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Spice-Rubbed Chicken with Tropical Salsa (GF, DF)

Spice Rubbed Chicken & Tropical Salsa I One Lovely Life

At around 7:45 in the mornings, a posse of children has begun collecting outside my bedroom window to wait for the bus. This means a few things:

  1. School has started again.
  2. It’s really funny to listen to what elementary school children talk about and play in the mornings.
  3. Summer is ending, dangit.

I really, really love summer. It’s a fantastic, magical, happy time. Fresh produce in bright colors is in abundance, there is sunshine almost every day here (except during monsoon season), and there is time for swimming and summer reading, and projects and vacations.

It’s kind of sad to say goodbye. My comfort is that I absolutely L-O-V-E fall and, lucky for me, it’s the next season in line! Anyway, there’s only a tad longer until autumn is really here, so we’re saying goodbye to some of our favorite summer foods. Tropical salsa definitely fits the bill.

The salsa is most definitely the star of the show here. The chicken spice-rub is here so that you have more vehicles for the salsa, truth be told. It’s fabulous with this spice-rubbed chicken, but it’s also fantastic on tortilla chips and can certainly be served with chips as an appetizer.

Anyway, so long summer! We’ll miss you!

*One tip for grilling/cooking the chicken: I like to pound the chicken out between plastic wrap so that it’s roughly even in thickness. This helps grilling go faster and helps you keep the chicken from drying out.

Spice Rubbed Chicken & Tropical Salsa I One Lovely Life

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Spice-Rubbed Chicken with Tropical Salsa

  • Yield: about 6



For the chicken:

  • 1 1/2lbs chicken breasts, pounded to 3/4″ thickness
  • 1/4c sugar
  • scant Tbsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp chili powder
  • 1 1/2 tsp paprika
  • 1/8tsp garlic powder
  • 1/8tsp onion powder
  • 1/8tsp dry mustard

For the salsa:

  • 5 Roma tomatoes, diced
  • 2 mangoes, diced
  • 1 avocado, diced
  • juice of 2 limes
  • 1/4c cilantro
  • 4 scallions, diced
  • 1 tsp vinegar
  • pinch salt and pepper
  • 1 jalapeno, diced (with seeds and ribs removed)


For chicken:

  1. In a bowl, combine sugar, salt, and all spices. Rub mixture onto both sides of chicken breasts. Allow to rest 30 minutes to absorb flavors. Grill or pan-fry till done. (Yesterday, I pan-fried them for about 10 minutes on medium heat). Chicken will develop a crust from the rub. Don’t panic. It’s delicious. Let chicken rest 1-2 minutes to allow juices to redistribute, then serve warm with salsa.

For salsa:

  1. Combine all ingredients and toss to combine. Chill until ready to serve.


Spice-rubbed Chicken with Tropical Salsa
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  1. That salsa looks wonderful, and I love that you used it as a topping for chicken… I’ll definitely have to give this a try while all those wonderful veggies are still in top condition at my grocery store. Thanks for the great recipe, and for sharing these beautiful photos!

  2. Emily, I made this for dinner tonight and it was dynamite!! My husband and I loved it. I made a few changes here and there (grilled the chicken, halved the salsa, and used brown sugar for the rub), but I know yours must have been just as delicious, if not more. This recipe is definitely a keeper, thanks so much for sharing it! I’ll be posting about it soon.

  3. I LOVE this recipe but my husband always complains that there is no carb. I know you don’t do gluten or grain but can you recommend a carb side? I’m all out of quinoa and rice isn’t my favorite. Sorry to be difficult.

    1. This is great with sweet potatoes. You can do simple diced roasted sweet potatoes (they’d be extra yummy if you tossed them in coconut oil instead of olive oil to keep that tropical theme). If you’re not sweet potato people, you can to oven fries with white potatoes. Otherwise, I’d totally recommend quinoa with honey and lime. Hope that helps!

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