BBQ Chicken Salad with Greek Yogurt Ranch Dressing is a fresh and colorful salad that comes together in less than an hour. It combines tender BBQ chicken with crisp romaine, red onion, sweet corn, cotija cheese, cherry tomatoes, black beans, ripe avocado, and Crunchy Garlic Tortilla Strips. Toss it with healthy Greek Yogurt Ranch Dressing for even more flavor!
BBQ Chicken Salad with Greek Yogurt Ranch Dressing is a hearty, healthy salad loaded with a medley of flavorful ingredients. It is much healthier and more delicious than Panera's BBQ Chicken Salad! Plus, if you use a gluten-free BBQ sauce, the entire salad is gluten-free! It's filling enough to have as a main course served with a batch of Jalapeño Cheddar Cornbread with Miso and Elote-Style Corn with Furikake, or enjoy it as a side salad with a bowl of Healthy Turkey Chili.
- Boneless skinless chicken thighs - A delicious source of low-fat protein. Use bone-in, skin-on thighs if you prefer, just be sure to cook the chicken for 10 minutes longer if you do.
- Barbecue sauce - Use your favorite barbecue sauce to dress the chicken. One of my favorite brands is Stubb's because they do not use artificial flavors or colors.
- Romaine lettuce - Romaine is a hearty lettuce that stands the weight of the other ingredients without wilting.
- Cherry Tomatoes - Cherry tomatoes are juicy and flavorful, but you can use whatever tomatoes you prefer.
- Black beans - Black beans are rich in antioxidants, which help reduce risk of heart disease and cancer. They also contain vitamins and minerals, including Vitamin A and Calcium.
- Corn - Fresh corn off the cob is sweet and has a nice crunch. Drained canned corn is also fine to use.
- Avocado - Avocado adds a creamy texture to the crunchy salad. It's high in potassium, fatty acids, and fiber.
- Cotija cheese - Cotija cheese is a salty, crumbly Mexican cheese. It crumbles into small bits so you get some in each bite.
- Crunchy Garlic Tortilla Strips - Crunchy Garlic Tortilla Strips are a fast and flavorful gluten-free garnish for salads. Make extra because you'll want to snack on them as you assemble dinner!
- Lime - Lime adds a zesty, citrus element that brightens the dish once assembled.
See recipe card for quantities.
This healthy BBQ chicken salad comes together in just a few easy steps.
Prepare the BBQ Chicken - Place the chicken thighs in a mixing bowl, season, and evenly coat with BBQ sauce. Place on a foil-lined baking sheet or a cooling rack on top of a baking sheet. Place in the oven for 30-35 minutes. Baste with additional sauce, then broil for an additional 5 minutes. Remove chicken from oven and allow to cool for 10 minutes. Slice or chop the chicken and set aside.
Prepare healthy Greek Yogurt Ranch Dressing - Use a food processor or blender to blend Greek yogurt, onion powder, garlic powder, kosher salt, lemon juice, green onions, and water until creamy. Scoop into serving bowl and garnish with chopped chives to be used immediately or store in the refrigerator in an air-tight container.
Assemble the BBQ Chicken Salad - In a large salad bowl, add lettuce and toss with Greek Yogurt Ranch Dressing. Top with tomatoes, black beans, corn, avocado, cheese, Crunchy Garlic Tortilla Strips, and BBQ chicken. Add additional ranch dressing and a spritz of lime juice if desired.
Substitutions for BBQ Chicken Salad
This recipe can still be delicious even with some substitutions.
- Lettuce - Use butter lettuce, kale, spinach, or mix a few different lettuces instead of romaine lettuce.
- Chicken thighs - Instead of chicken thighs, toss leftover rotisserie chicken in BBQ sauce and bake for a few minutes until warm. Substitute chicken thighs for pulled pork, rib meat, or steak.
- Red onion - Substitute red onion for diced shallot for a milder onion flavor.
- Vegetarian - Replace the chicken with a plant-based chicken to make this vegetarian.
- Dressing - Use your own bottled dressing instead! One of my favorites is Annie's Dressing because it tastes homemade.
- Spicy - Add sriracha or hot sauce to the BBQ sauce to add heat to the dish, or add diced jalapeños.
- Salad Bar - Make different BBQ meat or plant-based meat and make a salad bar for dinner.
- Kid friendly - Add extra Crunchy Garlic Tortilla Strips to dip in the dressing!
BBQ Chicken Salad with Greek Yogurt Ranch calls for a few kitchen essentials that can be used for countless other recipes. For this recipe, you will need a baking sheet, mixing bowls, a salad spinner (optional, but it does make the lettuce dry and crisp), tongs, a knife, and cutting board. For the ranch dressing, you will need a food processor or blender. Serve the salad on your favorite serving platter with salad servers or a pair of clean tongs.
To explore more kitchen items to make your kitchen complete, head to our Kitchen Essentials Shop.
Store the produce ingredients (lettuce, tomato, onion) separately from the chicken in the fridge, and recombine when ready. Store the Greek Yogurt Ranch in a separate container in the refrigerator. All ingredients are good for 3 days.
These ingredients don't stand up well to freezing.
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BBQ Chicken Salad with Greek Yogurt Ranch Dressing
BBQ Chicken Salad
- 1 lb boneless chicken thighs (4 thighs)
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 teaspoon black pepper
- 1 cup barbecue sauce divided
- 1 head of romaine lettuce chopped
- 1 cup black beans drained and rinsed
- ½ cup red onion diced
- 1 cup cherry or grape tomatoes halved
- 1 cup corn kernels fresh or canned and drained
- ½ cup cotija cheese, shredded cheddar, or shredded pepper jack cheese
- 1 avocado cubed or sliced
- 1 cup Crunchy Garlic Tortilla Strips
- 1 lime cut into wedges
Greek Yogurt Ranch Dressing
- 1 cup Greek yogurt
- ½ teaspoon onion powder
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- ½ teaspoon Kosher salt
- 1 teaspoon lemon juice
- 1 teaspoon chopped fresh green onions or chives
Crunchy Garlic Tortilla Strips
- 4 corn tortillas
- 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
- ½ tablespoon garlic powder
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt
- Heat oven to 400 °F. Place chicken thighs in a mixing bowl and season with salt and pepper. Then, brush with barbecue sauce so each piece is evenly coated.
- Place on a foil-lined baking sheet or a cooling rack on top of a baking sheet. Place in the oven and cook for 30-35 minutes or until the internal temperature is 165 °F (74 °C). Remove from oven and baste with additional sauce, then turn on the broiler and broil for an additional 5 minutes.
- Remove chicken from oven and allow to cool for 10 minutes. Chop chicken and set aside.
Greek Yogurt Ranch Dressing
- Using a food processor or blender, pulse and blend Greek yogurt, onion powder, garlic powder, kosher salt, lemon juice, and green onions until creamy and well mixed, about 30 seconds.
- Scoop into serving bowl and garnish with chopped chives to be used immediately or store in the refrigerator in an air-tight container.
Crunchy Garlic Tortilla Strips
- Preheat the oven to 350°F. Cut the corn tortillas into thirds, then cut each third width-wise into ¼-inch strips. In a mixing bowl, toss the tortilla strips with vegetable oil, garlic powder, and salt to taste until evenly coated.
- Place the tortilla strips on a baking sheet and spread out the strips so they are evenly distributed and not crowded. Place the sheet in the oven and cook for 8-10 minutes, or until golden brown. Remove from the oven and allow to cool for 5 minutes.
BBQ Chicken Salad
- In a large salad bowl, add lettuce, then top with tomatoes, black beans, corn, avocado, cheese. Toss in desired amount of Greek Yogurt Ranch Dressing until evenly coated. Top with Crunchy Garlic Tortilla Strips and BBQ chicken. Serve with a lime wedge and additional dressing on the side if desired.
- Cook chicken to a minimum temperature of 165 °F (74 °C)
- Do not use the same utensils on cooked food, that previously touched raw meat
- Wash hands after touching raw meat
- Don't leave food sitting out at room temperature for extended periods
- Never leave cooking food unattended
- Always have good ventilation when using a gas stove