You know how it goes.
You’re cooking dinner at home because your family wants to eat something different than what they usually get but there’s no time to go out and buy new food.
So you decide to keep things simple.
But then you start thinking about all the flavors and textures you could add into one dish and suddenly you feel like making something entirely new.
And so you begin searching online for recipes that sound delicious enough to try out yourself.
But which ones should you choose from?
Well, if you want an authentic Mexican flavor experience, you can’t beat this homemade Mexican chicken salad recipe.
It’s full of fresh herbs and spices that will give you a taste of Mexico, while still being super tasty and filling.
What Kind Of Chicken Do You Use For This Recipe?
The main ingredient in this recipe is boneless skinless chicken breasts (or thighs).
These types of chickens are very popular among chefs due to their versatility and ease of preparation.
They come with both white meat and dark meat, meaning that they have a similar texture and nutritional value as regular poultry.
If you want to be even more adventurous, you can also use leftover cooked chicken from last night’s dinner.
Just be sure not to overcook it first, otherwise it won’t turn out tender and juicy enough when eaten cold.
How to cook boneless skinless chicken breast?
- Cut each chicken breast into four pieces.
- Season them well with salt and pepper.
- Heat up some olive oil in a pan over medium heat.
- Add the seasoned chicken pieces to the pan and sear them until golden brown.
- Transfer the chicken pieces onto a plate and set aside to cool down completely before using.
How to cook boneless skinless chicken thigh?
- Slice open each chicken thigh lengthwise.
- Season them well with salt and pepper.
- Warm up some olive oil in a pan over medium heat.
- Add the seasoned chicken pieces to the pan and sear them until golden brown.
- Turn off the stove burner and transfer the chicken pieces onto a plate.
- Let them rest for 10 minutes before cutting into smaller pieces.
Crispy fried chicken
Another way to enjoy chicken is by frying it instead of baking it.
This method gives you even more control over the final product, since you don’t need any special equipment to fry chicken at home.
Crispy fried chicken is actually pretty easy to prepare, especially for beginners who may find it intimidating at first.
- Remove the bones from two chicken legs and cut the meat into small cubes.
- Mix together 2 eggs, 1 cup flour, ½ teaspoon paprika powder, ¼ teaspoon garlic powder, ½ tablespoon onion powder, and 3/4 teaspoons salt.
- Dip each piece of chicken in egg mixture and allow excess liquid to drip off.
- Then coat them thoroughly in flour mixture.
- Use tongs to carefully lower the coated chicken pieces into hot vegetable oil.
- Fry them until golden brown and crispy.
- Once done, remove the chicken pieces from the oil and place them on paper towels to absorb excess oil.
How to roast baked chicken
- Preheat oven to 350 F / 180 C.
- Place 6 boneless skinless chicken thighs inside an aluminum foil sheet and drizzle with 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil.
- Sprinkle with salt and pepper and wrap the packet tightly to seal it.
- Cook in preheated oven for 30 – 40 minutes.
For those days when you just don’t have time to plan ahead and cook for dinner, you can always rely on roasted turkey.
Not only does it taste great, but it’s also versatile and requires minimal effort.
Plus, it makes for a nice change of pace every now and again.
- Remove the giblets from the cavity of a whole turkey.
- Rinse the bird under running water to wash away any remaining blood.
- Pat dry with paper towel and season with salt and black pepper.
- Rub the entire surface of the turkey with 2 tablespoons of melted butter.
- Put the bird back into its original position inside the roasting pan and cover loosely with aluminium foil.
- Bake in preheated oven for 45 minutes per pound.
- After 45 minutes, check whether the internal temperature of the bird has reached 165 degrees Fahrenheit / 75 C.
- Remove the foil and continue cooking the turkey for another 15 – 20 minutes.
What Are The Specific Ingredients In The Salad?
This recipe has some unique ingredients, especially when compared with other salads you might find online.
The first thing you need to prepare is the chicken itself.
In order to create a Mexican chicken salad, you have two options here – either you use shredded rotisserie chicken or you use raw chunks of chicken breast.
If you opt for the latter, be sure to marinate them before adding them to the salad.
Chicken breasts are pretty versatile.
They’re great as sandwiches, wraps, appetizers, soups, main dishes, etc., so this recipe makes sense since you don’t have to worry about preparing any special cut of meat to suit its purpose.
The second ingredient you need is avocado.
Avocados are rich in omega 3 fatty acids, antioxidants, fiber, vitamins C & E along with being low in calories and cholesterol.
These nutrients help improve overall health by reducing inflammation and boosting immunity.
Plus, avocados also contain potassium, magnesium, copper, iron, folate, vitamin K and B vitamins such as thiamine, riboflavin and niacin.
Lastly, you need red onion.
Red onions are known for their sweet, mild flavor and high nutritional value.
According to Harvard Health Publications, “onions are excellent sources of flavonoids, including quercetin, kaempferol, and rutin, all powerful anti-oxidants that may reduce cancer risk and boost immune function.
Onions also provide significant amounts of vitamin A and manganese, both important minerals needed for normal growth and development.”
Now that you have all these basic ingredients, let’s talk about the rest of the salad.
How Do You Make The Dressing For The Salad?
The best thing about this recipe is that you don’t need any special equipment to make it.
All you need is some oil and vinegar as well as salt and pepper.
That means you don’t have to worry about spending money on fancy bottles of olive oil or balsamic vinegars.
To make the dressing, just combine equal parts of olive oil with apple cider vinegar (or white wine vinegar) and season with 1/4 teaspoon each of freshly ground black pepper and sea salt.
Mix everything together until it forms a smooth, creamy mixture.
- Add chopped cilantro leaves, minced garlic cloves, red onion slices, lime juice, jalapeño peppers, and diced tomatoes.
- Stir them around to coat all of the other vegetables in the dressing.
- Toss the lettuce mix in the bowl, and arrange the dressed vegetables over the top.
Make sure you serve this healthy Mexican chicken salad quickly
This recipe doesn’t last long once you put it on the table.
Even though the ingredients are relatively inexpensive, many people prefer having their meals be prepared ahead of time so they can spend more time eating instead of cleaning up after themselves.
With this salad, however, you won’t have much time to prepare before serving.
Because most of the ingredients are already chopped by the time you finish mixing the dressing, you only need to toss everything together and let it sit for 15 minutes before serving.
If you want to speed up the process even further, you can skip the step where you stir the vegetables in the dressing.
Instead, just place the lettuce mix inside of a large plastic bag and squeeze out excess air before sealing it tightly.
Then shake the bag vigorously several times so the vegetables absorb the dressing evenly.
Once you remove the lettuce mix from the bag, you can cut open the sides of the bag and place it right on top of the salad container.
The salad will now look ready to eat without needing any additional prep work.
What Kind Of Tortillas Do You Use?
When preparing this Mexican chicken salad recipe, we recommend using corn tortillas instead of flour tortillas in order to avoid gluten intolerance issues.
Flour tortillas are made from wheat flour and most people who have celiac disease cannot tolerate them either (although some may be able to).
Corn tortillas, on the other hand, are not only much healthier than their flour counterparts, but also more affordable as well.
If you don’t mind eating gluten free foods, though, you can always substitute flour tortillas with rice cakes when preparing this salad.
The reason why you shouldn’t use regular tortilla chips here is because these tend to be too salty and won’t complement the dish very well.
Instead, just grab any type of tortilla chip to make sure it has a crispy texture and isn’t overly salted.
Which tortillas work best for this recipe?
The following types of tortillas would be suitable for this recipe:
- Flatbreads/corn tortillas – These are the traditional flat breads found in many parts of Central America such as Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua, etc.
- They come in various sizes and shapes and are quite thin.
- If you can find them, use those!
- Rice cakes – Rice cakes are typically used in Asian cuisine where they are often eaten by themselves along with toppings such as pickled vegetables, peanuts, sesame seeds, chili sauce, etc.
- They are generally thicker and crunchier than normal tortillas, and therefore ideal for this recipe.
- Tortilla chips – Tortilla chips are basically potato chips, but made out of corn tortillas rather than potatoes.
- They are available in every grocery store around the world and are relatively inexpensive compared to other snack options.
- Use them!
How Do You Cook The Chicken?
First off, let me say I am not a professional chef by any stretch of the imagination.
My husband and mother are both chefs who have been teaching me their culinary secrets since I was in high school.
They’ve given me plenty of great advice over the years, including this particular kitchen skill tip: “If you don’t already have a good knife sharpener, invest in one right now.
Your knives will last longer with proper care.”
I definitely follow those words when it comes to my own kitchen tools.
If you’re wondering how to cut up a whole chicken, here’s a video tutorial showing exactly how we do it:
The important thing to remember is that every part of the chicken has its own distinct purpose.
For example, the breasts are best eaten raw, whereas the thighs are better cooked through before eating.
Also, some parts of the chicken (like the giblets) aren’t meant to be eaten as is.
In other words, you may need to remove them first before using them in anything else.
Next, let’s talk about the type of chicken you use in this recipe.
There are two main types of chicken used in Mexican cuisine: white meat and dark meat.
White meat includes the breast, thigh, leg, and wing.
The dark meat consists of the drumstick, back bone, and even the skin.
Both kinds of chicken work well with this recipe because they contain similar amounts of protein, vitamins, and minerals.
When choosing either white or dark meat, make sure to avoid chickens raised specifically for their fat content.
These birds tend to be more prone to illness and disease.
Instead look for chickens that were fed grain and soybean products instead of corn and wheat.
That way you won’t worry about getting sick after having this yummy chicken salad.
What Kind Of Cheese Do You Use?
This recipe calls for feta cheese, which is definitely not traditional in any way.
If you don’t have access to feta, though, you can substitute with another hard cheese such as cheddar or mozzarella.
Just be sure to follow the instructions closely, since these cheeses are quite strong tasting.
If you don’t own any cheese at all, you can just leave them off completely.
In fact, if you don’t even bother adding anything to the salad, it would be fine and perfectly acceptable to serve!
How Do You Chop The Vegetables?
This recipe doesn’t have any exact measurements as far as how much of each vegetable you need to put in.
The only thing I would recommend doing is trying to roughly chop everything before putting it in your bowl.
If you don’t think you’ll be able to get them all chopped up without having some larger pieces left over, just leave those alone.
If you are really pressed for time (or just lazy) you can always throw everything together with a large knife or cutting board and hope for the best.
Chances are you won’t end up with anything particularly messy or unappealing looking, but it might not turn out quite as well as you had hoped either.
I personally prefer chopping my veggies by hand though.
It helps me focus more on getting every single piece cut exactly the right way.
Plus, when I use my hands, I find myself actually enjoying the process rather than feeling anxious about whether I’ve done it perfectly or not.
However, if you’d rather just go ahead and grab a kitchen tool to help you chop up all these ingredients quickly, you can totally use whatever method suits you best.
How Long Does This Recipe Take To Make?
The ingredients are basic and straightforward, meaning you don’t have to spend too much time in the kitchen preparing this recipe.
However, when you combine them together, you may need some extra hands to help with cutting the vegetables, chopping the nuts, and mixing everything up until it reaches its final consistency.
So, depending on how many people you’ll be feeding, you might find that this recipe takes anywhere between 45 minutes and 1 hour to complete.
If you prefer, you can always cut down the preparation time by using pre-chopped veggies or even canned beans instead of grinding your own.
Just ensure that you use either dried or cooked beans before adding them to the mix.
These two options won’t affect the overall texture of the salad as much as ground beans would.
Can This Recipe Be Made Ahead Of Time?
Yes, in fact this recipe has several steps that can be done ahead of time – including marinating the chicken, preparing the dressing, and assembling the salad before refrigerating overnight.
Just remember that as soon as any ingredient begins to spoil, that means it probably won’t hold up well when served cold later on.
That said, these ingredients aren’t going to last forever anyway so don’t worry too much about them spoiling.
If you have extra time though, you can also prepare everything else except the chicken.
- Bake the tortilla chips according to package directions (about 8 minutes).
- When cool, cut into small pieces.
- Prepare the avocado, tomato, onion, cilantro, jalapeño pepper, lime juice, salt, olive oil, and garlic by slicing each item thinly with a knife or mandoline.
- Chop the red bell pepper, green onions, and radishes into thin slices.
- Mix together the mayonnaise, sour cream, chili powder, paprika, oregano, white vinegar, brown sugar, lemon zest, garlic powder, and hot sauce until smooth.
- Combine the shredded chicken, prepared vegetables, and chopped tortilla chips in a large mixing bowl.
- Add 1/4 cup of the dressing mixture to the chicken and toss gently to combine.
- Cover the bowl tightly with plastic wrap and let sit in the refrigerator for 24 hours.
- When ready to serve, remove the chicken from the fridge and drain off excess liquid.
- Add remaining dressing to the chicken and stir to coat evenly.
- Toss again and divide between two bowls.
What Are Some Serving Suggestions For This Dish?
There are plenty of ways in which you can serve up this dish.
For instance, you can stuff it inside tortillas as burritos.
Or, instead of using tortilla chips, you can have them crumbled over top of the salad to provide more crunchy texture.
If you prefer to use lettuce leaves, you can wrap those around the whole mixture for added protection against any spills.
If you don’t mind getting messy, however, you can just toss everything together in a bowl and enjoy it straight away.
And speaking of bowls, you can even pack this into individual containers for easier transport.
Just make sure not to fill them too much since you definitely don’t want the salad to spill out when you put it down onto its destination.
As for timing, you can prep this salad in advance and leave it in the fridge until needed.
However, I recommend taking it out right before you plan to eat it.
The best way to do that would be by setting aside 15 minutes or so just before you’ll need to dig in.
- 1 Pan
- 4 boneless skinless chicken breasts 6 oz each
- 3 tablespoon olive oil divided
- 1 tsp garlic powder
- 1 tsp ground cumin
- 1/2 tsp smoked paprika
- salt and pepper
- 1 large avocado
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 1/2 cup Greek yogurt
- 1 tbsp wine vinegar
- 1 lime juiced
- 1/2 cilantro
- 2 tsp oregano
- salt and pepper
- 4 cups romaine lettuce
- 1 1/2 cup cherry tomatoes
- 14 oz beans rinsed
- 8 oz can corn rinsed
- 1 onion
- 1/2 cilantro
- Add all the marinade ingredients to a medium bowl. Add the chicken and thoroughly mix to coat. For at least 30 minutes, marinate the chicken in the refrigerator with the bowl covered.
- Over medium-high heat, preheat an outdoor grill or grill pan. Cook the chicken for 5 to 6 minutes on each side, or until golden brown and well cooked. After the chicken has finished grilling, let it rest for 5 minutes before chopping.
- In the meantime, combine all the dressing ingredients in a small blender. Blend till creamy and smooth.
- Add all the prepped vegetables to a large salad bowl, then top with the grilled chicken. Add the avocado dressing and fresh cilantro cut as a garnish.