Loaded chicken taco salad with creamy lime-cilantro dressing


This delicious, nutritious chicken taco salad — inspired by Averie Cooks — boasts a bounty of spicy chicken, lettuce, tomatoes, sweet corn, black beans, avocado, two cheeses and crispy corn tortilla chips tossed in a homemade creamy lime-cilantro dressing. Delicioso!

When the last thing you want to do is cook a hot meal in your kitchen, salads are the simple answer. Cold salads can sometimes leave diners famished because they lack protein or satisfying flavors. The solution:  Quickly cook well-seasoned chicken or another meaty protein on the stovetop and add it to a colorful, flavorful salad.

ALSO TRY: Strawberry-watermelon chicken salad

Gourmet grill note: You can just as easily spice up chicken with taco seasoning and cook it on the grill. Worried about MSG in packets of taco seasoning? Try Pod & Bean’s Mexican Seasoning Blend. (This isn’t an ad — it’s just one we like.) Featuring dried chilies, onion, garlic, cocoa and salt, this spice blend goes really well with chicken.

The best salad dressings are made in your kitchen, where you can use fresh ingredients and adjust the flavors to finesse your dish. For this loaded chicken taco salad, simply whisk together mayonnaise, sour cream, lime juice, cilantro and a bit of sugar until blended. The creaminess of this taco salad dressing complements the fresh flavors and varying textures of the other salad ingredients.

Make-ahead tip

Though this loaded chicken taco salad is best served immediately, you can cook the chicken and make the dressing up to three days ahead. When you’re ready to serve, simply warm the chicken in a well-oiled skillet over medium heat, plate the rest of the salad ingredients, shake up your salad dressing, and put it all together.

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Add diced chicken to pan

Put some olive oil in a frying pan and get it heated up before putting in your bite-size chicken chunks.

Add diced chicken to saucepan


Pour taco seasoning over chicken

We used a reduced sodium blend, but you can buy any taco seasoning  you’d like at the store. You can also make your own taco seasoning at home using some basics like chili powder, garlic powder, onion powder, crushed red pepper flakes, dried oregano, paprika, cumin, salt and black pepper.

Add taco seasoning to chicken


Cook seasoning mix with chicken

Coat the chicken in the seasoning over medium heat for about 5 minutes, flipping intermittently until all sides of the chicken are cooked. Cooking time will vary based on thickness of chicken breasts and sizes of pieces.

Cook chicken with seasoning


Add mayonnaise to a mixing bowl

Mayonnaise gets a bad wrap but it’s actually got quite a few health benefits. The vitamin E and omega-3s found in mayonnaise can help prevent strokes and promote a healthy heart. Because mayonnaise is also high in good fat, it can help your absorb important nutrients required for a healthy diet, including vitamins A, D, E and K.

Add mayonnaise to mixing bowl


Pour sour cream over mayonnaise

If you don’t want to use full-fat sour cream, opt for lite or plain Greek yogurt may be substituted, as well.

Add sour cream to mayonnaise


Add lime juice to mixture

We suggest 3-4 tablespoons, but you can use as much lime juice is needed for the flavor or consistency you want for the dressing.

Pour lime juice into mixture


Add taco seasoning to bowl

Again, this can be a store-bought package of taco seasoning or you can make your own at home!

Add taco seasoning


Whisk dressing mixture together

You can also use a fork to mix the ingredients – or even better, a mini-whisk delivers an even creamier taste and is best when it comes to dressings.

Whisk dressing together


Combine cilantro with dressing

Cilantro is packed with nutrients and anti-oxidants and has a variety of health benefits. To name just a few, cilantro helps rid the body of heavy metals, protects against oxidative stress, lowers anxiety and improves sleep, lowers blood sugar levels, relieves indigestion and heartburn, and so much more.

Add cilantro to dressing


Add chopped lettuce to plate

Lettuce is pretty void of nutritional value so if you want to sneak some health benefits into your taco salad, opt for spinach instead.

Place chopped lettuce onto large plate


Pour other toppings over the lettuce

This is where you can get creative! Add anything you have available in your fridge or pantry – black beans, corn, tomatoes, bell peppers, avocado, black olives, red onions, peppercinis – the options are limitless.

Add diced tomatoes to plate


Add cooked chicken to salad

Add cooked chicken to plate

Spoon your chicken onto the salad – on top, to the side, or mixed in.


Add cilantro-lime dressing to complete the dish

Now cover the colorful salad with your dressing. Use as much or as little as you want. Extra dressing will keep airtight for up to 5 days in the fridge. In coming days, you can use it as a veggie dip.

Pour sauce over salad


A rainbow of healthy and delicious color!


A zesty and tasty summer salad!

Taco salad serving


Loaded chicken taco salad with creamy lime-cilantro dressing

Yield 6–8 servings

Ingredients

Salad:

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1-1/4 pounds boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut into bite-sized pieces
  • 1 (1.25-ounce) packet taco seasoning, halved
  • 6 cups chopped romaine lettuce
  • 3 Roma tomatoes, diced
  • 2 cups corn (canned and drained, fresh or frozen)
  • 1 (15-ounce) canned black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 2 medium avocados, peeled, pitted and diced into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 1-1/2 cups shredded Monterey Jack cheese
  • 1-1/2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
  • 2–3 cups crispy corn tortilla chips

Dressing:

  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise
  • 1/4 cup sour cream
  • 1/4 cup freshly squeezed lime juice
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped fresh cilantro
  • 1/2 teaspoon granulated sugar

Instructions

  1. Pour olive oil into large skillet over medium-high heat.
  2. Sprinkle half of taco seasoning over chicken pieces. Place chicken in skillet.
  3. Cook chicken, stirring often, for approximately 5 minutes or until chicken is cooked through. Turn off heat and allow chicken to rest in skillet.
  4. To assemble salad, cover large platter with lettuce. Evenly sprinkle with tomatoes, corn, black beans, avocado, cheese and chicken.
  5. For dressing, in medium-size bowl, whisk together mayonnaise, sour cream, lime juice, cilantro and remaining half of taco seasoning.
  6. Add additional lime juice to thin out dressing, if needed.
  7. Serve salad with dressing and chips on the side.

Courses Main dish

Finished taco salad