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!)
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…
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!
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.
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!
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:
- Quart Size Mason Jars (the best deal I’ve seen is here)
- Reusable Dressing Holder (fits right inside the jar and screws into the lid!)
- Reusable lids for mason jars (BPA-Free & Dishwasher Safe!)
More Delicious Salads to Love:
- Chinese Chicken Salad
- My Big Fat Greek Quinoa Salad
- BLT Chicken Salad Avocado Cups
- Strawberry Chicken Salad with Strawberry Dressing
- Taco Pasta Salad
Originally posted July 2012. Re-tested, re-photographed, and updated June 2018.