Does your salad bowl need a little inspiration? If so, you are going to love this Santa Fe Salad with Spicy Jalapeño Ranch.
To make a truly great Santa Fe Salad it’s not just taking your chicken taco night ingredients and calling it “salad”(though I love leftover taco salad too). In my opinion, the dressing is what makes the salad feel like you are eating out at a restaurant.
I’m a firm believer that the best salads come with homemade dressings, but don’t worry! This Spicy ranch comes together in minutes, and the Santa Fe Salad is even easier.
If you made a resolution to eat healthier this year and want to make simple changes to your meals, adding a little variety to that plain iceberg salad wedge is a great start. Check out how easy this salad is to make in this quick video.
Santa Fe Salad Ingredients
While I like salads, I am head over heels for the stuff that builds a masterpiece over that bed of (boring) lettuce. For this one, you’ll need a few basic things, you may already have on hand.
- Taco Seasoning
- Chicken Breasts
- Green Lettuce
- Black Beans
- Cherry Tomatoes
- Cheddar Cheese
- Spicy Jalapeño Ranch Dressing
Easy right? If you already have leftover meat from another meal like Cilantro Lime Chicken, that’s another great fit for this salad!
I also sometimes build this chicken salad out of extra oven-roasted chicken or grilled chicken from Taco Tuesday or when I make burrito bowls. Cooking extra chicken ensures that I have the base I need to create another healthy meal option or epic salad.
In the Summer months, I often make this salad as part of my weekly meal plan and it helps get my kids used to eating more veggies, other times, I make a big batch and pre-pack it as work lunches for the week. I love this salad so much, I take it to the office all the time!
Since my kids love taco night, I first got them used to the delicious dressing for this salad drizzled over their tacos. Sometimes, they build their salads without the lettuce, and you know what, that’s ok too!
How to Make Santa Fe Salad
I’ve been telling you how easy this salad is to make, and now I’ll prove it to you! Just four quick steps, and you’re done!
- Prepare the Protein If you’re cooking chicken like in the recipe instructions below, now is the time. Otherwise you can shred or chop the leftover chicken you plan to use to top your salad.
- Make the Base In a large bowl place your chopped lettuce, black beans and corn, creating the base of your salad.
- Chop the Rest Chop the remaining veggies and chicken and top the salad base with the tomatoes, chicken, avocados and cheese.
- Drizzle The best part! Drizzle that homemade spicy ranch all over the salad, and enjoy!
This salad couldn’t be easier, and let me tell you, it is packed with flavor you’ll forget you’re eating a healthy salad.
Spicy Jalapeño Ranch Dressing
The best part about this spicy salad dressing, it is healthy, fresh, and adds the right amount of spice for you to forget you are eating a salad. And did I mention it’s made entirely in the blender? Seriously. So easy.
For this spicy ranch, you need:
- Greek yogurt
- Lime juice
- Olive oil
- Salt & Pepper
The list is long but the instructions are easy. Dump all the ingredients in your food processor or blender and combine until it’s smooth and drool-worthy. Trust me, you’ll never go back to store bought.
Want a little less spice? Check out my Avocado Lime Ranch Dressing instead!
If you’re looking for more, be sure to check out all my favorite lunch salads here. In the meantime, I hope your family enjoys this Santa Fe Chicken Salad as much as mine.
Santa Fe Salad with Jalapeño Ranch Dressing
For the chicken salad:
- 1 tablespoon oil, for cooking
- 2 teaspoons taco seasoning
- 1 pound chicken breasts
- Two heads green lettuce, chopped
- 15 ounce can black beans, drained and rinsed
- 1 cup corn, thawed if using frozen
- 1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
- ½ cup shredded cheddar cheese
- 1 avocado, diced
- Jalapeño Ranch Dressing, see below
For the jalapeño ranch dressing:
- ¾ cup mayonnaise
- ¾ cup plain Greek yogurt
- 2 tablespoons lime juice
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- ⅓ cup milk
- ⅓ cup chopped cilantro
- 2 garlic cloves
- ½ jalapeño, stemmed and seeded
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon pepper
The juicy chicken breasts:
- Pat dry the chicken breasts and season on both sides.
- Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Once hot, add the oil. Place the chicken in the oil pan and cook, without disturbing, for 7 minutes. Flip the chicken breasts over and cook the other side for 6 minutes until the internal temperature has reached 165F.
- Remove the chicken from the skillet onto a plate and allow it to cool for 5 minutes before slicing.
Assemble the salads:
- Meanwhile, assemble the salad in a large bowl or individual bowls by making a bed of lettuce, top with black beans, cherry tomatoes, cheese, and avocado. Right before serving, top salad with sliced chicken and drizzle with dressing and serve.
For the Spicy Jalepeño Ranch:
- In a blender or food processor, combine all ingredients and blend until smooth and creamy. Refrigerate leftovers up to 1 week.