Southwest BBQ Chicken Salad with Zesty Ranch

Southwest BBQ Chicken Salad with Zesty Ranch in a yellow bowl

This Southwest BBQ Chicken Salad is loaded with crunchy cabbage, smoky bbq chicken, juicy sweet corn and creamy black beans! Topped with a zesty ranch, it’s the perfect crunchy and flavorful salad!

Alright guys. So I think I’ve probably told you that I’m not the biggest fan of salads. It’s not that I don’t like them. It’s just that growing up, my “salads” were iceberg lettuce, shredded cheddar cheese and ranch dressing. Croutons if we were lucky. How can you follow that up, ya know?

Since then, I’ve eaten many salads and even made a few for the blog. I loved the Crunchy Cheeseburger Salad, the Southwestern Pasta Salad but right now: this is my current favorite!

I’ve been trying to eat it a looooot lately because I mean, Fall is coming up and you know what that means! No more shorts/tank tops. It’s leggings and big sweater season aka I can eat all the casseroles and creamy soups and pumpkin cookies I want!

This salad really epitomizes everything I have loved about Summer thus far. It’s crunchy, smoky, bright, creamy and just extra yum. Did I mention that the chicken is seasoned with the homemade BBQ sauce that I used for my Peach BBQ Chicken Pizza? It’s essentially the same – I just added some new spices in it to give it a more Southwestern feel.

The base of this salad is like, 80 percent cabbage with just a little bit of romaine mixed in. Extra super duper crunchy and 1000% more nutritious. Extra high in fiber. Extra high in deliciousness.

The toppings are heart eye emoji worthy. The world is truly your oyster with the toppings. You can use avocado, guac, rice or quinoa..the list could go on. Let me break it down for you on what I used!

What You’ll Need:

  • 1 big delicious chicken breast
  • a batch of homemade BBQ sauce (you can find it here)
  • cabbage + romaine lettuce for the greens
  • corn
  • beans
  • red onion
  • cilantro
  • crispy fried poblano peppers (you can use any crispy topping – tortilla strips would work great)
  • and of course, the best homemade ranch ever (i’ll let you more in on that below)

Ready to find out how to make the easiest salad ever? K let’s do it!

How To Make It:

I think the easiest thing to do at first is just to chop up all of your veggies. That way you can just throw them in a bowl and set them aside and wait for the chicken to be done.

So, chop away! I diced my cabbage, romaine into long thin strips. It looked something like this: 

romaine and cabbage chopped

As for the onion, I did the same thing. During this time, I also prepped the corn + beans as well. 

sliced red onion in the southwest bbq chicken salad

creamy black beans in the southwest chicken salad

Lastly, I went ahead and prepped both the BBQ sauce and the ranch. This ranch is delicious. It’s essentially just my favorite homemade ranch which you can find here just enhanced with a big ol’ dollop of the BBQ sauce in it. Oh, and some added hot sauce because you know I like things spicy!

zesty homemade ranch

Next, I sautéed the chicken. I let it go for about 3-4 minutes on both sides. Then, I brushed the BBQ sauce on each side and let it go again for another 3-4 minutes on each side. You definitely want to make sure the chicken is cooked all the way through! It gets so deliciously crispy and flavorful from the BBQ sauce.

juicy southwest bbq chicken

From there, it’s pretty simple. You just throw everything into a bowl. 

Southwest BBQ Chicken Salad in a large bowl

Add on your dressing.

Southwest BBQ Chicken Salad with Zesty Ranch drizzled on it

zesty ranch drizzle on the southwest bbq chicken salad

And toss!

Southwest BBQ Chicken Salad with Zesty Ranch in a serving bowl with a gold fork

I love this salad especially because it’s just SO loaded with ingredients. You almost forget you put a certain item in there until you just took a big bite and you’re like OH HEY CORN you juicy little lovebug you.

Also, each bite is different. You get a unique textural element in each delicious forkful that you put in your mouth. Is it gonna be creamy black beans? Smoky bbq chicken? Sweet corn? Spicy red onion?! You never know!

Try it out for yourself, friends. You won’t be disappointed with this!

Southwest BBQ Chicken Salad with Zesty Ranch

This Southwest BBQ Chicken Salad is loaded with crunchy cabbage, smoky bbq chicken, juicy sweet corn and creamy black beans! Topped with a zesty ranch, it’s the perfect crunchy and flavorful salad!

Course Salad
Cuisine Mexican
Keyword easy salad recipes, healthy salad recipes, southwest bbq chicken salad, zesty ranch dressing
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Total Time 20 minutes
Servings 2 people
Author Haylie


  • 1 lb chicken breast
  • 1/2 head green cabbage
  • 1/4 head romaine lettuce
  • salt and pepper (divided)
  • 1/2 cup corn
  • 1/2 cup black beans
  • 1/4 cup crispy tortilla strips or crispy fried poblanos
  • 1/4 cup sliced red onion

Homemade BBQ Sauce

  • 1 cup low sugar ketchup
  • 1 tbsp worcestershire sauce
  • 2 tbsp apple cider vinegar
  • 1/8 tsp paprika
  • 1/4 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/4 tsp cumin
  • 1/4 tsp chili powder
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 3-4 dashes of hot sauce (I like using Tapatio)

Zesty Ranch

  • 2 tbsp mayonnaise
  • 1-2 splashes of whole milk
  • any spice you have! (i used salt, pepper, oregano, basil, thyme and cayenne!)
  • 1 tbsp BBQ sauce


  1. Begin by slicing all of your veggies (romaine, cabbage, red onion). I sliced them all in long, thin slices. Add them to a large salad bowl and set aside. 

  2. Make your BBQ sauce and ranch by combining the ingredients above. Stir until desired consistency. Feel free to add more milk to the ranch if you want it thinner. Add water to the BBQ sauce if you want it thinner. 

  3. Next, begin cooking your chicken. Heat a non-stick skillet with a splash of olive oil on medium heat. Season your chicken breast on both sides with salt and pepper and place it in the hot pan. Sear on both sides for 3-4 minutes. Next, brush the BBQ sauce onto each side of the chicken and saute for an additional 3-4 minutes on each side or until completely cooked through. 

  4. Once cooked, slice your chicken and add it to the salad bowl. Add in your corn, black beans, red onion, crispy poblanos. Add on your dressing and toss the salad. 

  5. Garnish with a healthy sprinkling of salt and pepper! Add additional hot sauce if you'd like. Enjoy! 

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