Southwest BBQ Chicken Salad with Zesty Ranch

glass bowl of salad with ranch drizzled on it

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!

This recipe was originally published in August 2018 – I’ve since updated the photos and added some additional content within the post! 

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?

ingredients for the salad in a glass bowl

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!

Why You’ll Love This Salad:

This salad really epitomizes everything I have loved about a good hearty salad! 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.

close up of southwest BBQ chicken

The base of this salad is like chopped green cabbage! Extra super duper crunchy and 1000% more nutritious. Ultra high in fiber. Extra 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!

I went with fresh corn, red onion, black beans and the best chili lime tortilla strips that added an amazing crunch! 

close up of black beans, red onion, corn and tortilla strips in the glass bowl

Oh and hello, you know I had to douse it in a zesty ranch dressing! It coats it and makes it SO SO creamy and delicious. I’m obsessed with each of the flavors and it makes an amazing salad to meal prep for the week as well! 

Ingredients You Need:

  • Chicken Breast
  • Homemade BBQ Sauce
  • Green Cabbage
  • Corn
  • Beans
  • Lime
  • Red Onion
  • Cilantro
  • Crispy Tortilla Strips 
  • Homemade Ranch

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

How to Make this Salad: 

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 into long thin strips. It looked something like this: 

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

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 dressing which you can find  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!

bbq chicken drizzled with ranch

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

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

Add on your dressing.

And toss!

two wooden spoons tossing the salad in the glass bowl

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!

 Did you enjoy this recipe? Here are a few others you might like: 

Southwest Chicken Meal Prep Bowls 

Loaded Southwestern Sweet Potato Fries 

Thank you so much for following along here, friends! Want to see more? Be sure to follow ourbalancedbowl on Instagram and tag me with your photo if you end up making a recipe! You can also post a photo of your recipe to the Our Balanced Bowl Facebook page! Like a recipe that you saw? Follow me on Pinterest here! I always love to see your re-creations! If you do make a recipe, it would make my whole day if you were to rate and comment so I can get your feedback! Lots of love! – Haylie

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 10 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Total Time 20 minutes
Servings 2 people
Author Haylie


  • 1 lb chicken breast
  • 1/2 head green cabbage, sliced into long thin slices
  • salt and pepper (divided)
  • 1 cup corn
  • 1 cup black beans
  • 1/2 cup crispy tortilla strips
  • 1/4 cup sliced red onion

Homemade BBQ Sauce

  • 1/2 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

  • 3 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
  • cilantro and fresh lime to garnish


  1. Begin by slicing all of your veggies (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. I sliced mine into thin slices. 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 or until fully cooked through. In the skillet, brush the BBQ sauce onto each side of the chicken. Save the leftover BBQ sauce for the ranch or another time!

  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 cilantro and fresh lime! Add additional hot sauce if you'd like. Enjoy! 

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