This BBQ Chicken Salad has all the great flavor and crunchy texture of the famous salad from California Pizza Kitchen. This quick and easy no-cook salad is perfect for a busy day and it’s loaded with everything you love about the restaurant version.
There’s the crunch from romaine lettuce, little bits of jicama, and crisp tortilla strips. Vibrant color and flavor from sweet corn, tomatoes, and creamy avocado. And, a boost of protein from chicken breast and black beans. All this deliciousness is tossed in Ranch dressing and drizzled with BBQ sauce to create one of my favorite salads of all time.
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Copycat CPK BBQ Chicken Chopped Salad
I am a diehard, decades long lover of the BBQ Chicken Chopped Salad at California Pizza Kitchen. When we lived in California we had several different CPK locations within about a 15 minute drive of our house. I took a big sigh of relief when we arrived in Oregon and found them here. It’s the darned salad that keeps me going back!
I crave the this salad so frequently that I had to start making my own version at home. It’s surprisingly close in flavor and texture to the restaurant version and far less expensive to make yourself.
- Romaine lettuce – Crispy, crunchy and the only greens you’ll need for this salad.
- Cilantro – The perfect flavor complement to the Southwest flavors in this salad.
- Fresh basil – I was a little surprised to see basil listed on CPK’s ingredient list but it adds a nice, fresh element. If you leave it out, the salad will be missing that something, something.
- Green onions – Thinly sliced
- Corn – You can slice corn off an ear of sweet corn or thaw some frozen corn.
- Jicama – Can you say crunch? Jicama is a white root vegetable with the texture of a crisp apple. If a potato and an apple had a baby it would be jicama.
- Canned black beans
- Shredded Monterey Jack cheese – You could use cheddar but if you want to be true to the CPK version, stick with Jack.
- Ranch salad dressing – Your favorite brand. I like Litehouse Homestyle Ranch.
- BBQ sauce– We’re Kinder’s fans around here.
- Cooked chicken – I use rotisserie chicken breast meat but you can cook your own if you’d like.
- Freshly ground black pepper
- Limes – CPK always tucks a lime wedge into the salad so you can squeeze the juice over the salad. Really good!
- Roma tomatoes – They’re firm, bright red, and the best choice for this salad.
- Avocado – At CPK avocado is an option, but not in this house! Avocado is never optional.
- Tortilla strips – You’ll find tortilla strips in the section of your store where they stock croutons and other salad toppings. You can also use crushed tortilla chips.
How to Make BBQ Chicken Salad
- Toss the Salad – In a large salad bowl, toss the lettuce, cilantro, basil, green onions, corn, jicama, beans, and cheese. Toss with the Ranch dressing.
- Prep the Chicken – In a separate small bowl, toss the chicken with pepper to taste, 1 tablespoon BBQ sauce, and 1 tablespoon fresh lime juice.
- Assemble the Salads – Divide the salad mixture between four bowls. Spoon the chicken in the center and drizzle it with the remaining BBQ sauce. Scatter the tomatoes and avocado around the edge of each salad and sprinkle with tortilla strips.
Serve the salads with a lime wedge tucked into each bowl. It’s delicious to squeeze fresh lime juice over the whole thing before digging in.
Tips for the Best Copycat CPK BBQ Chicken Salad
- Chop everything well so you get a little of everything in each bite. This is vital for a good chopped salad.
- Use fresh sweet corn during summer when it is readily available. Boil it briefly and use a sharp knife to slice the kernels off the cob.
- If using frozen corn, thaw it in the refrigerator or place it in a colander and run cool water over it until thawed. Be sure to drain it very well before adding it to the salad.
- The combination of fresh basil and cilantro adds a unique flavor element that will remind you of the restaurant version.
- For the freshest, crunchiest salad, serve it right away after assembling.
More Salad Recipes You’ll Love
- Thai Crunch Salad (CPK Copycat)
- Southwest Ranch Chicken Pasta Salad
- Grilled Chicken Caesar
- Easy Chicken Cobb Salad
BBQ Chicken Salad (CPK Copycat)
- 6 cups well chopped romaine lettuce
- ⅓ cup chopped cilantro leaves, thick stems removed
- 2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil leaves
- 3 green onions, thinly sliced
- 1 cup corn kernels, frozen or fresh (see Notes section below)
- ½ cup chopped jicama
- 15 ounces canned black beans, rinsed and drained
- 1 cup shredded Monterey Jack cheese
- ⅓ cup ranch salad dressing
- ⅓ cup BBQ sauce, divided
- 2 cups chopped cooked chicken breast, I use rotisserie chicken breast meat
- freshly ground black pepper, to taste
- 2 limes, cut into wedges
- 1 cup chopped roma tomatoes
- 1 avocado, chopped
- Tortilla strips, for garnish
- In a large salad bowl, toss the lettuce, cilantro, basil, green onions, corn, jicama, beans, and cheese. Toss with the Ranch dressing and divide the mixture between 4 serving bowls.
- In a separate small bowl, toss the chicken with pepper to taste, 1 tablespoon BBQ sauce, and 1 tablespoon fresh lime juice. Spoon the chicken in the center of each of the 4 bowls of salad and drizzle the chicken with the remaining BBQ sauce.
- Scatter the tomatoes and avocado around the edge of each salad and sprinkle with tortilla strips. Serve with a lime wedge tucked into the bowl (it’s delicious to squeeze fresh lime juice over the whole thing before eating).
Nutrition information is automatically calculated using generic ingredients, and is an estimate not a guarantee. For more accurate results, please refer to the labels on your ingredients at home.