutes.

Can I make Mexican Salad ahead of time?

Absolutely! You can make most of this salad beforehand, but you’ll want to leave some steps until you are ready to serve. You can chop your veggies, roast your corn, prepare your chicken, and make your dressing in advance. Store everything in the refrigerator. When you are ready to serve your salad, fry your tortilla strips, slice your avocado, and assemble your salad as usual.

overhead shot of mexican salad

This Mexican Salad is an everyday go-to when you want a great salad option full of flavor and freshness. You and your family will not be disappointed. In the words of hip-hop, this salad is “fresh to death.”

Print
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mexican salad with chicken and cilantro avocado dressing

Mexican Salad with Cilantro Lime Dressing


  • Author: Eric Jones
  • Total Time: 50 minutes
  • Yield: 2 – 3 1x

Description

Mexican Salad loaded with chicken, black beans, avocado, cherry tomatoes, charred corn, bell peppers, red onions, cheese, and crispy tortilla strips, drizzled with a homemade cilantro lime dressing.


Ingredients

Units Scale
  • 1/2 cup red onion, diced
  • 1/2 cup green bell pepper, diced
  • 4 oz cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 2 corn on the cob
  • 1 lb boneless chicken breast
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 1 tsp chili powder
  • 1/2 tsp coriander
  • 1/2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/4 tsp sugar
  • 1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • 1 tsp black pepper
  • 36 soft corn tortillas
  • 68 oz chopped romaine lettuce
  • 15 oz canned black beans, drained and rinsed

For the cilantro lime dressing: 

  • 1/2 medium avocado
  • 1 cup fresh cilantro
  • 1/3 cup sour cream
  • 1 tbsp. minced garlic
  • 1/4 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/4 tsp sea salt
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper
  • 1 small lime
  • 1/2 cup water, divided


Instructions

  1. Dice the red onion and green bell pepper and set to the side. Slice the cherry tomatoes in half and set to the side.

  2. Season the corn on the corn with a dash of salt and pepper (to taste) and coat with olive oil. Place on a baking sheet (paid link) and bake in the oven at 425 degrees for 10 minutes per side. Once cooled, shuck the corn over a bundt pan to capture the kernels and place to the side.
  3. Butterfly your chicken breast and season evenly with paprika, chili powder, coriander, cumin, garlic powder, sugar, red pepper flakes, sea salt, and black pepper. Spray or apply a little olive oil over the seasoned chicken on all sides to ensure the season sticks to the chicken.
  4. Cook the chicken breast on high heat in a skillet for 4 to 5 minutes per side. Once done, remove from heat. Slice each chicken breast.
  5. Stack the soft corn shells. Cut the tortillas into 1/2-inch strips and slice down the middle. Place in hot cooking oil for 3 minutes per side until golden brown. Remove from the oil and allow to drain.
  6. In a food processor (paid link), add the avocado, fresh cilantro, sour cream, minced garlic, cumin, salt, black pepper, freshly squeezed juice from a small lime, and 1/4 cup of water. Blend until combined. Add another 1/4 cup of water and continue blending. Once smooth, pour it into a small bowl or container.
  7. To assemble, place the chopped romaine lettuce into a large bowl. Top with sliced chicken, charred corn, drained black beans, cherry tomatoes, chopped red onions, chopped green bell peppers, fried corn tortilla strips, and shredded Oaxaca cheese
  8. Serve with the cilantro avocado dressing.

Notes

To char corn in a skillet: Heat one tablespoon of oil in a cast iron skillet (paid link) over high heat to char frozen, canned, or fresh corn without using the oven. Add your corn and cook, stirring occasionally, until corn begins to char. This will take approximately 5 minutes.

  • Prep Time: 20 mins
  • Cook Time: 30 mins
  • Category: Salad
  • Method: Stove Top
  • Cuisine: Mexican

Nutrition

  • Calories: 612
  • Sugar: 7.4g
  • Sodium: 2152mg
  • Fat: 12.9g
  • Carbohydrates: 53g
  • Fiber: 33.9g
  • Protein: 36.2g
  • Cholesterol: 18mg

Keywords: Mexican Salad with Cilantro Lime Dressing, Mexican Salad, Chicken Fajita Salad

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