This Southwest BBQ Chicken Salad with Dairy-Free Southwestern Buttermilk Ranch Dressing is both an family dinner recipe AND a perfect recipe for meal prep!
As challenging as dinner can be, so, too, can work lunches.
I work from home, and my husband works downtown. While it’s easier in theory for me to eat healthy lunches working from home, I’m usually so strapped for time. I’m always working at lightning pace, trying to finish up as much work as possible before the kids get home. I often default to either eating a less satisfying “lunch snack” after they get home in the afternoon, or a less healthy grab-and-go lunch while I’m out running errands.
So in trying to be better about both meal planning for dinners AND meal prep for work lunches, I’ve started making this Southwest BBQ Chicken Salad recipe that fulfills both!
Easy Family Dinner Recipe
It starts with super easy sautéed chicken breast spiced simply with salt, pepper, and paprika.
You can use any head of lettuce you prefer – romaine, red leaf, green leaf, or butter lettuce.
Then the remaining ingredients are simply chopped red peppers, corn, edamame, and black beans. I always keep cans of black beans in my pantry for quick meals. I also always have frozen corn, since it’s not always in season, as well as frozen edamame.
Southwest BBQ Chicken Salad
To make this Southwest BBQ Chicken Salad for dinner, simply assemble the ingredients – along with the dressing below – and serve immediately.
This is a great salad to make ahead of time and then bring to potlucks, picnics, and to parties. You can keep the cooked chicken in a separate container so as not to wilt the other salad ingredients and make them soggy by serving time, then combine them together once you are ready to serve.
Easy Meal Prep Recipe
This salad is also absolutely PERFECT for meal planning – either for your work lunches, like I do, or for your dinners.
For lunches, I divide these into five separate containers (I know, only four are shown here, but it does make enough for 5!). They keep well in the refrigerator for up to one week. Simply grab one for lunch each day, and go!
Dairy-Free Southwest Buttermilk Ranch Dressing
I made a quick and easy Dairy-Free Southwest Buttermilk Dressing to go with the salad. Simply combine mayonnaise, dairy-free buttermilk, paprika, chopped cilantro and lime juice.
You can, of course, make this with regular store-bought or homemade buttermilk instead of my dairy-free version if you’d prefer.
I keep my homemade dressing in a water-tight, seal-proof salad shaker and it stays fresh for up to a week. You could also keep these in mason jars or any other airtight containers in the refrigerator for up to one week.
Southwest BBQ Chicken Salad Recipe
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 5 chicken breasts, skinless and boneless
- 1/2 tbsp paprika
- 1/4 tsp ground black pepper
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1 head small lettuce your choice of butter lettuce, green leaf, red leaf, or romaine
- 2 red bell peppers diced
- 1-1/2 cup corn
- 1-1/2 cup edamame
- 1 can black beans (about 1-1/2 cups)
SW Buttermilk Ranch Dressing
- 1/2 cup mayonnaise
- 1/2 cup buttermilk (I make dairy-free buttermilk by adding 1 tsp lemon juice to 1/2 cup almond milk and allowing it to sit at room temperature for 5 minutes)
- 1 tsp paprika
- 1 tbsp cilantro finely chopped
- 1 tsp lime juice
Make the chicken
- Heat olive oil over a large sauté pan over medium-high heat. Sauté chicken breasts until cooked, about 3-5 minutes each side, depending on thickness. For best results, flatten chicken breasts to similar thickness with a kitchen mallet before cooking.
Assemble the salad
- Place lettuce in a large bowl, then top with diced red pepper, corn, edamame, and black beans.
Make the SW Buttermilk Ranch Dressing
- In a large bowl, combine mayo, buttermilk, paprika, cilantro, and lime juice. Whisk together until well blended. Pour into an airtight salad shaker, or other airtight container.
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