When you are looking for a refreshing lunch or dinner option my Southwest Avocado Chicken Salad should make an appearance on your plate. With the vibrant flavors of smoked paprika and lime zest, it is a delicious new way to enjoy an old favorite.
I am leftover for lunch person. Rarely do I cook something for lunch for me. It's either leftovers or something easy like my turkey bacon ranch pinwheels. But that doesn't mean I'm always thrilled with the options in the refrigerator. Many times I'll repurpose leftovers into something new. Grilled chicken into chicken salad, taco meat into stuffed peppers, and rotisserie chicken into fajita nachos.
I made this recipe last summer and can't remember if it was a weekend lunch or a weekday dinner but either way my husband and I loved these southwest chicken salad stuffed avocados. They are super filling and are best with a garden salad on the side.
Mayonnaise - This helps to add the creaminess to this salad and hold all the delicious ingredients together.
Smoked paprika - Regular paprika will work as well.
Lime zest - The added zest kicks up the citrus flavor and taste!
Chicken - You can cook and add the chicken or use leftover chicken as well. I like to use chicken breast.
Salsa - Choose your level of spiciness.
Black beans - Canned black beans are a breeze to add.
Corn - Fresh corn or canned corn works best. Frozen corn tends to release too much liquid as it thaws.
Avocados - Ripe avocadoes are the perfect healthy fat and texture.
How to Make Southwest Avocado Chicken Salad
I have to admit I am not a Southwest girl. I grew up in New Jersey and the closest I've come to the southwest was not very close at all. But I love the flavors of the southwest food I've tried over the years. One of my favorite seasoning blends is Arizona Dreaming by Penzey's Spices. It is great on chicken, in dips, and in salads. I thought about just using it for this southwest chicken salad as a shortcut but I don't like making my readers buy too many specialty ingredients if there is a make at home option.
By adding smoked paprika and lime zest to this recipe I've mimicked my favorite flavors from that spice blend.
Step One: Stir together the mayo, smoked paprika, lime zest, and salt in a medium bowl. Add the chicken, salsa, black beans, and corn and stir together.
Step Two: Top each avocado half with chicken salad. Enjoy!
Use sour cream - If you want to swap the mayonnaise for sour cream or greek yogurt, this will still offer the same creaminess and delicious flavor.
Add more seasonings - This chicken salad recipe is really versatile. Adding garlic powder, onion powder, and chili powder can easily enhance the taste.
What are the options for serving this southwest avocado salad?
You can enjoy this in so many different ways! Add the salad to a large bowl with some cauliflower rice, scoop onto some lettuce leaves for a low-carb wrap, or add some tomatoes, guacamole, pepper jack cheese, and southwest ranch dressing and create a yummy salad! Don't forget the fresh cilantro and a fork - and dig in!
You can also add to bread and eat it as a chicken salad sandwich, too.
Is corn keto? Are black beans low carb? Can I eat corn and black beans with a Trim Healthy Mama S meal?
Notes for Specific Dietary Concerns:
*** KETO - The corn and black beans really give this chicken salad a southwestern flair. Each serving is only 7 net carbs including them. But if you are doing very low carb or keto you can omit them. Omitting the corn and black beans will reduce each stuffed avocado to 4 net carbs.
*** Trim Healthy Mama - this amount of black beans and corn is fine for an S recipe. You can have up to ¼ cup beans in an S and the corn is really a garnish amount.
*** PALEO - just omit the beans and corn and use an approved mayo.
How to tell if avocados are ripe?
If you ask my 12-year-old he'll pretend to be one of the guys from Dude Perfect and squeeze the avocado as hard as he can. If it's ripe the skin will break and it will ooze out between his fingers.
I do not recommend this method.
I tell if my avocados are ready by gently pressing them on all sides. If they feel slightly soft on every side they are ready. There have been many times my avocados ripen on one side first so if the first side is soft it still might not be ready. It is a sad day when you cut open an avocado to find out it is only half ripe.
- Stir together the mayo, smoked paprika, lime zest, and salt in a medium bowl. Add the chicken, salsa, black beans, and corn and stir together.
- Top each avocado half with chicken salad. Enjoy!
Originally Published July 30, 2018. Revised and Republished August 16, 2022.