Cajun Chicken Salad Recipe

Did you know that Cajun food is actually Canadian, by way of the deep south? Well, actually, as Culture Trip explains, many Cajun dishes have their roots in French peasant culinary traditions, and these old-world recipes came along with immigrants when they first settled in Canada's Maritime Provinces. The Acadians, as they were called, made their way down south to the Louisiana Territory in the eighteenth century when they didn't fancy becoming subjects of the British Crown. (France and England had a few issues back in the day.) When they arrived in their new homeland, these French-Canadian chefs adapted their cuisine to make use of local ingredients: rice in place of potatoes, bell peppers in place of carrots, and catfish, oysters, and even alligator in place of the cod, salmon, and lobster that they'd fished for in northern waters.

When you think of Cajun food today, you generally imagine something hearty and spicy like gumbo, jambalaya, boudin, po' boys, and boiled crawfish. Salads, though? Not so much. Recipe developer Ting Dalton of Cook Simply is a very imaginative cook with a flair for creative fusion foods. While her Cajun chicken salad may not be a southern classic, it's a fresh, fun dish that pairs Cajun-spiced chicken breasts with the kind of ingredients you might find in a taco salad.

Shop for the ingredients for this Cajun chicken salad

Before you make this salad, you'll need to stop by the store to pick up some fresh veggies: a couple of baby gem lettuce, a few tomatoes, an avocado, and a bunch of cilantro. You should also pick up some boneless, skinless chicken breasts as well as some cheddar cheese and sour cream. If you've got Cajun seasoning, olive oil, pickled jalapenos, and black beans in the pantry, then you're all set. If not, you should also pick up any of these items you don't already have on hand.

Prep the veggies

As with any salad, you're going to need to prep all of those veggies first. You might want to give them a quick rinse, then chop the tomatoes (remember to remove the produce sticker!) and peel and slice the avocado. Finally, cut the ends off those baby gem lettuce and separate their leaves. There's no need to chop the lettuce, however, since those little tiny leaves are big enough to eat in a single bite.

Give the chicken its Cajun spice

It's time to start with the chicken now. Start by putting both chicken breasts between two pieces of plastic wrap or wax paper (finally, a use for wax paper!) and get out all your aggression by whaling on them with a meat mallet or a rolling pin until they're nice and thin.

Get out a large bowl and use it to mix the Cajun spice with the olive oil. Add the pounded chicken breasts and turn them in the spicy oil until they are thoroughly coated. Let the chicken sit and marinate for a few minutes while you prepare for the next steps of the recipe. If you want to make a less spicy salad, Dalton suggests, "Use a mild spice rub, or you could marinate the chicken in lemon, garlic, and oregano for a more herby taste."

Cook and slice the chicken

Add a drizzle of vegetable oil to a skillet, then heat the oil over high heat until it sizzles. Once the pan and oil are hot, add the chicken breasts. Cook the chicken for five minutes on each side, making sure it's done all the way through (no pink inside!) before removing it from the heat. Once the chicken is thoroughly cooked, let it cool until you can touch it without burning yourself, then slice it into thin strips.

Assemble the Cajun chicken salad

Find a large salad bowl and layer the lettuce leaves over the bottom. Add a layer of tomatoes, followed by one of avocado slices, then one of sliced jalapenos, and finishing off with the black beans, the grated cheese, and the sliced chicken. Thin the sour cream with a tablespoon or so of water until it's of drizzling consistency, then drizzle the dressing over the salad and sprinkle it with the chopped cilantro. If you want to add a little extra tang, you could thin the sour cream with fresh-squeezed lime juice in place of the water or serve the salad with quartered limes on the side.

Dalton points out that you can change up the salad to suit your own taste. "There is no right or wrong here," she tells us, explaining that, "you can add different vegetables ... other lettuce will work, and if you'd prefer carrots or cherry tomatoes, that's fine." She also suggests Greek yogurt as a substitute for the sour cream.

This salad is a meal in itself

As this Cajun chicken salad contains meat, cheese, and veggies, it makes for a hearty lunch or a light dinner all on its own, no sides required. Dalton notes that this salad is "great to make ahead of time," and says that you can "put the salad in a suitable container and refrigerate, and you can eat it within two days." To keep it from getting soggy, however, you might want to hold off on adding the sour cream dressing until right before you plan to eat it.

Cajun Chicken Salad Recipe
5 from 32 ratings
This a fresh, fun dish that pairs Cajun-spiced chicken breasts with the kind of ingredients you might find in a taco salad.
Prep Time
Cook Time
Cajun chicken salad in bowl
Total time: 20 minutes
  • 2 tomatoes, chopped
  • 1 avocado, sliced
  • 2 baby gem lettuce, leaves separated
  • 2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • 2 teaspoons Cajun seasoning
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • ¼ cup sliced pickled jalapenos, drained
  • 1 cup canned black beans, drained
  • ½ cup grated cheddar
  • 4 tablespoons sour cream, thinned with a tablespoon or so of water
  • Small handful of chopped fresh cilantro
  1. Chop the tomatoes.
  2. Peel, slice, and cube the avocado.
  3. Cut the ends off the baby gem lettuce and separate the lettuce leaves.
  4. Place the chicken breasts between two sheets of plastic wrap or waxed paper and flatten with a mallet or rolling pin.
  5. Mix the Cajun spice with the olive oil in a large bowl and use it to coat the chicken. Let the chicken marinate in the spicy oil for a few minutes.
  6. Add a drizzle of vegetable oil to a skillet and heat on high. Once the pan is hot, add the chicken breasts.
  7. Cook the chicken for 5 minutes on each side, making sure it's cooked all the way through.
  8. Let the cooked chicken cool until it's safe to handle, then slice it into thin strips.
  9. Layer the lettuce leaves on the bottom of a salad bowl, then add layers of tomatoes, avocado, jalapenos, black beans, and grated cheese.
  10. Top the salad with the sliced chicken, then finish off with the sour cream and a sprinkling of cilantro.
  11. Serve and enjoy.
Calories per Serving 867
Total Fat 45.3 g
Saturated Fat 13.9 g
Trans Fat 0.4 g
Cholesterol 244.7 mg
Total Carbohydrates 36.1 g
Dietary Fiber 17.0 g
Total Sugars 5.5 g
Sodium 526.3 mg
Protein 80.2 g
The information shown is Edamam’s estimate based on available ingredients and preparation. It should not be considered a substitute for a professional nutritionist’s advice.
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