BBQ Chicken Salad with Creamy BBQ Cilantro Lime Dressing

Refreshing. Crisp. Flavorful. Healthy-ish.

BBQ Chicken Salad. Probably one of my favorite salad combos ever. Ranks right up there with this one. Oh and this one and this one.

Gotta love a great dinner salad.

What To ServeClassic Deviled Eggs or Egg Salad Sandwich
Cheesy Ham and Broccoli Quinoa Bites or Little Quinoa Patties
Fresh Fruit

One Year Ago: Cream Biscuits
Two Years Ago: Tri Color Pasta Salad
Three Years Ago: Pasta Chicken Salad with Sun-Dried Tomatoes and Spinach

BBQ Chicken Salad with Creamy BBQ Cilantro Lime Dressing

Yield: Serves 4-6

BBQ Chicken Salad with Creamy BBQ Cilantro Lime Dressing

Note: this recipe calls for already cooked chicken so plan ahead! I like to cook my chicken in the crockpot, using frozen chicken breasts and about 1 cup of chicken broth for every 2 chicken breasts. I cook on low for about 4-5 hours and then shred and refrigerate (or freeze) for later.


    Chicken and Salad:
  • 3 cups cooked, shredded chicken
  • 2 cups BBQ sauce, storebought or (I used this awesome homemade version)
  • ½ head iceberg lettuce, cored and chopped
  • 2 romaine hearts, chopped
  • 1/2 red onion diced
  • ¼ cup chopped fresh cilantro
  • 1 1/2 cups frozen corn, thawed
  • 1 can (15 ounces) black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 4 ounces sharp cheddar cheese, cubed small or shredded
  • 4 ounces Monterey jack cheese, cubed small or shredded
  • Creamy BBQ Cilantro Lime Dressing:
  • 1 cup mayonnaise, light or regular
  • 1/3 cup milk
  • 1/3 cup buttermilk (here is a guide for making your own buttermilk)
  • 2 tablespoons fresh cilantro, finely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon lime juice
  • 1 teaspoon white vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon granulated sugar
  • 1 garlic clove, finely minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1/8 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/4 to 1/2 cup BBQ sauce


  1. For the salad, combine the cooked chicken and BBQ sauce in a medium bowl. Refrigerate until ready to use.
  2. In a large bowl, toss together the iceberg lettuce, romaine lettuce, red onion, cilantro, corn, black beans and cheese. Toss the mixed salad with about 1/4 to 1/2 cup of the dressing, if desired. Otherwise, you can serve the dressing on the side. Place salad on plates and top with the prepared BBQ chicken and additional dressing.
  3. For the dressing, combine all the ingredients together and whisk (or shake, if using a jar) vigorously to combine. You could also run this through a blender to make it even more smooth. Refrigerate until ready to serve.


Make Ahead Instructions: All the components of this salad can be prepared up to a day in advance (the dressing can be made up to 3 days in advance). Store separately in the refrigerator and toss before serving.

Recipe Source: salad from Mel’s Kitchen Cafe, dressing inspired by El Pollo Loco’s Creamy Cilantro Dressing

106 Responses to BBQ Chicken Salad with Creamy BBQ Cilantro Lime Dressing

  1. mamalala says:

    Another win Mel! This was super easy to make and my whole family loved it. I forgot to add the garlic in the dressing but it didn’t impact it all that much. Plus, I can sit next to people after eating this yummy salad.

  2. Gail says:

    This was a fantastic meal on a warm evening. The flavors really go quite well together. I always like a little crunch in my salad so next time I will get those thin tortilla strips in the produce section to add as my “crouton” or maybe sunflower seeds. I looked for honey BBQ fritoes as one commenter suggested but couldn’t find them….they probably don’t make them anymore. I used the Slow cooker BBQ chicken of yours and it was yummy…next time I will shred half the chicken for sandwiches and dice the other half for this salad….LOVE getting two meals out of one dish! Also, I served the copycat red lobster garlic bisquits with this and they complimented the salad very nicely. Thanks for a hearty salad recipe!

  3. Tammy says:

    I made this for my family tonight and it they loved it. I set it up like a salad bar, so that they could customize. My mom can’t have raw onion, my daughter would not be caught dead eating beans. I added all of the ingredients to mine.

    What a fabulous taste and texture combo! This recipe is definitely a keeper!

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