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This delicious and veggie-packed Santa Fe Chicken Salad makes a phenomenal lunch or dinner. It’s full of tender, taco-seasoned chicken breasts, crisp greens, creamy avocado, hearty black beans, and an array of vibrant veggies, all dressed with the simplest yet most delicious Mexican-inspired vinaigrette.

Large bowl filled with a Santa Fe-style salad with grilled chicken, greens, carrot, corn, tomato, avocado, and tortilla strips.

As much as I enjoy eating out while on vacation, after a week or so I’m always ready to be back in my own kitchen, both for the comfortable routine of it and for the feeling of eating more nutritious meals than I tend to order at restaurants. I wish I could say I’m one to order the salad; most of the time, the side salad to the burger or crab cake is my most virtuous realistic choice. 🙂

After a recent week at the beach, I was supremely motivated to increase my crunchy veggie and lean protein intake upon returning home. I made a simple version of this Santa Fe chicken salad the very first night we came home, and it could not have hit the spot more!

With a full rainbow of crunchy veggies, tender taco-seasoned chicken, crisp tortilla strips, and the most delicious yet effortless vinaigrette, this salad is packed with flavor and texture, leaving you totally satisfied but not at all weighted down. My husband and I both practically licked our plates clean, and if you have extra chicken, it’s super easy to toss together again for lunch the following day. Or days!

Overhead view of a large Santa Fe salad with chicken served in a large white ceramic bowl.

Santa Fe Salad Copycat

A bit of internet sleuthing suggests that many common recipes for a “Santa Fe salad” are either a Chili’s copycat, or, less commonly, Cheesecake Factory copycat. I can honestly say I can’t recall ever eating at a Chili’s, and the last time I ate at a Cheesecake Factory was at least 15 years ago, so I can’t say with authority how closely this resembles either offering.

I can say with great confidence that this recipe delivers fantastic Southwest-inspired flavor with minimal effort or fuss, and that is absolutely what this website is all about.

Ingredient & Substitution Notes

Here are a few notes and shopping tips about the ingredients you’ll need. Find full amounts in the print-friendly recipe card below.

  • Chicken: We’re going to spice up chicken breasts with taco seasoning, then grill or pan fry and slice them up. If you have leftover meat from, say, ground chicken tacos, or just toss on some pre-grilled chicken to save time, that will totally work, as well. Of course, omit the chicken to keep the salad vegetarian.
  • Salad greens: My favorite base for this salad is mixed baby greens. Green leaf, red leaf lettuce, romaine, or a combination also works great.
  • Salad veggies: We’re adding corn, tomatoes, bell pepper, and avocado for maximum Southwest-style flavor. Toss in any other veggies you have and love, to include sliced radish, diced jalapeno for heat, etc.
  • Black beans: For more texture and protein. Pinto beans are a good swap.
  • Tortilla strips: Every great salad needs a crunchy element, and tortilla strips are exactly right for this salad. I consider these a pantry essential.
  • Dressing: Olive or avocado oil plus red wine vinegar, salt, pepper, and dried oregano — Mexican oregano if possible. This is the exact same dressing I count on to elevate my everyday Mexican salad. If you want to level up further, this cilantro lime vinaigrette is fresh and fabulous!

Pro Tip

For an extra creamy effect, toss in some shredded cheddar or Monterey Jack cheese, or crumbled cotija or queso fresco. Omit both cheese and the chicken for a vegan salad to crave.

Bowl full of Santa Fe chicken salad with avocado, black beans, tomato, and corn.

If you wanted to stretch this salad even further, consider mixing in some quinoa, bulgar wheat, rice, or another grain that you enjoy.

Storage

Once assembled, this salad is best enjoyed right away, but the component parts keep well in the refrigerator. I’d store the chicken in one container, the black beans and extra veggies in another, and slice fresh avocado to serve each time. I highly recommend making a large batch of the vinaigrette to store in the fridge in a small jar. Simply shake to recombine and drizzle as needed.

Related Recipes

We also love this Mexican bean salad as a light meal or side dish, and no one ever turned down homemade guacamole or 5-minute blender salsa!

Angled view of a large southwest-style salad with black beans and chicken.

Craving more satisfying meal salads? This blackberry spinach grilled chicken salad is a personal favorite, as is a berry pecan spinach salad with chicken, or a Greek salmon combination.

If you try this Santa Fe Chicken Salad recipe, don’t forget to rate it and leave a comment below. I love hearing how recipes turn out in your kitchen, and it helps other readers, too.

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Santa Fe Chicken Salad

This delicious and veggie-packed salad makes a phenomenal lunch or dinner. It’s full of tender, taco-seasoned chicken breasts, crisp greens, creamy avocado, hearty black beans, and an array of vibrant veggies, all dressed with the simplest yet most delicious Mexican-inspired vinaigrette.

Ingredients

For the Chicken:

  • 2 Tablespoons taco seasoning
  • 1 Tablespoon olive oil
  • 2-3 chicken breasts sliced thin

For the Salad:

  • 3 cups mixed baby greens
  • 1 cup tomatoes
  • 1 bell pepper seeded and sliced
  • 1/2 cup black beans drained and rinsed
  • 1/2 cup corn kernels fresh/cooked, frozen/defrosted, or canned/drained
  • 1/2 cup shredded carrot
  • 1 avocado peeled and sliced
  • 1/3 cup tortilla strips
  • optional 1/3 cup shredded cheese

For the Dressing:

  • 2 Tablespoons olive or avocado oil
  • 1 Tablespoon red wine vinegar
  • 1/2 teaspoon Mexican oregano
  • kosher salt or sea salt and fresh-ground black pepper

Instructions

  • First, make the chicken. Combine taco seasoning and olive oil in a small bowl, then rub this mixture all over both sides of the chicken. Grill or pan-fry the chicken over medium-high heat until browned on the outside and cooked through. Set aside to rest for 5-10 minutes prior to slicing.
  • While chicken cooks, assemble the salads. Toss greens, tomato, bell pepper, black beans, corn, and shredded carrot together in a large bowl.
  • To make the dressing, whisk or shake oil, red wine vinegar, oregano, and a big pinch each of salt and pepper together in a small bowl or jar. Pour this mixture over the greens and toss to combine.
  • Divide greens among serving bowls, then top with sliced avocado, tortilla strips, and cheese if desired. Slice chicken and place on top. Enjoy right away!

Nutrition Estimate

Calories: 383 kcal, Carbohydrates: 20 g, Protein: 29 g, Fat: 22 g, Saturated Fat: 3 g, Polyunsaturated Fat: 3 g, Monounsaturated Fat: 14 g, Trans Fat: 0.01 g, Cholesterol: 72 mg, Sodium: 308 mg, Potassium: 1021 mg, Fiber: 7 g, Sugar: 4 g, Vitamin A: 4491 IU, Vitamin C: 58 mg, Calcium: 33 mg, Iron: 2 mg
Did you make this recipe?Leave a review below, then snap a quick picture and tag @nourishandfete on Instagram so I can see it!