Tortilla-Crusted Chicken Salad with Cilantro Dressing

Tortilla-Crusted Chicken Salad with Cilantro Dressing |

Otherwise known as “I have no idea what to call this” or “who cares about the name, because it’s yummy” chicken salad.

Literally, I must have spent a good thirty minutes just trying to figure out how to describe this one.  There is a decent amount of stuff going on.  And I didn’t want to play favorites.

Tortilla-Crusted Chicken Salad with Cilantro Dressing |

I feel like I did everything backwards this week.

I was probably supposed to tell you guys about this salad on Monday (especially since it was the Monday after Thanksgiving and all) and then share those cupcakes with you today.  As a sort of end-of-the-week celebration dessert.

Tortilla-Crusted Chicken Salad with Cilantro Dressing |

On Monday, we could have pretended that coating chicken with crushed tortilla chips and pan-frying them was healthy.  I mean, it is a salad after all.

But now, it’s officially Friday and we’re all craving pizza and all of the foods, so who the hell cares anymore.  The more, the merrier.

Tortilla-Crusted Chicken Salad with Cilantro Dressing |

I first got this idea when I went to a popular Mexican restaurant in DC a few months ago and had fish tacos (in a flour tortilla) that were crusted with tortilla chips.

Good, but the idea seemed a bit redundant to me–and it totally overpowered the fish.  But I did love the texture!

Tortilla-Crusted Chicken Salad with Cilantro Dressing |

I kept thinking about how I wanted to try it out at home with a Tex-Mex salad that was full of avocado, black beans, tomatoes, cilantro and other goodies.

If it were summer, I probably would have also added some pico de gallo too.  And maybe some fresh corn.

Tortilla-Crusted Chicken Salad with Cilantro Dressing |

The dressing (adapted slightly from Joe Yonan’s Serve Yourself) is a simple combination of cilantro, red wine vinegar, oil, and garlic.  I added some lime juice as well to give it a bit more brightness.

I know I shared salad measurements below, but its more of a rough estimation.  I’ve never ever measured lettuce in real life….and I’m pretty sure you most likely haven’t either, so feel free to adjust it depending on how many people you’re serving!

Tortilla-Crusted Chicken Salad with Cilantro Dressing

Yield: 2 Large Servings

Total Time: 30 Minutes

Print Print Recipe


Cilantro Dressing:

  • 1 clove garlic, roughly chopped
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons lime juice
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 cup safflower or other neutral oil
  • 1/4 cup red wine vinegar
  • 1/2 (loosely packed) cup fresh cilantro leaves, removed from the stem

Tortilla-Crusted Chicken:

  • 1 large skinless, boneless chicken breast (pounded until 3/4-1" thick)
  • 1 large handful of tortilla chips, finely crushed in food processor
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • salt
  • pepper
  • 2 tablespoons canola/safflower oil


  • 3-4 cups of mixed greens
  • 2 cups thinly sliced romaine
  • 1 small avocado, thinly sliced or cubed
  • 1/2 cup canned black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1/2 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 1/3 cup grated extra sharp cheddar cheese
  • cilantro dressing (see above)
  • wedge of lime
  • cilantro leaves (for garnish)


Prepare Dressing:

  1. Combine ingredients in a blender and puree until smooth. Set aside (or dressing can be refrigerated and kept for up to three weeks in fridge).

Prepare Chicken:

  1. Place tortilla chips in bowl of a small food processor and process until tortilla chips are ground relatively evenly (but still a little rough)--it might take a few minutes. Prepare a breading station with flour, the beaten egg, and ground tortilla chips.
  2. Pound out the chicken breast between two pieces of wax paper until it is 1/2-3/4" thick. Season with salt and pepper.
  3. Dredge the chicken bread in flour, shaking off excess; dip in egg mixture, and dredge in the crushed tortilla chips. Lay on a piece of wax paper.
  4. Heat a medium non-stick skillet over medium heat. Add the oil. Cook the chicken on each side for roughly 3-4 minutes, without turning until beginning to brown. Adjust heat as necessary (cook time will vary depending on thickness of meat).
  5. Transfer cooked chicken to a clean paper-towel lined plate. Season lightly with salt and allow to rest for 5 minutes or so, before slicing.

Assemble Salad:

  1. Combine salad ingredients in a large bowl, add dressing, and toss until coated evenly.  Top with cilantro leaves and sliced tortilla-crusted chicken.
  2. Squeeze the lime juice over the salad.  Serve immediately.

Dressing barely adapted from Joe Yonan's Serve Yourself

P.S.  Happy Friday!

33 Responses to “Tortilla-Crusted Chicken Salad with Cilantro Dressing”

  1. #
    Shelley @ Two Healthy Kitchens — December 6, 2013 @ 7:53 am

    Laura, you always have me smiling! So funny about wrestling over what to name a recipe – totally been there! I think it nearly took Gretchen and me longer to name our latest cookie bar recipe than it does to make it! Ahhhhhh … the trials and tribulations of being a food blogger! Regardless, this is a stellar recipe! The eye-popping photos are totally making me want to eat it right now (and I haven’t even had breakfast yet!). The cilantro dressing sounds especially fantastic! 😀

    • Laura replied: — December 6th, 2013 @ 8:04 am

      Oh my goodness–can I just give you a big thank you? For some reason or other, your comment just made me catch a major typo in the first line (food blog fail!). Sigh. Anyway, you’re so right. Sometimes it couldn’t be easier and other times, I have to stare into space for like 20 minutes before I can figure it out. You always leave the nicest comments, Shelley! Thank you. (Love those bars you posted!)

  2. #
    Tieghan — December 6, 2013 @ 8:16 am

    Haha! You sound like me. Coming up with a final name for my recipe takes me forever. Seriously, it is not any easy task!

    Love this salad! I have have a similar one on my site that I did back in may or something with tortilla chip crusted chicken, but yours is prettier and to to be honest probably healthier too! Love all the fresh colors!

    • Laura replied: — December 6th, 2013 @ 11:47 pm

      It’s hard sometimes. Sounds ridiculous, but its true. You definitely know this better than I do, since you post a zillion more recipes than me.

      I remember that salad, Tieghan! :)

  3. #
    Kelli @ The Corner Kitchen — December 6, 2013 @ 8:55 am

    This salad has my name all over it!! I always have tortilla chips at home, yet using it to coat chicken of fish (love this for fish tacos!!) has never crossed my mind! This is getting added to next week’s dinner line up for sure!

    • Laura replied: — December 6th, 2013 @ 11:46 pm

      Oh yay! Thanks so much Kelli! Hope you have a great weekend!

  4. #
    pippa@popovertopippas — December 6, 2013 @ 10:05 am

    I make a salad like the sometimes, but with Bell & Evans breaded chicken breasts (it’s my lazy day salad).

    • Laura replied: — December 6th, 2013 @ 11:46 pm

      Sounds good!! I haven’t bought that chicken in a while, but should do that for a quick dinner.

  5. #
    Anna @ Crunchy Creamy Sweet — December 6, 2013 @ 11:21 am

    Tortilla-crusted chicken – I can’t wait to try this! Love this salad idea!

    • Laura replied: — December 6th, 2013 @ 11:44 pm

      Thanks so much Anna! :)

  6. #
    Natalie @ Tastes Lovely — December 6, 2013 @ 12:36 pm

    Oooh, I love the idea of crusting the chicken in tortilla chips. And that dressing looks delicious. Could definitely use this salad after all the holiday cookies I’ve been eating, ha!

    • Laura replied: — December 6th, 2013 @ 11:45 pm

      Oh man, I don’t even want to discuss the amount of cookies I’ve been eating lately. The FB cookie swap is NOT helping–I have no will power whatsoever.

  7. #
    Molly @ Yes to Yolks — December 6, 2013 @ 12:52 pm

    This is genius! I have coated chicken in many things, but never has it occurred to me to use tortilla chips! Great idea. This salad sounds great and the photos are beautiful (as usual)!

    • Laura replied: — December 6th, 2013 @ 11:43 pm

      Thank you so much Molly!!! Your goat cheese salad looked ammmazing. Let’s swap!

  8. #
    Liz @ Virtually Homemade — December 6, 2013 @ 12:58 pm

    All you had to say was cilantro dressing and I was in. I’ve been looking for a good recipe for this since my whole family is cilantro obsessed! I think I would sub the regular flour for corn flour to make gluten free!

    • Laura replied: — December 6th, 2013 @ 11:42 pm

      That is such a great idea Liz! Thanks for suggesting it–I often forget to mention gluten-free alternatives to my recipes, but should probably start doing that. I am obsessed with cilantro, I can’t imagine the people that hate it! And I know a lot of people do.

  9. #
    Norma | Allspice and Nutmeg — December 6, 2013 @ 1:47 pm

    This sounds incredible. I like the name you gave it. It describes the salad well.

    • Laura replied: — December 6th, 2013 @ 11:41 pm

      Oh good! It was HARD, haha!

  10. #
    Joanne — December 7, 2013 @ 8:04 am

    This might be a salad but it’s totally fun enough for me to be excited about it, even on Fridays!

    • Laura replied: — December 7th, 2013 @ 10:45 pm

      Thanks so much Joanne! Hope you’re having a great weekend!

  11. #
    Nico — December 7, 2013 @ 10:42 am

    Now THIS is a salad. I’m in the camp where the more that’s on a salad the better. Love!

    • Laura replied: — December 7th, 2013 @ 10:40 pm

      Me too! Definitely into the toppings :)

  12. #
    Coty and Mariah@quirksandtwists — December 7, 2013 @ 10:36 pm

    What a clever idea of using tortillas. I always have some on hand!

  13. #
    Laurie {SimplyScratch} — December 9, 2013 @ 9:41 am

    This salad looks amazing! And I pretty much could drink that dressing!

  14. #
    Lauren @ Climbing Grier Mountain — December 9, 2013 @ 12:09 pm

    I seriously need this salad after a weekend of gluttony!

    • Laura replied: — December 9th, 2013 @ 11:03 pm

      It’s not gluttony free, but close enough, right??? Thanks Lauren! Hope you had a great time on your trip! Park City looked amazzzing.

  15. #
    Gintare @Gourmantine — December 9, 2013 @ 4:54 pm

    The tortilla crusting is absolutely brilliant and all the uses that could be there. Uff… Can’t wait to try it!

  16. #
    Barbara @ Barbara Bakes — December 10, 2013 @ 11:14 pm

    I’m a big measurer, but even I haven’t measured lettuce. lol I would love this salad. Just a great idea to coat it with tortilla chips.

    • Laura replied: — December 12th, 2013 @ 12:15 am

      Haha! I’m just imagining breaking out a measuring cup for spring mix and it makes me laugh just thinking about it. Thank you!!


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