Chopped Chicken Salad (with Cafe Rio Dressing)
This Chopped Chicken Salad (with Cafe Rio Dressing) is a delicious salad to make at home with all the flavors that make Cafe Rio salads so popular! And you can omit the black beans for a Cafe Rio Chicken Salad that’s low in carbs!
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 have a great copycat 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 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 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 if you have it on hand. Whether you love Cafe Rio or you just 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 actual Cafe Rio Salads?
Here’s the actual description of the Cafe Rio Salads that used to be on their 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 ingredients do you need for this recipe?
(This is only a list of ingredients; please scroll down for complete printable recipe. Or if you use the JUMP TO RECIPE link at the top of the page, it will take you directly to the complete recipe.)
- leftover rotisserie chicken or cooked chicken, chopped (see notes)
- canned black beans (optional)
- romaine lettuce
- fresh-squeezed lime juice, I used my fresh-frozen lime juice
- cherry tomatoes
- fresh cilantro (optional)
- Cafe Rio Salad Dressing
How can you make this Cafe Rio inspired Chopped Chicken Salad low in carbs?
If you skip the optional black beans that are served at Cafe Rio, this tasty salad will be very low in carbs. (And I like to order my salad without rice or beans when I’m eating at Cafe Rio as well!)
How to Make Chopped Chicken Salad (with Cafe Rio Salad Dressing):
(This is only a summary of the steps for the recipe; please scroll down for complete printable recipe. Or if you use the JUMP TO RECIPE link at the top of the page, it will take you directly to the complete recipe.)
- Start by making some Cafe Rio Salad Dressing and have it chilling in the fridge.
- 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.
- When it’s cool, chop up the chicken into bite-sized pieces.
- Toss the diced chicken with four tablespoons of the Cafe Rio Salad Dressing and let it marinate while you prep the other ingredients.
- 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.)
- 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.
- Cut cherry tomatoes in half to make about 1 cup of cherry tomato halves.
- Chop one bunch of cilantro and crisp it in the salad spinner and spin dry.
- Cut up the avocados and toss with 1 T lime juice.
- Combine the lettuce, tomatoes, black beans (if using), and cilantro and toss with enough dressing to moisten.
- Then stir in the chicken and dressing it was marinating in.
- Divide into bowls and top each one with a couple of generous spoonfuls of avocado; enjoy!
More Tasty Salads with Chicken:
- Chicken Salad with Green Olives
- Rotisserie Chicken Salad
- Chicken and Avocado Salad with Lime and Cilantro
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!
- 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
- 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.
- 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.)
- Dice cooled chicken into bite-sized pieces. Put in a small bowl and toss with about 4 tablespoons Cafe Rio Salad Dressing.
- 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.)
- Cut up avocados, place in a bowl, and toss with the lime juice.
- Cut cherry tomatoes in half.
- Chop cilantro, wash in salad spinner, and spin dry or dry with paper towels.
- Put the lettuce, black beans, tomatoes, and cilantro in a large salad bowl and toss with enough dressing to moisten all the ingredients.
- Add the marinated chicken and toss to combine. Divide into four bowls and top each with a generous amount of diced avocado.
- Serve right away.
- 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!
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.
Low-Carb Diet / Low-Glycemic Diet/ South Beach Diet Suggestions:
This Chopped Chicken Salad (with Cafe Rio Dressing) would be low in carbs if you skip the optional black beans. The salad would be approved for any phase of the original South Beach Diet, but don’t overdo it on the dressing or the avocado if you’re eating this for South Beach.
Find More Recipes Like This One:
Use Salad Recipes to find more recipes like this one. Use the Diet Type Index to find recipes suitable for a specific eating plan. You might also like to follow Kalyn’s Kitchen on Pinterest, on Facebook, on Instagram, on TikTok, or on YouTube 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 with more information in 2023.