Avocado chicken salad is creamy, crunchy, tangy, smoky with a touch of spice, all in one bite! Chunks of avocado coat shredded chicken with bacon and tomatoes, all topped with a smoky cumin and sharp lime vinaigrette. This healthy lunch comes together in just 30 minutes, and each bite has so much flavor. It also just so happens to be Whole30 compliant.
You’re looking at my new favorite lunch! I’ve always been jealous of friends that order creamy chicken salad sandwiches at lunch, because mayonnaise is something that I only crave when I’m pregnant! I’m not sure why, but I can go through a jar of mayo a week while pregnant, but no other time. This mayo free chicken salad is my solution!
But just because we’re making chicken salad without mayonnaise doesn’t mean it’s going to be boring. The flavors of this chicken salad are so good, it will replace your typical chicken salad recipe, I promise! The avocados coat the chicken pieces in a creamy mixture and the tangy lime dressing with smoky cumin is just so good! Plus, all the crunchiness from the bacon pieces, cherry tomatoes, and red onion slivers bring so much punch to every forkful.
Shredded chicken is mixed with finely diced avocado until it’s super creamy. Then, stir in chopped tomatoes, crumbled bacon and thinly sliced red onion. As the chicken and avocado is stirred together, the avocado starts to break up and coat the pieces of shredded chicken. This becomes the creamy part of our avocado chicken salad, but is not the only coating. We’re going to whisk together lime juice, cumin, salt and pepper for a tangy, smoky dressing! This is my favorite part!
After you stir everything together, give it a taste, and decide for yourself if this creamy avocado chicken salad needs a little spice from cayenne pepper. I added almost 1/4 teaspoon of cayenne pepper, and it brought a kick. I couldn’t get enough of the flavors.
Ingredients for avocado chicken salad:
- 2 small boneless, skinless chicken breasts: I use frozen breasts that I defrost overnight in the fridge. For this recipe, we’re going to poach them in chicken broth, but you can use your instant pot or oven-roast, if you have a preference for how to cook chicken for using in recipes.
- avocados: You need two large ripe avocados, or 3 medium ones. Avocados are ripe when they’re slightly soft when squeezed.
- tomatoes: You’ll need a cup of halved cherry tomatoes. Again, if you’re keto, decide if you’re comfortable with the carbs in tomatoes.
- bacon: You’ll need 3 strips of bacon cooked until just crisp in a skillet. Crumble it into bite-size pieces.
- red onion: About one-fourth of a small red onion, sliced thinly, adds a sharpness and crunch. If raw onion sounds too harsh for you, soak the slices in cold water for 15 minutes before stirring them into the salad. This will mellow the onion flavor but still keep the crunch.
- limes: Fresh lime juice brings acidity to the salad, and keeps the avocados from turning brown. You can use lemon juice, if you prefer.
- salt and pepper: Plenty of salt and pepper.
- cumin: Smoky cumin is a big flavor component here, do not skip it! You can also add cayenne pepper in addition to the cumin for an extra spicy kick.
Step by step:
- Gather the ingredients:
- To cook the chicken from scratch, place it in a pan covered with water or chicken broth. I always prefer chicken broth, and then I sprinkle it with salt and pepper. Bring it to a boil and then immediately lower the heat to the lowest setting, and place a lid on the pan. After 15 minutes, use a meat thermometer to ensure the chicken is 165-degrees Fahrenheit. Drain the chicken, let it cool, and then shred it.
- Combine the shredded chicken with the thinly sliced red onion, halved cherry tomatoes, crumbled bacon, and diced avocado. I recommend dicing the avocado pretty small, so that it melts and coats the salad when stirred.
- Now, make the lime mixture: whisk together the lime juice, cumin, salt and pepper. Drizzle this over everything in the bowl, and toss to combine.
- At this point, I want you to give it a taste. Get a piece of everything in one bite, and taste it–do you like heat? If so, sprinkle on some cayenne pepper. Every time I make this salad, I add more cayenne pepper.
- chicken: You can use chicken thighs, leftover rotisserie meat, or any other type of shredded chicken for this salad–just measure out 2 cups of shredded meat.
- Whole30: Yes, this salad is totally Whole30 compliant! It was an accident, but I wanted to let you know :) Other Whole30 recipes you’ll love are my whole30 salmon cakes or my sweet potato toast.
- how to make it keto: A friend tells me this avocado chicken salad is awesome for keto, but if you’re very strict keto, watch the carbs in the tomatoes.
- increase the veggies: I love to add grilled corn to this salad in the summer.
- make it vegetarian or vegan: As you know, I live with a vegan, so we tested this with black beans instead of the chicken–it was great! If you’re using beans, I recommend mashing the avocado almost completely, then stirring in the vegetables, and finally, add the beans last. I don’t want your beans to get smooshed when making this salad vegan! Also, leave out the bacon if it’s vegetarian or vegan. If you like this idea, you might like my Vegan Mexican Black Bean Burrito Bowls, too!
Ok, go forth and toss all of the mayonnaise from your fridge–you just don’t need it anymore!
- 2 small boneless, skinless chicken breasts
- 2 cups chicken broth
- 2 large ripe avocados (or 3 small)
- 1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
- 1/4 cup thinly sliced red onion
- 3 strips cooked bacon
- 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lime juice
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- Place the chicken breasts in a 2-quart saucepan that has a tight-fitting lid. Add 2 cups of chicken broth (or water)--it will almost cover the chicken, but not quite. Add a pinch of salt and a few grinds of black pepper. Bring the mixture to a boil, then lower the heat and place the lid on the pan.
- After 12 minutes, test the internal temperature of the chicken--it should be 165-degrees Fahrenheit. When the chicken is at temperature, remove it from the pan and let it rest until it's cool enough to shred.
- Place the shredded chicken into a serving bowl.
- Finely dice the avocados, and add them to the serving bowl.
- Add the tomatoes and onion slices, and use your hands to crumble the bacon strip into the bowl.
- In a separate small bowl, whisk together the lime juice, cumin, salt and pepper.
- Pour the lime mixture over the chicken and vegetables, and toss to combine. The longer you stir, the more the avocado melts into a creamy sauce.
- Serve immediately, as the avocado will start to brown. However, you can keep this covered in the fridge for up to one day. Press plastic wrap directly on the surface of the mixture, and be sure to toss it again before serving.
Chicken: You can use chicken thighs, leftover rotisserie meat, or any other type of shredded chicken for this salad--just measure out 2 cups of shredded meat.
Whole30: Yes, this salad is totally Whole30 compliant! It was an accident, but I wanted to let you know :)
How to make this keto: A friend tells me this avocado chicken salad is awesome for keto, but if you're very strict keto, watch the carbs in the tomatoes.
Increase the veggies: I love to add grilled corn to this salad in the summer.
make it vegetarian or vegan: As you know, I live with a vegan, so we tested this with black beans instead of the chicken--it was great! If you're using beans, I recommend mashing the avocado almost completely, then stirring in the vegetables, and finally, add the beans last. I don't want your beans to get smashed when making this salad vegan!
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 432Total Fat: 27gSaturated Fat: 5gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 20gCholesterol: 83mgSodium: 1234mgCarbohydrates: 17gFiber: 10gSugar: 4gProtein: 33g