Chicken Taco Salad

Published April 9, 2024

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Loaded Chicken Taco Salad – Made with protein rich chicken and black beans, fresh veggies, tortilla chips, and all the best toppings. It’s brimming with goodness and completely delicious!

Chicken taco salad shown with blue and yellow tortilla chips, corn, avocado, tomatoes, lettuce, chicken, cilantro, cheese and sour cream.

Why You’ll Love This Recipe

In this bountiful salad you find it’s rich in Tex-Mex flavor and has so much freshness in every bite. There’s a beautiful variety of color, flavor and textures, with each ingredient enhancing the dish.

It’s layered with nutritious Romaine lettuce, crispy tortilla chips, a zesty citrus marinated chicken, salsa coated beans and veggies, plus rich cheese, sour cream, and avocado.

The chicken is pan seared then the taco salad filling is cooked in that same pan. And it’s convenient that you don’t need a grill for this recipe and it can be made any day of year no matter the season.

If you happen to have any leftover filling you can use it in tacos, quesadillas or burritos the following day for lunch. There’s just so much to love about this delicious Chicken Taco Salad!

Ingredients used to make chicken taco salad.

Chicken Taco Salad Recipe Ingredients and Substitutes

  • Boneless skinless chicken thighs: Chicken breasts will also work here as well.
  • Olive oil: Vegetable oil or canola oil can be used. This is used for searing and sauteing.
  • Lime juice: Lemon juice is a good alternative.
  • Chili powder, cumin, salt and pepper: These spices give it a classic taco salad flavor.
  • Black beans: Pinto beans would be a great substitute.
  • Corn, tomatoes, avocado, red onion, cilantro, garlic: This is a colorful, flavorful blend of fresh vegetables used for the recipe.
  • Sour cream: Mexican crema or even a cilantro yogurt dressing is a tasty alternative.
  • Salsa: I prefer to use homemade salsa or deli fresh. Bottled can be used in a pinch.
  • Cheddar cheese: Monterey jack cheese is another good option.

Chicken marinade after mixing. Chicken soaking in Mexican spice marinade.

How to Make Chicken Taco Salad

Here is a brief overview of the steps to prepare this recipe. For full directions see recipe box below.

  • Prepare the chicken marinade with oil, lime, and seasonings.
  • Soak the chicken in the marinade for 1 to 24 hours in the fridge.
  • Sear the chicken in a heavy skillet until cooked through. Let it rest briefly then cut into small pieces.

Pan searing chicken.

Chopping Mexican chicken. Adding black beans and salsa to corn.

  • Saute the corn and black beans, toss with salsa and remaining spices.
  • Assemble the salads on individual servings dishes by layering together lettuce, chips, bean fillings mixture, chicken, cheese, and other toppings.

Mixed taco salad mixture. Layered taco salad with all prepared ingredients.

Possible Variations

  • Grilled chicken: If you prefer the option of grilled chicken simply cook it on the grill for about 6 to 7 minutes per side over a medium-high grill until cooked through. Prepare the bean filling in a pan on the stove (though corn can be grilled as well).
  • Substitute steak: Steak, such as sirloin, would also be a delicious option in place of chicken. Just chop into bite size pieces, marinate for 1 to 2 hours then sear pieces in skillet turning once halfway through until cooked to a medium or medium well doneness.
  • Substitute salmon: For a salmon taco salad just use skinless salmon fillets in place of chicken. Marinate only 30 minutes, sear them about 3 to 4 minutes per side then after flake with a fork.
  • Other vegetables: Use other fresh vegetables you may have on hand for this recipe. Poblano or bell peppers, zucchini, or leftover baked sweet potato would all be good options.
  • Fillers: For a super hearty taco salad you can also add cooked cilantro lime rice or quinoa. You could use a spoonful of these as these as a healthier alternative to tortilla chips.
  • Alternate cheeses: Other tasty cheeses to use would be queso fresco, feta, Oaxaca, or Chihuahua cheese.

Storing and Reheating Taco Salad

  • Chilling: Chicken taco salad filling can be stored in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 3 days. Keep separate from lettuce, chips, and toppings.
  • Heating: Rewarm chicken and bean filling in a skillet with a little chicken broth, tossing occasionally, or rewarm individual serving in the microwave (no need to add broth).
  • Assemble salad after heating.

Overhead photo of three chicken taco salad bowls.

How Many Calories in a Chicken Taco Salad

Based on an automated calculator there are about 790 calories in chicken taco salad. But keep in mind that includes all of the toppings here such as tortilla chips, cheese, sour cream and avocado. So if you are looking to reduce calories modify the toppings used or how much are added.

This is a meal in one kind of recipe. No need to prepare sides to go with it.

More Mexican Recipes to Try

16 Quick & Easy 30 Minute Recipes! (plus weekly recipe updates)

Chicken taco salad shown with blue and yellow tortilla chips, corn, avocado, tomatoes, lettuce, chicken, cilantro, cheese and sour cream.
5 from 1 vote

Chicken Taco Salad

A fully loaded taco salad! Made with marinated pan seared chicken, nutritious fresh veggies, crispy tortilla chips, and all the best toppings. It's brimming with goodness and completely delicious!
Servings: 4
Prep25 minutes
Cook20 minutes
Ready in: 45 minutes


Taco salad filling

For the salad


  • In a large mixing bowl whisk together 2 Tbsp lime juice, 2 Tbsp olive oil, 3 tsp chili powder, the cumin, garlic, 1 1/2 tsp salt (or to taste) and pepper.
  • Add chicken to the mixture and toss well to evenly coat. Cover and refrigerate 1 hour and up to 24 hours.
  • Preheat a cast iron skillet over medium-high heat. Drizzle in 1/2 Tbsp olive oil. Add chicken in a single layer leaving space between the thighs.
  • Cook until golden brown on bottom, about 6 minutes. Turn chicken and continue to cook until center registers 165 degrees on each pieces, about 6 minutes longer. Transfer to a plate and let rest 5 minutes before cutting into small pieces.
  • Meanwhile clean skillet of any burnt bits then return to medium-high heat. Add remaining 1/2 Tbsp olive oil and saute corn for 2 minutes. Add black beans, salsa and remaining 1 tsp chili powder and season with salt to taste. Cook about 2 minutes to warm through then remove from heat and toss in cilantro.
  • To plate taco salad to four individual plates or pasta style bowls evenly divide lettuce, chips, bean filling mixture, chicken, cheese, tomatoes, avocado, red onion, sour cream, and serve with hot sauce.
Nutrition Facts
Chicken Taco Salad
Amount Per Serving
Calories 792 Calories from Fat 369
% Daily Value*
Fat 41g63%
Saturated Fat 13g81%
Trans Fat 0.1g
Polyunsaturated Fat 7g
Monounsaturated Fat 17g
Cholesterol 207mg69%
Sodium 1502mg65%
Potassium 1705mg49%
Carbohydrates 60g20%
Fiber 17g71%
Sugar 9g10%
Protein 53g106%
Vitamin A 5142IU103%
Vitamin C 29mg35%
Calcium 381mg38%
Iron 6mg33%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.
Nutrition values are estimates only. See full disclaimer here.