If there’s a chopped salad on a restaurant menu, then you bet I’m going to be ordering it. I love a big bowl full of crunchy greens, veggies and lean protein. It’s filling, nourishing, healthy, satisfying and especially refreshing during the summer months. Since we’re basically all stuck inside now, I thought it would be fun to recreate some of my favorite go-to restaurant style meals…starting with this ridiculously good and crunchy chopped cabbage salad.
This chicken cabbage salad gets it’s crunch from green cabbage (or you could also use red!), tons of fresh raw veggies, a hint of sweetness from corn, a kick from jalapeno, creaminess from avocado and finally it’s all tossed together with a homemade spicy greek yogurt ranch.
I personally LOVE cabbage salads because they retain their delicious crunch for days, meaning that you’ll have leftovers that actually taste GOOD. SIGN ME UP!
Chopped chicken cabbage salad ingredients
This healthy, spicy ranch chicken salad recipe is packing all of the goods and southwest flavors that make it taste like one of those big, delicious restaurant chopped salads (but without the price tag and weird ingredients!) Here’s what you’ll need:
- For the chicken marinade: we’re using a bit of olive oil, honey, fresh lime juice, chili powder, cumin, garlic powder, paprika, cayenne pepper, salt & pepper. It’s basically like a really yummy taco chicken marinade. If you want to make this vegetarian, feel free to skip the chicken and use a can of chickpeas instead.
- For the salad: load up on shredded green cabbage, green onion, cilantro, carrots, red bell pepper, jalapeño, fresh (or frozen) sweet corn and roasted pepitas.
- For the spicy ranch dressing: protein-packed greek yogurt, garlic powder, onion powder, fresh lemon juice, dried dill (or chives), salt, a bit of water to thin and your favorite hot sauce or chipotle chili powder. If you want to skip the ranch, you can feel free to use store-bought ranch of choice.
- Toppings: I love adding crunchy tortilla strips and creamy avocado to balance everything out!
How to make homemade spicy ranch
The delicious, creamy, spicy ranch dressing is the star of the show here. It’s easy to make and you’ll want to drizzle it on everything. To make it simply:
- Add the greek yogurt, garlic powder, onion powder, fresh lemon juice, dried dill, salt, water and hot sauce to a bowl or mason jar. Not into hot sauce? Use chipotle chili powder instead!
- Mix or shake until the dressing is well combined.
- Taste it and add more hot sauce if you like it spicier!
Keys to the perfect chicken marinade
A great chicken marinade requires three key ingredients to make your chicken super juicy and flavorful:
- Fat from oil or even full fat yogurt or buttermilk
- Acid from vinegar or citrus fruit
- Plenty of seasonings like spices and fresh or dried herbs
Get all of my tips and tricks for making the perfect chicken marinade, plus ways to grill different parts of chicken here!
Customize this chopped chicken salad
- Use the summer veggies you have on-hand like tomatoes, different colored peppers, crunchy romaine or even finely chopped broccoli.
- Add a sprinkle of feta or goat cheese for additional creamy, salty or tangy goodness.
- Make it vegetarian by swapping the chicken for chickpeas, black beans or even tofu using the same marinade!
- Try another protein like grilled shrimp or salmon.
How to store this chopped chicken cabbage salad
This healthy chopped chicken salad will stay fresh covered in the fridge for about 2-3 days.
Make it ahead of time
If you want to meal prep this chopped chicken salad or serve it at a bbq or picnic I’d suggest preparing the entire salad the day before and adding the dressing (and avocado) just before serving so that everything stays fresh.
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I hope you love this flavorful spicy ranch chopped chicken cabbage salad recipe! If you make it be sure to leave a comment and a rating so I know how you liked it. Enjoy, xo.
Spicy Ranch Chopped Chicken Cabbage Salad
Spicy ranch chopped chicken cabbage salad made with a rainbow of veggies like bell pepper, carrots, crunchy cabbage, sweet corn and a kick of heat from jalapeño. Top this healthy chopped chicken salad with a homemade spicy greek yogurt ranch dressing for a deliciously filling salad that will keep you satisfied!
- For the chicken:
- 1 pound boneless skinless chicken breast
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 tablespoon honey
- Juice from 2 small limes
- 1 teaspoon chili powder
- 1 teaspoon cumin
- ½ teaspoon garlic powder
- ½ teaspoon paprika
- ⅛ teaspoon cayenne pepper
- ½ teaspoon salt
- Freshly ground black pepper
- For the salad:
- 6 cups shredded green cabbage (or a mix of purple and green also works)
- ½ cup diced green onion (or sub diced red onion)
- ¾ cup freshly diced cilantro
- 1 cup shredded carrots (from 2 large carrots)
- 1 red bell pepper, diced
- 1 jalapeno, seeded and diced
- ½ cup roasted pepitas
- 1 ½ cups fresh raw corn off the cob (or feel free to use thawed frozen corn)*
- For the spicy greek yogurt ranch:
- ¾ cup plain greek yogurt
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1/4 teaspoon onion powder
- 2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
- 3/4 teaspoon dried dill or fresh chopped chives
- 1/4 teaspoon salt, plus more to taste
- 2-4 tablespoons water, to thin dressing
- 1-3 teaspoons hot sauce, depending on how spicy you like it (I love cholula!) or you can sub ½-3/4 teaspoon chipotle chili powder
- For topping:
- 1 cup tortilla strips (or 1 cup slightly crushed tortilla chips)
- Optional: 1 avocado, sliced
- Extra cilantro and green onion
- Marinate your chicken for at least 30 minutes: in a large bowl, add chicken breast, olive oil, honey, lime juice, chili powder, cumin, garlic powder, paprika, cayenne pepper, salt and freshly ground black pepper. Toss well to combine, then place in the fridge until ready to use.
- While the chicken is marinating you can prep and chop the veggies for the salad. Place all ingredients for the salad in the bowl, except the tortilla strips (and the dressing).
Make your dressing by combining the following ingredients in a medium bowl or mason jar: greek yogurt, garlic powder, onion powder, fresh lemon juice, dried dill, salt, water and hot sauce. Mix or shake until well combined, taste, and add more hot sauce if you like it spicier, then pour dressing all over the salad and use a tongs to combine salad together with dressing.
- When ready to grill chicken: Preheat your grill to 400 degrees F and scrape off any leftover bits from the grates. Place your chicken breasts on your preheated grill, and close the lid. It's important to keep the lid of your grill closed while your chicken is cooking so that no heat escapes. Cook your chicken breast on the grill for 7-9 minutes per side or until the chicken reaches an internal temperature of 165 degrees F. Cook time will vary a bit depending on the size of your chicken breast, so be sure to check the internal temperature in the thickest part of the chicken breast using a meat thermometer.
- Once chicken is done, cut into strips and top the salad with it, then add tortilla strips. Garnish/top with avocado, cilantro and green onion.
For a vegetarian version: feel free to use a can of chickpeas or black beans instead of chicken.
If you want to skip the ranch, you can feel free to use store-bought ranch of choice. I also love to mix 1/4 cup store-bought ranch and 1/2 cup greek yogurt together when I'm feeling a little lazy. Feel free to add hot sauce too.
Recipe by: Monique Volz // Ambitious Kitchen | Photography by: Eat Love Eats