Southwest Avocado Chicken Salad (Copycat Wendy’s Southwest Salad)

This Southwest Avocado Chicken Salad is an easy, homemade salad that’s like a leveled up copycat Wendy’s Southwest salad. It’s full of delicious flavor and fun toppings – a balanced, satisfying salad the whole family can enjoy!

a close up of a southwest avocado salad, featuring a bed of lettuce topped with chicken, pepperjack cheese, guacamole, tomatoes, cucumbers, black beans, and bacon.

If I need to grab something to eat when I’m out and about away from home, one of my favorite fast food options is the Wendy’s Southwest salad. It’s still fast food, of course, but as far as fast food goes, it checks off a lot of my preferences for a balanced meal! The salad without the dressing is 420 calories (570 calories with the dressing), has a whopping 39 grams of protein (stellar, for fast food!) and 6 grams of fiber (also pretty great for fast food!).

I like that salad so much I decided it was time to come up with my own inspired salad at home! And it hits the spot! It has everything the Wendy’s Southwest salad has (including a much lighter homemade Southwest salad dressing), with the addition of some cucumbers for a little more crunch and more vegetables, and black beans, for an extra boost of fiber – helpful for blood sugar control, digestion, and heart health!

Why You’ll Love This Southwest Avocado Chicken Salad

  • It tastes like your favorite Wendy’s Southwest salad!
  • It’s a great way to use leftover grilled chicken, or even rotisserie chicken if you’re in a pinch!
  • The most involved prep is making the quick guacamole (just avocado, lime, and salt) and assembling the salad itself.
  • It’s a nutritional powerhouse of a meal, with a balance of all three macronutrients, fiber, and lots of vitamins and minerals.

Recipe Ingredients

You’ll need the following ingredients to make this recipe:

all the individual ingredients assembled to make southwest avocado chicken salad
  • Salad greens: I love using a butter lettuce and leaf lettuce blend here, but you can use whatever lettuce you prefer or have on hand. I’ve used romaine before, too!
  • Cooked Chicken: you can use whatever chicken you prefer – even something like leftover grilled chicken, salsa chicken, or rotisserie chicken works!
  • Black beans: while not true to the Wendy’s Southwest salad, I love the flavor and nutrition this ingredient adds – it really amps up the fiber and adds more protein, too!
  • Pepper Jack cheese: adds a little zest without going overboard with the spice
  • Guacamole: whip up a quick little cheater guacamole with just avocado, lime, and salt
  • Cooked Bacon: it’s on the original Wendy’s Southwest salad, and not gonna lie – it’s delicious!
  • Tomatoes: adds some nutrition and a little more southwestern flair and freshness
  • Cucumbers: not true to the original inspired by salad, but they add a deliciously fresh, crisp texture and a little more nutrition as well.

How to Make Southwest Avocado Chicken Salad Step-by-Step

A before and after side by side of the easy guacamole made with avocado, lime juice, and salt.
  1. First, prep the easy guacamole: using a fork, mash the avocado (pitted and peeled), lime juice, and a generous pinch of salt to taste.
  2. Assemble the salad! Create a base of the lettuce and top with all the variety of toppings.
  3. If desired, make and serve with Southwest Salad Dressing.

How to Make it an Exact Wendy’s Southwest Salad Copycat

This salad is based very much on the Wendy’s Southwest Salad, with a couple extra ingredients added out of preference and for more nutrition.

If you are craving more of the original Wendy’s version, just omit cucumbers black beans. And instead of using my lighter Southwest salad dressing, you can check your local stores for the exact salad dressing Wendy’s uses: Marzetti® Simply Dressed Southwest Ranch Dressing.

How to Make it Ahead

One meal prep option is to have everything ready in advance: make sure you have cooked chicken, bacon, go ahead and chop your vegetables, make your salad dressing, and rinse and drain your beans. This option works great if you’re adding this salad to your dinner menu rotation and need dinner on the table in under 5 minutes.

Another option is to prep the salads themselves. Use a large, wide-mouthed quart mason jar. Start with dressing on the bottom, then add your chicken, black beans, bacon, cheese, avocado, tomatoes, cucumber, and lettuce on top (in that order). This is a great option if you want a salad you can meal prep and grab-and-go to take to work – just bring a big bowl and a fork that you can dump it into. This will last up to 3 days in advance.

Substitutions & Variations

  • For a store-bought salad dressing, try Bolthouse Salad Dressing’s Salsa Ranch or Marzetti Simply Dressed Southwest Ranch Dressing.
  • Use shredded salsa chicken or leftover rotisserie chicken for easy options.
  • Sub crispy tofu, carnitas, or any other protein you prefer.
  • Craving something more handheld? Take the same ingredients and stuff them into a wrap or pita! (You’ll likely need smaller ingredient amounts to fit.)
  • Store-bought guac is totally fine, too!
  • Feel free to use turkey bacon if that’s your preference (I love how crispy Air Fryer Turkey Bacon turns out!)
an overhead shot of a southwest avocado chicken salad, with other salad toppings including guacamole, pepperjack cheese, tomatoes, cucumbers, black beans, and bacon.

Is this Copycat Wendy’s Southwest Salad Healthy?

It depends! Healthy doesn’t have a real black-and-white definition, but it’s something that’s influenced by a lot, the sum of many choices. But when it comes to food and your overall eating pattern, yes – this salad can absolutely fit into a healthy, balanced diet! And it’s a balanced meal in and of itself, too.

It’s high in protein, making it beneficial for muscle recovery and satiety. All of the vegetables, avocado, and black beans make it a high fiber choice as well. Fiber plays many beneficial roles in the body, including helping keep your blood sugar steady. The fat in the salad helps with that, too!

Other Related Salad Recipes You’ll Love

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Southwest Avocado Chicken Salad

This Southwest Avocado Chicken Salad is an easy, homemade salad that's inspired by the similar Wendy's salad. It's full of delicious flavor and fun toppings – a balanced, satisfying salad the whole family can enjoy!
5 from 1 vote
Print Pin Rate
Course: Lunch, Main Course, Salad
Cuisine: American
Diet: Gluten Free
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Total Time: 5 minutes
Servings: 1
Calories: 504kcal
Author: Lindsey Janeiro, RDN


  • 2 cups butter lettuce leaf blend
  • 4 oz cooked chicken breast
  • ¼ cup chopped grape tomatoes
  • ¼ cup chopped cucumbers
  • ¼ cup black beans
  • 1 oz shredded pepperjack cheese
  • 1 slice bacon, crumbled
  • ½ small avocado
  • 1 tsp lime juice
  • pinch of salt to taste


  • First, prep the easy guacamole: using a fork, mash the avocado (pitted and peeled), lime juice, and a generous pinch of salt to taste.
  • Assemble the salad! Create a base of the lettuce and top with all the variety of toppings.
  • If desired, make and serve with Southwest Salad Dressing.


Calories: 504kcal | Carbohydrates: 22g | Protein: 50g | Fat: 26g | Saturated Fat: 8.8g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 2.1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 8g | Cholesterol: 149mg | Sodium: 417mg | Potassium: 1388.6mg | Fiber: 9g | Sugar: 4g | Vitamin A: 553IU | Vitamin C: 16.1mg | Calcium: 269.8mg | Iron: 3.3mg

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