This delicious, nutritious chicken taco salad — inspired by Averie Cooks — boasts a bounty of spicy chicken, lettuce, tomatoes, sweet corn, black beans, avocado, two cheeses and crispy corn tortilla chips tossed in a homemade creamy lime-cilantro dressing. Delicioso!
When the last thing you want to do is cook a hot meal in your kitchen, salads are the simple answer. Cold salads can sometimes leave diners famished because they lack protein or satisfying flavors. The solution: Quickly cook well-seasoned chicken or another meaty protein on the stovetop and add it to a colorful, flavorful salad.
Gourmet grill note: You can just as easily spice up chicken with taco seasoning and cook it on the grill. Worried about MSG in packets of taco seasoning? Try Pod & Bean’s Mexican Seasoning Blend. (This isn’t an ad — it’s just one we like.) Featuring dried chilies, onion, garlic, cocoa and salt, this spice blend goes really well with chicken.
The best salad dressings are made in your kitchen, where you can use fresh ingredients and adjust the flavors to finesse your dish. For this loaded chicken taco salad, simply whisk together mayonnaise, sour cream, lime juice, cilantro and a bit of sugar until blended. The creaminess of this taco salad dressing complements the fresh flavors and varying textures of the other salad ingredients.
Though this loaded chicken taco salad is best served immediately, you can cook the chicken and make the dressing up to three days ahead. When you’re ready to serve, simply warm the chicken in a well-oiled skillet over medium heat, plate the rest of the salad ingredients, shake up your salad dressing, and put it all together.
Put some olive oil in a frying pan and get it heated up before putting in your bite-size chicken chunks.
Pour taco seasoning over chicken
We used a reduced sodium blend, but you can buy any taco seasoning you’d like at the store. You can also make your own taco seasoning at home using some basics like chili powder, garlic powder, onion powder, crushed red pepper flakes, dried oregano, paprika, cumin, salt and black pepper.
Cook seasoning mix with chicken
Coat the chicken in the seasoning over medium heat for about 5 minutes, flipping intermittently until all sides of the chicken are cooked. Cooking time will vary based on thickness of chicken breasts and sizes of pieces.
Add mayonnaise to a mixing bowl
Mayonnaise gets a bad wrap but it’s actually got quite a few health benefits. The vitamin E and omega-3s found in mayonnaise can help prevent strokes and promote a healthy heart. Because mayonnaise is also high in good fat, it can help your absorb important nutrients required for a healthy diet, including vitamins A, D, E and K.
Pour sour cream over mayonnaise
If you don’t want to use full-fat sour cream, opt for lite or plain Greek yogurt may be substituted, as well.
Add lime juice to mixture
We suggest 3-4 tablespoons, but you can use as much lime juice is needed for the flavor or consistency you want for the dressing.
Add taco seasoning to bowl
Again, this can be a store-bought package of taco seasoning or you can make your own at home!
Whisk dressing mixture together
You can also use a fork to mix the ingredients – or even better, a mini-whisk delivers an even creamier taste and is best when it comes to dressings.
Combine cilantro with dressing
Cilantro is packed with nutrients and anti-oxidants and has a variety of health benefits. To name just a few, cilantro helps rid the body of heavy metals, protects against oxidative stress, lowers anxiety and improves sleep, lowers blood sugar levels, relieves indigestion and heartburn, and so much more.
Add chopped lettuce to plate
Lettuce is pretty void of nutritional value so if you want to sneak some health benefits into your taco salad, opt for spinach instead.
Pour other toppings over the lettuce
This is where you can get creative! Add anything you have available in your fridge or pantry – black beans, corn, tomatoes, bell peppers, avocado, black olives, red onions, peppercinis – the options are limitless.
Add cooked chicken to salad
Spoon your chicken onto the salad – on top, to the side, or mixed in.
Add cilantro-lime dressing to complete the dish
Now cover the colorful salad with your dressing. Use as much or as little as you want. Extra dressing will keep airtight for up to 5 days in the fridge. In coming days, you can use it as a veggie dip.