You’ll love the homemade barbecue sauce dressing on this southwestern style BBQ chicken salad, with fresh corn kernels and shredded kohlrabi. 

Overhead view of a colorful chopped salad on a grey plate. Salad includes bbq grilled chicken, lettuce, onion, tomato, crispy tortilla strips, avocado, corn and more!

Isn’t this a beautiful chopped salad? Crisp green lettuce, saucy BBQ chicken, freshly cut sweet corn, juicy tomatoes, creamy avocado, and crunchy tortilla strips make a mighty fine summer entrée. This salad’s a real crowd pleaser. All the flavors of an outdoor barbecue piled onto one fantastic salad! 

The other day, after coming home from the farmers’ market loaded up with fresh everything, my mom and I put together this salad (without the chicken) for a family dinner. Dad grilled pork chops, Mom made cornmeal muffins, and we had blueberry streusel cake for dessert. It was a delicious summer feast. 

We all love barbecue anything, so needless to say, the salad disappeared pretty quickly. We decided the only thing that would make it better would be to add chicken doused with BBQ sauce right to the salad. And we were right, it’s so good!

So pile on the chicken and sweet corn, top the salad with the sweet and tangy barbecue sauce dressing, and enjoy!

P.S. Even if the weather is cold and blustery, eating BBQ chicken salad will make it feel like it’s summer, and that’s always a good thing, wouldn’t you agree?

Colorful chopped salad on a grey plate. Salad includes bbq grilled chicken, lettuce, onion, tomato, crispy tortilla strips, avocado, corn and more! Whole ingredients are featured in the background of the image.

About this BBQ chicken salad:

This BBQ chicken salad is basically a chopped salad. I’ve seen similar salads on restaurant menus but it’s easy to make your own.

One of the highlights of this salad is the sweet barbecue salad dressing. The recipe is so easy. Start with a few tablespoons of your favorite barbecue sauce, add lime juice, yogurt, brown sugar, and olive oil, and shake it up. I’m thinking you’ll want to make a double batch because it’s so good. You can use it on another salad tomorrow. 

Use a crisp green lettuce for this southwestern salad. Leaf lettuce, romaine, or iceberg lettuce would be good choices. A mixture of lettuces would be good, or even add some shredded cabbage to your salad. 

Since we’re currently at the height of sweet corn season, freshly cut corn kernels are the best. After husking the corn, set a large shallow bowl in the sink, and, holding the corn vertically in the bowl, just slice down the sides with a good sharp knife, cutting the corn off the cob. There’s no need to cook the corn, it’s so delicious and sweet just the way it is. If fresh corn is unavailable, use thawed frozen corn or canned corn. 

For additional flavor and crunch, add shredded kohlrabi. If you’re not familiar with this bulbous pale green vegetable, give it a try. It tastes somewhat like cabbage or broccoli stems, and is so nutritious. If you’re not sure how to prepare kohlrabi, check out this site from the cooks at Kitchn.  Can’t find kohlrabi in the grocery store? Jicama, broccoli slaw, or shredded cabbage would be delicious, too. 

About the chicken: Use already cooked chicken if you have it, cold or warm. I like to make a big batch of shredded chicken and freeze it for later use. Or you could grill up extra chicken the night before and use that. Rotisserie chicken works fine, too. Crunchy fried chicken would be good or even chicken nuggets

Get out a big bowl, add all the fixings, top the salad with sweet barbecue salad dressing, and enjoy!

Overhead view of three plates of a colorful chopped salad on a grey plate. Salad includes bbq grilled chicken, lettuce, onion, tomato, crispy tortilla strips, avocado, corn and more!

How to make this southwestern salad your own:

  • Serve it as a make-your-own salad. There are enough components to this salad that you could easily set up a mini-salad bar and guests could choose what they would like to put on their own salad. You could include vegetarian options, like black beans and cheese. Make sure you have plenty of dressing!
  • Make this salad vegetarian by substituting black beans and shredded cheese for the chicken. Baked tofu cubes doused in BBQ sauce would be a great addition, too. Or instead of chicken, add shrimp or pulled pork.
  • Add or substitute vegetables: chopped bell peppers, radishes, celery, cucumber, zucchini, edamame, pretty much anything you like.
  • Level up: I love to cut up chili rubbed dried mango (I buy it from Trader Joe’s) and put it on this salad!

Three plates of a colorful chopped salad on a grey plates. Salad includes bbq grilled chicken, lettuce, onion, tomato, crispy tortilla strips, avocado, corn and more!

Storage and Make Ahead Tips

Southwestern salad is best served right away. If you have leftovers, store in the fridge in a tightly covered container. The lettuce will get kind of limp and soggy, but the salad will still taste great. 

Make ahead tips: You can prepare most of the salad ahead of time and mix everything together when you’re ready to serve it. Mix up the dressing one or two days in advance. Shake well before using. Use leftover grilled chicken or rotisserie chicken. Prepare the kohlrabi, corn, and onions ahead of time. Buy bagged lettuce mixes. 

Overhead view of three plates of a colorful chopped salad on a grey plate. Salad includes bbq grilled chicken, lettuce, onion, tomato, crispy tortilla strips, avocado, corn and more!

Other hearty salad recipes:

A salad for dinner is always a good idea. Check out more main course salad ideas:

 

Colorful chopped salad on a grey plate. Salad includes bbq grilled chicken, lettuce, onion, tomato, crispy tortilla strips, avocado, corn and more! Whole ingredients are featured in the background of the image.

Overhead view of a colorful chopped salad on a grey plate. Salad includes bbq grilled chicken, lettuce, onion, tomato, crispy tortilla strips, avocado, corn and more!

Southwestern BBQ Chicken Salad

Yield: Serves 6
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 20 minutes

You'll love the homemade barbecue sauce dressing on this southwestern style BBQ chicken salad, with fresh corn kernels and shredded kohlrabi. 

Ingredients

Dressing (makes ½ cup)

  • 3 tablespoons bottled barbecue sauce
  • 3 tablespoons Greek yogurt
  • 2 tablespoons lime juice
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ ground black pepper

Salad

  • 4 cups chopped or shredded cooked chicken
  • ⅓ cup BBQ sauce
  • 4 cups torn leaf lettuce
  • 2 cups shredded kohlrabi (2 medium)
  • 2 cups fresh corn kernels (from 3 ears)
  • ¾ cup sliced red onion (about ¼ onion)
  • 2 cups halved grape or cherry tomatoes
  • 1 avocado, sliced
  • ½ cup loosely packed cilantro, roughly chopped
  • Crispy tortilla strips for garnish

Instructions

  1. In a small bowl, or jar, combine all dressing ingredients. Mix well.
  2. In medium sized bowl, combine chicken with ⅓ cup barbecue sauce. Set aside.
  3. In a large bowl, toss together lettuce, kohlrabi, corn, onion, tomatoes, avocado, and cilantro. Add dressing, and mix lightly until coated. 
  4. Arrange salad on serving plates, mound chicken on top and sprinkle with crispy tortilla strips. Serve immediately.

Notes

  • Vegetarian: substitute black beans and shredded cheese for the chicken. Baked tofu cubes doused in BBQ sauce would be a great addition, too.
  • Instead of chicken, add shrimp or pulled pork.
  • Add or substitute vegetables: chopped bell peppers, radishes, celery, cucumber, zucchini, edamame, pretty much anything you like.

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Nutrition Information:
Yield: 6 Serving Size: 1 salad
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 441Total Fat: 20gSaturated Fat: 5gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 14gCholesterol: 85mgSodium: 511mgCarbohydrates: 42gFiber: 7gSugar: 23gProtein: 27g

RachelCooks.com sometimes provides nutritional information, but these figures should be considered estimates, as they are not calculated by a registered dietitian. Please consult a medical professional for any specific nutrition, diet, or allergy advice.

Did you make this recipe?

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Verdict: Love, love, love this salad!
Husband’s take: Ben has no complaints about this flavorful, fresh, and hearty salad.
Changes I would make: None!
Difficulty: Easy!