Healthy Make-Ahead Lunch: Southwest Chicken Salad

Southwest Chicken Salad in Plastic Storage containers

It has been said that Southerners like chicken salad a little *too* much. And it doesn’t escape my memory that I have not just one, but two different chicken salad recipes on this blog already.

But today, I made a batch of our favorite “Southwest” chicken salad — with no mayonnaise, no added sugar, and tons of protein and fiber. (A healthy chicken salad? Yes, it does exist!) A big batch makes enough for four pack ahead lunches, and keeps well the whole week long in the fridge.

Southwest Chicken Salad Ingredients:

  • 1 pound of boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • 1 12-oz can of black beans in water (look at the ingredients – you’ll find lots of things hiding in your beans, if you’re not careful. We look for ones that only have beans, water, and salt.)
  • 1 cup of corn (either fresh, canned, or frozen will work)
  • 2 cups cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 1/3 cup chopped green onions
  • 1 jalapeno
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • Fresh cilantro (optional)
  • Vinaigrette (Either homemade, below, or use a storebought Zesty Italian)
    • 2 tbsp high quality olive oil
    • 1/4 cup orange juice
    • 1 tbsp lime juice
    • 1 tbsp white vinegar
    • 1 & 1/2 tsp salt
    • 1 tsp pepper
    • 1/2 tsp cumin
    • 1/2 tsp chili powder
    • Add all ingredients to a small tupperware container, put the lid on it, and shake vigorously until fully emulsified


  1. Cook your chicken. I prefer to boil it in chicken broth until fully cooked through, but if you want a smokier, meatier taste, you could roast it as well. Once cooked, set aside to cook until cool enough to handle.
  2. Split your jalapeno in half and remove the stem and seeds. Peel your two garlic cloves. Then add both the jalapeno and garlic to your food processor, and process until finely minced (you may have to scrape down the sides once or twice). Next, add your chicken to the food processor and pulse until chicken is just shredded but still chunky, and the garlic and pepper are incorporated.
  3. Move your warm chicken mixture to a large mixing bowl, and top with your vinaigrette (either homemade or store bought).
  4. Add all remaining ingredients, then stir to combine. Season to taste; if you enjoy cilantro, add a nice fresh bunch just before serving. Portion out your Southwest Chicken Salad into tupperware, and you’re ready to go!