Calling all forks! Taco Tuesdays are going “hands-off” with this zesty Chicken Taco Salad. Our bold marinade adds tons of flavor to oven baked boneless chicken thighs. Build a base of fresh salad veggies, then load up with your favorite taco toppers, from queso to corn. Finish with a bright homemade oregano vinaigrette and tortilla chips for crunch.
Y’all know I love Taco Tuesdays, but I can’t deny that it frequently leaves me wanting more. Now, do I get more? Yeah. Sometimes 2, 3, 4 more. But where does it end?
Sure, on a good day I can polish off two or three Grilled Skirt Steak Tacos or even five or six Chicken Street Tacos (hush – you and I both know how tiny street tacos are), or double-fist a couple rounds of Crispy Spicy Potato Tacos like I just made a run for the border at 2 a.m. after a night of drinking at my college watering hole.
And yeah, we absolutely partake in white-people taco night around here (Thanks, TikTok) with my classic Ground Beef Tacos. But sometimes, I don’t want to repeatedly DIY my dinner. Sometimes I want a heaping bowlful of tacos that is bursting with ALL THE TOPPINGS and not rely on my house of man-eaters to leave me more than one tablespoon of guac and three shreds of lettuce with which to enjoy a second (or third) helping.
Hence, the Chicken Taco Salad.
Not only does taco salad with chicken have everything you want from the original hand-held version, it has it all at once, with no fear of it falling out the back end.
Dinner Salads are Life
Salad can – and should – be so much more than an afterthought. The right combination is a simple and quick way to get a healthy, bountiful dinner on the table. Plus a giant taco salad is a great way to guarantee you get all the toppings in all the servings.
The base of chicken taco salad is chock full of leafy green lettuce, fresh tomato, red onion, and cilantro, with bonus creamy avocado, black beans and sweet corn. That’s a veritable smorgasbord of vegetables bursting with vitamins, fiber, and healthy fats.
But it’s the tender seasoned chicken that makes this dinner salad a meal. We turned our super popular homemade taco seasoning into a flavorful marinade with olive oil, minced garlic and lotsa lime juice to make these some of the best boneless, skinless thighs ever!
How to Make a Chicken Taco Salad
Chicken Taco Salad is an easy, flavorful dinner salad that packs big flavor into every bite. Top a crisp bed of greens and traditional taco favorites like tomato, avocado, and cilantro with zesty, seasoned chicken breast, queso, black beans and corn. Add optional tortilla chips for crunch. It’s also perfect for meal prep, so Taco Tuesdays can last all week if you want it to!
- MARINATE. Combine dry seasonings in a lidded jar; shake until well combined. Add taco seasoning to olive oil, lime juice, and garlic in a bowl. Whisk until smooth.
- Trim excess fat from chicken thighs and place in bowl or dish. Pour marinade over chicken, work into meat with clean hands. Cover and refrigerate to marinate at least 2 hours, up to 12. Flip chicken once halfway through.
- COOK. Heat oven to 425°F. Line baking sheet with parchment paper.
- Arrange marinated chicken in a single layer on prepared baking sheet. Bake 20-25 minutes or until the internal temperature reaches 165°F.
- Rest chicken for 5 minutes, then slice into ½” wide strips against the grain.
- PREP. Combine the lettuce, red onion, queso fresco, and cilantro in a large bowl. Add half the dressing, then toss until well combined.
- SERVE. Divide salad between four plates or bowls, then top with ¼ each of tomatoes, corn, black beans, and avocado. Nestle chicken slices on top. Serve immediately with more dressing to taste.
- You can swap the homemade taco seasoning in the recipe card for your favorite taco seasoning, or a pre-made seasoning blend – you’ll need a heaping quarter cup.
- When it comes to marinade, trust your taste to determine the time. We recommend at least 2 hours, but regardless of how long you let the chicken marinate, you will still get a healthy dose of the seasonings baked on. Chicken thighs can stand a long marinade, up to 12 hours.
- Feel free to grill instead of oven-baking; see instructions below.
- This is a great meal prep option since the chicken is delicious chilled. Hold the dressing on the side, and toss the avocado with lime juice to prevent browning.
Can I Grill the Chicken?
Yes! And we highly encourage you to do so – it’s perfect for the summer months when even the thought of turning on the oven makes you sweat.
Heat a gas or charcoal grill to 375-400°F. Arrange the marinated chicken on the grill in a single layer. Grill 5-6 minutes per side with the lid closed, flipping once, or until the temperature registers 165°F using an instant read thermometer.
Can I Use Chicken Breast?
Yes! Do marinate at least 2 hours, since chicken breasts tend to dry out. We also suggest pounding the breasts between parchment paper to an even thickness of just under 1″. This will help tenderize the meat, and ensure it cooks evenly. Bake or grill as directed.
Chicken Taco Salad Dressing Variations
- Cilantro Lime Vinaigrette: Find the recipe here. Place all ingredients into a blender, and blend until smooth.
- Ranch Dressing: we love our homemade classic ranch on taco salad with chicken, but feel free to branch out for added flavor like these jalapeno ranch and chipotle ranch dressings from Isabel Eats, or Eating Bird Food‘s creamy avocado ranch dressing.
- Spicy Sour Cream Dressing: this one’s super easy and you get to choose your own heat! Simply combine sour cream and your preferred salsa in a blender, give it a quick blitz, then drizzle over the chicken taco salad.
- Cilantro Lime Crema: slightly more involved, but not difficult and well worth the effort. We usually serve it on our skirt steak tacos but it’s a perfect finish for chicken taco salad too. Learn more and get the recipe here.
More Recipes for Chicken Taco Tuesdays
- Grilled Chicken Tacos
- Easy Crockpot Salsa Chicken (Family favorite)
- Spicy Chicken Taco Soup
- Slow Cooker Chicken Tinga
- Instant Pot Whole30 Chicken Tacos (Keto friendly)
Did you make this chicken taco salad? I’d love to know how it turned out! Leave a comment and a rating below.
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For the Chicken
- 1.5 lb boneless skinless chicken thighs
- 1-2 tbsp chili powder
- 1 tbsp cumin
- 2 tsp paprika
- 2 tsp salt
- 1 tsp pepper
- 1 tsp coriander
- Pinch oregano
- Pinch red pepper flakes
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 2 tbsp lime juice
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
For the Salad
- 1 head romaine lettuce, chopped
- ½ medium red onion, thinly sliced
- ¼ c crumbled queso fresco, crumbled
- ¼ c chopped cilantro
- 1 pint cherry tomatoes, halved
- 1 cup frozen corn, defrosted
- 1 cup canned black beans, drained and rinsed
- 1 medium avocado, diced
Red Wine Oregano Vinaigrette
- 6 tbsp red wine vinaigrette
- 2 tbsp honey or agave nectar
- ½ cup extra virgin olive oil
- ½ tsp dried oregano
- 1 tsp kosher salt
- ¼ tsp garlic powder
- Combine chili powder, cumin, paprika, salt, pepper, coriander, oregano and red pepper flakes in a lidded jar; shake until well combined. Add the taco seasoning to the olive oil, lime juice, and garlic, then whisk until smooth. The mixture will be thick, like a paste.
- Trim any excess fat from the chicken thighs, then place into a bowl or arrange in a casserole dish. Pour the marinade over the chicken, then work the marinade into the chicken with your (clean) hands. Cover with plastic wrap, then refrigerate and marinate at least 2 hours and up to 12. Flip chicken once halfway through.
- Heat the oven to 425°F. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper.
- Remove the chicken from the marinade using tongs and arrange in a single layer on the prepared baking sheet. Bake 20-25 minutes or until the internal temperature reaches 165°F using an instant read thermometer.
- Rest the chicken for 5 minutes, then slice into ½” wide strips against the grain.
- Combine the lettuce, red onion, queso fresco, and cilantro in a large bowl. Add ½ the dressing, then toss until well combined.
- Divide the salad between four plates or bowl, then top each plate with ¼ of the tomatoes, ¼ of the corn, ¼ of the black beans, and ¼ of the avocado. Nestle the chicken slices on top. Serve immediately with more dressing to taste.
So easy and so yummy!! I was craving the taco chicken salad from one of our favorite restaurants and this definitely hit the spot! Will be a staple in our house now!