Are you a fan of Chick-fil-A's spicy Southwest salad? Learn how to make this popular fast food restaurant salad that will soon be your dinner party staple. It's loaded with fresh, bold Tex-Mex flavors with some spiciness. It's sure to please both young and old!
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Chick-fil-A's salad contains the following unique ingredients: thin slices of spicy grilled chicken breast, zesty poblano chiles, red bell pepper, roasted corn, and black beans. This salad comes with two additional toppings (chili lime pepitas and tortilla strips), which come in separate bags for freshness.
- Greens: romaine lettuce and spring mix
- Cheeses: Monterey Jack and cheddar
- Vegetables: grape tomatoes, corn, poblano chiles, red bell peppers
- Beans: black beans
- Protein: spicy grilled chicken breasts
- Seeds: chili lime pepitas
- Optional topping: tortilla strips
- Dressing: creamy salsa dressing
How to Make
Gather all the ingredients for the chicken brine and spice rub.
- Pound the chicken until it's thin.
- Mix the dill pickle juice and whole milk together, then place the flattened chicken breasts into a zip top bag. Put in the fridge to marinate for 4 hours or overnight.
3. Mix the spices for the rub together until they're blended.
4. Once the chicken has marinated, pat it dry with paper towels and then rub in the spice rub on both sides of each chicken breast.
5. Heat the oil for 2 minutes over medium high heat and carefully place the chicken breast in the pan. Cook for one minute, then lower the temperature to medium low and cook for 4 minutes. Flip it over with tongs and cook for 4 more minutes or until the internal temperature is 165°F. Remove from the skillet and place on a clean plate. Tent loosely with foil and let it rest for 10 minutes. Repeat with the second chicken breast.
6. Allow the chicken breast to cool for another 5 minutes after tenting, and thinly slice on a cutting board. Place the chicken slices in a shallow bowl and pour the juices from the plates on top for extra flavor and color.
7. For the Chick-fil-A chili lime pepitas, in a small cast iron skillet over medium high heat, heat up some olive oil until shimmering, then add the pepitas. Sprinkle on the chipotle chili powder and stir constantly for 3 minutes.
Remove from the heat and pour on the freshly squeezed lime juice and stir. Allow the chili lime pepitas to cool and dry out slightly on a small cookie tray or paper towel.
8. In the same cast iron skillet, heat up 1 teaspoon of olive oil over medium high heat until shimmering then add the fresh yellow corn. Cook for 6 to 7 minutes, stirring occasionally.
9. In a 425°F oven, roast the poblano chile pepper and a red bell pepper that have been brushed with olive oil for 7 minutes. Turn the pablano pepper over and roast for another 7 minutes. When the pablano looks done, transfer to a clean plate to cool and roast the red bell pepper for another 10 minutes. When both pepper are cool enough, chop into small pieces.
10. For the copycat Chick-fil-A creamy salsa dressing, place all the ingredients in the food processor and blend until the cilantro is small. Taste and adjust seasonings, if necessary.
11. To assemble the salad, start with a base of romaine and mixed spring greens. Add the two cheeses and the Tex-Mex mix of black beans, charred corn, roasted poblano chiles, and red bell peppers. Next add the optional toppings of chili lime pepitas and tortilla strips. Finish off with the thinly sliced spicy chicken breast.
12. Add a drizzle of the indulgent creamy salsa dressing. Enjoy while still fresh and crisp. Believe me, you'll want this on repeat for the rest of the summer. It's. that. good.
Is this salad healthy?
For a serving size of 2 ½ cups with ¼ cup of creamy salsa dressing, our salad has 696 calories, 34.1g carbs, 45.3g fat, and 99.6g protein. Chick-fil-A's version has 450 calories without the dressing and 740 calories with it. For more nutritional information, scroll to the end of the recipe card.
- If you want to lower the calories, omit the ¼ cup of dressing and the 2 tablespoons of cheese.
- If you want to lower the carbs, omit the 2 tablespoons of charred corn, the 2 tablespoons of tortilla strips.
- If you want to lower the sugar, omit the 2 tablespoons of powered sugar from the spice rub and the ½ teaspoon of white granulated sugar from the dressing.
How much does the spicy southwest salad cost at Chick-fil-A?
This premium entree salad costs $8.19 with chicken and $6.19 without the chicken.
When did the spicy Southwest salad make it's debut?
This salad is a reboot of the Southwest chargrilled salad, and it made its debut on the menu on March 14, 2016.
What dressings are paired with this salad?
This popular Georgia-based fast food chain tries to pair two salad dressings with each of their entree salads. The creamy salsa dressing is their number one pick, and is a more indulgent choice. They also suggest using 2 packages of their jalapeno salsa (which is normally paired with their breakfast burrito) as a lighter option, since they discontinued the chili lime vinaigrette.
What does this salad taste like?
This salad has a bolder, spicier flavor profile and is very different from the other salads that Chick-fil-A offers. The spice comes from the rub on the chicken and the seasoning on the pepitas. There is also a little bit of spice in the creamy salsa dressing.
The southwest flavors shine through in the black beans, charred corn, and the roasted red and poblano peppers. The chili lime pepitas and the tortilla strips provide the satisfying crunch, and are so pleasant in this salad. The creaminess shines through in the dressing, so we highly recommend trying this salad at least one time with the creamy salsa dressing.
How popular is the spicy Southwest salad at Chick-fil-A?
It is their second most popular salad, taking a back seat to the Cobb, but outshining the market salad, superfood side salad (discontinued January 12, 2020), and the kale crunch side (debut January 13, 2020).
Is the spicy Southwest salad keto?
It is keto friendly, meaning it's easy to adjust it to meet the needs of a keto diet. To lower the carbs, omit the charred corn and the tortilla strips. To lower the sugar, omit the powdered sugar and the white sugar from the spice rub and the dressing. To increase the fat, sprinkle on more then the suggested 2 tablespoons of grated cheese. All these things are simple to do if you plan on making this copycat version of the spicy Southwest salad.
Can I make this ahead of time?
Yes, this salad leans nicely towards meal prepping for a week of lunches. The chicken can marinate in the brine from 4 hours up to 24 hours. The spice rub can be made days in advance; just place it in a small mason jar and screw a lid tightly on. The salad dressing keeps well for up to 6 days in the fridge.
The red bell pepper and pablano pepper can be roasted and chopped into small pieces. Plus, the fresh corn can be charred in a skillet and the two cheeses can be grated. Combine like ingredients in separate bowls: the spring mix with the Romaine lettuce, the two cheeses, and the two peppers.
For maximum freshness, add the chili lime pepitas and the tortilla strips along with the dressing just before serving.
- Vegan: Omit the grilled chicken and increase the black beans. Use vegan cheese, mayo, and sour cream.
- Reduce the calories: Skip the cheese and the dressing.
- Can't eat lettuce? Swap the mixed greens and romaine for kale and Swiss chard.
- Brine the meat for a minimum of 4 hours, or up to 24 hours.
- Don't flip the chicken if it's sticking to the grill pan; just let it cook a little longer.
- Adjust the dressing to your personal taste.
- Add the chili lime pepitas, tortilla strips, and creamy salsa dressing just before serving.
Other Chick-fil-A Recipes You'll Love
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Copycat Chick-fil-A Spicy Southwest Salad
- ½ cup dill pickle juice
- ¼ cup whole milk
- 2 large chicken breasts, boneless skinless
- 2 tablespoons powdered sugar
- 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- ½ teaspoon sea salt
- ½ teaspoon black pepper
- ½ teaspoon ancho chili powder
- ¼ teaspoon paprika
- ¼ teaspoon onion powder
- ¼ teaspoon garlic powder
- ¼ cup olive oil
Creamy Salsa Dressing (Makes 1 ¾ cup)
- ½ cup Duke's mayo
- ¾ cup medium salsa, Frontera Jalapeno Cilantro Salsa Medium
- ⅓ cup sour cream
- ¼ cup fresh cilantro leaves
- 1 jalapeno, roughly chopped
- 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lime juice
- 1 ½ teaspoons ground cumin
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- ½ teaspoon sea salt
- ½ teaspoon sugar
- ½ teaspoon cayenne pepper
- ½ teaspoon ancho chili powder
- ¼ teaspoon black pepper
- ¼ teaspoon smoked paprika
- ¼ teaspoon hot sauce, Chalula chili lime
- 1 tablespoon buttermilk, to thin
Spicy Southwest Salad
- 4 cups romaine lettuce, washed, dried, ribs removed
- 4 cup spring mix
- ½ cup Monterey Jack cheese
- ½ cup extra sharp cheddar cheese
- ½ cup canned black beans, rinsed
- ½ cup fresh yellow corn
- ½ cup roasted red bell pepper
- ½ cup roasted poblano pepper
- 16 grape tomatoes
- ½ cup chili lime pepitas
- ½ cup tortilla strips, blue and yellow corn
- 2 chicken breasts, grilled and thinly sliced
- 1 cup creamy salsa dressing
- Make the brine by whisking together the dill pickle juice and the milk in a bowl.
- Place one boneless, skinless chicken breast in a zip top bag on top of a large cutting board and pound it thin with a meat mallet. Make sure the bag is open so no air gets trapped inside. Remove the chicken and place on a clean plate, then repeat with the other piece. Place both pieces in the bag, then pour in the brine. Close the bag and place in the fridge for a minimum of 4 hours or up to 24 hours.
- To make the rub, combine all the spices together in a bowl and mix well. Once the chicken is done marinating, take it out of the fridge and allow to come up to room temperature for 30 minutes. Place the meat on two clean plates and pat them dry with paper towel. Sprinkle on the rub, then rub it into both sides of the breast.
- Heat up 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a cast iron grill pan over medium high heat until the oil is shimmering, roughly 2 minutes. Carefully place one chicken breast inside and cook for one minute, then lower the heat to medium low and cook for 3 minutes. Using tongs, flip the meat over and cook for another 4 minutes, or until the meat registers 165 F in the thickest part on a meat thermometer. Repeat with the other breast.
- Place the cooked chicken on a clean plate, tent it loosely with foil, and allow the meat to rest for 10 minutes. Juices will run out of the meat as it rests, and be sure to keep them.
- Once the meat has rested, place it on a cutting board and thinly slice it. Transfer the sliced meat to large plate and pour the pan juices over it.
Creamy Salsa Dressing
- Combine all the ingredients in a food processor until the ingredients are well blended and the cilantro is the texture you like.
- Taste and adjust seasonings, if desired. Pour the dressing into a pint-sized mason jar with a lid and refrigerate until ready to serve. The dressing will thicken in the fridge.
- Preheat the oven to 425 F.
- Cut the red bell pepper in half, then brush it and the poblano pepper with oil. Place them on a small foil lined baking sheet, then roast them for 7 minutes and turn the poblano over. Roast another 7 minutes. Remove the poblano and continue roasting the red bell pepper for another 10 minutes. Allow them to cool, then chop them into small pieces.
- Heat the olive oil in a small cast iron skillet over medium high heat until it's shimmering. Add the fresh corn kernels and cook them until they begin to char, about 6 to 7 minutes. Be sure to stir occasionally.
- To assemble the salad, mix the Romaine lettuce and the spring mix together in a large bowl. Take out 4 plates and place two cups of greens on each plate for the base.
- Sprinkle the two cheeses on top of the greens, then add the charred corn, roasted peppers, and the black beans. Place 4 grape tomatoes on each plate and sprinkle on the chili lime pepitas and the tortilla strips. Add half of a sliced chicken breast on top. When ready to serve, drizzle the salads with the creamy salsa dressing.
- How to Make Chili Lime Pepitas: ½ cup pepitas (roasted and salted), 1 teaspoon olive oil, ½ teaspoon chipotle chili powder, and 1 teaspoon freshly squeezed lime juice. Heat the olive oil in a frying pan, add the pepitas and chili powder, and stir until toasty, about 3 minutes. Remove from the heat, stir in the lime juice, and let them cool on a baking tray.
- The total time doesn't include time for the meat to marinate in the fridge.
- Taste the dressing and adjust it to your taste preferences.
- For maximum freshness, add the chili lime pepitas, tortilla strips, and creamy salsa dressing just before serving.