Cilantro Lime Grilled Chicken Salad

By Rena Awada |

This Cilantro Lime Grilled Chicken Salad is tender marinated chicken that’s grilled to perfection and then served over baby spinach with cherry tomatoes, corn, and avocado. A hearty salad that’s packed with flavor and also happens to be full of nutrition.

top view of grilled chicken salad in a wooden bowl

There’s not much better than fresh, colorful, nutrient-dense salads in the summer!

It’s the perfect way to reap the benefits of fresh summer produce and create easy, light meals with plenty of vegetable goodness.

We’re particularly obsessed with this Cilantro Lime Grilled Chicken Salad! Here’s why:

First, this salad is a wonderful combination of textures — crisp veggies and fresh baby spinach, zesty cilantro lime dressing, and creamy avocado.

Second, it’s the perfect summer salad because it utilizes the grill and is topped with succulent grilled chicken.

Why you will love this chicken salad

  • Quick: Once the chicken is marinated, this recipe can be ready in less than 30 minutes, making it perfect for a quick lunch or dinner any time!
  • Easy: All you have to do is prepare the marinade, let the chicken soak in all of the delicious flavors, grill the chicken, and toss together the salad ingredients! It’s SO simple to whip up!
  • Healthy: Loaded with lean and clean protein, fruits, and vegetables, this chicken salad is really good for you and tastes amazing! It’s also naturally gluten-free.
  • Satisfying: If you’re looking for a hearty salad recipe that will fill you up, look no further! We love that it is packed with protein from the chicken and has a good amount of healthy fats from the avocado.
Sliced grilled chicken served over a salad with corn and sliced jalapeños.

Ingredients needed

  • Chicken breasts: Boneless, skinless chicken breasts are grilled for this recipe. We chose this cut of meat because it is lean and we usually have it on hand. Boneless, skinless chicken thighs or turkey breast are great substitutes.
  • Marinade: For that amazing southwestern flavor, we’re marinating the chicken in a blended mix of fresh cilantro, garlic, lime juice, apple cider vinegar, olive oil, jalapeños, and red onion.
  • Greens: We chose baby spinach, but other great choices are arugula or mixed greens. They’re all great choices for any salad recipe!
  • Tomatoes: We love grape or cherry tomatoes in our salads! They add just the right level of sweetness and tang. Feel free to toss in any kind of tomato you have on hand, like chopped Roma or diced beefsteak.
  • Corn kernels: You can use fresh or canned corn. We love fresh corn in the spring and summer months, but canned works too. If using canned corn, take care to rinse and drain it first.
  • Avocado: Rich and creamy, avocado is the perfect finishing touch to this salad!
Ingredients needed to make a cilantro lime grilled chicken salad.

How to make this salad recipe

Prepare the marinade: To a small food processor add all the marinade/dressing ingredients and pulse until almost smooth.

Blending fresh cilantro, garlic and olive oil in a food processor.

Marinate the chicken: In a bowl place the chicken breast and add 2 tablespoons of the marinade. Transfer the remaining marinade (without touching the raw meat) to a small
jar and refrigerate. Refrigerate and marinate the chicken for 1 hour to overnight.

Pouring cilantro lime marinade over raw chicken breasts.

Grill the chicken: Just before cooking the chicken, remove it from the fridge and allow it to sit on the counter for 20 minutes to reach room temp. Preheat a grill pan or an outdoor grill to medium heat. Grill the chicken until nicely charred and the internal temperature reaches 165F.

Grilled chicken on a black grill.

Prepare the salad: Meanwhile, place all the ingredients for the salad into a large bowl.

Rest and slice the chicken: Once the chicken is done cooking, allow it to rest then slice it and add it to the salad bowl.

Drizzle and toss: Drizzle the remaining marinade all over the salad and toss to combine. Serve and enjoy!

Salad made with baby spinach, grilled chicken and corn.

Tips for recipe success

  • For maximum flavor, the chicken should marinate for at least an hour, but you can actually leave the chicken in the marinade overnight.
  • You can use fresh, canned, or thawed frozen corn in the salad. If it’s summer and corn is in season, try tossing cobs of corn on the grill alongside chicken, then cut the kernels off to go in the salad.
  • We love to enjoy this salad year round, with an outdoor grill in the warmer weather months and an indoor grill pan during the winter.
  • This salad is perfect for meal prep! Prepare all of the ingredients and portion the salad into 4 individual containers, with 4 small pots of salad dressing stored separately. You can also cook the chicken up to 2 days before you plan to make your salad. Simply, heat the chicken up or place it cold on the salad, whatever you prefer.
Wooden bowl filled with a grilled chicken salad.

Customize this salad recipe

There are so many different ways to make this recipe your own based on the ingredients you have on hand. Here are some tasty options:

  • Protein: Instead of chicken, try the grilled steak, salmon, or shrimp.
  • Greens: Swap out the baby spinach for romaine or a mixed greens blend. Kale or arugula will also work just fine.
  • Vegetables: You can absolutely add other vegetables to the mix, some suggestions included grilled veggies such as asparagus, zucchini, or bell peppers. Marinated artichoke hearts or black olives are also a nice addition.
  • Cheese: A sprinkle of cheese on top is so tasty. We recommend shredded Mexican cheese or cheddar.
Cilantro lime grilled chicken salad served in a wooden salad bowl.

Frequently asked questions

How long does it take to grill chicken?

A typical 4-ounce boneless, skinless chicken breast will need to grill for 4-5 minutes per side. If your chicken breasts are larger or smaller, you will need to adjust the cooking time accordingly. You can also make this recipe with boneless, skinless chicken thighs, which will cook for 6-7 minutes per side.

Is Cilantro Lime Grilled Chicken Salad healthy?

The salad itself is made with a variety of vegetables, which makes it a nutrient powerhouse. The vegetables provide important nutrients including potassium, dietary fiber, folate, vitamin A, and vitamin C, which provide a myriad of health benefits. In addition, the avocado is a great source of healthy monounsaturated fat, which are good fats known to lower cholesterol, promote heart health and boost brain function. They are also chock full of vitamins such as vitamins B, E, and K, minerals, and are a good source of fiber. Avocados even boast 60 percent more potassium than bananas. Overall, this salad is a great addition to your diet!

How long does leftover salad keep fresh?

Store any leftover salad in an airtight container for up to 3 days. If it’s possible, store the salad dressing separately from the rest of the salad to preserve the greens a little longer.

More healthy salad recipes to try

Sliced cilantro lime grilled chicken served over a large salad.

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top view of grilled chicken salad in a wooden bowl

Cilantro Lime Grilled Chicken Salad

This Cilantro Lime Grilled Chicken Salad is tender marinated chicken that’s grilled to perfection then served over baby spinach with cherry tomatoes, corn and avocado. A hearty salad that’s packed with flavor and also happens to be full of nutrition.
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Course: Main Course, Salad
Cuisine: Mexican, tex mex
Diet: Gluten Free, Low Calorie
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes
Marinating time: 1 hour
Total Time: 1 hour 25 minutes
Servings: 4 servings
Calories: 383kcal
Author: Rena

Ingredients

  • 1 lb boneless chicken breasts

Marinade and dressing:

  • 1 bunch cilantro
  • 4 garlic cloves peeled
  • 1 lime juiced
  • 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
  • 4 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 jalapeño or red chili seeded and coarsely chopped
  • 1 small red onion thinly sliced
  • Kosher salt and pepper to taste

Salad:

  • 4 cups baby spinach
  • 1 cup cherry tomatoes halved
  • 1/2 cup corn kernels
  • 1 large avocado diced

Instructions

  • To a small food processor add all the marinade/dressing ingredients and pulse until almost smooth.
  • In a bowl place the chicken breast and add 2 tablespoons of the marinade. Transfer the remaining marinade (without touching the raw meat) in a small jar and refrigerate.
  • Refrigerate the chicken for 1 hour to overnight. Just before cooking it, remove from the fridge and allow it to sit over the counter for 20 minutes to reach room temp.
  • Preheat an outdoor grill or a grill pan over medium heat. Grill the chicken breast until nicely charred and cooked through, for around 12-14 minutes.
  • Meanwhile, in a large salad bowl add all the salad ingredients.
  • Once the chicken is done cooking, place it on a chopping board and allow it to sit until ready to handle. Slice and add it to the salad bowl.
  • Drizzle the salad with the remaining marinade from the jar. Toss to combine and serve.

Notes

  • Protein: Instead of chicken, try the grilled steak, salmon, or shrimp.
  • Greens: Swap out the baby spinach for romaine or a mixed greens blend. Kale or arugula will also work just fine.
  • Vegetables: You can absolutely add other vegetables to the mix, some suggestions included grilled veggies such as asparagus, zucchini, or bell peppers. Marinated artichoke hearts or black olives are also a nice addition.
  • Cheese: A sprinkle of cheese on top is so tasty. We recommend shredded Mexican cheese or cheddar.

Nutrition

Serving: 1serving | Calories: 383kcal | Carbohydrates: 15g | Protein: 27g | Fat: 25g | Saturated Fat: 4g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 3g | Monounsaturated Fat: 16g | Trans Fat: 0.01g | Cholesterol: 73mg | Sodium: 789mg | Potassium: 1022mg | Fiber: 6g | Sugar: 4g | Vitamin A: 3193IU | Vitamin C: 36mg | Calcium: 65mg | Iron: 2mg
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