Santa Fe Salad with Chicken, Corn, & Black Beans

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This Santa Fe Salad is super easy to pull together. Signature corn and black beans get added protein from shredded chicken and other tasty toppings, making for a quick and easy dinner that’s easily packed to enjoy on the go.

Santa Fe Salad on a plate

You want to eat homemade. You want to avoid fast food and grocery store convenience items. But…

You don’t have a lot of time.

How can you bridge that gap between no time to cook and the fact that YOU GOTTA EAT?!

Take a gander at that beautiful Santa Fe Salad. Doesn’t that look amazing?! What would you say if I told you you can assemble that plate of lusciousness in about 15 to 30 minutes? I’ve waited longer in line for burgers at a fast food joint! Trust me, this is infinitely healthier and tastier than any take out burger.

I call this is one of my lazy cook meals. Seriously. It’s so simple, it feels lazy. But, it’s also delicious, so it still counts. And it’s all real food, no fake-fake here.

I’ve probably told you before about some of my “cheater” ingredients that I love to buy. I call them real food convenience items: frozen chicken tenders (or even a rotisserie chicken!), baby spinach, fire roasted corn (from the freezer section), and canned beans.

Santa Fe Salad On a plate with fork and knife

Sure, there are cheaper ingredients to buy. You could roast a whole chicken, clean a pan full of (sandy) full grown spinach, cut the corn off the cob, and cook the dried beans yourself. Those methods are fantastic for trimming your grocery bill and eating well. I’m not abandoning those strategies, but I also know they have their place.

When I’m in a pinch, these minimally-processed ingredients that are SUPER DUPER CONVENIENT fit the bill perfectly. They help me take short cuts without sacrificing taste or nutrition. This salad is one of the places they shine.

What Is In A Santa Fe Salad?

For this Santa Fe Salad here is what I used:

  • Chicken tenders
  • Black Beans
  • Tomatoes
  • Avocados
  • corn
  • Cheddar Cheese
  • Red Onion

All on a bed of spinach. Then you can dress it up how you like with salsa, cilantro, olive oil, sour cream, lime, however you like. 

There are a few key steps to this Santa Fe Salad recipe, but it seriously won’t take long:

How To Make Santa Fe Salad

Cook the chicken quickly in a skillet. I used my Homemade Chipotle Taco Seasoning Mix because it’s easy to make and keep on hand all the time. Plus it’s cheaper than the packets and doesn’t have crappy ingredients. If you don’t have time to make the mix, you can dash on chile powder and cumin, salt and pepper if you like instead. Once the chicken is cooked, shred it with your fingers.

If you’ve got leftover chicken from another recipe or slow cooker chicken in the freezer or a rotisserie chicken, by all means use it. Shred the meat and toss it with some taco seasoning mix.

While the chicken is cooling a bit, assemble the salad: baby spinach, chopped tomatoes (I like to half cherry or grape tomatoes), dice avocado, drain a can of beans, thaw the corn, slice some onion, chop cilantro, and shred some cheese. Drizzle on the lime juice and other toppings and dig in!

Seriously, it won’t take long at all. The whole thing comes together in less than half an hour, even less if you buy the cheese already shredded.

This is a great meal to pack for work, school, or the ball field. Feel free to vary the toppings; this is just a good base to start. After you’ve enjoyed it to your heart’s content. I’d love for you to give it a starred review below. Bon appetit!

Santa Fe salad on a plate

5 from 5 votes
place setting with large dinner salad
Santa Fe Salad with Chicken and Corn
Prep Time
10 mins
Cook Time
15 mins
Total Time
25 mins

This Santa Fe Salad is super easy to pull together. Signature corn and black beans get added protein from shredded chicken and other tasty toppings.

Course: Main Course, Salad
Cuisine: American, Mexican
Keyword: dinner salad, entree salad, santa fe salad
Servings: 4
Calories: 649 kcal
Author: Jessica Fisher
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 pound chicken tenders or boneless chicken cut into strips
  • 1 teaspoon Taco Seasoning Mix
  • 6 ounces baby spinach
  • 1 can black beans rinsed and drained
  • 2 avocados peeled, pitted, and chopped
  • 1 cup grape tomatoes halved
  • 1 cup frozen fire-roasted corn thawed
  • 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
  • 1/3 cup coarsely chopped red onion
  • chopped cilantro, lime wedges, olive oil, salsa, or sour cream for serving
  1. Heat the oil in a large nonstick pan until shimmering. Add the chicken and the taco seasoning mix. Cook, turning frequently, until the chicken is done, about ten minutes.
  2. Meanwhile, divide the spinach among four plates, or plastic boxes with lids if packing for work or school. Divide the beans, avocados, tomatoes, corn, cheese, and onion among the four dishes.
  3. When the chicken is done, remove it from the heat to a cutting board and shred it into bite sized pieces. Divide the chicken among the salads. If you’re making the salads in advance, allow the chicken to cool before adding it to the dish.
  4. Sprinkle the salads with chopped cilantro. Serve with a squeeze of lime juice and a drizzle of olive oil or salsa and sour cream if you prefer.
Recipe Notes

If preparing ahead of time, assemble salad but leave off lime juice, drizzle of oil, salsa, and sour cream. 

Nutrition Facts
Santa Fe Salad with Chicken and Corn
Amount Per Serving
Calories 649 Calories from Fat 376
% Daily Value*
Fat 41.8g64%
Saturated Fat 13g81%
Cholesterol 131mg44%
Sodium 376mg16%
Carbohydrates 25.7g9%
Fiber 11.2g47%
Sugar 4.1g5%
Protein 46.5g93%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.

P.S. This is one of my favorite skillets. I bought it a few years ago and we’ve ended up using it several times a day! It works great for these quick fix chicken recipes and any time I want lots of space, safe nonstick coating, and a lid.

Santa Fe Salad on a plate

About Jessica Fisher

I believe anyone can prepare delicious meals—no matter their budget.

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  1. Carol says

    This is delicious. Husband and I both loved it. We’ve had it twice this week. Made it with leftover turkey ‘cuz that’s what we had. Thank you!

  2. Vanessa says

    This looks great! I’m thinking sour cream or yougurt would be pretty amazing on this too. Thanks for sharing!

  3. 5 stars
    Oh my stars, Jessica! This is fantastic! I had soup on the menu for tonight because it would be cheap and easy…but since we are in the middle of a ten days plus streak of triple digit heat, I just couldn’t do soup tonight. Low and behold, an email from you that saved the day! I had all of the ingredients except for the two important ones (chicken and spinach) so I popped over to the closest store, picked up some spinach and a rotisserie chicken and viola, dinner was on the table in about 40 minutes INCLUDING the trip to the store. And THAT is how dinner is won. Boom!

    The flavors in this are just right and made for a perfect it’s-too-hot-to-cook meal that was tasty, filling and light. Even my picky eater liked all the ingredients, just not together…LOL!
    Thanks for sending this recipe my way!

  4. Cheri Allan says

    Thanks for this recipe! I am SO going to make this, and I’m putting what I don’t have on the grocery list right now!

    • Let me know how it goes! The comments form has some outlined stars. Click however many you think it gets after you’ve tried it. Thanks!

  5. Kathryn Q says

    5 stars
    This was a big hit with my family. We are trying to eat less take-out, and this will go into our regular rotation because it was easy and delicious. We made it with rotisserie chicken, and we each customized the ingredients to our liking. Thanks for sharing this recipe!

  6. Kelly Cook says

    5 stars
    Ha, I had this on the menu before I got the email about it! I heated the chicken in oil seasoned with Mexican spices and used a little sour cream as the dressing. We all loved it!

  7. 5 stars
    Just finished this for dinner and husband and I loved it! It will go into constant rotation now. Thank you!

    • Glad you liked it. Thanks so much for the feedback! Constant rotation is high praise!

  8. Nori says

    Is the nutrition information right? Where does all the fat come from?

    • I’m not a nutritionist (we use a plugin to generate the data), but I’m guessing it’s from the avocado and cheese. Both of those could be reduced by half and still give you a really tasty salad.

  9. Annie says

    5 stars
    This is my go to salad for a potluck. Always the first bowl to be empty. The flavors are very fresh tasting.

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