You can’t go wrong with this loaded BBQ chicken bacon ranch salad with tomatoes, sliced avocado, and crispy fried onions and jalapenos.
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It’s come to that point in winter that I’m daydreaming of warm days and sunshine pretty much ALL the time. *sigh* Summer could not come soon enough.
With those daydreams come thoughts of garden-fresh veggies and barbecue.
Fortunately, we live in a global society, so we have access year-round to many fruits and vegetables that we wouldn’t otherwise. Although it’s not quite the same as snatching a tomato straight off the vine or picking out the perfect one at the farmer’s market, I’m thankful that I can go to the store any time of the year to purchase tomatoes and other fresh produce.
That privilege makes it possible to throw together summery salads like this one, in January.
So what makes it so summery? Three things:
- Grilled chicken slathered in barbecue sauce
- Fresh tomatoes
- Sliced avocado
When cooked correctly in a grill pan, then the chicken is nearly as good as being cooked on a barbecue grill. It’s juicy, tender, and flavorful; not to mention super easy.
If you don’t have a grill pan, I highly suggest you purchase one. I am absolutely in love with mine (link to purchase below)!! The price tag may seem a little steep, but I promise you it is worth every penny. The distribution of heat is amazing, it creates the most perfect grill marks, and it will last a lifetime.
Aside from the chicken, this salad has a lot going on. As the title suggests it also includes bacon. Because what salad isn’t better without some crispy salty bacon?
Intermingled with the protein there are juicy plump tomatoes for freshness and buttery sliced avocado.
What really sets this salad apart, however, are the crispy fried onions and jalapenos. They are lightly breaded, perfectly seasoned, and downright delectable.
Sure you could purchase them already fried or even leave them out altogether, but you’d really be missing out, so DON’T DO IT. I promise it’s not difficult and it will definitely be worth your time and effort.
Last but not least, the salad is drizzled with this Midwest girl’s favorite dressing, ranch. Yes, I’m that girl that coats nearly everything in ranch.
The cool creamy herby deliciousness pairs exceptionally well with the elements of this salad, especially the chicken and bacon. After all, there’s a reason why the chicken bacon ranch combo is a thing.
Ingredients (+ notes & substitutions)
- Bacon: Preferably thick-cut.
- Neutral oil: For frying up the onion and jalapeno. Canola or vegetable oil work great.
- Buttermilk: If you don’t have buttermilk you can use regular milk.
- Yellow onion: Half of a small onion is perfect. Sub for white onion if you wish.
- Jalapenos: Leave ’em out if you can’t stand the heat.
- All-purpose flour: For breading the onion and jalapeno.
- Garlic powder
- Onion powder
- Kosher salt: For the breading and to season the chicken.
- Romaine lettuce: My choice of lettuce for this salad is Romaine because I love the crunch, but you could certainly use another type of greens if you so choose.
- Avocado: Pick an avocado that isn’t overly ripe. Pitted, peeled, and sliced.
- Cherry or grape tomatoes: These bite-sized tomatoes add a nice juicy pop of freshness.
- Olive oil
- Chicken tenderloins: I like using tenderloins because there is no prep involved, however, chicken breast is perfectly suitable as long as you hammer it down to 1/2″ thick. If you do not, keep in mind it will take longer to cook.
- Ground black pepper: To season the chicken.
- Barbecue sauce: Sweet, spicy, smoky; the choice is yours when it comes to the sauce. I opted to support a local business Hog Wild Pit Bar-B-Q.
- Ranch dressing: I definitely recommend going the fresh route if you have the time. My garlic ranch is super easy to throw together, takes only five minutes, and is so delicious.
How to make BBQ chicken bacon ranch salad (+ tips)
Begin by preheating your oven to 400 degrees. Place the bacon on a large baking sheet lined with tin foil in a single layer and bake for 20 minutes until it’s nice and crispy. If you have a wire cooling rack, you can place it atop the baking sheet and bake the bacon on it. It crisps up really nice this way since it’s not swimming in grease.
Next, you will need to begin heating your oil so that you may fry the onions and jalapenos. Heat a deep fat fryer or a heavy-bottomed pan with oil at least 1-inch deep to 375 degrees.
Meanwhile, add the buttermilk, onion, and jalapeno to a bowl and toss to coat. Set aside.
In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, garlic powder, onion powder, and 1/4 teaspoon of salt. Set aside.
Begin prepping the salad by adding the lettuce to a large bowl and topping it with the tomatoes and sliced avocado.
Heat a grill pan or cast-iron skillet coated with olive oil to medium-high heat. Liberally sprinkle the chicken with salt and pepper. Once hot, cook the chicken for four minutes, then flip it and cook an additional 4-5 minutes until it is browned and cooked all the way through to 165 degrees.
Transfer the chicken to a bowl and toss it with the barbecue sauce.
At this point, the bacon should be done. Go ahead and remove it from the oven and set it aside.
Now it’s time to fry the onion/jalapeno. Shake off the excess buttermilk and transfer them to the bowl of flour. Toss to coat, then fry for 1-2 minutes until golden brown and crispy. Use a slotted spoon to transfer to a paper towel-lined surface.
Crumble the bacon and slice the chicken into 1/2″ strips. Place them atop the salad along with the fried onion and jalapeno then drizzle with ranch dressing.
This salad is best enjoyed fresh, however, can be refrigerated in an airtight container for up to five days.
More salad recipes you may enjoy:
- Blackened Chicken Caesar Salad: Coming together in just 30-minutes, this hearty blackened chicken Caesar salad is topped with tender and robustly flavored chicken and made from scratch croutons with Parmesan.
- Steak Fajita Taco Salad: This hearty fajita taco salad brimming with colorful veggies, steak, avocado, crispy tortilla strips, and Cotija cheese then tossed with chipotle cilantro lime ranch is an excellent choice for lunch or dinner. Gluten-free and dairy-free adaptable.
If you make these bbq chicken bacon ranch salad I’d love your feedback. Please leave a comment and/or a rating below as I greatly value your opinion. Or snap a pic and tag me on Instagram @taoofspiceblog. Love, light, and happy cooking ya’ll ♥
- 1/2 pound bacon, preferably thick-cut
- Neutral oil for frying
- 1/2 cup buttermilk
- 1/2 small yellow onion, thinly sliced
- 2 jalapenos, sliced
- 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
- 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
- 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt + more to taste
- 6-8 cups Romaine lettuce, shredded
- 1 medium-large avocado, sliced
- 1 cup grape or cherry tomatoes
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 pound chicken tenderloins or 1 pound of chicken breast flattened to 1/2" thick
- Ground black pepper, to taste
- 1/2 cup barbecue sauce, your choice
- Ranch dressing (see notes for my recipe)
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Place the bacon in a single layer on a large baking sheet lined with tin foil and a wire cooling rack if you have one and bake for 20 minutes or until it's nice and crispy.
- Begin heating a deep fat fryer or a heavy-bottomed pan with oil at least 1-inch deep to 375.
- Meanwhile, add the buttermilk, onion, and jalapeno to a bowl and toss to coat. Set aside.
- In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, garlic powder, onion powder, and 1/4 teaspoon salt. Set aside.
- Add the lettuce to a large bowl and top with the tomatoes and sliced avocado.
- Heat a grill pan or cast-iron skillet coated with olive oil to medium-high heat.
- Liberally sprinkle the chicken with salt and pepper then place, cook for four minutes, then flip and cook an additional 4-5 minutes until browned and cooked all the way through to 165 degrees. Transfer the chicken to a bowl and toss with barbecue sauce.
- Remove the bacon from the oven and set it aside.
- Shake the excess buttermilk from the onion and jalapenos and transfer to the bowl of flour. Toss to coat and fry for 1-2 minutes until golden brown and crispy. Using a slotted spoon to transfer to a paper towel-lined surface.
- Crumble the bacon and slice the chicken into 1/2" strips and place atop the salad along with the fried onion and jalapeno then drizzle with ranch and serve.
Storage: This salad is best enjoyed fresh, however, can be refrigerated in an airtight container for up to five days.
Nutrition Information:Yield: 6 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 592Total Fat: 35gSaturated Fat: 8gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 25gCholesterol: 108mgSodium: 1245mgCarbohydrates: 29gFiber: 3gSugar: 14gProtein: 40g
The nutritional information provided is computer generated. It is only an estimate and intended for informational purposes only. Nutrition details may vary depending on various factors such as origin, freshness of ingredients, etc