Grilled Ancho Chicken Taco Salad

This Grilled Ancho Chicken Taco Salad is a lighter take on traditional taco salad. Chicken breasts are tossed in a smokey ancho spice blend, grilled and tossed with vegetables like corn, tomatoes and peppers. Serve wit crushed tortilla chips and homemade Catalina dressing.
Summer is coming to an end people! Although I am a little sad to see it go… I am excited for cooler weather and cider mills. Hunting season is in just a few weeks and that means… girl nights and fun meals to make that my husband would refuse to eat! I’m soooo excited!! So while the weather is still warm I am going to squeeze in as many summer posts as possible!


This post is for my oldest daughter, her favorite thing that I make is taco salad… probably because she gets to pour catalina dressing all over it, I swear I could put that stuff on a piece of cardboard and she would still eat it!! But whatever the reason… it’s her FAVORITE! Her face lit up when I told her I was making this for dinner! I love that she loves salads!! I love that little girl!!

Everyone loved this! It was a hit, okay so a hit for Pat, my oldest and myself… as for my youngest… not so much. She isn’t a salad lover {yet}, something about lettuce tastes like grass to her, even though she claims she hasn’t ever ATE grass… but she did eat the chicken and cheese wrapped in a flour tortilla shell! Trust me I’m working on her. She’s like her dad… stubborn… please don’t tell him I said that.

Now, ancho chili pepper isn’t ultra spicy… it does have some heat, but more like a smoky heat, not burn your mouth oh-my-lord-I’m-gonna-die hot… and it’s extremely DELICIOUS!! I get my ancho chili pepper from Penzy’s Spices. I love love love it! Ancho chili is actually a poblano pepper that has been dried {and then ground into powder}. The pablano pepper is mainly a mild pepper, but occasionally some do have a little heat to them, that’s what makes it perfect in Mexican cuisine.

Here is what you’ll need for the chicken rub/marinade. Garlic, Ancho Chili Pepper, Kosher Salt, Black Pepper, Olive Oil and a few splashes of water.


And mince two garlic cloves…

Add the tablespoon of ancho chili pepper, salt, pepper and garlic to a deep dish, and stir.

Then add in the olive oil and stir.

Next add in a tablespoon of water to the mixture and stir until thinned out a bit.

Take out a pound {or pound and a half} of chicken breasts.

Lay then in the marinade and toss to coat.

Cover and set aside to marinate for about 15-20 minutes. Don’t stick it back into the fridge. You never want to put cold meat on a hot grill.

Place marinated chicken on the hot {dry} grill or grill pan and cook about 2-3 minutes per side. Rotating after a minute and a half for perfect grill marks and to insure even cooking!

Once grilled on both sides, bake in a 350 degree oven for 10-12 minutes or until completely cooked.

While the chicken is baking prepare your salad!!

Here is the salad ingredients; Lettuce, Tomato, Red Pepper, Red Onion, Cooked Fresh Corn, Cilantro, Blue Corn Tortilla Chips and Freshly Grated Cheese!

Clean and chop your lettuce into bite size pieces.

And chop up some red pepper and tomatoes. Okay… So I forgot to take pictures of me dicing up the tomato, but I think you get it.

I wrapped my corn in plastic wrap and then microwave for a couple minutes until it was cooked… Then I cut the corn off the cob into a bowl to catch all the kernels.

Cut the red onion in half and slice thinly desired amount. It’s not a precise amount just cut up how much you want… or don’t cut up any… I doesn’t matter to me!

Add all of those goodies to the lettuce.

Chop up and add the cilantro to the salad.

Then crumble up desired amount of blue corn tortillas.

Grate some fresh cheddar… seriously this is the only way to do it. I never buy the bagged stuff anymore! You probably should grate up about half a brick… so like 4 ounces or so.

Add it to the rest of the ingredients.

And toss… This would be a great salad by itself! Now set aside… but only for a momento!!

After the chicken is cooked, remove from the oven and place the chicken on to a cutting board to rest. MAKE SURE TO LET YOUR CHICKEN REST!! It helps the meat relax and the juices redistribute! You can cover with foil and it will stay nice and warm.

Once you’ve let the chicken rest for 5 minutes, slice the chicken into bite size strips.


Place some salad onto your plate top with sliced chicken and drizzle with catalina dressing… or whatever your favorite is for taco salads… my husband’s dressing of choice… Chalula hot sauce. I like the catalina… the sweetness tastes great with the smoky ancho flavor.

There were ZERO left overs, because my husband ate THEM ALL!

Enjoy! And if you give this Grilled Ancho Chicken Taco Salad recipe a try, let me know by snapping a photo and tagging me on twitter or instagram!

My cookbook Simply Scratch : 120 Wholesome Homemade Recipes Made Easy is now available! CLICK HERE for details and THANK YOU in advance! 


Grilled Ancho Chicken Taco Salad

Yield: 4 servings



2 Garlic Cloves

1 tablespoon Ancho Chili Pepper

1/2 teaspoon Kosher Salt

1/2 teaspoon Black Pepper

1 tablespoon Olive Oil

1 tablespoon of Water

1-11/2 pounds boneless skinless Chicken Breasts


1-2 large heads of lettuce, chopped into bite size pieces {ie: Romaine, Green Leaf Lettuce}

1 small Red Pepper, diced large

1/2 Tomato, diced large

1 Ear of Fresh Corn, cooked and kernels removed

Red Onion, sliced very thin {desired amount}

1 handful of Cilantro, chopped

A couple handfuls of Blue Corn Tortilla Chips, crushed {plus more if desired}

4 oz. Cheddar, freshly grated

Catalina Dressing or your favorite hot sauce.

Fresh Avocado slices {optional}

Fresh Lime Juice {optional}


For the Marinade and Chicken: Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Mince garlic and combine it with the ancho chili pepper, salt, pepper. Drizzle in the olive oil and thin out with a tablespoon of water. Coat the chicken on both sides well. Let marinate for 15-20 minutes at room temperature. Cook the chicken on each side {in hot grill pan or regular grill} for 2-3 minutes per side. Remove to a baking sheet and finish cooking in the oven for 10 minutes or until the chicken is completely cooked. Let rest for at least 5 minutes {under foil} and then slice into bite size strips.

For the Salad: Combine all prepared ingredients and toss. Serve the salad onto a plate and top with sliced cooked chicken. Drizzle with catalina dressing or your favorite hot sauce.

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8 Responses to “Grilled Ancho Chicken Taco Salad”

  1. #
    wendyweekendgourmet — September 7, 2010 at 3:59 pm

    Looks FAB…can't wait to try as Texas will have summer-like temps for several weeks yet! I LOVE Penzeys spices too…just discovered them this summer! I especially love the shallot pepper…

  2. #
    jennaseverythingblog — September 8, 2010 at 4:25 pm

    So glad I followed the link from your recipe on Tasty Kitchen . . . is it wrong that my mouth started watering when I looked at the picture of the smashed garlic cloves?

  3. #
    Laurie @simplyscratch — September 9, 2010 at 3:46 am

    Jenna… happens to me everytime I edit photos. I start getting hungry! Oh the troubles of having a food blog!! LOL!

  4. #
    Laurie @simplyscratch — September 9, 2010 at 3:47 am

    Wendy I am going to have to try that shallot pepper!!!

  5. #
    dvaaunaturel — December 6, 2011 at 1:53 am

    I have been wanting to try this. Made it tonight and it was delicious! So tasty, quick and easy to make. This will be a staple in my recipe rotation. Thanks for sharing it with us.

  6. #
    morty — February 15, 2012 at 2:01 am

    I made this tonight for me and my husband and it was a great success. I also gave the chix to my 10 year old son who said it was like buffalo chix but better. thank you!

  7. #
    Laurie {Simply Scratch} — February 15, 2012 at 2:11 am

    So glad to hear it Morty!

  8. #
    Kay Lynne — May 3, 2013 at 7:47 pm

    Great recipe, but please give recipes for dressing as well!

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