Kalyn's Kitchen

Chopped Chicken Salad with Cafe Rio Salad Dressing

Chopped Chicken Salad with Cafe Rio Salad Dressing is a delicious salad to make at home with all the flavors that make Cafe Rio Chicken Salad so popular!  

PIN the recipe to try it later!

Chopped Chicken Salad with Cafe Rio Salad Dressing photo of finished salad in bowl with text overlay

Mexican food fans who live in Utah are probably fans of Cafe Rio and most Cafe Rio fans love the big salads that this fresh-Mex restaurant is so famous for! And that includes me, and since I had a great recipe for the Tomatillo Ranch Cafe Rio Salad Dressing, I thought it would be fun to try to to come up with a carb-conscious salad with those amazing Cafe Rio flavors.

My Chopped Chicken Salad with Cafe Rio Salad Dressing has chopped cooked chicken that’s marinated in Cafe Rio Salad Dressing, romaine lettuce, avocado, tomatoes, black beans, and cilantro. I skipped the tortilla that’s the bottom layer in Cafe Rio salads as well as the rice and the tortilla strips, and you can skip the black beans too if you want a lower-carb version of this tasty salad. And I didn’t have the Cotija Cheese or the Pico de Gallo that Cafe Rio sprinkles on the salads, but I’d love both of those added if you have it on hand.

If you like Cafe Rio or want to see what the buzz is about, I hope you’ll the tasty salad I came up with. I promise this salad will re-create that Cafe Rio happy mouth feeling that people in Utah love to enjoy!

What ingredients are in the Cafe Rio Salads?

Here’s the actual description of Salads from the Cafe Rio website: “We know, it looks almost too good to be true. A large fresh made flour tortilla, baked with cheese and filled with black or pinto beans, cilantro lime rice, your choice of chicken, pork, beef and romaine lettuce. Topped with Pico de Gallo, fresh guacamole, tortilla strips, cilantro, cotija cheese and your choice of insanely delicious dressing that will leave your tastebuds on their knees begging for more.” What do you think? Are you ready to go there and try the salad?

What ingredients do you need for this recipe?

  • leftover rotisserie chicken or cooked chicken, chopped (see notes)
  • canned black beans (optional)
  • romaine lettuce
  • avocados
  • fresh-squeezed lime juice, I used my fresh-frozen lime juice
  • cherry tomatoes
  • fresh cilantro (optional)
  • Cafe Rio Salad Dressing

Chopped Chicken Salad with Cafe Rio Salad Dressing process shots collage

How to Make Chopped Chicken Salad with Cafe Rio Salad Dressing:

(Scroll down for complete recipe with nutritional information.)

  1. Start by making some Cafe Rio Salad Dressing and have it chilling in the fridge.
  2. You can use leftover rotisserie chicken, but if you don’t have any leftover chicken, just poach two boneless-skinless chicken breasts in barely simmering water for about 15 minutes.
  3. When it’s cool, chop up the chicken into bite-sized pieces.
  4. Toss the diced chicken with four tablespoons of the Cafe Rio Salad Dressing and let it marinate while you prep the other ingredients.
  5. Dump the beans into a colander placed in the sink and rinse well with cold water and let them drain drain. (If you want lower-carbs, just omit the beans.)
  6. Chop up two heads romaine lettuce and give it a good spin in the salad spinner (affiliate link) or wash lettuce and dry with paper towels.
  7. Cut cherry tomatoes in half to make about 1 cup of cherry tomato halves.
  8. Chop one bunch of cilantro and crisp it in the salad spinner and spin dry.
  9. Cut up the avocados and toss with 1 T lime juice.
  10. Combine the lettuce, tomatoes, black beans (if using), and cilantro and toss with enough dressing to moisten.
  11. Then stir in the chicken and dressing it was marinating in.
  12. Divide into bowls and top each one with a couple of generous spoonfuls of avocado; enjoy!

Chop 1/2 bunch of cilantro and crisp it in the salad spinner and spin dry.

I hope you enjoy this tasty Cafe Rio Chopped Chicken Salad! Check the recipe for tips for making this a Weekend Food Prep meal to be eaten later.

More Tasty Salads with Chicken:

Shredded Chicken Salad with Green Olives, Celery, and Green Onion ~ Kalyn’s Kitchen
Chicken Salad with Grapes ~ Wonky Wonderful
Low-Carb Rotisserie Chicken Christmas Salad ~ Kalyn’s Kitchen
Asian Chicken Salad with Peanut-Lime Dressing ~ Bless This Mess
Chicken and Avocado Salad with Lime and Cilantro ~ Kalyn’s Kitchen
Mediterranean Chicken Salad with Sumac Dressing ~ A Beautiful Plate

Weekend Food Prep:

This recipe has been added to a category called Weekend Food Prep to help you find recipes you can prep or cook on the weekend and eat during the week!

Chopped Chicken Salad with Cafe Rio Salad Dressing

Chopped Chicken Salad with Cafe Rio Salad Dressing

Yield 4 servings
Prep Time 30 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes

Everyone who lives in Utah loves the salads from Cafe Rio, and this Chopped Chicken Salad with Cafe Rio Salad Dressing can help you get those same flavors at home!


  • 3 cups leftover rotisserie chicken, chopped (see notes)
  • one 15 oz. can black beans, rinsed and drained well (see notes)
  • 8 cups romaine lettuce, washed, spun dry in salad spinner, and chopped
  • 2 avocados, diced
  • 1 T fresh squeezed lime juice
  • 1 cup cherry tomatoes, cut in half
  • 1 bunch cilantro, washed and chopped
  •  3/4 cup Cafe Rio Salad Dressing


  1. If you don’t have leftover rotisserie chicken, bring a small saucepan of water to a low boil while you trim visible fat from the chicken breasts and cut them in half (for quicker cooking). When the water is barely boiling, add trimmed chicken breast pieces and cook on lowest possible heat about 15 minutes, or until the chicken is firm and cooked through. Drain and let chicken cool.
  2. Put the beans into a colander placed in the sink and rinse well with cold water (until no more foam appears.) Let beans drain while you prep other ingredients. (If they still seem wet when you need to use them, pat dry with paper towels.)
  3. Dice cooled chicken into bite-sized pieces. Put in a small bowl and toss with about 4 tablespoons Cafe Rio Salad Dressing.
  4. Cut ends of romaine heads and remove any spoiled outer leaves. Chop lettuce into bite sized pieces, wash with cold water in a salad spinner (affiliate link), and spin dry (or wash and dry with paper towels if you don’t have a salad spinner.)
  5. Cut up avocados, place in a bowl, and toss with the lime juice.
  6. Cut cherry tomatoes in half.
  7. Chop cilantro, wash in salad spinner, and spin dry or dry with paper towels.
  8. Put the lettuce, black beans, tomatoes, and cilantro in a large salad bowl and toss with enough dressing to moisten all the ingredients.
  9. Add the marinated chicken and toss to combine. Divide into four bowls and top each with a generous amount of diced avocado.
  10. Serve right away.
  11. To make this salad ahead for Weekend Food Prep, I would mix dressing, cook the chicken and dice into pieces, drain and rinse beans, chop romaine, and chop cilantro. Store chicken in fridge with a small amount of dressing. Store black beans in a snap-tight container. Store the chopped and washed lettuce and cilantro together in a Ziploc bag. Store dressing in a container for the fridge. When you're reading to eat the salad later, chop avocado and tomatoes and assemble salad as above.


If you don't have leftover rotisserie chicken, poach 2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts for 15 minutes, let cool, and dice the chicken. Omit black beans if you want a lower-carb salad.

Beans, lettuce and avocados are all high in fiber, so if you're looking at the carbs for this recipe be sure to check the fiber to see the net carbs.

This recipe created by Kalyn to indulge her love of Cafe Rio Salad Dressing!

Nutrition Information:



Serving Size:


Amount Per Serving: Calories: 634Total Fat: 33gSaturated Fat: 6gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 23gCholesterol: 165mgSodium: 1095mgCarbohydrates: 33gFiber: 17gSugar: 4gProtein: 57g

Nutrition information is automatically calculated by the Recipe Plug-In I am using. I am not a nutritionist and cannot guarantee 100% accuracy, since many variables affect those calculations.

If you make this recipe I'd love to hear how it turns out. Leave a star rating or share on social media with the hashtag #KALYNSKITCHEN, thanks!

Chopped Chicken Salad with Cafe Rio Salad Dressing thumbnail image of finished salad in bowl with serving plates

Low-Carb Diet / Low-Glycemic Diet/ South Beach Diet Suggestions:
This Cafe Rio Chopped Chicken Salad would be approved for any phase of the original South Beach Diet or another type of low-glycemic diet. Don’t overdo it on the dressing or the avocado if you’re eating this for South Beach. For a traditional low-carb eating plan, you can make this salad low in carbs by omitting the black beans.

Find More Recipes Like This One:
Use Salad Recipes to find more recipes like this one. Use the Recipes by Diet Type photo index pages to find more recipes suitable for a specific eating plan. You might also like to Follow Kalyn’s Kitchen on Pinterest to see all the good recipes I’m sharing there.

Historical Notes for this Recipe:
This recipe was first posted in 2014. It was last updated in 2021.

Pinterest image of Chopped Chicken Salad with Cafe Rio Salad Dressing

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    10 Comments on “Chopped Chicken Salad with Cafe Rio Salad Dressing”

  1. Cafe Rio is sooooo good. I’m going to have to print all of these out and try them! Thank you!

  2. Hope you enjoy!

  3. Thank you for this recipe I can't wait to try it!
    Cafe Rio salads are SO GOOD, but so heavy on calories, carbs and fat they have to be a special treat. I'll definitely be giving this a try!

  4. I do think it would be very difficult to make that dressing successfully without a food processor, because the tomatillo is ground up very finely in the dressing. Sorry you didn't enjoy it. Tomatillos are a southwestern staple, but everyone likes different things, I realize that.

  5. Kalyn, I made the salad w/Rio dressing last night,and for me it was disappointing sorry to say. I don't have a food processor,so I chopped as fine as I could..maybe that had something to do w/it. This was my first try of tomatillos,and don't think I like them so maybe that was a part of my not enjoying. I write this because I always like to hear from those of us that have tried the recipe…certainly your recipes are wonderful for the most part,and my personal belief is it's important to keep trying new things. I thank you for being here for all of us.

  6. Wanda, hope you enjoy. I am a huge fan of Cafe Rio; eat there at least once a month if not more!

  7. I just went to Whole Foods to get the chicken for this recipe. I will make it tomorrow night. It looks delicious…and the dressing.
    As a treat, I will go to Cafe Rio this week…its been several years since I have eaten there.
    Thanks for reminding me.

  8. Lydia when you finally make it to see the new house, I promise a trip to Cafe Rio! In fact there is one close by so we can go more than once.

  9. Sadly I don't live in a Cafe Rio part of the country (maybe we can remedy that!), because I love all of the flavors and textures going on in this salad. Even though I'm not crazy about cilantro, I can see that it's really key to making this salad sing.