Chopped Chicken Taco Salad with Chipotle-Corn Dressing

Chopped Chicken Taco Salad with Chipotle-Corn Dressing

Congratulations soon-to-be graduates! In a few short weeks, University of Michigan and Eastern University seniors will be tossing their caps into the clouds, soon followed by local high schools grads. At this time of the year, I turn to recipes suitable for graduation parties —recipes as hard-working and deserving of accolades as these students.

This Chopped Chicken Tostada salad is a favorite, I’ve made it often, and it has all of the desirable qualities I seek when planning a casual menu.

First and foremost, it’s a crowd pleaser. Kids and teens like tostado salads because the name rings familiar, conjuring beloved memories of neon-lit menu walls beside drive-through windows. Just one bite of a tostado salad so often inviting the question: why aren’t chips, or bowls made of chips, a component of every salad?

Adults like tostado salads, this grown-up version in particular, because, well, salads are good for you — right? But if they’re too good for you, you may not want to eat it. This salad is edgy; in fact, borderline sneaky. If if you pile on the chips, cheese and dressing, you can still tell yourself you’re eating a salad. And I ask you, what other salad could possibly taste so good with beer?

Another of the salad’s many virtues is that it accommodates a host’s hectic schedule. The dressing may be made a day in advance and all of the other components, chopped and put into Zip-locks several hours prior to serving.

Did I mention it’s flexible? Substitute black olives for the beans, tomatoes for the peppers and — for those who like it hot — have a dish of chopped jalapenos, serrano or poblano peppers on the side. The flavors of smoked heat and lime in the creamy dressing are my favorite part of the salad, but you can save time by substituting a bottled Southwest dressing for the homemade — which I serve on the side.

It’s chopped, so may be eaten with a fork, while standing. And, finally, it’s colorful and festive; a welcome addition to a table loaded with “white things” (think potato salads and coleslaw).

tostada often refers to a flat or bowl-shaped fried tortilla, and salad ingredients sometimes fill these bowls. Ann Arbor Tortilla Factory chips lend the flavorful crunch you’d enjoy from a tostado shell, and you’d be supporting a local business if you purchased a package.

You won’t find a dictionary of ingredients on the back label on these babies. According to the Ann Arbor Tortilla Factory’s website, the ingredients for these chips are: “White or yellow non-GMO corn, lime and water. We don’t use bleachers, softeners, preservatives or colorants.”

Seniors — this versatile and accommodating salad has many of the attributes colleges and future employees are looking for in potential candidates; lessons may be learned from its crunchy goodness.

Recipe: Chopped Chicken Taco Salad with Chipotle-Corn Dressing


  • 12 chicken tenders or 1 1/2 pounds skinless, boneless chicken breasts
  • 2 tablespoons Southwest seasoning mix*
  • 1 tablespoon grape seed or canola oil
  • 1 small head romaine lettuce; washed, spun dried and chopped (6 packed cups)
  • 1 1/2 cups tortilla chips (approx. 4 ounces), broken into large pieces, if desired
  • 1 cup cooked black beans, drained and washed if using canned
  • Assorted colored bell peppers; seeds and membranes removed then diced (1 cup)
  • 1 avocado, diced
  • 1/2 small red onion, diced (1/2 cup)
  • 1 1/2 cups shredded cheese, such as cheddar, jack or a combination
  • Chopped cilantro, optional


  1. Cut chicken into 3/4-inch pieces and toss with seasoning mix.
  2. In a large sauté pan, heat oil over medium heat. Add chicken tenders and sauté until cooked through, 3-4 minutes on each side. Refrigerate until ready to compose salad.
  3. On a large platter or in a salad bowl, arrange, layer or toss together lettuce, tortilla chips, black beans, peppers, avocado, onion, cheese and chicken.
  4. Meanwhile combine lime juice or tomatilla salsa, sour cream, chopped chipotle, corn and cilantro, if using, and 3 tablespoons water; whisk together until smooth.
  5. Toss salad with dressing or serve dressing on the side.

*Pre-made taco seasoning or a combination of ground cumin, chili powder, chipotle powder, kosher salt and cayenne.

Time: 40 minutes

Number of servings (yield): 4-6 main course salads (8-14 potluck-sized servings)

Copyright © Peggy Lampman’s dinnerFeed.

Recipe: Dressing


  • 3 tablespoons tomatilla salsa or lime juice
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 1 teaspoon Southwest seasoning mixture
  • 1 (canned) chipotle pepper, minced* (1/2 tablespoon)
  • 1 cup frozen corn, thawed, water squeezed out w/paper towels, optional
  • 1 tablespoon chopped cilantro

*Chipotles freeze beautifully in baggies; chip off a piece to inject smoky heat whenever desired.

Number of servings (yield): 2 cups

Copyright © Peggy Lampman’s dinnerFeed.

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