Kalyn's Kitchen

Southwest Chicken Salad

Please don’t tell me salads are boring, because low-carb Southwest Chicken Salad is loaded with flavor from tasty Chipotle Ranch Dressing! 

PIN this salad to try it later!

Low-Carb Southwest Chicken Salad finished salad in serving bowl

I might be pushing it a bit giving you a salad recipe before the weather is consistently warm, but I figure it was time to take at least a short break from Asparagus Recipes. And this poor recipe for Southwest Chicken Salad had been hanging out back in the archives on Kalyn’s Kitchen since 2007 with a couple of photos that wouldn’t have enticed anyone to make it! And when I spotted it recently I remembered how much I love the Chiptle-Ranch Dressing and wanted to make it again!

And I do want to entice you to make this delicious low-carb salad! I know sometimes salads can seem a little ho-hum, but I promise that this Southwest Chicken Salad is loaded with great flavors. It’s definitely a sum-is-greater-than-the-parts kind of salad, and I use a few tricks to bump up the flavor in ways that I think you’ll enjoy. This is a perfect salad to make with leftover Roast Chicken, or use one of those packs of rotisserie chicken they sell at Costco for the chicken. And if you’re not quite in the mood for salads just yet, PIN, YUM, or bookmark the recipe so you can make it later!

What ingredients do you need for this recipe?

  • Ranch Dressing
  • salsa; I used Pace Picante Sauce (affiliate link)
  • ground Chipotle chile pepper (affiliate link)
  • diced cooked chicken
  • Romaine lettuce
  • sweet mini-peppers
  • chopped cilantro (optional)
  • sliced olives (optional, but good)
  • grated cheese

Low-Carb Southwest Chicken Salad with Chipotle Ranch Dressing found on KalynsKitchen.com

Tips for making this salad:

(Scroll down for complete recipe including nutritional information.)

  1. First make the Chipotle Ranch Dressing. I confess, I use a packet you mix with buttermilk and mayo for the Ranch, but you can make your own Homemade Buttermilk Ranch Dressing or Buttermilk Dressing to use as the base if you prefer.
  2. I like to buzz the salsa in the food processor for a smoother dressing, but you can also just stir it together with the ranch dressing and Ground Chipotle Chile Pepper (affiliate link) if you prefer. Make the dressing ahead and chill a while if you can.
  3. When you’re ready to make the salad, cut up or shred the chicken and toss with a few tablespoons of Chipotle Ranch Dressing while you prep the other ingredients.
  4. Wash salad greens and spin dry in a salad spinner (affiliate link), slice sweet mini-peppers or red bell pepper, slice olives, chop cilantro (if using) and get some grated cheese ready.
  5. Combine lettuce, peppers, and cilantro with the chicken that’s tossed with dressing.
  6. Add a little more dressing if desired, then add the olives and grated cheese and gently toss again.
  7. That’s all there is to it! Serve Southwest Chicken Salad with Chipotle Ranch Dressing right away! 

Low-Carb Southwest Chicken Salad with Chipotle Ranch Dressing found on KalynsKitchen.com

If you’re wanting a salad to take to work, I’d prep all the ingredients before hand. In the morning mix the dressing with the chicken and store in a snap-top container. Put the lettuce, peppers, cilantro, cheese, and olives in another container with a snap-top lid and mix the salad together right before you eat it.

More Low-Carb Salads with Chicken:

Low-Carb Beat-the-Heat Chicken Salads from Rotisserie Chicken ~ Kalyn’s Kitchen
Low-Carb Buffalo Chicken Salad Stuffed Avocado ~ Sugar-Free Mom
Chicken and Avocado Salad with Lime and Cilantro ~ Kalyn’s Kitchen
Spinach Artichoke Chicken Salad ~ Wonky Wonderful
Leftover Chicken Salad with Indian Spices, Lemon, and Cilantro ~ Kalyn’s Kitchen
Grilled Lemon Pepper Chicken Salad with Greek Yogurt ~ Aggie’s Kitchen

Low-Carb Southwest Chicken Salad with Chipotle Ranch Dressing found on KalynsKitchen.com

Southwest Chicken Salad

Yield 2 servings
Prep Time 25 minutes
Total Time 25 minutes

Southwest Chicken Salad gets extra flavor from the Chipotle Ranch dressing that the chicken marinates in while you prep other ingredients, and this tasty salad is low in carbs.


Dressing Ingredients (Makes about 2.5 cups dressing):

  • 2 cups Ranch Dressing
  • 1/2 cup salsa (I used Pace Picante Sauce Mild, see notes)
  • 1/2 tsp. Ground Chipotle Chile Pepper (see notes)

Salad Ingredients:

  • 2 cups diced cooked chicken
  • 1/4 cup Chipotle Ranch Dressing (or more, to taste)
  • 4 cups chopped Romaine lettuce
  • 6 sweet mini-peppers, seeds cut out and sliced (see notes)
  • 1/4 cup chopped cilantro (see notes)
  • 2 oz. sliced olives (optional, but good)
  • 1/2 cup grated cheese (see notes)


  1. Put salsa in food processor (affiliate link) and puree about one minute with steel blade. (Could also use a blender or immersion blender.) Add Ranch Dressing and ground Chipotle and process 30 seconds more, or until well combined. (You can also just stir the dressing together if you don't mind it a little chunky.)
  2. Chill dressing 1-2 hours if possible.
  3. Mix diced chicken with desired amount of salad dressing and set aside to marinate while you prep other ingredients.
  4. Coarsely chop the lettuce and spin dry with salad spinner (affiliate link) or dry with paper towels.
  5. Combine lettuce, red pepper and cilantro in large mixing bowl.
  6. Stir in chicken with dressing and mix lightly, until dressing is distributed throughout salad.
  7. Add the grated cheese and olives and stir gently a few more times, then serve.


You can buy Pace Picante Sauce and Ground Chipotle Chile Pepper at Amazon.com if you can't find them. (Affiliate links)

I love sweet mini-peppers for this salad, but regular red or yellow bell peppers will also be good. Use thinly-sliced green onion if you're not a cilantro fan; use more or less cilantro to taste. I used Four-Cheese Mexican Blend from Costco.

Nutritional information is calculated using a packet mix with buttermilk and mayo for the dressing. Bottled Ranch may be higher in carbs.

Low-Carb Southwest Chicken Salad with Chipotle Ranch Dressing was created by Kalyn, inspired by a long-ago Rubio's salad that's no longer on the menu there.

Nutrition Information:



Serving Size:


Amount Per Serving: Calories: 616Total Fat: 44gSaturated Fat: 13gUnsaturated Fat: 27gCholesterol: 163mgSodium: 772mgCarbohydrates: 13gFiber: 4.8gSugar: 6.2gProtein: 42g

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!

Low-Carb Southwest Chicken Salad with Chipotle Ranch Dressing found on KalynsKitchen.com

Low-Carb Diet / Low-Glycemic Diet / South Beach Diet Suggestions:
Southwest Chicken Salad is a good main-dish salad for any low-glycemic or low-carb diet, including any phase of the South Beach Diet.

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 can also Follow Kalyn’s Kitchen on Pinterest to see all the good recipes I’m sharing there.

Pinterest image of Southwest Chicken Salad

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    22 Comments on “Southwest Chicken Salad”

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  6. I love the sound of that ranch and this entire salad! Those mini peppers are my favorite!
    Thanks for the shout out to my chicken salad! <3

  7. Is this south beach diet phase 2 friendly?

  8. Kalyn,adding a twist.made dressing,vacuum packed with fresh chicken breasts and going to smoke .let you know how it turns out.

  9. Glad you liked it!

  10. Thanks for the awesome dressing recipe Kalyn! I will for sure be making that ALL the time.

  11. This was fabulous! Does anyone have a recipe for a Southwest Chicken salad that has tortellini in it? I used to have it in a Tea room in Naperville Illinois, but it is a “secret” recipe. Any help would be greatly appreciated! Thanks

  12. Naudee, thanks. Me too!

  13. I still LOVE this salad and tend to make is A LOT!!!!

  14. Patricia, thanks. It’s one of my favorite things to have for lunch.

    Great big veg challenge, I love what you’re doing with your son, but this is the very end of school for me, so it’s not a good time for me to get this class involved in anything. Next year I’ll be teaching third grade, so maybe that class could do it.

    Karen, I think black beans would be a great addition!

    Dani, isn’t Rubios great for relatively healthy fast food. Much better than a lot of things you could get.

    Sara, I love the dressing. Hope you like it.

  15. Wow, that sounds great Kalyn! I’ll be trying this soon.

  16. Yum!! I have a Rubios right up the street and I get this salad all the time…I love it. I like the idea of adding some black beans, I’ll have to make one of these for myself. Thanks Kalyn!

  17. Hi Kalyn
    This looks excellent. Chipotle seasoning is a great way to “liven up” a salad and will probably encourage some of my pickier salad eaters to try some of this. I might also add some black beans to this as well – I think that might be a good addition to get some added fiber!!!

  18. I love chicken with chipotle — I make chipotle mayo and spread it on everything!

  19. Kalyn I see you are a fourth grade teacher. I wonder if your pupils might like to join in our Great Big Veg Challenge with my eight year old son who is munching his way through the A to Z of vegetables…he would love to have some ideas sent to the blog by any of your young students!

  20. Kalyn, I’ve been meaning to make chicken salad for a while now but the recipes I had seen didn’t make my mouth water – this one certainly has!
    It looks delicious!