Experience the ultimate flavor explosion with my mom’s Shredded Chicken Taco Salad. What sets it apart? The irresistible Creamy Avocado Dressing, featuring ripe avocados, tangy Greek yogurt, zesty lime juice, and a blend of Mexican spices. Combined with shredded lettuce, shredded chicken, juicy tomatoes, black olives and green onions, this salad is healthy, hearty and satisfying. Topped with creamy shredded cheese and a satisfying crunch of tortilla chips, each bite is a sensational delight. And, it can be served in a variety of ways – as a layered salad, cobb salad-style, or simply tossed and served.

Table of Contents
  1. Easy Chicken Taco Salad
  2. Why This Chicken Taco Salad Recipe Works
  3. Chicken Taco Salad Ingredients
  4. Variations
  5. How to Make Chicken Taco Salad
  6. How to Make Avocado Salad Dressing
  7. Serving Suggestions
  8. Tips
  9. FAQs for Chicken Taco Salad
  10. Shredded Chicken Taco Salad

Easy Chicken Taco Salad

I share my mom’s love for main dish salads; this Taco Chicken Salad has always been a favorite. Its star is the irresistible Avocado Dressing. Moreover, my mom’s preference for a beautifully layered lettuce salad added an elegant touch and allowed her to assemble it in advance. Simply bring it to room temperature the next day and serve. Alternatively, I provide several other serving options if layered salads aren’t your thing (see below).

Why This Chicken Taco Salad Recipe Works

Here’s why my mom’s chicken taco salad recipe stands out as a healthier, flavor-packed option for a delicious lunch or dinner:

  • The Avocado Dressing. The combination of ripe avocados, Greek yogurt, lime juice, garlic, and spices creates a creamy and flavorful dressing that adds a unique and delicious twist to the salad.
  • Versatility. This recipe can be served in multiple ways, whether as a layered salad, cobb salad-style, or simply tossed and served. In addition, the salad ingredients can be customized to your tastes (see details below).
  • Fresh ingredients. The salad features shredded lettuce, chopped cooked chicken, fresh tomatoes, ripe black olives, and green onions, ensuring a vibrant and satisfying mix of flavors and textures.
  • Cheesy goodness. The generous amount of shredded cheese, whether sharp Cheddar or a blend of cheddar and Monterey jack, adds a melty and savory element that enhances the overall flavor profile of the salad.
  • Varied texture. The addition of crushed tortilla chips provides a satisfying crunch, elevating the texture and making each bite even more enjoyable.
  • Healthier option. The use of shredded chicken in place of the traditional seasoned ground beef used in taco salads reduces the fat, making it healthier. Plus, the Greek yogurt in the Avocado Dressing adds creaminess while keeping it lighter and healthier, too.
  • Easy to make. This recipe is super easy to prepare with readily available ingredients, and can even be completely assembled the night before serving!
side view of a trifle dish filled with Shredded Chicken Taco Salad, with the ingredients arranged in layers

Chicken Taco Salad Ingredients

Here’s a quick rundown of what you’ll need for both the salad and the avocado dressing (details, including quantities, are in the recipe card below):

Shredded Chicken Taco Salad

  • Shredded lettuce
  • Shredded cooked chicken (can also use chopped)
  • Fresh tomatoes
  • Sliced ripe black olives
  • Green
  • Kosher salt
  • Fresh ground pepper
  • Shredded cheese, all sharp Cheddar or a mixture of cheddar and Monterey jack (called Cheddar Jack)
  • Tortilla chips

Creamy Avocado Dressing

  • Ripe avocado
  • Plain Greek yogurt (I use nonfat)
  • Freshly squeezed lime juice
  • Garlic
  • Kosher salt
  • Ground cumin
  • Dash Tabasco sauce

Variations

Here’s a few ideas on how to customize this recipe and make it your own:

Substitutes

  • Use regular yogurt instead of Greek; once added, only pulse 2 or 3 times to blend.
  • Use lemon juice in place of lime.

Additions

  • Purchased salsa, either on top of the dressing or on the side.
  • Chopped cilantro, added either to the dressing or directly into the salad between two layers.
  • Cooked corn.
  • Cooked black beans (if using canned, rinsed and drained)
  • Chopped red or green bell pepper
  • Chopped jalapeño or serrano pepper
side view of a trifle dish filled with Shredded Chicken Taco Salad, with the ingredients arranged in layers

How to Make Chicken Taco Salad

Here’s all you have to do to make this delectable dish as a layered salad:

  1. Layer first 5 ingredients.
    In a deep 3 or 4-quart glass bowl or trifle dish, layer the first 5 salad ingredients in this order, very lightly sprinkling each layer with salt and pepper: lettuce, chicken, tomato, olives, and onions.
  2. Add avocado dressing and cheese.
    Spoon avocado dressing over top of onions. Using a spatula, smooth into an even layer. Sprinkle cheese over top of dressing.
  3. Refrigerate.
    Cover and chill for at least 1 hour or overnight.
  4. Add tortilla chips.
    Before serving, bring to room temperature and sprinkle crushed tortilla chips over the top. 

How to Make Avocado Salad Dressing

I always make the dressing first, then assemble the salad:

  1. Purée avocado.
    Scoop avocado flesh into a food processor and purée until smooth.
  2. Add remaining ingredients.
    Add yogurt, lime juice, garlic, chili powder, salt, cumin, and Tabasco sauce; blend until well mixed and few to no lumps remain.
  3. Adjust seasonings as needed.
    Taste and season with additional salt if needed.
  4. Cover and chill until assembling salad.

You’ll notice a unique twist in this recipe: the avocado dressing doesn’t have the typical pale green hue. Thanks to the addition of chili powder and cumin, it takes on an earthy yellow-orange tint.

overhead view of Avocado Dressing in a food processor; shows how creamy the dressing should be

Serving Suggestions

Here are some other options for serving this Taco Chicken Salad:

  1. Individual salads. Divide lettuce among 8 individual shallow bowls, arrange salad ingredients in rows on top (like a cobb salad), and pass dressing on the side.
  2. On a large serving platter. Spread lettuce on a large oval platter and arrange other ingredients in rows, passing dressing on the side.
  3. In mason jars. Layer salad in individual mason jars for a picnic or casual dinner.
  4. Simply toss. Don’t layer ingredients, just toss and serve.

And, regardless of how you choose to assemble the salad, let the avocado dressing sit for at least one hour before serving to allow the flavors time to blend.

Tips

  • How to choose the perfect avocado. The best way to get a perfectly ripe avocado (with no blemishes) is to buy a hard, unripe one. Avocados are different from most fruits; they ripen only after being picked. If you choose an avocado that seems soft and ripe, chances are that it’s been handled a lot and is likely bruised. To reduce the chance of blemishes, buy a firm avocado and let it ripen undisturbed on your kitchen counter. It will be at peak flavor and texture in about two to five days.
  • What kind of tomatoes work best in taco salad. For taco salad, it’s best to use fresh tomatoes that are firm, juicy, and flavorful. I prefer Roma (Italian plum), cherry or grape tomatoes, especially when tomatoes aren’t in season because these smaller varieties are likely to have more flavor. Both are on the sweeter side; Romas will have fewer seeds, while grape or cherry will have a brighter red color and more concentrated flavor.
  • Best lettuce to use. The best lettuce for this taco salad is one that provides a crisp and refreshing base while holding up well to the other ingredients. Romaine, buttercrisp (butter or butterhead) lettuce, and iceberg all work well.
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side view of a trifle dish filled with Shredded Chicken Taco Salad, with the ingredients arranged in layers

Shredded Chicken Taco Salad

Experience the ultimate flavor explosion with my mom’s Shredded Chicken Taco Salad. What sets it apart? The irresistible Creamy Avocado Dressing, featuring ripe avocados, tangy Greek yogurt, zesty lime juice, and a blend of Mexican spices. Combined with shredded lettuce, shredded chicken, juicy tomatoes, black olives and green onions, this salad is healthy, hearty and satisfying. Topped with creamy shredded cheese and a satisfying crunch of tortilla chips, each bite is a sensational delight. And, it can be served in a variety of ways – as a layered salad, cobb salad-style, or simply tossed and served.

  • Prep Time: 20 mins
  • Refrigeration Time: 60 mins
  • Total Time: 1 hour 20 minutes
  • Yield: 8 servings 1x
  • Diet: Gluten Free

Ingredients

Scale

Creamy Avocado Dressing

  • 2 large ripe avocados, pitted
  • 3/4 cup plain Greek yogurt (I use nonfat)
  • 3 tablespoons freshly squeezed lime juice
  • 1 large garlic clove, minced
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons chili powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, or more to taste
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • Dash Tabasco sauce

Shredded Chicken Taco Salad

  • 4 cups shredded lettuce (a 4.5 ounce package)
  • 2 cups shredded (or chopped) cooked chicken – around 12 to 14 ounces uncooked
  • 2 cups chopped fresh tomatoes, seeded if desired
  • 1 cup sliced ripe black olives
  • 1/2 cup chopped green onions – white, light green, and some of the dark green portion (3 to 5 onions, depending on size)
  • Kosher salt
  • Fresh ground pepper
  • 2 cups shredded cheese, all sharp Cheddar or a mixture of cheddar and Monterey jack (called Cheddar Jack)
  • 2 to 4 tablespoons crushed tortilla chips

Instructions

Creamy Avocado Dressing

  1. Scoop avocado flesh into a food processor and purée until smooth.
  2. Add yogurt, lime juice, garlic, chili powder, salt, cumin, and Tabasco sauce; blend until well mixed and few to no lumps remain.
  3. Taste and season with additional salt if needed.
  4. Cover and chill until assembling salad.

Shredded Chicken Taco Salad

  1. In a deep 3 or 4-quart glass bowl or trifle dish, layer the first 5 salad ingredients in this order, very lightly sprinkling each layer with salt and pepper: lettuce, chicken, tomato, olives, and onions.
  2. Spoon avocado dressing over top of onions. Using a spatula, smooth into an even layer. Sprinkle cheese over top of dressing.
  3. Cover and chill for at least 1 hour, or overnight.
  4. Before serving, bring to room temperature and sprinkle crushed tortilla chips over the top.

Notes

Note on chicken: I recommend seasoning raw chicken with taco seasoning and sautéing in vegetable or olive oil for use in this recipe.

Serving Suggestions: Here are some other options for serving this Taco Chicken Salad:
1. Individual salads. Divide lettuce among 8 individual shallow bowls, arrange salad ingredients in rows on top (like a cobb salad), and pass dressing on the side.
2. On a large serving platter. Spread lettuce on a large oval platter and arrange other ingredients in rows, passing dressing on the side.
3. In mason jars. Layer salad in individual mason jars for a picnic or casual dinner.
4. Simply toss. Don’t layer ingredients, just toss and serve.

  • Author: From “A Well-Seasoned Kitchen®” by Sally Clayton and Lee Clayton Roper
  • Category: Main dish salads
  • Method: No bake
  • Cuisine: Tex-Mex

Nutrition

  • Serving Size: 1
  • Calories: 660
  • Sugar: 3.5 g
  • Sodium: 702.6 mg
  • Fat: 22.7 g
  • Saturated Fat: 10.8 g
  • Trans Fat: 0.1 g
  • Carbohydrates: 24.7 g
  • Fiber: 7 g
  • Protein: 86.5 g
  • Cholesterol: 259.1 mg

FAQs for Chicken Taco Salad

How to cook chicken for taco salad?

I recommend seasoning raw chicken with taco seasoning and sautéing in vegetable or olive oil for use in this recipe.

How to shred cooked chicken?

There are three main methods for shredding chicken; the first two can be used with bone-in or boneless; the third one works only with boneless cuts:
1. Use your hands. I prefer this method, pulling the chicken apart into thin strips, and then tearing the longer strips into smaller pieces. Note that for this method, the chicken has to be cooled.
2. Use two forks. With still-warm cooked chicken, use two forks. Hold one fork in each hand and place them, back to back, into the chicken; pull in opposite directions to shred.
3. Use an electric mixer. Break the chicken into chunks and place in the bowl of a stand mixer. Using the paddle attachment, mix on low speed until the desired consistency.

How to tell if your avocado is ripe?

A ripe avocado yields to gentle pressure but is still a bit firm. If your avocado is ready before you are, just place it in the fridge where it will keep for a few days.

How many calories in a chicken taco salad?

side view of a trifle dish filled with Shredded Chicken Taco Salad, with the ingredients arranged in layers

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About the author

Hi, I'm Lee.

I am inspired by my mother, Sally’s, love of cooking and entertaining to gather friends and family together over great meals and conversation. In fact, I held my first dinner party at the age of 16. Throughout the years, I’ve provided recipes, menu advice and cooking tips to friends seeking uncomplicated and delicious ideas for home entertaining.


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