BBQ Chicken Salad

Salad...With BBQ Chicken

BBQ Chicken Salad

What Is BBQ Chicken Salad?

BBQ chicken salad consists of grilled barbecue-sauced chicken on mixed salad greens with halved tomatoes, black beans, corn, sliced red onion, shredded cheese, optional cilantro and tortilla strips, dressed with either ranch or a BBQ-ranch mix, seasoned with salt and pepper.

Ingredients For BBQ Chicken Salad


2-3 Romaine Lettuce


Cherry Tomatoes


1 Red Onion


1 Lemon


1 Avocado








1/2 Cup Mayonaise


1/2 Cup Sour Cream


1 Cup Buttermilk


1 Can Black Beans


1 Can Sweet Corn


1 Cup BBQ Sauce


Tortilla Strips


3 Chicken Breasts


4 Tbsp BBQ Seasoning


1 Tsp Garlic Powder


1 Tsp Onion Powder


1/2 Tsp Salt


1/2 Tsp Black Pepper

How To Make BBQ Chicken Salad

Step 1

Prep & Grill Chicken



BBQ seasoning, often referred to as BBQ rub, is a blend of spices and herbs that’s specifically formulated to complement and enhance the natural flavors of grilled or smoked meats. While the exact ingredients can vary based on regional preferences and individual recipes, most BBQ seasonings will include a combination of sweet, savory, spicy, and smoky elements.


Common ingredients in BBQ seasoning include:



  • Paprika: Provides a sweet-peppery flavor and a reddish color.
  • Brown sugar: Adds sweetness, which can caramelize to give a nice crust to the meat.
  • Salt: Enhances the natural flavors of the meat.
  • Black pepper: Gives a bit of heat.
  • Garlic powder and onion powder: Contribute savory notes.
  • Chili powder or cayenne: For added heat.
  • Mustard powder: Gives a tangy undertone.
  • Cumin: Offers a warm, earthy flavor.
  • Dried herbs: Such as oregano or thyme.
  • Smoked ingredients: Like smoked paprika or chipotle powder, to provide a smoky flavor.


Different regions, especially in the United States, have their own signature BBQ seasonings, with variations tailored to the specific flavor profiles of local BBQ traditions. Whether you’re buying a pre-made mix or making your own at home, BBQ seasoning is essential for achieving that authentic, deep, and complex flavor associated with barbecue dishes.


For this BBQ Chicken Salad recipe, I opted to use McCormick Grill Mates Barbecue Seasoning. 




Preheat the grill to medium-high heat for optimal searing. Once hot, place the chicken on the grill, letting each side cook for about 5-7 minutes, or until distinct grill marks appear and the meat releases easily from the grates. It’s essential to ensure the chicken reaches an internal temperature of 165°F (74°C) and that its juices run clear, signaling it’s thoroughly cooked.




After grilling, allow the chicken to rest for a few minutes to redistribute its juices.

Step 2

Make Ranch Dressing




Making homemade buttermilk ranch dressing is a simple process that results in a creamy, tangy, and flavorful dressing perfect for salads, dips, or drizzling over various dishes. Similar to the blue cheese dressing for the iceberg lettuce salad, the base of this dressing is very similar.


Here’s a basic procedure for making it:


  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 1-2 cloves garlic, minced (or use garlic powder)
  • 1 tablespoon fresh dill, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon fresh chives, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon fresh parsley, chopped
  • 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • A squeeze of lemon juice to taste




To make homemade buttermilk ranch dressing, start by whisking together 1 cup of buttermilk, 1/2 cup of mayonnaise, and 1/4 cup of sour cream (or Greek yogurt for a tangier version) in a mixing bowl until smooth. Next, incorporate the minced garlic, chopped dill, chives, parsley, and onion powder. Remember, if you’re using dried herbs, they pack a more concentrated flavor, so adjust the quantities to your taste. Season the mixture with salt and pepper and enhance its tanginess with a squeeze of lemon juice or a dash of white vinegar.



After thoroughly combining all the ingredients, transfer the dressing to an airtight container or a jar with a tight-fitting lid. For the best flavor, refrigerate the dressing for at least an hour to allow the flavors to meld. Once chilled, give it a good stir before serving. If needed, you can adjust the consistency with additional buttermilk. The dressing can be stored in the refrigerator for up to a week, with its flavors deepening and improving over time.


Step 3

Prep Produce



Red onion, cherry tomatoes, and avocado are integral ingredients that elevate a BBQ chicken salad to new culinary heights. The mild yet zingy flavor of red onions offers a refreshing contrast to the savory BBQ chicken, and their crunchy texture juxtaposes the soft tenderness of the meat. Their vibrant purple hue also adds a dash of color, enhancing the visual appeal of the dish. Cherry tomatoes introduce a sweet and slightly acidic note, perfectly balancing the rich and smoky BBQ profile. Their juicy burst provides a delightful textural contrast, and their bright red color adds freshness to the salad’s appearance.


Meanwhile, the avocado’s creamy and buttery essence acts as a mellow counterpart to the bold flavors of the chicken. Its smooth texture complements the fibrous chicken and crisp veggies, creating a harmonious mouthfeel. Moreover, avocado’s rich nutritional content, packed with healthy fats, fiber, and vitamins, turns the salad into a nutrient-dense meal. Together, these ingredients blend a symphony of flavors, textures, and colors, making the BBQ chicken salad not only delicious but also visually inviting and nutritious.




Romaine lettuce stands out as the most popular choice for salads due to its distinctive characteristics and versatility. Its crisp and crunchy texture ensures that it remains fresh and doesn’t wilt easily, even under the weight of dressings and toppings. Beyond its texture, romaine possesses a mildly sweet and earthy flavor, setting it apart from more bland lettuces like iceberg, and allowing it to complement a wide range of ingredients.


From a nutritional perspective, romaine is a powerhouse, offering significant amounts of vitamins A and K, folate, and fiber, making it a health-conscious choice for many. Additionally, its impressive shelf life, often outlasting softer lettuces when stored in the refrigerator, adds to its appeal for both households and restaurants. The lettuce’s robust structure, with its elongated and broad leaves, not only fits various salad preparations but also lends itself to other culinary uses, such as grilling or serving as wraps. All these attributes combined make romaine lettuce an undeniable favorite in the world of salads.





Corn and black beans are outstanding additions to a BBQ chicken salad, each bringing unique flavors and textures that elevate the dish. The natural sweetness of corn offers a delightful contrast to the smoky BBQ chicken, while the earthy taste of black beans adds depth. Beyond flavor, the juicy pop of corn combined with the creamy texture of black beans introduces a satisfying mouthfeel to the salad.


Nutritionally, black beans pack protein and fiber, while corn contributes essential vitamins, making the dish both delicious and healthful. The visual pop of corn’s yellow against the deep color of black beans also adds an aesthetic touch. Taking these ingredients to the next level, heating them in a cast iron skillet can have multiple benefits.



The skillet’s ability to caramelize the corn enhances its sweetness and can give it a slight crispiness. Additionally, the warmth from the sautéed corn and beans introduces a comforting temperature contrast to the predominantly cold salad. Furthermore, if the skillet has been used to cook other flavorful components, like the chicken, the beans and corn can absorb those residual flavors, further enriching their profiles. In essence, these toppings, especially when warmed in a skillet, infuse the salad with diverse sensory experiences.

Step 4

Coat Chicken




After resting, generously coat or toss the chicken pieces in your chosen BBQ sauce. You can brush it on, drizzle it, or even toss the chicken pieces in a bowl with the sauce, depending on your preference and the cut of chicken.


Here are some benefits of adding the BBQ sauce after you cook the chicken:


  • Pure BBQ Flavor: When BBQ sauce is applied post-grilling, the sauce retains its original flavor profile since it hasn’t been subjected to the heat which can alter its taste. This method lets you enjoy the sauce’s taste in its most authentic form.
  • Moisture and Tenderness: Applying the sauce after cooking can give the chicken an added layer of moisture. This can be particularly beneficial if the chicken ended up slightly overcooked or dry from grilling.
  • Reduced Burn Risk: BBQ sauce, especially those high in sugar, can burn or char quickly on a hot grill. Adding it post-grilling eliminates this risk, ensuring you get a clean, unburnt flavor.
  • Flexibility: This method also allows each person to choose the amount and type of BBQ sauce they want, catering to individual preferences. Some might prefer a light coating, while others may want their chicken drenched in sauce.




While brushing BBQ sauce on during grilling can create a caramelized and infused flavor, adding it afterwards presents a fresh, distinct, and bold BBQ taste. Both methods have their merits, and the choice often comes down to personal preference and desired flavor outcome.




Grab a cutting board and cut your chicken into strips to top the salad.

Step 5

Enjoy Your BBQ Chicken Salad!



BBQ chicken salad is relatively quick and easy to prepare, making it a convenient choice for those seeking a wholesome dinner without spending hours in the kitchen. It’s filled with a harmonious blend of flavors and textures, marrying the smoky and tangy notes of barbecued chicken with the freshness of vegetables and greens.



Virgin River

Virgin River


Mel Orders A BBQ Chicken Salad