Chicken BBQ Ranch Salad
This chicken BBQ Ranch Salad has become a summer staple! Loaded with black beans, ripe tomatoes, crispy cucumbers, pickled red onions, chopped cilantro, crunchy chips and so much more!
You know the drill.
Loaded salads that require minimum cooking make summer dinners a breeze.
The chicken has marinated with pantry staple ingredients like dried ranch seasoning, garlic powder, and chili powder and then grilled indoors on a grill pan or toss indoor on an outdoor grill until it’s perfectly cooked.
Chop that chicken up, toss it in a big bowl with all your favorite salad toppings and drizzle it with that homemade bbq ranch dressing and you’ve got the most addicting weeknight-friendly bbq ranch salad!
Every bite is loaded with so much crunch and flavor!
Ingredients for bbq ranch salad:
- Chicken: You can use boneless, skinless chicken thighs or breasts for this recipe. Either will work here.
- Seasonings: For the seasonings, you’ll need garlic powder, chipotle chili powder, ranch seasoning, red pepper flakes, and a couple of teaspoons of pickle juice from a jar of pickles.
- Romaine Lettuce: I like to use romaine hearts for this recipe, but you could also use a spring mix or even shredded iceberg!
- Cherry Tomatoes: I use cherry tomatoes, but again, diced Roma or beefsteak tomatoes will also work here!
- Cucumbers: English cucumbers are my favorite to use in a salad, but you could even use Persian cucumbers or Kirby (pickling) cucumbers here.
- Corn: I use charred corn in my bbq ranch salad to give it a bit more personality! I grill fresh corn while grilling the chicken! You can certainly use frozen or canned charred corn here as well.
- Black Beans: Make sure to rinse and drain the beans before adding them to your salad bowl.
- Avocados: Use ripe avocados that still hold their shape so that they don’t end up getting too mushy in the salad!
- Extra Add-ins: I like to use homemade quick-pickled red onions, shredded cheese, chopped cilantro, and either nacho cheese chips or crispy jalapeños in my salad for added crunch! I usually use crunchy jalapeños, but this last time, I tried it with nacho cheese chips and – it’s amazing!
- Mayo + Sour Cream: mayonnaise and a dollop of sour cream are the base for my homemade bbq ranch dressing.
- Milk: is used to help thin out the dressing a little bit.
- Sauces: Use your favorite bbq sauce here. Here’s my homemade version that we absolutely love, but store-bought sauce will also work here.
How to make an easy bbq ranch salad:
- Start by marinating the chicken. You want to let the chicken marinate for as long as you possibly can, so I like to start here. Combine the dry ingredients. That’s the ranch seasoning, garlic powder, and chili powder in a bowl, and dry rub the chicken. Let it sit for at least 5 minutes and, ideally, at least 1-2 hours. Once that’s done, add the chicken to a hot skillet, grill pan, or grill outdoors and cook the chicken until it registers 165ºF on a meat thermometer. Let it cool for several minutes before slicing.
- Let’s make the dressing. The dressing is effortless. You just add the mayonnaise, sour cream, milk, ranch seasoning, pickle juice, bbq sauce, and red pepper flake to a bowl and stir them together until combined and smooth. Taste and adjust with additional seasonings as desired.
- Put that BBQ Ranch Salad together. In a large serving bowl, add the romaine lettuce, top with the tomatoes, cucumbers, charred corn, black beans, avocados, pickled red onions, cilantro, shredded cheese, and then your choice of crunchy jalapeños or nacho cheese tortilla chips. Add the chicken in once it’s had a chance to cool a bit, then toss with your desired amount of dressing and serve immediately! You can also make individual servings if you didn’t want to dress the entire salad immediately.
FAQs about this recipe
- What if I don’t have pickles on hand to use pickle juice; any subs? You can swap the pickle juice in the dressing for freshly squeezed lemon juice instead!
- My dressing came out a bit thick; what do I do? I find letting the dressing sit for 15 minutes usually thins it out a bit, but if you’re serving this immediately, you can add another small splash (1-2 tsp) of milk to help thin it to your desired consistency!
- Can I use other add-ins? Yes! You can totally make this salad your own, add in whatever you like. Then, take a second to come back and share your add-ins; I’d love to try them too!
If you like this chicken salad recipe, you might also like:
- Crispy Chicken Salad with Sriracha Honey BBQ Dressing
- Chopped Thai Chicken Salad with Skinny Peanut Dressing
- Sesame Chicken Pasta Salad with Ginger Dressing
- Honey Mustard Chicken Cobb Salad
- Fiesta Chili Lime Chicken Salad with Mango Avocado Salsa
- 16 ounces boneless, skinless chicken
- 1 ¼ teaspoon ranch seasoning
- ¼ teaspoon EACH: garlic powder AND chipotle chili powder
- 2 hearts of romaine lettuce
- 1 cup cherry tomatoes, chopped
- ½ English cucumber, chopped
- ½ cup EACH: fire-roasted corn AND shredded Mexican cheese
- 1 (15-ounce) can black beans, rinsed/drained
- 1 large Haas avocado, diced
- ¼ cup EACH: pickled onions AND cilantro
- 1 handful crispy jalapeños (or nacho cheese chip)
Bbq Ranch Dressing:
- ½ cup mayonnaise
- 2 tablespoons EACH: sour cream AND milk
- 2 teaspoons EACH: ranch seasoning AND pickle juice (see notes)
- ¼ cup bbq sauce
- ¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes
- CHICKEN: season the chicken with ranch, garlic powder, and chipotle chili powder and set aside for 5 minutes while you prep the veggies (you can also do this several hours in advance and refrigerate.) Heat a indoor/outdoor grill on medium-high heat. Cook the chicken until it reaches an internal temperature of 165ºF. Remove and let cool for several minutes before slicing or dicing.
- DRESSING: Add the ingredients for the dressing to a bowl and whisk until combined. Taste and adjust with additional seasonings as desired. The dressing will thin a bit as it sits, but if it’s too thick feel free to add another small splash of milk.
- SALAD: In a bowl, add the romaine lettuce, top with tomatoes, cucumber, corn, black beans, avocado, pickled onions, cilantro, cheese, and crispy jalapeños. Drizzle with desired amount of dressing and serve family-style!
- pickle juice: If you don’t have a jar of pickles in the fridge to use the juice, just swap it for 2 teaspoons freshly squeezed lemon juice!