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BBQ Chicken Salad

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Mixed lettuce greens tossed with diced tomatoes, sweet corn, green onions, cilantro, jicama strips, shredded chicken, cheddar cheese, and barbecue sauce combine to make the most amazing BBQ Chicken Salad! Top it off with crispy tortilla strips for a quick and easy meal on busy weeknight that the whole family will love!

Working in a restaurant exposes you to many different foods, and some of the secrets to making them at home. The best part is that you can make them healthier and much cheaper! Check out my Copycat Recipes for even more restaurant recreations.

Mixed greens, tomato, corn, jicama strips, chicken, and tortilla strips piled up on a plate with a bowl of dressing in the background.

Originally published December 2012 – Images updated September 2022.

Recipe Inspiration

Our weather has been quite crazy this past year, and so far fall has been just as strange. We have been dealing with foggy conditions for the past week. Fog always reminds me of Fresno, California. Yes, fog does have something to do with this BBQ Chicken Salad…keep reading. 

Thankfully our fog is nowhere near as dense as Fresno’s, we can still see our driveway! There is nothing scarier than driving to work and not being able to see the street lights until you are underneath them!

I had been working at Marie Callender’s restaurant before I moved to Iowa. Right before I left, they added a BBQ Chicken Salad to the menu. At first we all looked at each other and wondered who came up with that crazy idea. Barbecue Sauce on a salad? That’s strange even for California!

It quickly became one of my favorite salads, but it was missing ranch dressing. Not everyone loves Ranch dressing as much as I do, but I have included my recipe for Homemade Ranch Dressing just in case you are feeling adventurous.

What you will need

Ingredients to make BBQ Chicken Salad.
  • Colorful mixed greens or Romaine lettuce create the base of this salad.
  • Canned, fresh or defrosted frozen sweet corn, thin slices of jicama, diced tomatoes add flavor and texture.
  • Shredded cheddar cheese was not in the original salad, but it adds even more flavor and texture…and I really like cheese!
  • Cooked chicken that is shredded or cut into bite-sized pieces make this salad a hearty meal. Rotisserie or leftover chicken help to make this meal even faster to prepare.
  • Homemade Ranch Dressing (or store-bought) and Bourbon and Brown Sugar Barbecue Sauce add a tangy, creamy element that makes this salad spectacular!
  • Crispy tortilla strips or crushed tortilla chips add crunch and a bit of whimsy to this salad.

Be sure to check out the detailed printable recipe card below

Looking down on a BBQ Chicken Salad topped with crispy tortilla strips, corn, tomatoes, and jicama strips.
Ingredients Icon Blue.

Update: in the 24 year since I first fell in love with this salad, BBQ Chicken Salad tossed with ranch dressing has been added to just about every restaurant menu. I guess I wasn’t that crazy after all.

How to make shredded BBQ Chicken Salad

Place lettuce in a large bowl; add the diced tomatoes, corn, jicama sticks, green onions, cilantro, grated cheese, and chicken.

A large serving bowl filled with salad ingredients with bowls of tortilla strips, ranch dressing, and barbecue sauce in the background.

Pour the ranch dressing and barbecue sauce over the top of the salad and gently toss to combine.

Salad ingredients in a large serving bowl drizzled with barbecue sauce and ranch dressing with tortilla strips and extra sauce in the background.

Serve immediately topped with crispy tortilla strips.

Tomato chunks, cheddar cheese, chicken, barbecue sauce, corn, and tortilla strips top mixed salad greens on a plate with a bowl of barbecue sauce in the background.

How to fry crispy tortilla strips

Heat 0.5-cup of oil in a non-stick skillet over medium-high heat.

A stack of corn tortillas cut into thin strips on a wood cutting board.

Cut the tortilla into .25-inch strips, and fry them in batches until crispy.

Corn tortilla strips frying in oil in a skillet.

Remove from skillet and drain on paper towels. Repeat with remaining tortillas. Season with sea salt and set aside.

Recipe FAQ’s

Can I use leftover or rotisserie chicken?
Yes, both are perfect for this recipe! For additional flavor toss with one tablespoon of barbecue sauce and one tablespoon of ranch dressing before mixing into the salad.

Can this salad be made in advance?
Yes and No. You can easily prepare all of the ingredients and store them separately in the refrigerator until ready to serve. The salad will become soggy within a few hours from the liquid in the dressing and tomatoes. Store the tortilla strips in an air tight container on the counter.

Can this salad be made dairy-free?
Of course. Substitute dairy-free cheese, or omit completely. My homemade ranch dressing is dairy-free and really delicious!

What is jicama?

Jicama is a root vegetable with a thick, brown skin originally from Mexico and South America. It is starchy and has a similar texture and taste to an apple, but it is not as sweet. It is delicious raw in salad, or can be parboiled and fried like a potato to make french fries with less carbs.

Tools used to create this recipe

You can see the rest of my favorite kitchen tools and gadgets here in my Amazon Affiliate Page. I earn a small commission when you purchase through my links, at no cost to you, so I can keep bringing you more delicious recipes!

Tips
  • Season the chicken breasts with southwest seasoning (or seasoning of your choice) and cook in an Instant Pot for 8 minutes on High pressure with 1-cup of chicken stock. Allow pressure to naturally release (about 11 minutes) and shred on a plate with two forks.
  • Make this salad your own by substituting diced red onion or cherry tomatoes cut in half. Add 1-cup of black beans; one avocado cut into chunks.
  • Colby Jack or a combination of cheddar cheese and Monterrey Jack cheeses are delicious as well.

More delicious salad recipes

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Enjoy!!

BBQ Chicken Salad

Mixed greens tossed with tomatoes, corn, green onions, cilantro, jicama, chicken, barbecue sauce and ranch dressing make the most amazing BBQ Chicken Salad!
5 from 2 votes
Print Rate
Course: Main Course, Salad
Cuisine: American
Keyword: salad with chicken, barbecue sauce, and ranch dressing
Total Time: 15 minutes
Servings: 4 Servings
Calories: 566kcal
Author: Lisa Johnson

Ingredients

  • 6 cups mixed lettuce greens or Romaine lettuce
  • 2 cups shredded chicken one pound – rotisserie, or left over is perfect
  • 1 cup canned sweet corn fresh or defrosted/frozen
  • 2 Roma tomatoes chopped – about 1 cup
  • 1 cup jicama julienne cut into thin strips
  • 1 cup grated cheddar cheese
  • 0.5 cup chopped cilantro
  • .25 cup diced green onions
  • .25 cup barbecue sauce or more if desired
  • .25 cup ranch dressing plus more for serving

Crispy Tortilla Strips

  • 4 corn tortillas, cut into thin strips or 0.5-cup crumbled tortilla chips
  • 0.5 cup olive oil

Instructions

Salad

  • Place lettuce in a large bowl; add the diced tomatoes, corn, jicama sticks, green onions, cilantro, grated cheese, and chicken.
  • Pour the ranch dressing and barbecue sauce over the top of the salad and gently toss to combine.
  • Serve immediately topped with crispy tortilla strips or crushed tortilla chips.

Tortilla Strips

  • Heat 0.5-cup of oil in a non-stick skillet over medium-high heat. Cut the tortilla into .25-inch strips, and fry them in batches until crispy.
  • Remove from skillet and drain on paper towels. Repeat with remaining tortillas. Season with sea salt and set aside.

Notes

  • Season the chicken breasts with southwest seasoning (or seasoning of your choice) and cook in an Instant Pot for 8 minutes on High pressure with 1-cup of chicken stock. Allow pressure to naturally release (about 11 minutes) and shred on a plate with two forks.
  • Make this salad your own by substituting diced red onion; cherry tomatoes cut in half. Add 1-cup of black beans; one avocado cut into chunks.
  • Colby Jack or a combination of cheddar cheese and Monterrey Jack cheeses are delicious as well.
  • Homemade Ranch Dressing recipe & Tangy & Sassy BBQ Sauce recipe.

Nutrition

Calories: 566kcal | Carbohydrates: 33g | Protein: 11g | Fat: 45g | Saturated Fat: 10g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 8g | Monounsaturated Fat: 24g | Cholesterol: 32mg | Sodium: 611mg | Potassium: 500mg | Fiber: 6g | Sugar: 11g | Vitamin A: 6951IU | Vitamin C: 16mg | Calcium: 268mg | Iron: 2mg

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6 Comments

  1. You know I love this BBQ Chicken Salad. I love making this at home all the time and I love your version.
    Thanks for sharing on Foodie Friends Friday.

  2. One of my favorites! I love BBQ Chicken Salad but haven’t made it much this summer for some reason. Need to now, though! 🙂

  3. This reminds me of one of my favorite salads ever! I used to always order it and then the restaurant stopped making it! What were they thinking!?!?

  4. I love your salad Lisa! I lived in Visalia (about 40 miles south off 99) for almost 15 years. I know exactly what you mean by fog. There’s nothing like Central Valley fog.

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