This Mexican garden chicken salad recipe with a cilantro citrus vinaigrette is basically a fiesta in a bowl. Diced chicken breast, charred corn, avocado, tomato, and cotija cheese, makes this Mexican chicken salad a lunch/dinner favorite.
Is there anything better than a fresh summer salad?! Summertime brings delicious produce which makes dishes taste that much better. This Mexican garden chicken salad screams summer and tons of flavor.
Cilantro Citrus Vinaigrette
Homemade vinaigrette is totally underrated. I used to always buy bottled salad dressings because I thought it would be a pain to make, but it’s actually the opposite. It is not only easy to make, but it’s so nice to control the ingredients that are put inside. A lot of dressings are filled with hidden ingredients that yeah make them taste good, but pack the calories.
I based this vinaigrette off of my lemon dijon vinaigrette which is one of my absolute favorite salad recipes. Using white wine vinegar instead of red, added some ground cumin, and fresh cilantro for freshness. I whisked it all together and stored in the fridge until I was done with the salad elements.
Mexican chicken spices
For the chicken I made a quick seasoning blend of: chili powder, smoked paprika, ground cumin, dried oregano, garlic powder, kosher salt, and fresh ground black pepper. I added a few tablespoons of olive oil, then mixed in the seasoning until all the chicken pieces are completely coated.
You can also leave the chicken whole and then grill the chicken or you can cook it in a cast iron skillet over the stove. You’re going to fully cook the chicken until the internal temperature reaches 165 degrees F. If cooking on the stove, use a spoon to remove the chicken and set aside. If grilling, once cooked, remove from the grill then cut into smaller pieces.
Next comes the corn, basically the mascot of summer. You can also either prepare this over the grill or you can cook it in the same cast iron that you cooked the chicken in. I sautéd the corn with 1 tbsp of butter over medium heat until the corn charred and cooked through.
Assembling the salad
Assembling the salad, I used mixed greens but feel free to use your favorite type of greens as the base. I also diced avocado, cherry tomatoes, freshly chopped cilantro, and crumbled cotija cheese (the best!).
Add all the ingredients together in a bowl and dress with the homemade cilantro citrus vinaigrette. Toss and serve!
If you are saving the salad for later, do not dress the salad with the vinaigrette ahead of time or else it will make the salad soggy. This Mexican garden chicken salad will be your new favorite lunch!
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This garden mexican chicken salad paired with a cilantro citrus vinaigrette, is a fiesta in a bowl!
- 2 boneless skinless chicken breasts, cubed (1 lb)
- ½ tsp chili powder
- ½ tsp smoked paprika
- ¼ tsp ground cumin
- ¼ tsp dried oregano
- ⅛ tsp garlic powder
- ¼ tsp kosher salt
- ¼ tsp fresh ground black pepper
- 3 tbsp olive oil
Cilantro Citrus Vinaigrette
- 2 tbsp fresh squeezed lemon juice (½ lemon)
- ¼ cup olive oil
- 2 tbsp white wine vinegar
- ½ tsp dijon mustard
- ⅓ cup freshly chopped cilantro
- 1 tsp honey
- 2 tbsp water
- ½ tsp ground cumin
- ¼ tsp kosher salt
- fresh ground black pepper to taste
- 5oz mixed greens (or lettuce of choice), rinsed and dried
- 2 avocados, peeled & diced (½ cup)
- 1 cup diced cherry tomatoes
- ¼ cup fresh cilantro, chopped
- ¼ cup cotija cheese, crumbled
- 1 cup corn
- 1 tbsp of butter
- In a bowl, add cubed chicken, olive oil, all spices, and mix until chicken is evenly coated. In a cast iron skillet, over medium high heat, cook chicken until it reaches an internal temperature of 165 degrees F. Remove and set aside. In same skillet, lower heat to medium, and add 1 tbsp of butter. Once melted add in the corn and sauté until the kernels are charred, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside.
- Vinaigrette: Using an immersion blender or regular blender, add all the ingredients for the vinaigrette and blend until smooth. You can also hand whisk until all ingredients have been combined. Taste and adjust seasoning if necessary. Store in refrigerator.
- In a large bowl, assemble all the ingredients together. If not eating right away, wait to dress the salad with the vinaigrette or else the greens will wilt.
- Refrigerate dressing for up to one week due to the fresh cilantro in the vinaigrette
- You can also grill the chicken and the corn in this recipe. If grilling the chicken, you can leave the chicken breast whole, then proceed to dice after fully cooked. Same with corn, grill whole then cut the kernels off.
Keywords: garden salad, citrus vinaigrette, cilantro vinaigrette, grilled chicken, corn