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This grilled chicken salad is an easy, flavorful summer grilling recipe loaded with fresh greens and veggies. Tender, marinated chicken is served over lettuce with grilled poblanos, corn, onion, fresh avocado, tomato, and more! This mouthwatering salad is bursting with flavor and color that will leave you satisfied and nourished.
Why we love this Grilled Chicken Salad
- Marinade pulls double-duty: mixing together a generous amount of marinade and setting half aside to use as a dressing for the salad is a time-saver!
- Easy swaps: this is one of those recipes that is so easy to swap out ingredients. Use what you have in your refrigerator to add to your salad. Grill up any extra or leftover vegetables you have on hand and add them in!
- Outside cooking: keep the heat outside this summer during the hot months and let the grill do the work.
Table of Contents
Chicken Marinade & Salad Dressing
- Chicken: boneless, skinless chicken thighs are a great option, they always come out tender and juicy and cook up nicely. Chicken breasts can be used also, they are thicker, and may need to be pounded out thinner which will help them cook quicker.
- Oil: since this marinade doubles as the salad dressing, we recommend using an extra virgin olive oil.
- Vinegar: the recipe calls for apple cider vinegar, but this can be swapped out for a regular white vinegar or wine vinegar if desired.
- Honey: adds a nice balance of sweetness to the marinade and dressing.
- Lime juice: gives a fresh pop of citrus flavoring.
- Cilantro: a bright, herbaceous flavor. If you prefer, you can omit the cilantro.
- Seasoning: the seasoning mix includes salt, onion powder, garlic powder, chili powder, and cumin.
Vegetables & Salad Assembly
- Poblanos: these chiles have a mild heat and register at 1,000-2,000 SHU. If you’re concerned about heat drop down to a green bell pepper. Or if you want more heat add in some jalapeños.
- Corn: fresh on the cob corn is best for grilling! If you want to sub it out for canned or frozen corn you can just add that directly to the salad.
- Onion: either a white or yellow onion will work for this recipe.
- Oil: continue using an extra virgin olive oil or you can use an avocado oil for this part.
- Lettuce: chop up some fresh romaine lettuce, or use green lettuce or bagged salad mix of your choice.
- Tomatoes & Avocado: slice these up. Use your favorite type of tomato, we love smaller grape or cherry tomatoes, Roma tomatoes are also a great option.
- Cotija Cheese: this is a saltier cheese, if you would prefer a more mild cheese you can sub with Queso Fresco or even a crumbled Feta.
How to make a Grilled Chicken Salad
- Prepare the marinade/salad dressing by combining the ingredients in a small jar. Reserve half of this to save and use as the salad dressing.
- Pour the other half of the marinade over the chicken, cover, and place in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes. For best results it’s recommended to allow the chicken to marinate at least 2-4 hours.
- Prepare the vegetables for grilling by slicing the onions into rounds and shucking the corn by removing the leaves and all the silk. Brush the vegetables with oil and sprinkle with a small amount of salt.
- Preheat the grill to 400-425 degrees F using the entire grill to cook over direct heat.
- Remove the chicken from the marinade and pat dry before placing on the grill grates. Brush a small amount of oil on the grates if needed.
- Grill the chicken and vegetables with the lid closed for 6-7 minutes. Open the lid and turn the chicken and veggies, close the lid, and continue to grill another 5-7 minutes until the chicken registers an internal temperature of 180 degrees F (165 degrees F if using chicken breasts).
- Assemble the salad, slice the avocado and tomatoes. Allow the chicken to rest before slicing. Peel the charred skin off the poblanos, and slice, removing the seeds and membranes in the center. Cut the corn off of the cob. Layer on top of fresh lettuce.
- Serve with the dressing that was set aside from the marinade.
- Spice: change the spice level of the salad by switching up the chiles. Grill jalapeños or serrano peppers for more heat. Or you can substitute the poblanos for green bell pepper for less. Poblanos register 1,000-2,000 SHU, which is very mild.
- Dressing: swap out the dressing on this salad for another vinaigrette, I highly recommend using the Honey Lime Vinaigrette from our Mexican Salad. Or you can switch it up and use a homemade buttermilk ranch or a blue cheese salad dressing.
- Protein: while this is a recipe for grilled chicken salad, you can easily swap the chicken for another meat and use grilled fish, shrimp, or steak.
What to serve with a grilled chicken salad
- Soup: salad and soup is a winning combination. If you’re looking for a summer themed soup try out our Corn Chowder or pair the Tex Mex flavors of this salad with our Mexican Street Corn Chowder.
- Breads: having some soft bread rolls on the side like these Texas Roadhouse Style Rolls with a decadent cinnamon honey butter would be a fun contrast in flavors. Or you can pair some Jalapeño Cheddar Cornbread muffins.
- Drinks: everything pairs nicely with a Classic Margarita, or even a Frozen Margarita. Keep the summer theme with a fruity Watermelon Margarita. Or you can spice things up with a fun Mexican Candy Shot.
- Leftovers: If you’re expecting leftovers avoid dressing the entire salad, only dress what you’re serving. Then store the remaining salad and dressing separately for up to 3 days in the refrigerator.
- Make Ahead Instructions: prep all the salad ingredients and the dressing ahead of time. Then, store them separately in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.
More Salad Recipes
Grilled Chicken Salad
- 2 pounds chicken thighs boneless, skinless (can use chicken breasts)
- 1-2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 1 white onion sliced into rounds
- 2 poblano peppers
- 3 ears corn on the cob
- 1 head romaine lettuce chopped
- 1 avocado sliced
- ⅓ cup queso fresco crumbled
- ½ cup cherry tomatoes sliced
- Prepare the marinade by combining the ingredients in a jar. Shake or stir to combine.
- Add the chicken to a large bowl or bag and pour half of the marinade over the top. Stir to combine and coat all of the chicken. Cover and place in the refrigerator to marinate for at least 30 minutes, 2-4 hours for best flavor (over-marinating can lead to mushy chicken).
- Reserve the other half of the marinade to use as a salad dressing.
- Prepare the vegetables for grilling. Slice the onion into rounds, lightly brush both sides with oil and sprinkle with salt. Lightly brush onto all sides of the peppers. Remove the husks and silk from the corn, lightly brush oil onto the corn and sprinkle with salt.
- Preheat grill to 400-425 degrees F, set the entire grill to cook direct heat.
- Remove the chicken from the marinade, pat dry.
- Rub a small amount of oil on the grill grates.
- Place the chicken directly on the grill. Then add the vegetables. Close the lid and cook for 6-7 minutes. Then open the grill, flip the chicken and turn all of the vegetables. Close the lid and continue cooking for another 5-8 minutes until chicken registers an internal temperature of 180 degrees F (165 degrees F if cooking chicken breasts), and vegetables are charred and softened.
- Remove the chicken and vegetables from the grill and place on a large baking sheet. Let the chicken and poblanos rest for at least 5 minutes before cutting.
- Once the poblanos have cooled to the touch, place on a cutting board. Peel the skin, it should come off with your fingers, use a paring knife if needed to scrape off any stuck on skin. Slice off the stem, then down the middle, removing the seeds from the inside. Chop the peppers into 1 inch pieces.
- Cut the kernels off the corn.
- Slice the grilled chicken into thin strips.
- Prepare the salad by layering the romaine lettuce in a salad bowl or dish.
- Top with the chicken, poblanos, corn, grilled onion rounds, sliced tomatoes, avocado, top with crumbled queso fresco.
- Serve with the reserved dressing.
Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.
Photography by the talented ModernFarmhouseEats.com