Southwest Chicken Cobb Salad – A Southwestern spin on traditional Cobb salad complete with tender chicken, crispy bacon, cheese, hard-boiled eggs, tomatoes, black beans, corn, and avocado over a bed of Romaine lettuce! Topped with barbecue sauce and Ranch, there’s so much FLAVOR and TEXTURE galore in every bite of this crispy, crunchy, EASY salad!
Easy Southwest Chicken Cobb Salad Recipe
We all know classic Cobb salad with tender chicken, crispy bacon, cheese, and hard-boiled eggs.
I took that traditional recipe and amped it up by also adding a variety of Southwestern inspired ingredients including tomatoes, corn, black beans, avocado, and corn tortilla strips over a bed of Romaine lettuce.
I top this easy Southwestern chicken Cobb salad with a mixture of barbecue sauce and buttermilk Ranch dressing so that every crispy, crunchy bite is full of tons of flavor galore!
Want Another Great Cobb Salad Recipe
Try my healthy Mediterranean Cobb Salad with Mediterranean-inspired ingredients including artichokes, marinated peppers, feta cheese, and a quick shake-together vinaigrette!
Ingredients in Cobb Salad with Chicken and Bacon
To make this easy Cobb salad with common fridge and pantry ingredients, you’ll need to have on hand the following:
- Corn tortillas for homemade baked tortilla strips (or store bought tortilla chips)
- Romaine lettuce
- Cherry tomatoes (or your favorite tomato such as Roma or heirloom)
- Hard boiled eggs
- Cooked chicken breasts (rotisserie chicken, poached chicken, baked chicken, or leftover grilled chicken work great)
- Colby-Jack or Pepper Jack cheese
- Yellow corn
- Black beans
- Chives or green onions
- BBQ Sauce
- Ranch Dressing
- Black pepper
Note: All ingredients amounts are listed in the recipe card section when you keep scrolling down.
How to Make Southwestern Chicken Cobb Salad
Making this Cobb salad inspired with Southwest ingredients is a piece of cake. Follow these straightforward instructions:
- Preheat the oven, place the bacon on a sheet pan and bake it for 15 to 20 minutes, flipping over halfway through. Tip – Baking involves less “babysitting” than frying the bacon in a skillet, and you need the oven on for the tortilla strips anyway.
- Slice the corn tortillas, spray them with cooking spray or lightly drizzle them with olive oil, and bake them for 10 minutes.
3. Assemble the salad by adding the lettuce to a large bowl or large platter.
4. Then top with all the remaining ingredients in the southwest Cobb salad.
5. Drizzle with barbecue sauce and ranch dressing by the tablespoon or as desired, season with salt and pepper, and serve!
Time Saving Tips!
There are a few different steps going on with this recipe, but if you’re short on time (and energy) and want to streamline things to make this salad as fast and easy as possible, I recommend the following:
-use leftover chicken you already have in the fridge or buy a rotisserie chicken
-try fully cooked bacon that all you need to do is zap it in the microwave for 1 minute
-buy a few hard-boiled eggs rather than boiling your own
-store bought Ranch is the way to go rather than homemade
Dressing Suggestions for Southwest Chicken Salad
To really vibe with the overall southwestern flavors, I like to dress my chicken and bacon Cobb salad with barbecue sauce. Something like Sweet Baby Ray’s or your favorite bbq sauce is great.
I also whisked up a batch of my homemade Buttermilk Ranch Dressing. It’s made with mayo, sour cream, buttermilk, and fresh herbs. It’s creamy, rich, tangy, and absolutely perfect. Just a whisk needed, and no blender.
If you don’t want to make your own homemade Ranch (although I promise you it’s fast, easy, and takes less than 2 minutes and you just shake to blend!), you can use your favorite store bought ranch dressing.
Want More of a Spicy Kick?
I love spicy food and for me, inherent in Southwestern or Mexican-inspired recipes, I want a kick to it!
For those who want bolder flavor, use a spicier barbecue sauce rather than regular.
And add a bit of chili powder, chipotle powder, or a tiny pinch of cayenne pepper to whatever Ranch option you use. This will amp up the overall spicy level!
Making Flavor Variations for Southwestern Cobb Salad Recipe
If you want to mix things up a bit and try some other flavor variations and ideas, I’ve got a couple fun twists with a great taste!
- Sprinkle a teaspoon of cumin, paprika, garlic powder, or another favorite spice over the diced chicken
- Red onions, bell peppers, or radishes will add more crunch and some bite
- Cheddar cheese or queso fresco are easy swaps for Colby Jack or Pepper Jack
- To drive home a Mexican-inspired flavor profile, fresh cilantro, and lime juice from fresh limes is the way to go
What to Serve with The Best Southwest Chicken Cobb Salad
The beauty of this Cobb salad recipe is that it’s a complete meal in itself! Nothing else needed.
There’s tons of protein from the chicken, bacon, eggs, cheese, and black beans.
Between the crispy lettuce, tomatoes, corn, and avocado the veggie department is also covered.
How to Store Leftover Southwestern Cobb Salad with Chicken
After the salad is dressed, you will want to consume it right away. As we all know, salads get soggy after the sit.
However, if you don’t dress all of it, and only the portion you plan to consume, extra Cobb salad with bacon and chicken will keep airtight in the refrigerator for 2-3 days.
Want to Make Cobb Salad In Advance?
Once assembled – but not dressed – you can cover the salad very well with plastic wrap and refrigerate for up to 36 hours before serving.
This is handy if you want to serve it for an event like a summer backyard barbecue, Father’s Day, graduation parties, or any type of entertaining.
I think though that if you do want to make it ahead of time, it’s the most handy to have all the individual components ready and stored individually in your fridge in airtight containers and when the time is right, assembly is just a 5 minute job!
The Best Southwest Chicken Cobb Salad FAQs
If you don’t want to add chicken because you’re vegetarian or don’t have chicken on hand, it’s completely fine to simply omit it.
However, if you want to include chicken in this easy salad recipe, I suggest using leftover chicken you already have on hand including Poached Chicken, Baked Chicken, or Grilled Chicken.
If you don’t have leftover chicken on hand, picking up a store bought rotisserie chicken is a no-brainer. Cube or shred it and just add it to the salad.
For any bacon fan, you would never dream of skipping it! Although if you don’t have any bacon on hand, it’s fine to omit it.
Use any favorite bacon, including thick cut, hickory smoked, applewood, or whatever bacon you typically buy. I bake the bacon since I am already baking tortilla strips.
However, to save time, I am a huge fan of precooked bacon, sold as fully cooked bacon. It literally takes 1 minute in the microwave to heat up. No baking, no frying, no excessive grease runoff!
I have a couple different posts on my site that use homemade tortilla chips or strips. One is this recipe for How to Make Baked Tortilla Chips from corn tortillas. The other is the Baked Tortilla Strips that are a component of my extremely popular 30-Minute Chicken Tortilla Soup recipe.
However, if you don’t want to bake your own and aren’t feeling very DIY, feel free to buy some yellow corn tortilla chips, crush them in your fist, and sprinkle away over the Cobb salad.
Did you know that Cobb salads are named after Robert Howard Cobb, a Hollywood restaurateur back in the 1930s. He made the salad for himself in his restaurant out of hunger desperation – just adding a little bit of this and that and whatever he could find. But never guessed it would catch on with his Beverly Hills clientele and become infamous! The ingredients always include lettuce, bacon, chicken, hard boiled eggs, tomatoes, blue cheese, and a vinaigrette.
On the other hand a chef salad is usually a bit more generic in ingredients – truly whatever the chef has on hand or wants to use. Of course there’s lettuce, but typically rather than bacon there’s ham or turkey, shredded cheese, and a variety of veggies like tomatoes, cucumbers, and carrots.
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Southwest Chicken Cobb Salad
- 2 medium-sized heads romaine lettuce, chopped OR use 2 to 3 bags of chopped Romaine lettuce
- 6 slices bacon, any type including thick cut, applewood, hickory smoked, precooked, etc.
- 4 small corn tortillas + 1 tablespoon olive oil or nonstick cooking spray OR lightly crushed store bought yellow corn tortilla chips
- 1 pound boneless skinless chicken breasts, cooked and cut into ½-inch cubes or shredded (from about 2 medium chicken breasts)*
- 20 cherry tomatoes, about ½ a pint, halved OR about 2 Roma tomatoes, diced small
- 3 hard boiled eggs, coarsely chopped
- 8 ounces Colby Jack cheese, cut into ½-inch cubes (Pepper Jack, Monterey Jack, cheddar or queso fresco may be substituted)
- ½ cup yellow corn, frozen and thawed OR if using canned, drained and rinsed
- ½ cup black beans, drained and rinsed
- 1 small to medium avocado, diced or sliced
- 1 tablespoon fresh chives, finely minced OR green onions, sliced into thin rings
- Salt, to taste as desired
- Freshly ground black pepper, to taste as desired
- Barbecue sauce, for dressing as desired
- Ranch dressing, for dressing as desired
- Preheat oven to 375F and place a sheet of foil on a sheet pan.
- Bacon – Place the bacon on the sheet pan and bake for about 15 to 20 minutes, or until as crispy as desired. Flip over once midway through cooking. You can also fry the bacon in a skillet the traditional way on the stove Tips – To save time, use precooked fully cooked bacon and simply zap it in the microwave for 1 minute. Chop the cooked bacon and set aside. You can also add the tortillas to the oven on a separate sheet pan in the last 10 minutes or so the bacon is cooking to save time.
- Tortillas – While the bacon is cooking, slice the tortillas into 1/2-inch wide strips, place them on a baking sheet lined with parchment or foil, evenly drizzle the olive oil over them or spray generously with nonstick cooking spray, optionally sprinkle with a bit of salt, and bake for about 10 to 12 minutes, or until they're lightly crisped. Toss once midway through baking to ensure even cooking. When done, set aside. Tips – Make sure to use corn tortillas, and not flour. And that they're small, street taco sized and not bigger or you'll end up with a lot of extras. If you want to make more, consider my Baked Homemade Tortilla Chips recipe.
- Chicken* – If you have leftover chicken, that's the fastest and easiest. Otherwise you can make Poached Chicken, Perfect 20 Minute Oven Baked Chicken, Grilled Honey Barbecue Chicken, or use store bought rotisserie chicken. I like to cube the chicken for this recipe but you can also shred it. Aim for about 1 pound of diced or shredded chicken.
- Assembly – To a large serving platter or shallow bowl, add the lettuce, and then top with the all the remaining ingredients (except the dressings) in long rows of ingredients in typical Cobb salad arrangement and fashion. Tips – It doesn't matter how/where you place things on the platter. You can have chicken next to cheese on one side and tomatoes on the other, or in whatever arrangement you like. Although I tend to put the chicken in the middle and add things outward in each direction.
- Storage – Once dressed, salad is best consumed right away. Undressed salad will keep airtight in the fridge for 2-3 days. If you want to make the salad in advance, consider prepping all the ingredients and storing them in separate airtight containers in the fridge for 24-49 hours before assembling and then dressing the salad at the time of service.
Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.
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