BBQ Chicken Salad with Cilantro Lime Ranch


When we go out to eat at a local restaurant I often get their BBQ Chicken Salad with Cilantro Lime Ranch. Since it has started to warm up outside and I can finally use my grill again, I’ve decided I’m just going to start making this salad at home.

This tastes just like the restaurant version but I’m sure it cost half the price. Not to mention my corn tortilla strips are way better than theirs because they’re fresh :).

BBQ Chicken Salad with Cilantro Lime Ranch | Cooking Classy

I love salads like this because they are healthy and filling and they even make great left overs for lunch the next day (as long as you don’t toss it all together of course).

This one has all the flavors of a Southwestern meal in one loaded salad (and no I’m not skimp with the toppings.

It’s always crazy when you pay $10 for a salad and they put 3 tiny pieces of chicken on top. If it’s going to be a meal for me it needs to have a lot in it).

The other great thing about this salad is it’s a mans salad too, my husband doesn’t go for any of those dainty salads that have a few pieces of fruit and a light vinaigrette for a main meal. We can both agree on this one.

It’s simply amazing.


BBQ Chicken Salad with Cilantro Lime Ranch | Cooking Classy

I love the natural ombre lettuce creates when you cut it from one end to the other…

Lettuce Ombre

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BBQ Chicken Salad with Cilantro Lime Ranch

A delicious hearty salad packed with fresh flavor and smokey bbq chicken.

Servings: 4
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes


  • 1 1/2 lbs boneless skinless chicken breasts (I sliced mine in half through the thickness before grilling)
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 cup BBQ sauce , homemade or store bought
  • 1 large head (18 oz) Romaine lettuce, chopped
  • 3 medium Roma tomatoes
  • 1 - 2 avocados , diced
  • 1 1/4 cups fresh or frozen corn (thawed and drained if frozen)
  • 1 (15 oz) can black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 2 green onions , chopped
  • 1 - 1 1/2 cups cheese (I used half cheddar half monterey jack, a Mexican blend would be fine too)
  • Corn tortilla stips*


  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise (could sub light mayo for a healthier opt)
  • 1/3 cup sour cream (could sub plain greek yogurt for a healthier opt)
  • 1/3 cup milk
  • 1 Tbsp + 1 tsp buttermilk ranch seasoning mix
  • 1/3 cup cilantro (about a handful)
  • 1 clove garlic , minced
  • Juice of 1 lime
  • 2 - 3 pinches cayenne pepper (optional)


  1. Preheat a grill to medium-high heat. Season chicken breasts with salt and pepper. Brush grill grates lightly with canola or vegetable oil then place chicken on grill and cook rotating once halfway through cooking and brushing both sides with BBQ sauce during last minute or two of grilling (mine only took about 4 minutes per side, but grill time it will vary based on thickness of chicken and temp of grill). Transfer chicken to a plate, cover with foil and let rest 5 - 10 minutes then slice into small strips.
  2. Layer all remaining ingredients into large salad bowls, beginning with salad (then from there the order doesn't matter). Serve topped with Cilantro Lime Ranch.
  3. For the dressing:
  4. Combine all dressing ingredients in a blender and process until cilantro is finely chopped.
  5. *I made homemade corn tortilla strips by slicing 6 6-inch corn tortillas into strips (and each strip into halves), then I fried in about 1-inch of hot canola oil in a skillet (vegetable oil works too), rotating once halfway through with metal tongs, until they just began to turn golden. Then transferred to a plate lined with paper towels and immediately sprinkled with salt. Store bought is fine too if you don't want to make them.
  6. Recipe Source: Cooking Classy
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: American
Keyword: bbq chicken salad
Author: Jaclyn


  • Caroline @ chocolate & carrots: I made this for a party and it was a hit! Thanks for the great recipe! June 28, 2014 at 12:14pm Reply

    • Jaclyn: I’m so glad you liked it Caroline! I’ve been dying to try your strawberry popsicles, I finally got a popsicle mold so any day now :)! June 28, 2014 at 3:46pm Reply

  • Stephanie @ The Good Stuff: Made this for dinner tonight and it was a great mix of flavors. Loved the dressing! I will be enjoying leftovers for lunch tomorrow and will for sure be making this all summer!

    Thanks! May 28, 2014 at 4:00pm Reply

    • Jaclyn: I’m so glad you enjoyed this salad recipe Stephanie! Thanks for your feedback! May 28, 2014 at 10:54pm Reply

  • Sherry Maghsoodloo: I made this tonight for dinner but I didn’t have chicken, I just got home with fresh grouper which I fried and used the recipe for the salad! I did leave off the cheese and put chili powder in the dressing since my husband can’t do spicy. Cooking is all about making something to nourish those you love. I love your recipes and enjoy your cooking and those luscious looking pictures you make! I think that dressing was sooooo good! Keep up the good work there, I would love to be eating at your table!!! Take care! May 6, 2014 at 3:55pm Reply

    • Jaclyn: I’m so happy to hear you like my recipes Sherry, and that you enjoyed this salad and were able to make the subs to suite your personal tastes! Thanks for your comment! May 6, 2014 at 6:15pm Reply

  • Jon F: Made this one tonight. I never make salads at home because I’m always disappointed with the dressing and they never seem to compare to the restaurants. I decided to try this one and it turned out awesome. We loved how the bbq sauce and the dressing worked so well together. I was disappointed with how my chicken breasts turned out but that was my fault. I tried to broil them and I just felt like they came out steamed and bland. It didn’t seem to matter when it was all mixed together though. Great recipe!. May 6, 2014 at 12:47am Reply

    • Jaclyn: Yes it’s kinda crazy how the sauce and the ranch actually blend well together. I’m glad you enjoyed the recipe Jon! Thanks so much for your comment! May 6, 2014 at 6:33pm Reply

  • Tieghan: This sounds so delicious and perfect for spring and summer. YUMM! May 2, 2014 at 8:45pm Reply

  • Georgia @ The Comfort of Cooking: This salad looks so delicious and summery, Jaclyn! Absolutely love all those fresh ingredients piled together, and how easy it is. Great photos, too! May 2, 2014 at 11:52am Reply

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