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What makes this salad stand apart from other chicken taco salads is the preparation of the chicken, which adds a lot more flavor than using plain roasted or poached chicken breast. A fun way to serve this salad is by setting up a salad bar for your family and friends, with each ingredient in separate bowls so they can assemble their own entree however they prefer.



  • 2 tablespoons canola oil
  • 1 small yellow onion, diced
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 lb. cooked chicken, shredded or diced
  • 1¼ teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1½ teaspoons chili powder or chipotle chili powder
  • ⅛ teaspoon cayenne pepper, or to taste
  • 2 tomatoes, diced
  • 1½ cups chopped fresh cilantro
  • 1 teaspoon chopped fresh oregano
  • salt, to taste
  • ⅓ cup chicken stock or water


  • 4 cups shredded iceberg lettuce
  • 2 cups shredded romaine lettuce hearts
  • 6 tablespoons roughly chopped fresh cilantro
  • 2 cups cooked black or pinto beans, rinsed, drained
  • 2 cups frozen sweet corn, thawed, patted dry with paper towels
  • 2 cups chopped or halved grape tomatoes
  • 1 cup diced red bell pepper
  • 1 cup crumbled queso fresco or feta cheese
  • 1 avocado, pitted, peeled, cubed
  • Salad dressing, of choice (Marie’s Creamy Chipotle Ranch, Tostino’s Southwestern Ranch Dressing, or Zesty Italian Dressing are good options)
  • crispy tortilla strips, for salads (available in the produce section)


  1. To prepare the chicken, in a large frying pan over medium heat, warm the oil until almost smoking. Add the onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add the chicken, cumin, chili powder, cayenne, tomatoes, cilantro and oregano. Stir to combine. Season with salt.
  2. Stir in the stock and cook until most of the liquid has been absorbed and the tomatoes are softened, about 5-10 minutes. Taste and adjust the seasonings as needed. Cover and keep warm on low until ready to serve. (Can be prepared ahead, refrigerated, and reheated for serving.)
  3. To serve, toss the salad ingredients together with the chicken and dressing of choice. Sprinkle with crispy tortilla strips. Or toss together the iceberg and romaine lettuces with cilantro in a large salad bowl. Put remaining toppers as well as the chicken and dressing(s) in individual bowls so guests can help themselves and customize their salad. Makes 4-6 servings.

Source: Adapted from by Barbara Walch

Barbara Walch

Barbara Walch joined the staff of Plano Profile in August 1986 and currently serves as Food Editor and Associate Publisher, Community Relations. In addition to writing Dining In, a monthly food feature,...