southwestern chopped salad on a serving platter

Confession: my friends and I were regulars at allthechains in high school. TGI Fridays, Carlos o’Kelly’s, CHILI’S – nothing was safe! I re-created Chili’s spicy, slightly-thick bowls of Chicken Tortilla Soup way back in 2012 (!) and am back with another copycat recipe that I used to order there on the regular: Southwestern Chopped Salad (though they call theirs Sante Fe Chicken Salad.) Regardless of what you’re calling it, this salad is still stuffed with all the same tasty ingredients!

overhead photo of southwestern chopped salad on a serving platter

A base of thinly shredded romaine lettuce is tossed with local sweet corn, creamy black beans and avocado, plus fresh pico de gallo and crushed blue corn tortilla chips which not only add a fabulous color to this beautiful dish, but a salty, satisfying crunch. While Chili’s drizzles their salad with ranch dressing plus a spicy santa fe sauce, to keep things simple and low-fuss I dressed my salad in Salsa Ranch Dressing aka salsa mixed with, you guessed it, ranch dressing.

It’s the simple life over here, folks, won’t you join me?!

I’m telling you, this dish is a treat to eat. Savory, sweet, fresh, crunchy, creamy – totally interesting. Since this salad has black beans for protein and is enormous, I kept it meatless, but if you want to divy up the recipe amongst four people instead of two or three, add grilled chicken, shrimp, or steak on top and you’re set!

close up photo of southwestern chopped salad

Start by mixing up a batch of fresh Pico de Gallo. Before making my own PdG I was totally indifferent about the oft overlooked condiment served in tiny plastic cups next to burritos and nachos which, in my experience, almost always went untouched. Homemade PdG though? INSANE. Ridiculously good in this salad and/or dunked into with tortilla chips. It’s just a mix of chopped tomatoes, white onion, jalapeno, cilantro, lime juice, and salt. Simple ingredients, tons of flavor.

tortilla chip scooping up fresh pico de gallo

Add your desired amount of pico de gallo (aka what’s left after attacking it with chips) to a big bowl with 9oz shredded or chopped romaine lettuce, the kernels from 2 ears sweet corn, and 1/2 cup black beans then toss to combine.

southwestern chopped salad ingredients in a mixing bowl

Last step is to add 1 chopped avocado and a couple handfuls of crushed blue corn tortilla chips then drizzle with Salsa Ranch Dressing and toss again to combine. Scoop onto plates then dig in! I hope you enjoy this fresh and colorful summer feast!

southwestern chopped salad on a serving platter

Southwestern Chopped Salad

5/5 (2 REVIEWS)


Southwestern Chopped Salad is a party on a platter! Filling, fresh, and colorful, this gluten-free entree salad recipe will liven up your dinner table.


serves 2-3

  • 9oz shredded or chopped romaine lettuce
  • 2 ears sweet corn, kernels sliced from cobs
  • 1/2 cup black beans
  • 1 avocado, chopped
  • Handful blue corn tortilla chips, crushed
  • Ranch dressing
  • Salsa
  • For the Pico de Gallo:
    • 2 vine-ripened tomatoes, seeded and chopped
    • 1/4 small white onion, minced
    • 1/2 jalapeño (or more or less,) seeded and minced
    • 1/4 cup packed cilantro, chopped
    • juice of 1/2 lime
    • salt


  1. For the Pico de Gallo: combine ingredients in a small bowl then set aside. Can be done a day ahead of time.
  2. Stir together desired amounts of Ranch dressing and salsa (I used roughly 50/50 ratios) in a small bowl to create Salsa-Ranch dressing, then set aside.
  3. Add romaine, sweet corn, black beans, and desired amount of pico de gallo to a large bowl then toss to combine. Add avocado, crushed tortilla chips, and Salsa-Ranch dressing then toss again to combine. Serve immediately.


This recipe is courtesy of Iowa Girl Eats,

Photo collage of southwestern chopped salad