The chicken salad I make every time I have leftover chicken.
The summer after I graduated high school, I worked driving the “beverage cart” at a local golf course. (I realize that’s a really weird way to start a recipe post, but just hang in there.) The cart was stocked with beverages (obviously), and some chips and candy, but also a few sandwiches and heartier items that the kitchen made in the morning. One such sandwich was a Southwest Chicken Salad Sandwich and let me tell you, I was smitten. I hadn’t had much chicken salad up to that point in my life and I certainly hadn’t had one that was so creamy, and zesty, delicious. I ate a half of one nearly every day (because that’s how they were packed and that’s what I was allotted) and when I left for college I set out to re-create it on my own. I’d like to think I’ve improved the recipe over the years, but here it is: Creamy Southwest Chicken Salad.
The zestiness is mainly in the dressing here. This isn’t spicy, just zesty, so never fear. Get a cup of mayo and stir in some chili powder, garlic powder, cumin, and lime juice.
There’s no tarragon, no celery, no apples here… None of that traditional chicken salad stuff. Instead we’ve got bell pepper, red and green onion, and a full can each of black beans and corn.
Of course there’s chicken too (about three cups is a good amount), but what I love about this is that it’s not just chicken. Instead you get so many textures and flavors in the mix — soft black beans, crunchy red onions, pops of sweet corn, and bright green onion.
And then of course it’s plenty creamy. But it’s not just creamy — it has the smokiness of cumin and chili powder with the bright citrus zing of lime.
All this needs is some toasted bread and a little crunchy lettuce for the perfect sandwich. It’s also great scooped on top of a bed of lettuce for a true salad. I’ve also been known to just scoop it out of the bowl with some crackers and eat it with a dab of hot sauce. What I’m saying is, it’s good however you go about it.
Creamy Southwest Chicken Salad
10m prep time
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1/2 teaspoon chili powder
- 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1-2 tablespoons lime juice
- 1 cup mayonnaise
- 3 cups cooked chicken, chopped or shredded (about 1 rotisserie chicken's worth)
- 1 (15 oz) can black beans, drained and rinsed
- 1 (15 oz) can corn, drained
- 1/2 cup red onion, diced
- 1 red bell pepper, diced
- 1 bunch green onions, diced
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
- In a large bowl, whisk together mayo, 1 tablespoon lime juice, cumin, chili powder, garlic powder, and salt and pepper. Taste and add more lime juice and salt and pepper as needed.
- Add chicken, black beans, corn, red onion, bell pepper, and green onion and stir to combine. Chill until ready to serve and enjoy!