Chicken/ Lunch/ Summer Lovin'

The Ultimate Grilled Chicken Salad

September 11, 2021 by Chris Collins

Juicy grilled chicken and a dreamy chipotle mayo dressing in a salad packed with delicious goodies – this truly is the best grilled chicken salad you’ll ever make!

When I tell you this salad is hearty, I mean it. Yes, potentially one of the least ‘healthiest’ salads you’ve witnessed, but what more do you expect around here 🤣 Follow me…

overhead shot of grilled chicken salad in large white serving bowl on marble background

Chipotle Mayo Dressing

This is the kind of thing you could drink from the bowl. Well, actually don’t try that. But you get the message. Here’s what you’ll need:

  • Mayonnaise – This makes up the bulk of the dressing. Full fat, of course.
  • Chipotle Paste – Chipotle paste has a very powerful, condensed flavour which is packed with various other flavour/spices alongside the chipotle. I prefer this over chipotle chilis in adobo sauce or chipotle powder (more on this in the recipe card notes).
  • Lime Juice – This livens up the dressing and pairs perfectly with the chipotle paste.
  • Garlic – A little goes a long way with this! Make sure it’s very finely minced.
  • Milk – This thins out the mayo and gives it more of a dressing consistency.

Can I make this ahead of time?

Yup! Just tightly cover in the fridge. It’ll last at least a week!

Process shots: add ingredients to mixing bowl (photo 1), mix and thin out with milk as needed (photo 2).

2 step by step photos showing how to make chipotle salad dressing

Grilled Chicken

The chicken is indeed the star of the show here, so it’s important to show it in its best light. Today we’re using boneless skinless chicken thighs. I find they grill really well, where you can get some nice char without the meat drying out.

The easiest way to inject some flavour into the chicken is to whip up a super simple marinade. Here I’ve just used some store-cupboard spices (smoked paprika, cayenne pepper, onion & garlic powder, salt & black pepper) to create a smoky & slightly spicy flavour coating. This smokiness compliments the chipotle beautifully! To help bind the spices you’ll need some olive oil and lime juice. The oil will help prevent chicken from sticking to the pan, whilst the lime tenderizes the meat and wraps it in a vibrant flavour.

How long to marinate for?

I find around 4 hours+ works best (up to overnight). If you’re pushed for time even just marinating as you prep the other ingredients will work wonders.

Grilling the Chicken

If you have one I recommend using a griddle pan, just so you can add some smoky grill marks without drying out the chicken. This helps inject some smoky flavour into the chicken and enhance the flavour of the smoked paprika and chipotle. A heavy bottom pan or cast iron skillet will also work well if you don’t have a griddle pan (main thing is just getting a nice bit of char).

Room Temp Chicken

I recommend taking the chicken out of the fridge around 15mins before needed. Frying chicken straight from the fridge will cause it to seize up and go chewy. Allowing the chicken to come close to room temp will relax the meat and ensure it stays nice and juicy as it fries.

Process shots: add spices, lime juice and oil to bowl (photo 1), whisk together (photo 2), add chicken (photo 3), mix then marinate (photo 4), add to griddle pan (photo 5), fry both sides until charred and cooked through the centre (photo 6).

6 step by step photos showing how to grill chicken thighs

Grilled Chicken Salad

Of course salads are always to preference, but here’s the combo I find brings out the best in the chicken to create the most delicious salad:

  • Romaine Lettuce – this forms a nice firm bed for the salad and holds up against the heavy dressing really well.
  • Baby Plum Tomatoes – or cherry tomatoes!
  • Avocado – sliced or diced.
  • Bacon – cooked until crispy then chopped.
  • Chicken –  as discussed. Slice just before adding to salad.
  • Crispy Onions – oh c’mon, I needed something fried in this salad.

Can I make this salad ahead of time?

I highly recommend serving this right away to avoid a soggy salad. You could prep the salad without dressing, but you’ll find the chicken won’t be as juicy and the onions/bacon won’t be crispy.

Process shots: add lettuce to large salad bowl (photo 1), add tomatoes (photo 2), add avocado (photo 3), add bacon (photo 4), add chicken (photo 5), add onions (photo 6).

6 step by step photos showing how to make grilled chicken salad

overhead close up shot of half of grilled chicken salad in large white bowl

Serving Grilled Chicken Salad

I usually hold back on some of the dressing and onions, then serve individual portions with extra on top! I also sometimes like to serve with a lime wedges, but that’s completely optional.

For another delicious chicken salad recipe check out my Spicy Mango Chicken Salad!

For more similar recipes check out these beauties too:

Hearty Salad Recipes

Alrighty, let’s tuck into the full recipe for this chipotle chicken salad shall we?!

grilled chicken salad served in small white bowl with silver fork surrounded by garnish

How to make Grilled Chicken Salad (Full Recipe & Video)

overhead shot of grilled chicken salad in large white serving bowl on marble background

The Ultimate Grilled Chicken Salad

Juicy grilled chicken and a dreamy chipotle mayo dressing in a salad packed with delicious goodies - this truly is the best grilled chicken salad you'll ever make!
Print Pin Rate
Servings (click & slide): 5
Course: Lunch / Main Course
Cuisine: Universal
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 30 minutes
Calories per serving: 563kcal
Cost per serving: £3 / $4

Equipment:

  • Small Mixing Bowl & Spatula
  • Medium Sized Bowl & Cling Film
  • Griddle Pan & Tongs
  • Sharp Knife & Chopping Board
  • Large Salad Bowl & Salad Tossers

Ingredients (check list):

Grilled Chicken

  • 4x 5oz/150g boneless skinless Chicken Thighs
  • 1.5 tbsp Olive Oil
  • 1 tbsp Lime Juice
  • 1.5 tsp Smoked Paprika
  • 1/2 tsp EACH: Onion Powder, Garlic Powder, Salt
  • 1/4 tsp EACH: Black Pepper, Cayenne Pepper

Chipotle Mayo (makes big batch!)

  • 3/4 cup / 180g Mayo
  • 1-2 tbsp Chipotle Paste (see notes)
  • 1/2 Lime, juice only (or to taste)
  • 1 small clove of Garlic, minced & smoothed with the blade of your knife
  • 1/4 cup / 60ml Milk, or as needed to thin out dressing

Salad

  • 2 large heads of Romaine Lettuce, chopped
  • 8 strips of Bacon, cooked & chopped
  • 7oz / 200g Baby Plum or Cherry Tomatoes, halved
  • 1 large Avocado, sliced or diced
  • 1/2 cup Crispy Fried Onions, or to preference

Instructions:

  • Marinate Chicken: In medium sized mixing bowl whisk together smoked paprika, onion powder, garlic powder, salt, black pepper, cayenne pepper, lime juice and olive oil. Add in chicken thighs and combine until they're all completely covered with the marinade. Marinate for as long as you have time for (up to overnight). If you're in a rush just rest at room temp as you prep the other ingredients.
  • Chipotle Mayo: In a small mixing bowl combine mayonnaise with chipotle paste, lime juice and garlic. Gradually add in milk 1 tbsp at a time to thin it out to your desired consistency.
  • Grill Chicken: Bring chicken close to room temp if you marinated it in the fridge, then add to a griddle pan over medium high heat. Fry until the chicken begins to char (4-5mins), then flip and continue frying until charred on the second side and piping hot right through the centre. Place to one side to rest then slice just before needed.
  • Salad: Add lettuce to a large salad bowl. Add chicken, avocado, bacon, tomatoes and half of the crispy onions. Drizzle over a few dollops of the dressing (don't go overboard!) then toss to combine. Serve individual portions with more dressing and crispy onions as needed.

Quick 1 min demo!

Notes:

a) Chipotle Paste - You'll find this in most UK stores. It's great because it's got a deep, condensed flavour with other flavourings alongside the chilli. If you can't find it you can sub Chipotle Chilis in Abodo Sauce which are more common in the US. Either blend up 1-2 of the actual chillis, or you can spoon in some of the sauce. Start with a small amount and work your way up. You could also use chipotle powder. However in my experience this has less flavour than sauce or paste and varies a fair bit in spice level.
b) Dressing Quantity - The recipe makes a big batch. Because hey, chipotle mayo! So definitely don't feel like you have to use it all. You can store leftovers tightly covered in the fridge for around a week. If you want a smaller batch use the quantities slider at the top of the recipe card to adjust as needed.
c) Chicken - Chicken thighs tend to be juicier and more flavoursome, but you can use chicken breast. Just make sure they're boneless/skinless and around the same weight (5oz/150g per breast). Same method apart from that besides the fact they will cook slightly quicker.
d) Marinating - Realistically the longer the better, but even just 15mins will be great. In all cases though just make sure you bring the chicken close to room temp before frying. If you fry cold chicken it'll seize up and go chewy.
e) Calories - based on using half the dressing:

Your Private Notes:

Nutrition:

Nutrition Facts
The Ultimate Grilled Chicken Salad
Amount Per Serving
Calories 563 Calories from Fat 343
% Daily Value*
Fat 38.15g59%
Saturated Fat 7.39g37%
Trans Fat 0.067g
Polyunsaturated Fat 13.27g
Monounsaturated Fat 14.985g
Cholesterol 137mg46%
Sodium 801mg33%
Potassium 1489mg43%
Carbohydrates 24.33g8%
Fiber 9.7g39%
Sugar 9.11g10%
Protein 34.03g68%
Vitamin A 22607IU452%
Vitamin C 30.3mg37%
Calcium 142mg14%
Iron 4.33mg24%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.
Nutrition is based on the absence of salt unless stated as a measurement in the ingredients. Cost is worked out based on ingredients bought from UK supermarkets, then divided by the number of servings. In both instances these values are just for guidance. Please check out my FAQ Page for more info.
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