This lighter version of a popular restaurant’s favorite salad is packed with awesome flavor from BBQ-grilled chicken breast, jalapeños, cilantro, spiced tortilla chips, and a creamy homemade ranch dressing!
Back in the day when I had office co-workers who weren’t four-legged, who didn’t bark every time someone (or something) walked down the street, and weren’t continually nudging me with their nose for a scratch as I worked, I actually had office besties who walked rather well on two legs as we headed to Westwood’s California Pizza Kitchen to get our favorite CPK Original BBQ Chicken Chopped Salad for lunch.
Oh, those were the days.
These days, I’m still a fan of that CPK Original BBQ Chicken Chopped Salad, but not so much a fan of the calories I consume whenever I eat it. That’s why I created my own lighter version that still totally delivers on flavor and cures my salad as a meal cravings.
For the past few months I’ve been working hard at putting my meal planning in place thanks to my free printable weekly meal planner/to-do list to fill in, tape to the fridge, take to the grocery store, and use for reference next year when I can’t remember what the heck my fave recipes were that I made. And this free weekly meal plan and prep list is helping narrow my bee-in-a-bonnet-tendencies when deciding what to fix for mealtime, too.
By this time in my life, I know what I like. And if I plan ahead and have those staples on hand in the fridge and in the pantry, my eating habits are a whole lot easier to predict and a lot healthier, too.
This BBQ Chicken Chopped Salad is one I can have prepped and ready for eating no matter what the season. On Sundays in the summertime I grill up a gaggle of boneless chicken breasts to eat throughout the week. In the winter, I use my handy dandy trusted grill pan (I love the grill marks the ridges create) or my Instant Pot to pressure cook the breasts if I’m preferring them plain. Talk about tender!
But if I’m craving chicken with flavor, I’ll usually cook two chickens with just salt and pepper, two with blackening spices and two with barbecue sauce. And that’s where this recipe gets its start.
About the Recipe
Along with the protein from my BBQ chicken breasts I add canned beans from the cupboard. Black beans. Cannelini beans. Even garbanzo beans. Whatever you have on hand will definitely work here.
Corn adds an extra crunch. In summer I cut it straight from the cob. In winter I thaw it quickly in the microwave, but not too long so it still holds it’s shape. Tomatoes, jalapeños and cilantro all add to the freshness. The original salad calls for jicama too, but since I don’t normally have jicama on hand, I left it out of this recipe.
Instead of fried tortilla chips I simply spray white corn tortillas with cooking spray, sprinkle with a little chile powder, garlic salt and kosher salt and pop in the toaster oven to crisp. Then, I use my absolute favorite kitchen tool, my hand dandy kitchen shears, to cut into flavorful strips. All the crunch, far less calories.
You can always add shredded Monterey Jack in the right portion size (about 1/4 cup) but I’ve used just a small sprinkling of Mexican cotija cheese here since it was in the fridge and was ready to use and adds a cheesy flavor with a few less calories. See how my meal planning is all paying off?
I usually just use the BBQ sauce brightened up with a little lime juice and rice vinegar plus honey to taste for my dressing, but if you’re craving that extra creaminess that is classic to CPK’s version of this salad, try my homemade Ranch dressing for the drizzle.
If you make this recipe, please let me know! Leave a comment below or take a photo and tag me on Instagram with #foodiecrusheats.
BBQ Chicken Salad
- 4 cups salad greens such as romaine iceberg or butter lettuce, chopped
- 1 6- ounce grilled BBQ chicken breast sliced
- 1/2 cup canned cannellini beans rinsed and drained
- 2 small tomatoes diced
- 1 cup corn kernels frozen and then thawed, grilled, or cut fresh from the cob
- 2 white corn tortillas
- Cooking spray
- Kosher salt
- Chili powder
- Garlic salt
- 1/3 cup good quality bbq sauce
- Juice of 1 lime
- 2 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
- Honey to taste
- 1/4 cup fresh cilantro chopped
- Cotija cheese
- Sliced jalapeño pepper
- To assemble the salad, add the lettuce to a large bowl. Top with the sliced grilled chicken, cannellini beans, tomato, corn and cilantro. Sprinkle with cotija cheese and sllliced jalapeño and set aside.
- Lay the corn tortillas on a baking sheet lined with aluminum foil. Spray both sides of the tortillas with cooking spray and sprinkle each side with kosher salt, chili powder and garlic salt. Place in a toaster oven or broil until the tortillas become lightly browned. Cool, then cut into strips and sprinkle over the salad.
- In a small bowl, whisk the bbq sauce, lime and rice wine vinegar until smooth. Sweeten with honey to taste. Pour over the salad and mix. Garnish with cilantro, cotija cheese and sliced jalapeño peppers.
More Chicken Salads that Make a Meal
Each of these chopped chicken salads are so good they’ll make everyone at the table forget they were ever eating something good for them.
Thai Chopped Chicken Salad With Peanut Vinaigrette
Feel the crunch.
Get the recipe | Inquiring Chef
Chopped Chicken Salad with Pomegranate Molasses Dressing
The sweet dressing brings out all the tang in this salad that makes a meal.
Get the recipe | The Whole Bite
Crunch Lover’s Chopped Chicken Salad with Chili-Lime Vinaigrette
So much flavor, so much crunch.
Get the recipe | Iowa Girl Eats
Strawberry and Chicken Spinach Salad With Avocado
The ying and yang of savory and sweet plus crunchy and creamy gets me every time.
Get the Recipe | FoodieCrush
Chinese Chicken Salad
Another riff on another one of my favorite LA salad spots, the Chinese Chicken Salad from Feast from the East.
Get the recipe | FoodieCrush
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