BBQ Chicken Salad – a delicious recipe for the best bbq chicken salad you have ever tasted! Top it any way you want. Everyone is going to love this classic summer salad!
This delicious BBQ Chicken Salad recipe is a summer favorite at our house! Made with some of our favorite ingredients, like tender chicken with tangy barbecue sauce, crisp romaine lettuce, avocado, grilled corn kernels, black beans, tortilla strips, and ranch dressing. Everyone is going to love this hearty salad!
The Best BBQ Chicken Salad
We have always loved Panera’s barbecue chicken salad and knew that we needed to make a copycat version of this favorite salad recipe to have at home. It is a classic summer salad recipe that always hits the spot! Offering a variety of toppings is a great way for everyone to make their salad any way they want. The combination of sweet, tangy BBQ sauce with cool ranch dressing is a match made in heaven! Definitely a weeknight dinner option that we will be enjoying all summer long!
What You Will Need
- boneless skinless chicken breasts – we like to grill chicken breasts, but you can also make slow cooker bbq chicken or Instant Pot bbq chicken.
- kosher salt & ground black pepper – simple seasoning that are always a must when cooking any type of meat.
- bbq sauce – option to make your own homemade bbq sauce or pick up your favorite variety of store-bought bbq sauce at the local grocery store.
- crunchy romaine lettuce – a crisp base to this delicious salad recipe, any fresh greens will do!
- avocado, red onion, cherry tomatoes, & black beans – some of our favorite salad toppings.
- sweet corn – we love grilling ears of corn, but you can also boil corn on the cob or heat frozen corn kernels in the microwave.
- bacon – you can easily cook bacon right in the oven without a greasy mess!
- monterey jack cheese – we love using this classic shredded cheese, but you can also use pepper jack cheese or cheddar cheese.
- fresh cilantro – a fresh herb that brings a wonderfully light and refreshing flavor.
- crisp tortilla strips – perfect for some added crispness!
- ranch dressing – try our dairy-free homemade ranch dressing – so easy and good!
How To Make A BBQ Chicken Salad
For starters, you will want to season all sides of the raw chicken breasts with salt and pepper.
Place the seasoned chicken breasts on the clean, preheated grill grates and cook over direct heat for 4-5 minutes per side. Then move to indirect heat, brush with bbq sauce, and continue cooking for 3-5 minutes or until their internal temperature reaches 160 degrees F.
Carefully remove the cooked chicken from the grill and let them rest on a plate or cutting board for about 5 minutes.
While the chicken is cooking you can prep all of the other ingredients and cook the cook right alongside the chicken on the grill.
Best Toppings For BBQ Chicken Salad
In the recipe card below we have included a variety of delicious salad toppings, but feel free to only use the toppings that you want or adjust the amounts of each. Some other toppings that would make a great addition to this salad are salsa, corn salsa, chopped green onions, bell peppers, or sliced jalapeño for a little bit of a kick.
Now that all the ingredients are ready, you can assemble the salad. Place the chopped romaine lettuce on the bottom of a large bowl, add the bite-sized pieces of chicken, and the rest to the top of the salad. Drizzle some ranch dressing or a little extra bbq sauce on top!
Best Ways To Serve BBQ Chicken Salad
This easy bbq chicken salad can be enjoyed all on its own, but if you are looking to serve something alongside it we have a few suggestions. We love to add a slice of grilled bread, some guacamole and crunchy tortilla chips, or a skinny margarita!
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BBQ Chicken Salad – a delicious, flavorful ultimate BBQ chicken salad recipe that is the perfect summer dinner idea!
- 2 medium boneless, skinless chicken breast
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper
- 1/3 cup bbq sauce (more for serving)
- 4 cups romaine lettuce, chopped
- 1 avocado, sliced
- 1/2 cup corn, grilled with kernels cut off*
- 4 slices bacon, cooked and chopped
- 1/3 cup monterey jack cheese, shredded (or pepper jack cheese)
- 1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved or quartered
- 1/4 cup red onion, sliced
- 1/2 cup black beans, drained and rinsed
- 2 tablespoons fresh cilantro, chopped (more or less, as desired)
- 1/4 cup tortilla strips
- 1/4 cup ranch dressing
- (optional) jalapeno, sliced
- Prepare Chicken + Grill: Season chicken breasts with salt and pepper. Ensure grill grates are clean and heat grill to medium-high heat (approx. 450 degrees F.).
- Grill Chicken: Place chicken on direct heat (direct flame) and cook for 4-5 minutes per side. Move chicken away from the direct heat (direct flame) so that it is cooking on indirect heat (maintaining the same grill temp) and cook for an additional 3-5 minutes (you don’t need to flip at this point because the chicken will cook as if it is in an oven) or until the internal temperature of the thickest part of the chicken reads 160 degrees F.
- Sauce + Rest: Brush BBQ sauce on to the chicken and close the grill lid. Remove from grill when the internal temperature reaches 160 degrees F. and let rest at least 5 minutes so the juices can redistribute (the chicken will continue to cook during this time and the internal temp will continue to rise 5 additional degrees). Cut chicken into bite-sized cubes.
- Assemble Salad: Divide lettuce between two bowls. Top with chicken, avocado, corn, bacon, cheese, tomatoes, onion, black beans, cilantro and tortilla strips.
- Top Salad: Top salad with additional BBQ sauce, ranch dressing and jalapeno slices.
- Chicken: you can use chicken thighs instead of chicken breast if you prefer – we have a tutorial on how to grill chicken thighs HERE.
- Corn: for best results use grilled corn, but feel free to use frozen or boiled, whatever you prefer/works best.
- Dairy-Free: feel free to sub in a dairy-free cheese and use a dairy-free ranch dressing.
- Storage: any leftovers can be stored in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 5 days. Just make sure you keep the chicken, dressing, and fresh ingredients in separate containers. This is also perfect for meal prep!