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Serving bowl containing chicken caesar salad next to jar of dressing.

Southwest Chicken Caesar Salad

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  • Author: Nguyet Vo
  • Prep Time: 30 minutes
  • Cook Time: 30 minutes
  • Total Time: 1 hour
  • Yield: 4 servings 1x
  • Category: Salad
  • Method: Tossing
  • Cuisine: American


Classic chicken Caesar salad gets amped up with Southwest flavors in this zesty salad made with homemade Caesar dressing, crispy tortilla strips, and seared chicken spiced with paprika, chili powder, and cumin.


Units Scale

For the chicken

  • 1/4 cup mayonnaise
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • 2 tablespoons canola oil

For the dressing

  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise (preferably Kewpie mayo)
  • 1 clove garlic, finely minced
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
  • 2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 12 tablespoons water (see Note 1)
  • Pinch fresh ground black pepper or to taste
  • Pinch kosher salt or to taste

For the salad

  • 1 large head Romaine lettuce, chopped or torn into 1/2 inch pieces (about 8 cups)
  • 23 tablespoons freshly grated Parmesan cheese or crumbled cotija cheese
  • 1/2 cup crispy tortilla strips, store bought or homemade (see Note 2)


For the chicken 

  1. Make marinade. In a bowl large enough to fit the chicken, whisk together mayonnaise, olive oil, lime juice, garlic, cumin, paprika, chili powder and salt until smooth.
  2. Marinate chicken. Add chicken to marinade and toss with tongs until chicken is evenly coated. Cover bowl and marinate chicken in refrigerator for 20 minutes. (Tip: make dressing while chicken is marinating.) 
  3. Prep. Heat the oven to 350 degrees F.
  4. Cook chicken. In a large oven-proof skillet, heat canola oil over high heat until it starts to shimmer. Add chicken and brown on both sides (2-3 minutes per side). Transfer the skillet with the chicken to the oven and roast chicken until it is cooked through, about 15-20 minutes (Tip: prep salad greens and tortilla strips while chicken is roasting).
  5. Cut chicken. Transfer cooked chicken to a cutting board and let rest about 5 minutes then cut chicken into bite-size pieces.

For the dressing

  1. Mix. In a small bowl, whisk together mayonnaise, garlic, lime juice, Worcestershire sauce, and 1 tablespoon water until smooth.
  2. Season. Taste dressing and season with salt and pepper to taste. Adjust consistency of dressing by whisking in additional tablespoon of water as desired.

For the salad

  1. Toss. In a large bowl, toss lettuce with Parmesan cheese and 1/4 cup of dressing. Add more dressing to your liking or serve remaining dressing on the side.
  2. Serve. Divide salad among 4 plates and top with chicken and crispy tortillas strips. 


  1. For a thicker dressing, use just 1 tablespoon water. For a thinner dressing, continue to add more water 1 teaspoon at a time until the dressing is at your preferred consistency.
  2. To make homemade crispy tortilla strips, cut 1-2 flour tortillas into small strips. Then toss them with olive oil on a rimmed baking sheet until all the strips are evenly coated. Bake at 350 degrees F for 5-10 minutes until evenly browned, stirring occasionally. They can burn easily so be sure to keep an eye on them after the first 5 minutes.
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