Cilantro Lime Chicken Taco Salad

This Chicken Taco Salad will be the only chicken salad you ever want to make! 

This Chicken Taco Salad is bursting with tender, juicy chicken, all your favorite fiestalicious salad fixings including lettuce, tomatoes, beans, bell peppers, cheese, avocados, crunchy, salty tortilla chips all topped with Creamy Baja Catalina Dressing.  This Chicken Taco Salad ingredients can be prepped in advance and the dressing can be made days ahead of time for a quick and easy lunch or dinner any day of the week – which is  great thing because you won’t be able to stop craving this Cilantro Lime Chicken Taco Salad!  


top view of chicken taco salad with black beans and corn in a wooden bowl

Chicken Taco Salad

Who loves taco salad?  The crunchy lettuce and tortilla chips, the creamy avocados and cheese, the fresh corn and bell peppers – it is a texture lovers paradise.  Once you swap your beef for chicken and you have true paradise because its practically guilt free plus hearty, satisfying and fresh!

One of the most popular taco salad recipes is the combination of ground beef with Catalina Dressing.  But seeing as this has been done again and again, I thought I’d bring you a different version – an elevated Chicken Taco Salad that is drop-your-jaw deeeeelicious.  As in your jaw will drop in shock at just how good this salad is and it will drop to continuously shovel as much salad into your mouth as humanly possible.

The Best Chicken for Chicken Taco Salad

A CHICKEN Taco Salad is only as good as the chicken so I’ve created a spin off my favorite Cilantro Lime Shrimp Tacos to create this star Cilantro Lime Chicken recipe.

This Cilantro Lime Chicken is wonderfully juicy, tangy and garlicky but not over-the-top flavorful, so it’s ready to get doused in our homemade intoxicatingly delicious Creamy Baja Catalina Dressing.

I use chicken breasts because they emerge wonderfully juicy once marinated but you are welcome to use chicken thighs as well.  You can even turn this into a shrimp or salmon taco salad and use the same tantalizing marinade.

side view of best chicken taco salad in a wood bowl with black beans, corn, tomatoes, avocados, cheese and tortilla strips

How do I cook Chicken for Chicken Taco Salad?

You can grill or pan fry this Cilantro Lime Chicken, which means you can devour this Chicken Taco Salad year round.  And you are going to want to devour it year round.

To Grill:

  1. Grease and preheat the grill to medium heat, 375-450°F.
  2. Drain chicken from marinade, pat off excess and add to grill. Grill chicken undisturbed for 5-7 minutes per side, or until chicken is cooked through. (An inserted thermometer should read 165 degrees F.
  3. Remove chicken to cutting board and baste with reserved 2 tablespoons marinade. Garnish with additional lime juice to taste if desired. Let rest 5 minutes before slicing.

To Cook on the Stove Top:

  1. Heat one tablespoon olive oil in a large non-stick skillet over medium high heat. Once very hot, drain chicken from marinade, pat off excess and add to skillet.
  2. Cook undisturbed for 3-4 minutes, or until nicely browned on one side. Turn chicken over, cover, and reduce heat to medium. Cook for approximately 4-6 more minutes (depending on thickness of chicken), or until chicken is cooked through.
  3. Remove chicken to cutting board and baste with reserved 2 tablespoons marinade. Garnish with additional lime juice to taste if desired. Let rest 5 minutes before slicing.

showing how to make chicken taco salad by grilling chicken

What’s the Best Dressing for Chicken Taco Salad?

Chicken Taco Salad is often served with Catalina Dressing, but this isn’t just any Catalina Dressing, it is BAJA Catalina Dressing!   What makes this zesty Catalina Dressing “Baja” style is the addition of one tablespoon of our reserved Catalina marinade which boasts cilantro, lime, garlic, chili powder, ground cumin, smoked paprika, etc.  By reserving one tablespoon for our dressing, we are doubling the flavor without doubling the work.

Do I have to Add Mayonnaise?

The creamy aspect of the Catalina Dressing comes from whisking in both mayonnaise and sour cream to our Catalina Dressing.  I love this creamilicoius twist but if you prefer more of a vinaigrette then feel free to replace the mayo/sour cream with canola oil.

The dressing is super quick to whip up and the sweetness is a wonderful complement to the lime punch of the chicken, but just be aware that people seem to have a wide range of opinions as to how sweet Catalina Dressing should be, so you probably want to start with less sugar and add more to taste.

I couldn't stop eating this Cilantro Lime Chicken Taco Salad!  Its bursting with tender, juicy chicken and the sweet & tangy Creamy Baja Catalina Dressing is out of this world delicious!  This combo is pure heaven!

What Goes in Chicken Salad?

In addition to our juicy Cilantro Lime Chicken and Baja Catalina Dressing, this epic chicken salad is supported by an encore cast of:

  • crunchy lettuce
  • juicy tomatoes
  • sweet fresh corn
  • creamy avocado
  • hearty black beans
  • cheese crunchy, salty tortilla chips

Once you toss all of these ingredients together you have tons of flavor and texture in every bite.  That being said, these ingredients are just a guideline.  You can use more or less of each ingredient, add other vegetables or omit some completely.  The ingredient list is up to you to make it YOUR favorite Chicken Taco Salad!

How Do I serve Chicken Taco Salad?

There are three ways to serve Chicken Taco Salad:

  1.  If you don’t expect or want leftovers: add all of the salad ingredients to a large bowl and toss with desired amount of dressing.
  2. If you expect leftovers:  add all of the salad ingredients to a large bowl except the avocados and tortilla strips.  Let leftovers top individual servings with dressing, avocados and tortilla strips.
  3. Create a Taco Salad Bar by lining up all of the ingredients in separate serving bowls and let guests assemble their own Chicken Taco Salad.

Can I Make Chicken Taco Salad Ahead of Time?

Yes!  Both the Cilantro Lime Chicken and the Catalina Dressing can be made and refrigerated ahead of time.  All the fixings except the avocados can be chopped and stored in separate airtight containers so this Chicken Taco Salad can come together in a flash when you are ready to chow down.

All that’s left to do is give them a toss to create the perfect compliment of textures and flavors in every Chicken Taco Salad bite!  And then let your jaw drop…

Looking for more Chicken Salad Recipes?

showing how to make chicken taco salad by tossing the chicken, black beans, corn, bell peppers, avocados, tomatoes, cheese, tortilla chips and dressing together in a wooden bowl

Want to try this Cilantro Lime Chicken Taco  Salad Recipe?

Pin it to your SALAD, MEXICAN, CHICKEN or DINNER Board to SAVE for later!

Find me on Pinterest for more great recipes!  I am always pinning :)!

©Carlsbad Cravings by

I couldn't stop eating this Cilantro Lime Chicken Taco Salad!  Its bursting with tender, juicy chicken and the sweet & tangy Creamy Baja Catalina Dressing is out of this world delicious!  This combo is pure heaven!

Cilantro Lime Chicken Taco Salad with Creamy Baja Catalina Dressing

This Cilantro Lime Chicken Taco Salad is flavor/texture heaven! This Cilantro Lime Chicken Taco Salad is bursting with tender, juicy chicken, all your favorite fiestalicious salad fixings including crunchy, salty tortilla chips and the zesty, sweet and the tangy Creamy Baja Catalina Dressing is out of this world delicious!  You won’t be able to stop munching this Cilantro Lime Chicken Taco Salad!  
Servings: 6 -8 servings
Total Time: 25 minutes
Prep Time: 25 minutes

Save This Recipe To Your Recipe Box

You can now create an account on our site and save your favorite recipes all in one place!



  • 1 Recipe Cilantro Lime Chicken
  • 1 large head romaine lettuce, chopped
  • 1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved or quartered (or 2 roma tomatoes, chopped)
  • 1 cup black beans drained and rinsed
  • corn from 2 ears sweet corn (raw)
  • 1/2 cup finely grated sharp cheddar cheese or more to taste
  • 2 avocados, chopped
  • Tortilla Chips, slightly crushed or tortilla strips to taste (the more the better!)

Creamy Baja Catalina Dressing

  • 1/4 cup ketchup
  • 1/4 cup red wine vinegar
  • 3 tablespoons sugar more or less to taste (start with less)
  • 1/4 cup mayonnaise
  • 1/4 cup sour cream (may sub yogurt)
  • 1 tablespoons reserved Cilantro Lime Marinade (in directions)


  • Prepare Cilantro Lime Chicken according to directions, reserving 1 tablespoon marinade for dressing. Slice or chop cooked chicken.
  • Meanwhile, whisk together all of the Dressing ingredients in a medium bowl, including the 1 tablespoon reserved Cilantro Lime Marinade. Store in the refrigerator. Best if chilled at least 30 minutes. May keep in an airtight container up to 7 days.
  • To assemble, add the Salad Ingredients to a large bowl and toss to combine. Drizzle individual servings with desired amount of dressing. Season with additional salt, pepper, hot sauce and/or lime juice to taste.



*For more of a  vinaigrette, you may sub the mayo and sour cream for canola oil

Did You Make This Recipe?

Tag @CarlsbadCravings and Use #CarlsbadCravngs

Leave a Review, I Always Love Hearing From You!

©Carlsbad Cravings Original

You might also like:

Salsa Verde Chicken Tacos

Slow Cooker Salsa Verde Honey Lime Chicken (and Tacos!) - the flavor of this chicken is out of this world! the best "dump and run" meal I have ever made! Love the sweet, tangy spicy Mexican chicken for tacos, burritos, tostadas, salads, etc. Couldn’t be any easier!

Sheet Pan Garlic Butter Shrimp and Asparagus

One Pan Roasted Lemon Butter Garlic Shrimp and Asparagus bursting with flavor and on your table in 15 MINUTES!  No joke!  The easiest, most satisfying meal that tastes totally gourmet!

One Pot Cilantro Lime  Rice and Black Beans

BEST EVER Cilantro Lime Rice and Black Beans (optional) simmered with jalapenos, green chilies and red onion spiked with lime and cilantro for the most satisfying Mexican rice you will want to serve with everything. Easy to dress up with cheese, tomatoes, avocado or sour cream. #cilantro #lime @cilantrolime #rice #Mexican

30 Minute Cheesy Taco Soup

Less than 30 minutes for this ONE POT Cheesy Taco Soup! This is the ultimate comforting soup packed with all your favorite taco flavors and is SO easy and great for crowds! You haven’t had taco soup until you try this version!

Reader Interactions

leave a review

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


  1. Nissa says

    Hi, Jen. Your recipes are some of my very favorites. There have been weeks where I pick all new recipes from this site and the entire family loves them. Thank you for that!! I’m looking at this recipe for dinner this week because it looks fabulous except for the cilantro (I’m one of those people that finds it to taste like soap). Usually I would just leave the cilantro out but I feel like it’s a big part of the recipe on this one. Is there another chicken marinade that you think would be good with the rest of this salad?

  2. Sara says

    The boys in my family aren’t really salad people, but my daughter and I are. Today I made the chicken (we grilled outside) and my daughter and had the chicken in salad and then boys just ate chicken and corn on the cob. It was very good and we all enjoyed it. Next time we decided we would either leave the corn out or cook it first as we didn’t really care for the raw corn. The dressing was very yummy!

    • Jen says

      Thanks Sara, I’m happy you were able to make this recipe work for your whole family!

  3. Jeannie says

    This was good! The only thing I did differently was using a was using a rotisserie chicken.

  4. Sharon Frisbie says

    This has got to be one of the best chicken recipes I’ve ever gotten. Have gotten rave reviews every time I’ve served it and recipe is always requested (with your name attached) Thank you so much.
    Your story is so inspiring. Hope you make it as long as we have – 52+ years and counting.

    • Jen says

      Thank you so much for taking the time to read our story Sharon! And congrats on 52 years! I’m honored this chicken taco salad is one of the best chicken recipes you’ve had!

  5. Lee says

    This recipe looks amazing! Do you have any suggestions for adapting it for my vegetarian teens?

    • Jen says

      Hi Lee, you can use the marinade on any vegetarian option they’re into such as roasted chickpeas, roasted squash, tofu, etc.

  6. Jaspreet Takhar says

    Hi! Just wondering if there was a nutrition guide for this recipe??

  7. Josey says

    Ok this one needs to come with a serious warning. The chicken is amazing but that dressing is mind blowing. Extreme cravings now!!!

    • Jen says

      Yesss! Thank you so much Josey! I love your comments!

  8. Becky L Anthony says

    Hi! I have been looking at this Cilantro Lime Chicken Taco Salad with Creamy Baja Catalina dressing. I mist be missing something – Found the Baja dressing but cannot find the Cilantro Lime Marinade. Can you send it to me? Thank you.

    • Jen says

      Hi Becky click on the first ingredient “1 Recipe Cilantro Lime Chicken” and it will take you to the recipe. Let me know if you can’t find it!

  9. Diana White says

    Hi, I’m trying to figure out what the serving size is on the dressing. I see that it shows that there is 6-8 servings but doesn’t show the serving size. Would it be 1 or 2 Tbsp? Or is the servings calculated in ounces or grams?

    • Jen says

      Hi Diana, there is about one cup of dressing, so that would be 8 2 tablespoon servings. Enjoy!

  10. Sydney says

    I have come to really enjoy and look forward to your recipes. Thank you. I am impressed with your strength of character that you take on this work so joyfully after a difficult physical journey. I admire you!

    • Jen says

      Thank you so much for taking the time to leave such a thoughtful comment and make my day Sydney! I love what I do and grateful to be able to share it with people like you!

  11. Pam says

    Hi Jen, I saw this salad recipe on FB months ago and was so eager to give it a try. Well, I made it this past weekend and it was delicious!! Used fresh Mississippi sweet corn which was awesome. The dressing is superb. I got away with using only one Tbsp of sugar in the dressing. Definitely a do over

    • Jen says

      Thanks so much Pam, I’m so pleased it didn’t disappoint and will be a repeat! Mississippi corn sounds like a real treat!

  12. I'manee says

    This was so very yummy! I marinated the chicken for 10 hours and added a little liquid smoke to the marinade since we have an indoor grill.
    Absolutely delicious! So good that I didn’t realize I forgot to add the avocado lol. I had some left over for lunch the next day and added the avocado and it of course elevated it even more!
    Thanks for yet another fantastic recipe!

    • Jen says

      Thanks so much for the glowing review I’manee, I’m so pleased this salad was a hit! I love your idea of adding liquid smoke to the marinade!

  13. Mary Ann says

    This was amazing! Will definitely make this recipe again. My husband really enjoyed this for dinner. Well worth the effort and time.
    Thank you

    • Jen says

      I love hearing that, thanks so much Mary Ann!

  14. Rachel says

    So good!! The dressing was awesome with honey!

  15. Angie Buck says

    We ate this for dinner two nights in a row! I have shared your recipe with my coworkers and they are so excited to try it! We all work in a locally owned produce market and fresh ingredients are right at our fingertips daily! We are super curious to keep trying your recipes, so keep us posted!!

  16. Freak says

    “Follow the instructions to make the chicken” but then makes you jump through hoops to find the receipe. What a waste of time.

    • Jen says

      Just use the “jump to recipe” button at the top of the page to skip directly to the free recipe.

  17. Holly Jones says

    I made this last night for dinner and as my husband likes to say, It’s a keeper! Already planning on making this for our dinner night at our annual beach week this summer. I have the perfect wooden bowl to make a big batch 🙂

    • Jen says

      Thanks Holly, I’m so pleased it was a winner!

  18. Sharon says

    The cilantro lime chicken salad is the best salad ever. I’ve made it numerous times and for me the dressing makes this salad. Can’t get any better then this.

    • Jen says

      Thanks, Sharon! I am so glad it’s a repeat favorite! Thank you for taking the time to comment!

  19. Sharon says

    I have made this cilantro lime chicken salad numerous times. It’s the best salad I’ve ever had. The dressing is the key for this salad. It’s the best and makes this salad famous. I add extra cilantro and I love crunch so crispy strips are a must. Perfect for a dinner during summer. I can eat a huge bowl of this salad. So good.

    • Jen says

      Yay!! Thank you so much, Sharon, I am so pleased you love this salad! I am happy to hear it is a repeat recipe! Thanks for the glowing review!

See More Comments

5 Secrets to
30 Minute Meals

Tips, tricks & recipes to get dinner on the table fast!