Southwest Chili Lime Salad With Chicken

Our easy copycat recipe for the Panera Southwest Chili Lime Salad with Chicken is the perfect balance of healthy and flavorful.
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Our copycat recipe for the Panera Southwest Chili Lime Ranch Salad with chicken is finally here! I’ve been going on and on about this salad for the past few weeks since sharing our Black Bean Corn Salsa and Panera Chili Lime Salad Dressing recipes. So I’m super excited to finally share our delicious Southwest Chili Lime Salad recipe this week.

Here’s a myth I used to believe: salads have to be mostly lettuce. But our southwest salad is definitely not mostly lettuce – which is why we love it so much! There’s tomato, onion, black beans, corn, avocado, and so much more to give this salad a fun and fresh southwest flavor. It’s basically a burrito bowl with a little bit of lettuce instead of rice. So you know it’s going to be good 🙂

A southwest salad with chicken and avocado

As we mentioned earlier, this recipe is an easy at-home version of the Panera Southwest Salad. It was hands-down my favorite lunch order at Panera, so I’m thrilled to be able to replicate it at home! With just a few simple ingredients, you can make your very own Panera southwest salad too.

Southwest Chili Lime Salad Recipe Ingredients

Our Panera copycat southwest salad recipe is fairly simple and requires little prep! Here’s what’s in it:

Other than dicing some tomato and onion, all you really have to prepare for this salad is the black bean corn salsa and chili lime dressing. In our opinion, these two ingredients really take this salad over the top! And both recipes are so easy to make, they’ll be ready to put on your salad in less than 5 minutes.

A bowl of southwest chili lime salad with chicken

Here’s our trick for easily adding chicken to salads: Trader Joe’s frozen grilled chicken strips. If you know how to reheat these properly, they’re amazing for quick lunches! All we do is heat some oil in a frying pan over medium-high, then add the frozen chicken strips and season lightly with salt. Cook them until they’re slightly crispy on the outside, about 5 to 6 minutes, and they’ll be perfect for this salad. 

Alternatively, you can always meal prep some grilled chicken for the week and add it to this salad straight from the fridge. Or you can omit the chicken if you’d like to make this recipe vegetarian. It’s really up to you!

You can even meal prep the produce, black bean corn salsa, and chili lime dressing to make this lunch even easier. Just store everything in airtight containers in the fridge and enjoy this southwest salad all week, with no day-of prep required!

A southwest salad with chili lime dressing, chicken, and avocado
How To Pack This Salad For Lunch

Our southwest chili lime salad is the perfect healthy lunch, whether you’re at home, going into the office, or packing a picnic! Here are some tips for the best way to pack this salad and take it on the go:

  • Partially assemble the salad in a large lunch container, using only the lettuce, tomato, onion, black bean corn salsa, and chicken.
  • Slice an avocado in half and pack the half with the pit in an airtight container – the pit will keep it from browning too quickly. (Tip: pack this in the morning and use the other half for a delicious breakfast of avocado toast!)
  • Pack a handful of tortilla strips in a small container for topping the salad later – if you add them to the salad too early, they may get soggy.
  • Put some salad dressing in a small leakproof container, or bring the whole bottle with you!

Most importantly, don’t forget to pack a fork and a knife! You’ll need something to slice the avocado with if you’re packing it separately. Note that if you’re only packing this salad an hour or so ahead of time, you could add the avocado straight to the salad. But leave it any longer and it will start to turn brown, which will take away from the amazing flavors in this southwest salad!

Try the recipe below and let us know what you think in the comments!

5 from 1 vote

Southwest Chili Lime Salad With Chicken

Our easy copycat recipe for the Panera Southwest Chili Lime Salad with Chicken is the perfect balance of healthy and flavorful.
Servings 1 salad
Prep Time 10 minutes
Total Time 10 minutes



  • Toss green leaf & romaine lettuce blend with baby arugula in a salad bowl.
  • Top salad with diced tomato, red onion, black bean corn salsa, grilled chicken, sliced avocado, and tortilla strips.
  • Drizzle with chili lime salad dressing and serve immediately.


Green leaf & romaine lettuce blend: We like to use the Crunch Blend by Good & Gather as the base for this salad, with some arugula mixed in. Substitute with your favorite leafy greens to personalize this recipe!
Grilled chicken strips: Here’s a “cheat” to make this recipe even easier – we always have a bag of Trader Joe’s frozen grilled chicken strips around! The trick is to heat them up with a little bit of olive oil in a frying pan and season them lightly with salt. They’ll reheat in about 5-6 minutes straight from the freezer if you cook them over medium-high heat.
Panera chili lime salad dressing: This recipe is our homemade take on the original Chili Lime Ranch dressing that Panera puts on their Southwest Salad. It’s what truly makes this salad taste just like Panera’s – you won’t want to skip this ingredient! Use leftovers for more salads throughout the week, or drizzle it on a burrito bowl.
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Author: Nicole
Calories: 435kcal
Course: Lunch, Main, Main Course, Salad
Cuisine: American, Mexican
Keyword: arugula, Avocado, bean corn salsa, chili lime salad dressing, grilled chicken, lettuce, lunch, onion, southwest, spring, summer, tomatoes, tortilla strips


Calories: 435kcal | Carbohydrates: 37g | Protein: 27g | Fat: 22g | Saturated Fat: 4g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 5g | Monounsaturated Fat: 11g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 50mg | Sodium: 536mg | Potassium: 1205mg | Fiber: 14g | Sugar: 4g | Vitamin A: 5111IU | Vitamin C: 30mg | Calcium: 99mg | Iron: 4mg

If you have any questions regarding the information presented in this post, please refer to our Nutrition Disclaimer here.

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