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A classic for a reason, this Easy BBQ Chicken Salad makes the perfect hearty and healthy dinner (or lunch)! Serve it with your favorite toppings, and dress it up with the cilantro ranch dressing to make for the best-chopped BBQ Salad ever.
Quick Chopped BBQ Chicken Salad
Give me all the hearty salads, because they make the best healthy dinners! BBQ Chicken Salads are popular for good reason–they’re so delicious! I set out to make a streamlined version of one, without too many added ingredients, yet still bold in flavor. This salad also features a similarly easy-to-make cilantro ranch dressing that takes the whole thing to the next level.
Best part? I also love how customizable this salad is. You have the freedom to add in what you love with your BBQ Chicken Salad and get creative with it!
Here’s What You Need to Make It
This list includes ingredients for the salad and the dressing. The full list of ingredients and the recipe instructions are listed at the end of this post.
- Chicken (more on that below!)
- BBQ Sauce (more on that below)
- Red Onion
- Black Beans
- Dried Herbs and Spice
- Almond Milk
- Lemon Juice
What Type of Chicken to Use
We wanted this to be as easy and customizable as possible so we’re leaving a few different options for the chicken. You can make our super popular recipe for Baked BBQ Chicken Breasts for this salad. Or you can use leftover Shredded Chicken or use store-bought shredded rotisserie chicken!
How to Customize It
We streamlined the ingredients for this salad to make it super approachable and easy to make. However, there is plenty of room to customize this and add in more or different ingredients. Here are some other ingredient options to add to this BBQ Chicken Salad:
- Diced Avocado
- Shredded Cheese
- Tortilla Strips
- Diced Bell Peppers
- Roasted Red Peppers
What type of BBQ Sauce to use
We really wanted to keep this recipe as simple as possible, so we left the option open to use either homemade bbq sauce or store-bought. Our recipe for homemade is pretty quick to put together so if you are want to use a BBQ sauce that you know has simple and clean ingredients, go ahead and make it from scratch! You won’t be disappointed.
Looking for an easier win? Just use your favorite store-bought bbq sauce.
How to Make the Cilantro Ranch Dressing
This dressing is so flavorful and quick to make, so it shouldn’t be skipped! It’s made simply by blending together all of the dressing ingredients in either a stand blender or an immersion blender. The good news is that this recipe will likely leave you with leftover dressing, so you’ll have some for future salads.
It will keep well in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.
Make it for Meal Prep
This salad is great to make for meal prep, with a few modifications. If you prefer to eat this salad with warm bbq chicken, go ahead and meal prep this salad to have a separate container for the salad components and another for the bbq chicken, that way the meat can be heated up on its own. And of course, with most salads, you’ll want to keep dressing separate and add right before serving.
Just be careful about what salad components you choose. Obviously, something like sliced avocado will not keep well, so don’t use something that won’t keep well if intending to make this for meal prep.
Keeping all of this in mind, this salad will keep well for 3-5 in the refrigerator.
If you like this salad recipe, check out these others:
- Cheeseburger Salad with Mustard Dressing
- Southwest Tuna Salad
- Greek Lentil Salad
- Spicy Shrimp and Citrus Salad
- Chopped Antipasto Salad with Chicken
Easy BBQ Chicken Salad
For Cilantro Ranch Dressing:
- 1/2 teaspoon dried dill
- 1/2 teaspoon dried parsley
- 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
- 1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
- 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
- 1/2 cup good-quality mayonnaise or greek yogurt
- 1-2 tablespoons unsweetened almond milk
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- 1/2 cup lightly packed picked cilantro leaves about half a bunch of cilantro
- 1 lb. baked bbq chicken breast or leftover shredded, grilled or rotisserie chicken (see note)
- ¼ cup homemade or store-bought bbq sauce
- 4-6 cups lettuce of choice we recommend romaine!
- ½ small red onion diced
- 1 cup chopped tomatoes or halved cherry tomatoes
- 1 cup thawed frozen corn kernels or cooked corn kernels
- 1 cup cooked or rinsed canned black beans (optional)
- Add all dressing ingredients to a blender, and blend until smooth and creamy. Taste and adjust seasoning. Set aside.
- Dice cooked chicken into bite sized pieces. Add chicken and bbq sauce to a small bowl and mix together.
- Assemble the salads: Divide lettuce, onion, tomatoes, corn, and black beans (if using), in a bowl. Divide the bbq chicken on top, then drizzle over 2 tablespoons of the reserved dressing. Serve immediately.