This BBQ Chicken Salad with Creamy BBQ Cilantro Lime Dressing is a lot of things. Refreshing. Crisp. Flavorful. The perfect summer dinner.

BBQ Chicken Salad. Probably one of my favorite salad combos ever.

White bowl filled with salad, bbq chicken, corn, and slices of red onions.

Ranks right up there with this one. Oh and this one and this one.

Gotta love a great dinner salad.

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

4.56 stars (29 ratings)


Chicken and Salad:

  • 3 cups cooked shredded chicken
  • 2 cups BBQ sauce (see note)
  • ½ head iceberg lettuce, cored and chopped
  • 2 romaine hearts, chopped
  • ½ red onion diced
  • ¼ cup chopped fresh cilantro
  • 1 ½ cups frozen corn, thawed
  • 1 (15-ounce) can 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
  • cup milk
  • cup buttermilk (see note)
  • 2 tablespoons fresh cilantro, finely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon lime juice
  • 1 teaspoon white vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon granulated sugar
  • 1 garlic clove, finely minced
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • teaspoon black pepper
  • ¼ teaspoon ground cumin
  • ¼ to ½ cup BBQ sauce


  • For the salad, combine the cooked chicken and BBQ sauce in a medium bowl. Refrigerate until ready to use.
  • 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.
  • 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.


BBQ Sauce: here is my favorite homemade version. 
Buttermilk: here is a guide for making your own buttermilk. 
Chicken: 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.
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.
Serving: 1 Serving, Calories: 706kcal, Carbohydrates: 80g, Protein: 37g, Fat: 27g, Saturated Fat: 11g, Cholesterol: 97mg, Sodium: 1876mg, Fiber: 10g, Sugar: 41g

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