Chipotle Chicken Taco Salad

Blast from the past alert!

Now that our blog readers are no longer just some of our college roommates and aunts who read our blog out of obligation, from time to time, we want to re-post some of our favorite recipes from the past that our newer readers may never have discovered otherwise.
This is another Cooking Light superstar, with my own modifications. I love serving it at parties because a) it’s pretty much a guaranteed hit, b) it’s a cinch to prepare, especially if you use pre-grilled chicken and pre-washed, pre-chopped lettuce, and c) the dressing is low-fat and it is awesome. To. Die. For.
I love the flavor of chipotle, but it is hot! Chipotle (which is pronounced chip-OAT-lay, just in case you’re wondering; I say that only because I have a former boss who would call people named José “Josie”) chilies are basically smoke-dried jalapenos. And here in the U.S., you’ll almost always find them in the Mexican food section, canned in adobo sauce. Now, if I weren’t such a pansy, I’d probably like the chilies themselves better, but alas, I AM a pansy, so what I’m after is the sauce. Don’t get me wrong, it’s still plenty spicy, just not burn-your-tongue/mouth/esophagus, let’s-induce-gastrointestinal-distress-spicy. The recipe I got this from actually had you chopping whole chilies into the dressing and suffice it to say that that was a teeny, tiny bit too spicy for my taste. If you do decide that you have tastebuds of steel, I recommend approaching using whole chilies the way you would jalapenos, especially since the adobo sauce has the tendency to stain your hands a lovely burnt sienna. I spent the afternoon coloring, can you tell?

Anyway, I’ve yammered on enough. Let’s do it to it.

For the salad:

and the dressing:

Chipotle Chicken Taco Salad


4 c. chopped Romaine Lettuce
2 c. chopped grilled chicken (you could use Taco Chicken if you want)
1 c. cherry or grape tomatoes, washed
1/3 c. vertically-sliced red onions
1 avocado, cubed
1 15-oz. can black beans, rinsed and drained
1 8 3/4 oz. can corn, rinsed and drained

1/3 c. chopped fresh cilantro
2/3 c. light sour cream
1 1/2 + tsp. adobo sauce from canned chipotle chilies
1 tsp. chili powder
4 tsp. fresh lime juice
¼ tsp. salt

Tortilla Strips

Make sure all salad ingredients that need to be washed or rinsed have been. I rinse the beans and corn together; no reason not to! Heck, throw the tomatoes in while you’re at it if you want!

Combine lettuce, chicken, beans, corn, onion, and tomatoes in a large bowl and gently mix with your hands (which you have obviously and thoroughly washed, of course! 🙂 ). Set aside.

oops, totally forgot the red onions in this picture…

Mix dressing ingredients. I say to start with 1 1/2 tsp. of adobo sauce and then go from there, probably 1/4-1/2 tsp. at a time. If you’re serving this for a crowd, it’s probably better to err on the side of not spicy enough rather than too spicy, but if you’re just making it for your family and you have taste buds of steel, have at it. You could even chop up one of the chilies and toss it in there if you’re feeling super-brave. Then taste the dressing and you’ll know what heaven tastes like. Set dressing aside.

If you’re making tortilla strips, fry those puppies up now. I didn’t make them here because I’m trying my darndest not to be naughty nutritionally, but if I make this salad for some kind of festivity, I always make the tortilla strips. Allow them to cool.

When you’re ready to serve, add avocado, tortilla strips, and dressing. Gently combine and serve.

Makes 4-6 meal-sized servings and 6-8 side-dish or party-sized servings.




  1. You’re welcome, Marcie! I hope it was good for you guys! And Nat, I’m glad you loved it and that you found everything you’re looking for. This a full-service cooking site, including giving shopping lists over the phone while you’re at the grocery store! 🙂

  2. This looks like it could be a new favorite. I love chipotle and am excited to have a recipe for chipotle dressing now! Love your blog….

  3. Oh, this looks so good. I love good salads (you know, the kind that’s not super healthy). I’ll be making this for Sunday. Thanks, Kate for keeping up with this during your super busy week 🙂

  4. I am so making this some time this week! I looks so yummy and Ned is always wanting to make salads (I know, weird man). Oh yeah, FYI – This is Camille. 🙂

  5. I LOVE Cooking Light’s site and mag, and saw it online the other night and made it for dinner, without realizing you had already posted it! I chopped up a chili though to add spice, but it wasn’t spicy at all. I was worried that one chili would be too much!!!

  6. yum, yum, yum!This sounds awesome! It’s like my favorite Black bean salsa with a creamy dressing and LETTUCE! I would have never thought of that!

  7. Thanks for reposting this recipe–I’m definitely making this! (Unfortunately, I’ll have to wait until I return to the US in July since I can’t find black beans anywhere in France!)

  8. I always use a fork and knife to cut up chipotle chilis. Wouldn’t think of touching that stuff with my hands!

    I also cut them on my ceramic plates instead of a cutting board because the sauce stains my plastic cutting boards.

    But I’m all for adding the chilis!

  9. BIG hit at my house!!
    All 3 of my kids loved it. My youngest who has weany taste buds opted for her with homemade ranch, my middle wanted the chipotle dressing but found it too hot, so he added some ranch (a pretty good combo)and my oldest and I braved the spice. Super yummy!!!

  10. Yummo Kate, you’re the WOman. I’m glad to know the secret of getting the flavor without the fire. I had a great recipe for Chipotle Sweetpotatoes that was so good until the burn hit… Then I could feel the fire coming out of my ear, nose, eyes you name it. Now I’ll try just using the sauce. Great trick!

  11. Totally reminds me of the Santa Fe salad (I think that was its name) that Wendy’s used to offer before it replaced it with a taco salad. I LOVED it and was super sad they discontinued it, so “thanks” to you for posting this!

  12. You can’t never go wrong with chipotle. I love how this dish turned out and the pictures are making me hungry!

  13. Recently was told about your website and tried this recipe. It was EXCELLENT! I'm sharing it with friends. Thanks!

  14. This looks delish…and springy and yummy. Have you ever tried freezing what is left of the peppers and sauce? Or, are there any other recipes that you can suggest to help use some of the rest of the can? I just hate opening a can and then wasting most of it 🙂

    1. @aubri…i throw the leftover peppers into a food processor, separate them into tablespoonfuls on a plate and freeze them. when they are frozen, i throw them all into a ziplock bag. perfect for soups or for making a delicious salad like this one! hope this helps! 🙂

  15. how many servings does this make? I am needing something for a ladies luncheon, so I am out scouting for something like this. Thanks.

  16. Just stuffed myself completely full of this meal tonight. It was incredible! (Not to mention a great way to use up a bunch of the stuff from my Bountiful Basket! hehe) Also tried your Brazilian Lemonade and it was to die for. Thanks for helping dinner be a success tonight!

  17. This is so so yummy! I’m addicted to the creamy Cafe Rio dressing, but this is way easier to make and tastes just as good (if not better!) in my opinion!

  18. This was an amazing salad! I actually used plain yogurt in place of the sour cream and it was SO yummy! Thanks for the recipe!

  19. This salad is awesome! I am a huge fan of ANYTHING chipotle or with adobo sauce but this is one of my favorite recipes! My husband isn’t a big cilantro fan ( poor guy) but he didn’t even taste it in this one because of the well-mixed flavors. We added crushed tortilla chips and shredded some sharp cheese, definitely a salad to share with friends. Love it! Thanks ladies!

  20. This salad is by far the best chicken salad I’ve ever had! I made it for dinner last night and my husband couldn’t stop talking about how good it tasted! The kids- 4 and 2 devoured it! My sister stopped by while we were eating and scooped some up and also was completely amazed by the taste! This is going on our dinner rotation for sure! The flavors were perfect and I wouldn’t change a thing! Thanks so much for sharing 🙂

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