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BBQ Ranch Chicken Salad (Gluten Free, Paleo Friendly!)

BBQ Ranch Chicken Salad – This salad is so fresh and bright! Loaded with a rainbow of veggies, chicken, and a creamy bbq ranch dressing, this is a salad you’ll want to enjoy all summer long. (Gluten Free & Paleo Friendly–see my notes for paleo!)

BBQ Ranch Chicken Salad - We love the fresh veggies, barbecue chicken, and creamy BBQ Ranch in this salad! (Gluten free, paleo friendly)

I have very few “rules” about food, but I have a rule against boring salads.

It seems such a waste to eat a sad salad!

There are so many delicious combinations, amazing dressings, and flavor profiles to explore that I think there’s no reason a salad can’t be the most delicious thing you eat all week. That’s especially true in the summer, when fresh produce is at its peak, and everything tastes so bright and sunny.

For me, a great salad is alllllll about the goodies and mix-ins. Plenty of veggies (or fruits!), some hearty protein, and a dynamite dressing can make any greens taste delicious. This BBQ Chicken Salad is proof that even the veggie haters and meat lovers among us can happily eat a salad. There’s just so much to love…

BBQ Ranch Chicken Salad - We love the fresh veggies, barbecue chicken, and creamy BBQ Ranch in this salad! (Gluten free, paleo friendly)

For one thing, I love that I can use leftover cooked or grilled chicken (or a rotisserie chicken!) for this, which means I don’t even have to turn my oven on to make it. If there’s one thing I love on a hot summer day, it’s NOT standing by a hot stove or turning on my oven to add to the heat. Salads, whether they’re grain-based or greens-based, are a perfect way to tackle dinner on a hot night!

Related: Low-Cook & No-Cook Dinners for Nights it’s Too Hot to Cook

Then, there’s the summery combination of veggies–fresh corn, black beans, tomatoes, etc. The vibrant colors, textures, and flavors are all so good this time of year! Tie all that veggie goodness together with a creamy BBQ ranch dressing, and I’m in heaven. The combination is just so satisfying.

BBQ Ranch Chicken Salad - We love the fresh veggies, barbecue chicken, and creamy BBQ Ranch in this salad! (Gluten free, paleo friendly)

It’s easy to mix and match veggies here–you can mix in some diced jicama or cucumber, or stir in some bell peppers, for instance. Or, you can add some chickpeas, bacon, or some hard-boiled egg to kick the protein up even more. You could even get fancy and swap out the grilled/rotisserie/cooked chicken for some crispy gluten free chicken tenders for a treat.

Whichever goodies you decide to toss in, I think you’ll agree that this BBQ Chicken Salad is summer on a plate. Friends don’t let friends eat sad salad!

AMAZING BBQ Ranch Chicken Salad - BBQ Chicken, summer veggies and a creamy BBQ Ranch dressing. This is summer on a plate! (Gluten free, paleo friendly)

Notes on this BBQ Ranch Chicken Salad:

Change it Up: There are so many yummy veggies you can add to this salad. Jicama, bell peppers, snap peas, celery, and more are all delicious. You could also swap out the chicken for BBQ Chickpeas, or add in some diced hard-boiled egg if you like. If you’re not dairy free, a little cheese could be delicious here, too!

Paleo-ize it! To make this salad paleo, you can swap out the corn and black beans for other veggies (jicama, cucumber, bell peppers, and celery are nice!). Then, you’ll want to make sure you’re using paleo-approved ranch (I love this one!) and barbecue sauce (like Tessamae’s or Bone Suckin’ Sauce). You can even make your own Paleo BBQ sauce if you like!

Meal Prep It – This salad is great for packing ahead. To make it into a mason jar salad, just pour the BBQ ranch dressing on the bottom of your mason jar, then add your chicken, veggies, and lettuce (in that order). You may want to leave the avocado out, or squeeze a little lime juice over it to keep it from browning. To serve, just give it a serious shake and a stir with a fork, or pour the whole thing out into a bowl and toss to combine everything. (I love these little reusable lids for mason jar salads!)

Mason Jar Favorites – If you’re a mason jar salad fan (great for packing on-the go or making ahead), here are some fun tools of the trade that might help:

More Delicious Recipes to Love:

AMAZING BBQ Ranch Chicken Salad - BBQ Chicken, summer veggies and a creamy BBQ Ranch dressing. This is summer on a plate! (Gluten free, paleo friendly)

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BBQ Ranch Chicken Salad in a large white bowl with a blue and white striped kitchen towel in the background.

BBQ Ranch Chicken Salad


  • Author: Emily
  • Total Time: 15 minutes
  • Yield: 4 generous (main dish) servings 1x

Description

Piled high with fresh veggies, BBQ chicken, and a creamy BBQ ranch dressing, this salad is summer on a plate! The amounts below are suggested estimates. Feel free to use more or less of any topping you like! (See the notes section for ways to adapt the recipe for paleo!) 


Ingredients

Scale

For the Salad:

  • 6 cups fresh greens
  • 8 oz. cooked chicken breast, cubed or shredded
  • 34 Tbsp BBQ sauce
  • 1 cup black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 cup corn
  • 1 cup halved grape or cherry tomatoes
  • 1 avocado, diced
  • 1/4 cup diced red onion (or green onion)
  • 1/4 cup fresh cilantro, minced (optional)

For the BBQ Ranch Dressing:

  • 1/2 cup ranch dressing (try my dairy free homemade ranch!)
  • 23 Tbsp BBQ sauce

Instructions

For the Salad:

  1. In a small bowl, stir together chicken and 3-4 Tbsp BBQ sauce (enough to coat the chicken).
  2. In a large bowl, mix together greens, BBQ chicken, black beans, corn, tomatoes, avocado, red onion, and cilantro.
  3. Drizzle salad with BBQ Ranch Dressing (see below)

For the BBQ Ranch Dressing:

  1. In a jar or bowl, whisk together ranch dressing with BBQ sauce. Taste and add additional BBQ sauce as desired. Store in the refrigerator up to 1 week.

Notes

Change it Up: There are so many yummy veggies you can add to this salad. Jicama, bell peppers, snap peas, celery, and more are all delicious. You could also swap out the chicken for BBQ Chickpeas, or add bacon, or some diced hard-boiled egg if you like. If you’re not dairy free, a little cheddar cheese could be delicious here, too!

Paleo-ize it! To make this salad paleo, you can swap out the corn and black beans for other veggies (jicama, cucumber, and bell peppers are nice!). Then, you’ll want to make sure you’re using paleo-approved ranch (I love this one!) and barbecue sauce. You can even make your own Paleo BBQ sauce if you like!

Meal Prep It – This salad is great for packing ahead. To make it into a mason jar salad, just pour the BBQ ranch dressing on the bottom of your mason jar, then add your chicken, veggies, and lettuce (in that order). You may want to leave the avocado out, or squeeze a little lime juice over it to keep it from browning. To serve, just give it a serious shake and a stir with a fork, or pour the whole thing out into a bowl and toss to combine everything. (I love these little reusable lids for mason jar salads!)

  • Prep Time: 15 minutes
  • Category: Salads, main dish
  • Method: No-cook
  • Cuisine: American, BBQ

Keywords: BBQ, chicken, BBQ Chicken, BBQ ranch, chicken salad, salad

BBQ Ranch Chicken Salad (Gluten Free & Paleo Friendly!) - Loaded with a rainbow of veggies, BBQ chicken, and a creamy BBQ Ranch dressing. So good!

Originally posted July 2012. Re-tested, re-photographed, and updated June 2018.

9 Comments

  1. I think this is a salad I could get my husband to eat as a meal, especially if I get a little heavy-handed on those onion rings 🙂 Mmmm. Good things today is grocery day!

  2. I need to make this one soon! I like the idea of fried onion strips as well as the original. Thanks for sharing such great recipes!

  3. This is one of my go to salad recipes. I love your dressing recipe (didn’t try it yet), and I’m going to make your dressing next time I make this salad. I also make this as a potluck dish, but I layer the ingredients (mimicking the 9 layer dip), and I used a thicker dressing to layer towards the top. I put black beans & mexican blend cheese on top of the dressing and then the onion rings. For a party I use the French Onion Rings, for home I make homemade or the Alexia brand too!

  4. I love homemade salads. I read through all the ingredients and this sounds like my kind of salad, minus the avocados. I will add some jalapeno juice to the dressing to give it a little kick.

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