This spicy Chipotle Chicken Salad is a flavor explosion with a sweet chipotle-lime vinaigrette, crisp corn, spiced beans, creamy avocado, tangy red onion, crunchy pumpkin seeds, rotisserie chicken, and citrusy cilantro.
Reading: Summer chipotle chicken cobb salad
Chipotle Chicken Salad
This delicious Chipotle Chicken Salad is a part of my mini-series “cook once & enjoy all week long” with homemade, Black Beans. A quick run-down: Prepare dried black beans (I promise, it’s so easy!) in the slow cooker or pressure cooker at the beginning of the week (or whenever you’ve got a free moment). Enjoy those beans as a side dish that day for dinner and then use the leftovers in recipes throughout the week like this very recipe you’re reading!
Beyond Chipotle Chicken Salad, I also share how to use those homemade black beans in these Southwest Egg Rolls and these Black Bean Bowls. Cook once and enjoy some kitchen shortcuts for the remaining meal preparation throughout the week.
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Chipotle Chicken Salad Ingredients
Below I’ll chat about the actual components in this salad (tips, notes, or alternative options), and in the following section, we’ll break down the dressing.
- Green cabbage. For a great crunch and complementary flavor to the romaine, cabbage makes for a fantastic salad base.
- Romaine lettuce. When shopping for romaine, look for heads that are firm and heavy for their size (with tightly closed leaves). The outer leaves should be dark green, look crisp, and have no signs of wilted leaves or brown/rusty color.
- Black beans. We love the saucy beans made from scratch best in this salad (discussed in the above paragraph). If using those, drain off the surrounding liquid and add them to this salad. Alternatively, canned black beans work very well in this salad.
- Corn. We love raw corn on the cob — it adds a great crunch! For options on preparing the corn for this salad, see the “quick tip” box below.
- Red onion. If you’re sensitive to the flavor of raw red onion, soak the diced onions in salted ice water for 10 minutes. Drain thoroughly before adding to the salad.
- Cilantro. If you don’t love the flavor of cilantro, replace it with green onions!
- Chicken. While you can certainly prepare your own chicken, I like using leftover rotisserie chicken to keep things quick, easy, and flavorful for minimal work.
- Fresh avocado. The avocado lends an amazing creamy texture to this Chipotle Chicken Salad. Only use perfectly ripe avocados- they make a huge difference in this salad. You can tell an avocado is ripe if it yields to firm gentle pressure (feels slightly soft, but not mushy).
- Pepitas: Roasted and crunchy pepitas (pumpkin seeds) make for the best addition to Chipotle Chicken Salad! They add a sweet and nutty flavor, similar to sunflower seeds, but a bit sweeter. You can make your own roasted pepitas or buy them at the store. If you buy them, make sure they’re roasted and salted (not raw). You can generally find them in the bulk section of a grocery store, or with other salad toppings like candied nuts and dried cranberries.
This dressing is one of our absolute favorites — it’s a mix of red wine vinegar, honey, oil, herbs, garlic, lime juice, and chipotle pepper. It’s such a great complement to all the veggies and chicken in this salad. Below are a few notes about this dressing:
- For the chipotle pepper in the dressing, we use chipotle chilies in adobo (1 pepper and the accompanying sauce). You can find canned Chipotle Peppers in Adobo sauce in the Latin aisle of most grocery stores. See the section below on storing leftover chipotles.
- Taste and adjust the dressing to personal preference. The chipotle is important to balance the dressing (so it isn’t too sweet), but add it slowly and taste as you go, so you don’t end up with an overly spicy dressing. Remember the dressing will taste spicier straight out of the blender but does simmer down when you add in all the veggies, cabbage, and lettuce.
- While this dressing can be made ahead of time (and leftovers stored), note that flavors intensify, and it becomes spicier as it sits.
- If the dressing ends up too spicy, try adding some more honey to sweeten and counteract the heat.
- If you’re concerned about the spiciness of the dressing, use the sauce from the can instead of the actual pepper; it has the same great flavor, but much less heat. As a last resort option, chipotle chili powder can be used. (I’d start with 1 teaspoon and increase to personal preference from there.)
What to do with leftover chipotle peppers
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There’s nothing worse than using only one or two peppers (like in this Chipotle Chicken Salad) and not being able to use the rest of the can before it goes bad. Luckily, they freeze beautifully! Here’s how to freeze leftover chipotles:
- Spread a sheet of parchment paper onto a large pan.
- Spoon out peppers with sauce, 1/2 inch apart, on to the pan. Place the pan in the freezer until peppers and sauce are frozen solid, about 1 hour.
- Once frozen, peel the peppers and sauce off the tray.
- Add all the frozen peppers to a freezer-safe plastic bag, seal while pressing out any air, and store in the freezer for up to 6 months.
- To thaw, take as many peppers as needed out of the bag and let stand at room temperature for 15-20 minutes or until thawed through (or pop individual peppers in the microwave for 10-15 seconds).
Quick Prep Tips
- Try packaged (shredded) coleslaw instead of cabbage to save some chopping time.
- For the fastest possible prep time, I recommend buying rotisserie chicken meat that has already been pulled from the bones and shredded. I’ve seen pre-shredded rotisserie chicken meat at Costco®, Smith’s® (Kroger), Trader Joe’s®, and Walmart®. Grocers recognize a valuable service when they see it!
- A lot of stores sell pre-diced red onion in the produce section. If you’re in a hurry, that can save a bit of time.
- Use a salad spinner to dry the produce for this salad in a hurry! (Besides, there is nothing that ruins a salad faster than being watery!)
Chipotle Chicken Salad Storage
This salad doesn’t sit very well with the dressing and avocado mixed into it. If you aren’t planning to eat the entire salad at one sitting, toss and add dressing to the amount you’ll be eating at this time. If you keep the dressing separate, this salad can store in the fridge for up to 3 days (with the exception of the avocado). The avocado browns and takes on an odd texture, so I add half the avocado one day and place the other half in a plastic bag (squeeze some lemon or olive oil on the exposed side) in the fridge until I’m ready to prepare another serving.
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More salad recipes to try
- Winter Chicken Salad with a citrus dressing
- Taco Pasta Salad with a creamy chili-lime dressing
- Brussel Sprouts Salad with a tangy-sweet apple cider vinaigrette
- Roasted Sweet Potato Salad with a lemon balsamic dressing
- Garbanzo Bean Salad dressed in an Italian-inspired vinaigrette
Through this article, we hope to help you understand Summer chipotle chicken cobb salad