This recipe for healthy chicken taco salad is marinated and grilled chicken with shredded lettuce, creamy cilantro dressing and your favorite taco toppings, all inside a baked tortilla shell.
We eat a LOT of Mexican food around here – it’s typically quick to make and easy to customize to the kids’ taste. We kind of got into a burrito rut and I was trying to think of something to change it up a bit which is how I came up with these healthy chicken taco salads. The shell is baked instead of fried which makes it a healthier choice and everyone can fill up their tortilla bowl with their favorite fixings.
I started with two recipes that I’ve shared here before – cantina pinto beans and my chili lime chicken marinade. I made a batch of the beans and marinated whole chicken breasts which I then cooked and sliced. I put the chicken and beans on a platter with shredded lettuce, store bought pico de gallo, olives, sour cream, cheddar cheese and avocado and let the kids make their own creations.
The tortilla bowls might look a little fussy to make but they’re actually quick and easy. I took my tortillas and pressed them into large ramekins (2 cup size, about 6 inches in diameter). I baked the tortillas then took them out of the ramekins and turned them upside down on the sheet pan to crisp the bottoms. If you don’t have large ramekins you can really use any ovenproof bowl that’s the right size, even a cereal bowl will work. Alternatively, if you don’t have the right sized bowls you can start them upside down by draping them over large balls of foil, then flipping them right side to crisp up the insides.
Once you’ve filled your tortilla bowl full of goodies, you can top it off with some cilantro lime sauce. The beauty of this recipe is that you can get as creative as you want with the fillings, my recipe is just a guideline. So what are you waiting for? Grab some tortillas and make a healthy chicken taco salad!
Healthy Chicken Taco Salad
- For the chicken:
- 1 pound of boneless, skinless chicken breasts
- ¼ cup olive oil
- ⅓ cup lime juice
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- ¼ teaspoon ground cumin
- 2 cloves garlic , minced
- ¼ cup water
- ½ teaspoon dried oregano
- ¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
- 1 1/2 teaspoons smoked paprika
- 1 teaspoon onion powder
- 1-2 tablespoons chili powder , depending on the heat level of your chili powder. I use a mild chili powder so I do the full 2 tablespoons.
- 4 flour tortillas (8 or 10 inch)
- cooking spray
- 4 cups shredded lettuce (romaine or iceberg)
- 3/4 cup shredded cheese (I used cheddar)
- 1/2 cup olives
- 1/4 cup sour cream
- 1/2 cup fresh salsa or pico de gallo (I used store bought)
- 1/2 avocado , thinly sliced
- 1 recipe of cantina beans
- For the cilantro lime sauce:
- 1 cup sour cream (can use light)
- ½ cup fresh cilantro leaves , roughly chopped
- 2 teaspoons lime juice
- 1 1/2 teaspoons honey
- ¼ cup prepared green salsa
- salt and pepper to taste
- lime wedges and cilantro leaves for garnish if desired
- For the chicken:
- This recipes works best with thin chicken breasts. If your chicken breasts are really thick, cut them in half lengthwise or pound with a meat mallet. To prepare the marinade, pour the lime juice, olive oil and water into a large resealable bag. Add the garlic, sugar, salt and pepper, cumin, garlic, oregano, smoked paprika, onion powder and chili powder.
- Seal bag and shake to combine. Marinate for at least 2 hours or up to 8 hours.
- Heat a pan on the stove to medium high heat or start up your grill. Cook for 5-7 minutes on each side, or until chicken is cooked through. Thinly slice the chicken and set it aside.
- While chicken is cooking, prepare cantina beans according to the recipe here.
- To prepare cilantro sauce, place the sour cream, cilantro leaves, lime juice, honey and green salsa into a food processor, process until smooth. Season with salt and pepper to taste and set aside in the refrigerator.
- Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Spray your bowls or ramekins with cooking spray. Place the bowls on a baking sheet pan. Gently press your tortillas inside the ramekins. Bake for 8-10 minutes or until edges of the tortillas have browned. Remove from oven, take the tortilla bowls out of the ramekins and set the ramekins aside.
- Turn the tortilla bowls upside down on the cooking sheet so that they're standing on their edges and the bottom of the tortilla bowl is facing up. Bake for another 6-8 minutes until bottoms are browned and firm.
- Remove tortilla bowls from the oven, let cool. Fill the tortilla bowls with lettuce, chicken, beans, salsa, cheese and olives. Top with sour cream and avocado slices. Garnish with lime wedges and cilantro leaves if desired. Serve with cilantro sauce.
Make Ahead: The chicken, cilantro sauce and beans can all be made a day in advance.