Santa Fe Salad | The Recipe Critic

Santa Fe Salad | The Recipe Critic

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Santa Fe Salad is filled with bold southwestern flavor and has the most wonderful texture. Romaine lettuce, grilled chicken, black beans, corn, tomatoes, tortilla strips, avocado and cheese come together for the most amazing combination. And the creamy southwest dressing is the perfect finishing touch.

Salads, like this one, with plenty of hearty flavorful ingredients are my favorite! Try some of my other go-to salad recipes that are beyond delicious, Avocado, Chicken and Bacon, Thai Cashew, and this Autumn Salad.

Hero image of santa fe salad in a large mixing bowl.

Santa Fe Salad Recipe

This Santa Fe salad recipe is zesty, fresh and full of southwest flavors you are going to love. It comes together quickly with very little effort in just 20 minutes, making it a go-to when I’m short on time but need big flavor. The ingredients are full of nutrients with plenty of protein and healthy fats that allows this salad to be a satisfying main dish. However, it’s also crowd-pleasing enough to bring to potlucks and other gatherings where there’s a spread of different dishes. 

The lettuce, tomatoes and all of the veggies keep this salad light, yet filling. The taco seasoned chicken, black beans and corn give it a Mexican flair. And the black olives and avocado add flavor and texture. Add tortilla strips for a contrasting crunch and saltiness. Finally, top with the insanely delicious dressing that you’ll want to put on everything!

Ingredients Needed

The ingredients for this Santa Fe salad recipe are fresh and delicious! Check out the recipe card at the bottom of the post for exact measurements of the ingredients.

  • Romaine Lettuce: For the perfect satisfying crisp freshness!
  • Grilled Chicken Breast: Use leftover chicken or make this grilled chicken recipe.
  • Taco Seasoning: For coating the chicken. Use store-bought, or for maximum flavor, try my homemade taco seasoning.
  • Yellow Bell Pepper: Adds texture and a pop of color! Orange or red bell peppers work great too!
  • Cherry Tomatoes: For juicy bursts of sweetness.
  • Black Beans: Rinse and drain for added fiber, flavor and texture.
  • Corn: Canned corn is convenient and will add just a hint of sweetness in every bite.
  • Avocado: Halved, seeded, peeled, and diced for wonderful creaminess.
  • Black Olives: Buy canned sliced olives or slice them yourself.
  • Queso Fresco: Love this Mexican-style crumbled cheese!
  • Cilantro: Adds freshness! If you don’t like cilantro, simply omit it.
  • Salt and Pepper: To bring out all of the delicious flavors!
All of the salad ingredients prepared in glass bowls.

Dressing

  • Sour Cream: Adds a lovely tangy flavor to the dressing.
  • Mayonnaise: Balances out the tang of the sour cream while adding creaminess.
  • Milk: Gives the dressing the perfect consistency.
  • Cilantro: For fresh herby flavor. Use parsley if you don’t like cilantro.
  • Lime Juice: A little acid is necessary in dressings and the taste of the lime complements the ingredients in the salad.
  • Southwest Seasoning: You can buy this or make your own!
  • Salt and Pepper: To taste!
The dressing ingredients in glass bowls.

Let’s Make Santa Fe Salad!

This Santa Fe salad comes together with very little effort and has the best pairing of flavors! You’re going to love it!

  1. Prep: Wash and chop the lettuce and place it in a large bowl. Add the chicken breast to a separate bowl with the taco seasoning and toss to coat the chicken evenly. Add the seasoned chicken to the bowl of lettuce.
  2. Combine All Ingredients: Add in the bell pepper, tomatoes, black beans, corn, avocado, olives, queso fresco, and cilantro. Season the salad with salt and pepper.
  3. Make the Dressing: In a medium bowl, whisk together the sour cream, mayonnaise, milk, cilantro, lime juice, southwest seasoning, and salt and pepper.
  4. Toss and Serve: Pour the dressing over the salad and toss to evenly mix all the ingredients before serving. Enjoy fresh!

Tips and Variations

A joining of all of my favorite Tex-Mex ingredients and a flavorful creamy salad dressing, this might just be my new favorite salad recipe! Here are some helpful tips and ways to make it your own!

  • Choosing an Avocado: Look for firm, dark green avocados that give slightly to pressure. They should be free from dents and bruises.
  • Lettuce: I like to use romaine lettuce because it has both crunchy and leafy parts that give the salad delicious texture. You can use iceberg or a mixture of both. Also, try mixing in some spinach for an extra boost of iron.
  • Meat: Try different protein options in this salad like grilled shrimp, steak or even crispy chicken.
  • Cheese: If you don’t have queso fresco, feta cheese is a good substitute. You could also sprinkle in some shredded cheddar cheese. 
  • Dressing: This salad pairs perfectly with the southwest dressing, but you could also serve it with Blue Cheese Dressing or Homemade Ranch Dressing.

A santa fe salad made with vibrant veggies, chicken, and cheese

Storing Leftovers

Like most salad recipes, this Santa Fe salad is best served fresh and just after making it!

Once the salad and dressing have combined, it will not keep for long. The salad will get soggy. Only dress what you plan on eating and store the salad and dressing separately for longer storage. Both will keep in the fridge for 3 days.

The avocado will also brown quickly, so if you think you might have leftover salad, only add the avocado to what will be enjoyed immediately.

Pouring dressing over the salad

More Delicious Salad Recipes

Salads make such a good side dish, and depending on the ingredients, they can also be a satisfying main! I have so many good ones that you’re going to want to try! Here are some of my go-to salad recipes that I make all of the time. I know you’re going to love them just as much as I do!

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  • 10 ounces romaine lettuce, chopped
  • 1 ½ cups grilled chicken breast, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon taco seasoning
  • 1 yellow bell pepper, diced
  • 1 cup cherry tomatoes, quartered
  • 1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 can corn, drained
  • 1 avocado, diced
  • ¼ cup black olives, sliced
  • ½ cup queso fresco, crumbled
  • ¼ cup cilantro, chopped
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • tortilla strips, optional for garnish
  • Wash and chop the lettuce and place it in a large bowl. Add the chicken breast to a separate bowl with the taco seasoning and toss to coat the chicken evenly. Add the seasoned chicken to the bowl of lettuce.

  • Add in the bell pepper, tomatoes, black beans, corn, avocado, olives, queso fresco, and cilantro. Season the salad with salt and pepper.

  • In a medium bowl, whisk together the sour cream, mayonnaise, milk, cilantro, lime juice, southwest seasoning, and salt and pepper.

  • Pour the dressing over the salad and toss to evenly mix all the ingredients before serving.

  • Enjoy fresh!

I suggest enjoying this salad fresh, if you have leftovers keep them in the fridge in an airtight container for up to 3 days.
This salad pairs perfectly with the southwest dressing, but you could also serve it with Blue Cheese Dressing or Homemade Ranch Dressing.
 

Calories: 252kcalCarbohydrates: 8gProtein: 10gFat: 21gSaturated Fat: 5gPolyunsaturated Fat: 7gMonounsaturated Fat: 7gTrans Fat: 0.1gCholesterol: 39mgSodium: 364mgPotassium: 451mgFiber: 3gSugar: 3gVitamin A: 3609IUVitamin C: 38mgCalcium: 101mgIron: 1mg

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.


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