Santa FE Grilled Chicken Salad

By Rena |

Better than the original, this copycat Santa Fe Salad with Grilled Chicken is the perfect Southwest Salad. Loaded with grilled chicken, cherry tomatoes, black beans, and avocado, it gets drizzled in homemade Santa Few Dressing and topped with a sprinkle of tortilla chips. You’ll be eating this all summer long!

top view of salad topped with sliced grilled chicken in a white bowl

Whether it’s Chili’s or Cheesecake Factory, we always get their Santa Fe Salad! It’s loaded with all of our favorite Tex-Mex flavors and drizzled in a tangy lime dressing. The perfect taste of summer.

We just had to try making our own version and it does not disappoint! The freshly grilled chicken is absolutely on point, however, the best part for us is the crunchy tortilla chips on top. It’s so addictive! Drizzled in Homemade Santa Fe Dressing, salads don’t really get any better than this. Perfect for a light lunch or dinner year-round!

Why you will love this Santa Fe Salad

  • Quick: This recipe is 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 salad, and dressing, and grill the chicken! It’s incredibly simple to throw together.
  • Healthy: Loaded with lean and clean protein, fruits, and vegetables, this Santa Fe salad is really good for you and tastes amazing! It’s also naturally gluten-free and low-carb.
  • Hearty: If you’re looking for a salad recipe that will fill you up, look no further! We love that it has two kinds of protein: black beans and chicken. It’s super filling!
  • Better than the original: Move over Cheesecake Factory! We’ve slashed the calories in more than half and amped up the flavor by making this our own. It’s delicious!
top view of santa fe salad topped with sliced grilled chicken in a white bowl

What you’ll need for this recipe

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.
Taco seasoning:
For that amazing Tex-Mex Santa Fe flavor we added Taco Seasoning. Feel free to use your favorite brand. Be sure to check for salt and go easy on more seasoning if it already contains salt!
Olive oil:
One of the most healthy oils out there, olive oil is perfect for grilling this chicken. You can substitute another healthy oil like avocado oil if desired.
Greens:
We chose arugula this time but next time we’ll try baby spinach. They’re both delicious beds of greens for any salad recipe!
Green onions: For a burst of flavor we added green onions to this Santa Fe Salad. Red onion is a good alternative if you prefer it over green onion.
Tomatoes: We love cherry tomatoes in our salads! They add just the right level of sweetness and tang. Toss in any kind of tomato you have on hand like Roma or diced beefsteak.
Black beans: Using canned black beans as opposed to dried ones makes prep so much easier! Black beans are loaded with protein and healthy carbs. A great addition to any healthy diet.
Avocado: Rich and creamy, avocado is not in the original Cheesecake Factory Santa Fe Salad but we tossed it in because we knew it would take this salad to the next level. We just love avocado!
Tortilla chips: A little crunch, tortilla chips are a little treat to top off the salad instead of croutons. What’s more, they’re naturally gluten-free making this Santa Fe Salad perfect for a gluten-free diet as well!

Santa Fe Dressing:

Olive oil: The base ingredient of most great salad dressings is olive oil, and this Santa Fe dressing is no exception! Raw olive oil is so good for you. Greeks claim it for their longevity!
Limes:
The juice of two fresh limes adds acidity and tang. It complements the other ingredients like avocado perfectly.
Honey:
Just a little sweetness to balance the lime. You can use maple syrup or agave nectar instead if desired.
Garlic:
We tossed in a raw garlic clove. Although pretty pungent, raw garlic is so addictive! We think this dressing only needs one clove but if you’re a garlic lover, try two!

Overhead shot of ingredients on a grey table.

How to make Santa Fe Salad

  1. Prepare the chicken: Rub the chicken breast with the taco seasoning and 1/2 tablespoon of chicken breast.
  2. Grill the chicken: Preheat a grill pan or an outdoor grill over medium-high heat. Grill the chicken until nicely charred and the internal temperature reads 165F.
Top view of grilled chicken on a black grill.

3. Add salad ingredients to a large bowl. Meanwhile, place all the remaining ingredients for the salad into a large bowl.

Overhead shot of prepared fruits and vegetables on a white board.

4. Make the Santa Fe Dressing: In a small jar, add the dressing ingredients, and shake well to emulsify.

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

6. Drizzle and toss: Drizzle the dressing all over the salad and toss to combine.

Close up of Santa Fe salad topped with sliced grilled chicken in a white bowl.

Tips For Success

  • Additions: We love to toss in corn or fresh cilantro if we have some on hand. They pair perfectly with the other southwest flavors of this Santa Fe Salad. Also, a sprinkle of cheese on top is so tasty. We recommend shredded Mexican cheese or cheddar.
  • Like a little heat? You can add extra chili powder to the chicken seasoning before grilling, or add sliced fresh jalapeños to the salad. You can also drizzle some spicy salsa over the top!
  • 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, and the tortilla chips stored in 4 ziplock bags in the pantry. This is such a tasty grab-and-go recipe!
  • 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.

Frequently Asked Questions

How many calories are in a Santa Fe Salad?

This Santa Fe Salad recipe has 461 calories per portion, compared to the Cheesecake Factory Santa Fe Salad which has 1140 calories (is that a salad or cheesecake?!), and Chili’s which has 560 calories.

What is Santa Fe Dressing made of?

You’ll love it! Santa Fe Dressing is made of 4 ingredients: olive oil, honey, lime juice, and garlic. Season with salt and pepper to taste. It’s great on a Santa Fe salad, however, we love it on just about any other salad as well!

What is Southwest Salad made of?

Southwest or Santa Fe Salad is made of greens like arugula or baby spinach, black beans, avocado, fresh tomatoes, and green onions, topped with tortilla chips, and drizzled in Santa Fe Salad Dressing. We like ours with grilled chicken to make it a complete meal.

top view of santa fe salad topped with sliced grilled chicken in a white bowl

More Healthy Salads you will love

top view of santa fe salad topped with sliced grilled chicken in a white bowl

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top view of salad topped with sliced grilled chicken in a white bowl

Santa Fe Grilled Chicken Salad

Better than the original, this copycat Santa Fe Salad with Grilled Chicken is the perfect Southwest Salad. Loaded with grilled chicken, cherry tomatoes, black beans, and avocado, it gets drizzled in homemade Santa Few Dressing and topped with a sprinkle of tortilla chips. You’ll be eating this all summer long!
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Course: Salad
Cuisine: American
Diet: Low Calorie
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 25 minutes
Servings: 4 servings
Calories: 461kcal
Author: Rena

Ingredients

  • 2 skinless boneless chicken breasts
  • 1 tbsp taco seasoning
  • 1/2 tbsp olive oil
  • 4 cups arugula or baby spinach
  • 4 green onions sliced
  • 1 cup mixed cherry tomatoes halved
  • 1/2 cup black beans rinsed and drained
  • 1 avocado diced
  • 1 cup corn tortilla chips crushed

Santa Fe Dressing:

  • 3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 limes juiced
  • 1 tbsp honey
  • 1 garlic clove minced
  • Kosher salt and pepper to taste

Instructions

  • Rub your chicken breast with the taco seasoning and 1/2 tablespoon of chicken breast.
  • Preheat a grill pan or an outdoor grill over medium-high heat. Grill the chicken until nicely charred and the internal temperature reads 165F. About 4-5 minutes per side.
  • Meanwhile, place all the remaining ingredients for the salad into a large bowl.
  • In a small jar, add the dressing ingredients, and shake well to emulsify.
  • Once the chicken is done cooking, allow it to rest then chop it and add it to the salad bowl.
  • Drizzle the dressing all over the salad and toss to combine.

Notes

  1. Additions: We love to toss in corn or fresh cilantro if we have some on hand. They pair perfectly with the other southwest flavors of this Santa Fe Salad. Also, a sprinkle of cheese on top is so tasty. We recommend shredded Mexican cheese or cheddar.
  2. Like a little heat? You can add extra chili powder to the chicken seasoning before grilling, or add sliced fresh jalapeños to the salad. You can also drizzle some spicy salsa over the top!
  3. 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, and the tortilla chips stored in 4 ziplock bags in the pantry. This is such a tasty grab-and-go recipe!
  4. 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.

Nutrition

Serving: 1serving | Calories: 461kcal | Carbohydrates: 40g | Protein: 18g | Fat: 27g | Saturated Fat: 4g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 6g | Monounsaturated Fat: 16g | Trans Fat: 0.03g | Cholesterol: 36mg | Sodium: 808mg | Potassium: 810mg | Fiber: 9g | Sugar: 7g | Vitamin A: 944IU | Vitamin C: 30mg | Calcium: 103mg | Iron: 2mg
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