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Simple Layered Chicken Taco Salad Recipe

Updated on September 18, 2017

Layered Chicken Taco Salad

Layered Chicken Taco Salad - make this simple, protein rich, healthy salad ahead, stash in the fridge and you have instant lunch or dinner, ready and waiting when you are!
Layered Chicken Taco Salad - make this simple, protein rich, healthy salad ahead, stash in the fridge and you have instant lunch or dinner, ready and waiting when you are!

Simple Layered Chicken Taco Salad

I love this stuff. My kids love this stuff. Everyone loves this stuff. And for good reason. A good layered chicken taco salad is one of the most versatile recipes you can have in your tool box. It's easy to stash many of the ingredients as pantry staples. Cheese, lettuce, black olives, black beans and lettuce are versatile, so I keep them on hand most the time anyway. My kids aren't crazy about raw tomato or avocado, but they'll happily eat green onions and any kind of lettuce - so I use those and stock romaine and red leaf lettuce for more nutritional punch.

I love anything I can use after I roast a chicken to maximize the use of my ingredients, and this is the perfect way to use up leftover chicken. You can grab a rotisserie bird from the grocery store too if you'd like an even faster shortcut. You can also skip the chicken entirely if you want a vegetarian version - just use more black beans, or use half black beans and half pinto beans. I do that all the time, since we have Appalachian style 'soup beans' all the time.

Substitutions

  1. You can swap out pinto beans for the black beans if you prefer.
  2. Use rotisserie chicken from the grocery store for a quick meal.
  3. Use ground turkey, ground chicken or ground beef instead of the roast chicken. Just brown them, add the taco seasonings, black beans and tomatoes and proceed with the rest of the recipe.
  4. If you're lest concerned with health aspects, and more after the 'wow' factor, swap out Fritos corn chips or Doritos for the tortilla chips. These are really fun to use for a kids' party or a gathering for foootball.
  5. Assemble all the elements you want to serve, then allow guests to make their own taco salads. Serve the ingredients buffet style, starting with fresh lettuce, and let your guests add whatever toppings they wish. You can offer salsa in several varieties, with different levels of heat, and your guests can tailor their choices. This is my favorite thing to do for gatherings.
  6. Alternately, if you already know how you want to serve this recipe, go ahead and make them ahead of time. Layer all the ingredients into jars or other dishes, stash them in the fridge, and they're ready to go when you are.

Simple Chicken Taco Salad

Simple Chicken Taco Salad

Since we’re hitting grilling and picnicking season, I decided to tap some of the great salad recipes I have and choose one that met several criteria. It had to be delicious cold, it had to portable, had to be no fuss, and it really had to appeal to the kiddos. We’ve got the end of the year picnic approaching, and I wanted to make something that would appeal to my grade schoolers, something special to congratulate them on a job well done.

I think my favorite part of this recipe is that once I prepped the ingredients and stashed them in the fridge, I discovered they were so easy and appealing that the children starting making them for themselves. Not too bad, since they’re loaded with lean protein and lots of fresh veggies. Any recipe the kids choose to fix for themselves that contains that much good stuff ranks high in my book.

You also have a couple of choice with this easy chicken salad. If you’d like, serve the chicken and black beans warm, and top with the fresh vegetables at the last minute to keep them crisp. Or chill all of the components and layer them together ahead of time. As long as they are kept cold, the vegetables will maintain their crunch. You can certainly serve them in regular bowls. But they’re so pretty layered into pint mason jars, then wrapped in napkins – they make a festive, perfect, portable picnic food.

One further note – you can certainly make this easy chicken salad with any leftover chicken. But you can plan ahead too. Plan on grilled chicken and vegetables for supper the night before your picnic, and grill up enough extra to have enough for this recipe chilled and ready to go. Simply reserve enough of your vegetables from grilling to toss into the black beans, and your picnic will almost pack itself!

Cook Time

Prep time: 20 min
Cook time: 10 min
Ready in: 30 min
Yields: 4 servings

Check out the Video!

Layered Chicken Taco Salad

Layered Chicken Taco Salad - customize this quick, easy, healthy salad to your own tastes. Add your choice of tomatoes, sour cream, salsa, olives, onions, scallions, avocados, cheese, and lettuces.
Layered Chicken Taco Salad - customize this quick, easy, healthy salad to your own tastes. Add your choice of tomatoes, sour cream, salsa, olives, onions, scallions, avocados, cheese, and lettuces.

Layered Chicken Taco Salad

Layered Chicken Taco Salad
Layered Chicken Taco Salad

Ingredients - Simple Chicken Taco Salad

  • 2 cups chicken, grilled, chilled and cubed
  • 1 teaspoon chili or taco seasoning
  • 1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 teaspoon chili or taco seasoning
  • 1/4 onion, chopped
  • 1/4 bell pepper, chopped
  • 2 ounces cherry tomatoes, chopped
  • 1 cup Cheddar or Monterrey Jack cheese, grated
  • 2 green onions, chopped
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 1 cup iceburg lettuce, chopped
  • 2 ounces cherry tomatoes, chopped
  • salsa
  • avocado, chopped
  • tortilla chips

Simple Chicken Taco Salad - Directions

  1. In a small saucepan over medium-low heat, combine black beans, chili or taco seasoning, onion, pepper, and 2 ounces cherry tomatoes. Stir to combine. Cook over medium-low heat until vegetables soften and are slightly tender, about 5-7 minutes. Remove from heat and allow to cool. (Or serve warm if using immediately).
  2. In a medium bowl, toss cubed chicken with taco or chili seasoning.
  3. If you wish to layer into mason jars, add ingredients carefully to keep the layers distinct. Feel free to use any container you wish. Divide ingredients among four pint jars, starting first with the chicken. Add a layer of the black bean mixture, then the cheese. Top with green onions, sour cream and ice burg lettuce. Finish with cherry tomatoes and serve with salsa, chopped avocado and tortilla chips.

Love Fish Tacos?

Feel free to use your favorite fish - we like tilapia - for a great variation on this recipe. Sear off a couple of filets, let them cool, then flake the fish before adding it to the jar or other serving container.

You can also quickly saute a pound of shrimp, chill them and use those instead of the diced cubed chicken. Both fish and shrimp are amazing the creamy avocado and the acidic pop of tomato salsa. Make sure if you use either of these variations, that you assemble last minute - no more than a few hours, and keep the assembled salad very cold until serving.

Did You Know?

Taco salads are really any combination of ingredients with a Tex-Mex base, and they originated in Texas in the early 1960's.

Have You Tried This Recipe?

5 stars from 1 rating of How did it turn out?

© 2012 Jan Charles

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    • moonlake profile image

      moonlake 4 years ago from America

      Anything taco is fine with me. I will have to keep this recipe in mind for this summer. Voted up.

    • sany72 profile image

      Panga Sandu Teodor 4 years ago from Romania

      cool post

    • kitkat1141 profile image

      kitkat1141 4 years ago from Ontario, Canada

      Like the previous comment, I love the presentation in the jar. I think kids and adults might eat more veggies if they come looking like this! Great idea.

    • SINewsome profile image

      Sophie Newsome 4 years ago from New York

      I love how it looks presented in a mason jar! I'm definitely going to try that one day. Nice recipe too.

    • samsons1 profile image

      Sam 5 years ago from Tennessee

      I shouldn't be trying to read this on an empty stomach. And the pix are great too. Just saw someone from east Tennessee on HubPages and thought I'd check it out. Voted up, useful, beautiful and shared; now, when do we eat...