Santa Fe Salad with Chicken and Homemade Cilantro Lime Dressing is an incredible dish for lunch or dinner. It's full of flavor and fresh ingredients and can be adapted to your taste!
Full of flavor and fresh ingredients like grape tomatoes, roasted corn, black beans, spicy pepper jack cheese, creamy avocado, roast chicken, crispy tortilla strips, this salad is light and refreshing, and the Cilantro-Lime Dressing is so delicious! The salad ingredients can easily be substituted, try sliced steak or salmon in place of the chicken. The dressing is also great on grilled steak, chicken or fish.
For the Cilantro Lime Dressing:
Fresh Cilantro: Cilantro is what gives this dressing its bright flavor and color. Be sure to buy perky and fragrant bunches. Avoid those with leaves that are wilted, yellow, or blackened.
Plain Yogurt: Yogurt adds creaminess and tang to the dressing. Use either a full-fat or low-fat plain regular yogurt. Greek yogurt will make the dressing too thick.
For the Santa Fe Salad:
Romaine Lettuce: The mild flavor and crisp bite of romaine lettuce makes is perfect to stand up to the ingredients and dressing in this salad. Choose lettuce heads that are tight and feel heavy for their size. Remove and discard any darkened or wilted out leaves. Gently wash the leaves and pat them dry before chopping.
Corn Kernels: If you can buy fresh, sweet corn, that is the best option for this salad.
The next best option is a good-quality frozen corn kernels.
Monterey Jack Cheese: Monterey Jack is a semi-hard cheese made from cow’s milk with a very mild flavor, smooth texture, and a creamy white color. If you’d like something with a little more bite, try using Pepper Jack cheese which is Monterrey Jack with bits of sweet and hot peppers.
How to make the recipe
Make the Dressing: Trim and discard about ½ inch from the bottom of the cilantro stems. Combine the cilantro, yogurt, lime juice, agave, and jalapeño in a food processor and process until finely chopped and blended. Slowly add the olive oil through the feed tube until blended. Season to taste with salt. Set aside.
Make the tortilla strips: Cut the corn tortillas into ¼-inch wide strips. Heat the vegetable oil in a medium skillet over medium-high heat. Add the tortilla strips and cook, stirring occasionally, until golden and crisp, about 2 to 3 minutes. Remove to a plate lined with paper towels to drain. Season with salt. Set aside.
Make the salad: In a large bowl, combine the romaine lettuce, grape tomatoes, corn, cheese, black beans, and chicken. Toss gently to combine. Divide the salad between 2 shallow serving bowls. Add the chopped avocado and dressing and toss gently to coat. Top with the tortilla strips and serve. Enjoy.
Absolutely! The homemade creamy cilantro lime dressing can be made in advance. Store it in an airtight container or mason jar for up to a week in the refrigerator. This dressing is so flavorful and makes a great dip as well as dressing. Keep some on hand to serve with tacos, burritos, chicken, nachos, etc. This recipe makes more than enough for the salad so you’ll have plenty leftover!
Whether fresh off the cob or from a can, roasting your corn before adding it to this salad makes a world of difference! To get that charred effect you see in restaurants, use a cast iron skillet to cook up the cork kernels. Roast the corn on medium high heat for about 5 minutes, stirring until they begin to char slightly. Sprinkle with a bit of taco seasoning for even more flavor while roasting.
Here's a tip for removing corn kernels. Insert the tip of the ear of corn into the center hole of a Bundt pan. Cut the kernels away from the cob in long downward strokes, letting them fall into the pan.
Storing the recipe
The Creamy Cilantro Lime Dressing can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to a week. Once the salad is assembled, it’s best to enjoy it right away. However you can store the ingredients separately. Once cooked the tortilla strips should also be eaten right away so they don’t lose their crisp texture.
- For the dressing, you can use low-fat or whole yogurt.
- Use a rotisserie chicken or leftover chicken to save time when prepping your salad.
- Don’t dress the salad until you’re ready to serve to avoid the lettuce and tortilla stips becoming soggy.
- For extra flavor, sprinkle with a touch of taco seasoning or add a drizzle of sriracha or hot sauce for a bit of spice!
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Santa Fe Salad with Chicken
Cilantro Lime Dressing
- 1 bunch fresh cilantro 2 tsp. agave or honey¼ cup olive oilSalt to taste
- ½ cup plain low-fat or whole yogurt
- 3 tablespoons fresh lime juice
- ½ jalapeño pepper seeded
- 2 teaspoons agave or honey
- ¼ cup olive oil
- Salt to taste
Crispy Tortilla Strips
- 4 small corn tortillas
- 2-3 tablespoons vegetable oil
- ¼ teaspoon salt
Santa Fe Salad
- 4 cups romaine lettuce chopped
- 1 cup halved grape tomatoes
- ½ cup roasted or cooked corn kernels
- 1 cup PepperJack or Monterey Jack cheese cubed
- ¼ cup canned black beans drained and rinsed
- 1 cup roast chicken sliced or cubed
- ½ ripe avocado
Make the Dressing
- Trim and discard about ½ inch from the bottom of cilantro stems. Combine the cilantro, yogurt, lime juice, agave, and jalapeño in a food processor and process until finely chopped and blended. Slowly add the olive oil through the feed tube until blended. Season to taste with salt.
Make the Tortilla Strips
- Cut the tortillas into ¼-inch wide strips. Heat the oil in a medium skillet over medium-high heat. Add the tortilla strips and cook, stirring occasionally, until golden and crisp, 2 to 3 minutes. Remove to a plate lined with paper towels to drain. Season with salt.
Make the Salad
- In a large bowl, combine the lettuce, tomatoes, corn, cheese, beans, and chicken and toss gently to combine. Divide the salad between 2 shallow serving bowls. Add the avocado, and dressing and toss gently to coat. Top with tortilla strips and serve.