Panera Southwest Chile Lime Ranch Salad

Panera Southwest Chile Lime Ranch Salad is a copycat recipe of the popular salad with a homemade Panera Chile Lime Ranch Dressing. With chicken, grilled corn, pickled red onions, quinoa, feta, tortilla strips, and the roji ranch dressing, this salad has all of the best southwest flavors.

Panera Southwest Chile Lime Ranch Salad

The Southwest Chile Lime Ranch Salad with Chicken is my favorite salad at Panera (with the runner up being the BBQ Chicken Salad!) There is so much good stuff in this salad. It has pickled red onions, grilled corn, quinoa, feta cheese, chicken, tortilla strips, and a delicious Chile Lime Ranch Dressing. This salad has a nice balance of flavors and textures. Tangy onions, creamy feta, smoky chipotle dressing, and crispy tortilla strips.

Panera Southwest Chile Lime Ranch Salad

I posted my version of the dressing last week and promised I would share the full salad recipe. Like I mentioned in that post, with the Pandemic we are staying home much more than before, so eating out is not convenient. I love trying to make my favorite restaurant dishes at home. This tastes very close to the Panera version, but perhaps better because I was able to make a few changes to suit my personal preference.

Panera Southwest Chile Lime Ranch Salad

The Panera salad contains seasoned pulled chicken. I prefer grilled chicken, so my version calls for grilling the chicken in a grill pan. Because the salad has fire roasted corn, I used the same grill pan for the corn and the chicken to cut down on the number of dishes.

Panera Southwest Chile Lime Ranch Salad

The pickled red onions are such a nice addition. I had never made them before, but they are so versatile and can be used in many other recipes.

Panera Southwest Chile Lime Ranch Salad

LOVE PANERA? Check out my Panera Copycat Soups: Broccoli Cheddar Soup, Sonoma Chicken Stew, and Creamy Roasted Tomato Soup!

Recipe Details

Quick Pickled Red Onions

For the pickled onions, I wanted a recipe that could be put together quickly. I found this method from Gimme Some Oven that speeds up the pickling process by heating the pickling solution. I turned to Bon Appetit for the actual recipe.

quick pickled onions ingredients

It starts out by cutting a red onion into thin slices and placing them in a lidded mason jar. I like to use plastic lids for my mason jars, especially if the contents are acidic, to prevent a reaction with the metal lid.

quick pickled onions in a mason jar

Next, the apple cider vinegar, sugar, and salt are simmered in saucepan. The liquid is then poured over the onions and the jar closed. You shake the jar and then let it sit for 30 minutes. That’s it!

quick pickled onions in a mason jar

These pickled red onions can be used immediately or stored in the fridge until you’re ready to use them. You won’t use the entire batch for this salad. Just remove how many you’d like for the salad and drain off the liquid before putting them in the salad.

quick pickled onions in a mason jar

Indoor Fire Roasted Grilled Corn in a Grill Pan

Although you can use an outdoor grill, the easiest way to grill the corn is indoors using a grill pan. You remove the husk and silk from the corn, coat it in olive oil and season it with salt and pepper. Then, place the corn on the hot grill pan and rotate it as necessary.

When the corn is cooked through, remove it to a clean dish or plate. Keep the grill pan hot if you’re grilling the chicken next.

grilled corn

Once cooled, the corn is cut off the cob and set aside for later.

Grilling the Chicken in a Grill Pan

For the chicken in this salad, you can use rotisserie chicken, leftover chicken, store bought grilled chicken breast strips, or even the chicken from the Chicken Street Tacos would be delicious!

I kept it simple and used the same grill pan I used for the corn, adding a little extra oil. I seasoned chicken breasts with salt and pepper and seared on each side to get nice grill marks.

Then, I transferred the chicken to a baking sheet and finished cooking it through by baking at 375 degrees. I like to do this with chicken because it allows me to use super high heat to get nice color on the outside without burning it waiting for the inside to be done.

grilled chicken on a plate

Making the Quinoa

The original salad contains a quinoa mixture, so I wanted to include it in mine. You certainly could skip this step to simplify. I cooked some tricolor quinoa in chicken broth according to the directions on the package. I like to make extra and refrigerate the leftovers to add to Chicken Street Taco bowls and other salads.

Chile Lime Rojo Ranch Dressing

Use store bought or homemade dressing of your choice. To be most authentic, I recreated the Chile Lime Rojo Ranch Dressing from Panera. This salad would also be delicious with my Cilantro Lime Crema.

Assembling the Salad

Panera Southwest Chile Lime Ranch Salad ingredients

This salad is easily assembled by placing the washed greens in a large bowl, then layering in some of the drained pickled onions, the quinoa, grilled corn, chicken, and feta. When you’re ready to serve, top with tortilla strips and fresh cilantro, if desired.

Panera Southwest Chile Lime Ranch Salad

Add the dressing and toss to coat.

Panera Southwest Chile Lime Ranch Salad

Gluten Free Southwest Ranch Salad

This salad is naturally gluten free! Check your quinoa and tortilla strips packaging for cross contamination.

Panera Southwest Chile Lime Ranch Salad Pin

Looking for More Healthy Recipes?

Check out these other recipes:
Panera BBQ Chicken Salad
Panera BBQ Ranch Dressing
Panera Chile Lime Ranch Dressing
Cilantro Lime Crema Costco Copycat Dressing
Spicy Honey Brushed Chicken Thighs {MSPI}
Lemon Orzo Salad {Vegan}
Simplified Chicken Tortilla Soup
Garlic Roasted Cauliflower
Cauliflower Crust Pizza
Garlic Braised Chicken Thighs with Roasted Carrots
Chicken Caesar Salad
Turkey Burgers
Turkey Chili {Low Carb Option}
Huli Huli Hawaiian Chicken
Haricots Verts with Shallots
Low Carb White Chicken Chili

Panera Southwest Chile Lime Ranch Salad

Panera Southwest Chile Lime Ranch Salad

Meghan
Panera Southwest Chile Lime Ranch Salad is a copycat recipe of the popular salad with a homemade Panera Chile Lime Ranch Dressing. With chicken, grilled corn, pickled red onions, quinoa, feta, tortilla strips, and the roji ranch dressing, this salad has all of the best southwest flavors.
5 from 1 vote
Prep Time 30 mins
Cook Time 30 mins
Total Time 1 hr
Course Salad
Cuisine American
Servings 3 or more

Ingredients
  

For the Quick Pickled Onions:

  • 1 red onion, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1/2 tablespoon kosher salt

For the Grilled Corn:

  • olive or grapeseed oil
  • 2 ears corn on the cob
  • salt and pepper

For the Grilled Chicken:

  • olive or grapeseed oil
  • 2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts or thighs (see note)
  • salt and pepper

To Assemble the Salad:

  • romaine lettuce
  • arugula
  • baby spinach
  • quinoa, regular or tri color (prepared according to package directions)
  • feta cheese
  • tortilla strips
  • Fresh cilantro (optional)
  • Chili Lime Rojo Ranch Dressing (purchased or homemade, see note, or dressing of choice)

Instructions
 

To Make the Quick Pickled Red Onions:

  • Place the thinly sliced onions in a lidded mason jar.
  • Bring the other ingredients to a simmer in a small saucepan.
  • Pour the simmering mixture over the onions. Place lid on top and close tightly. Shake the jar well.
  • Allow onions to marinate in the liquid for 30 minutes. Drain off liquid before consuming. Use immediately or refrigerate until use and keep for up to 2 weeks. Note: you will not need the entire batch of red onions for this salad.

To Grill the Corn:

  • Heat a grill pan over medium high heat and lightly coat with oil.
  • Remove the husk and silk from the corn on the cob. Coat the corn with oil and season with salt and pepper.
  • Grill the corn in the grill pan, rotating it as necessary, until the corn has begun to blacken and is heated through. Remove corn to a plate to cool and keep pan heated to grill the chicken.
  • Once the corn is cool, hold it vertical over the plate and use a sharp knife to cut the corn off of the cobs.

To Grill the Chicken:

  • Lightly recoat the heated grill pan with oil if necessary. Season chicken with salt and pepper.
  • Add the chicken to the grill pan and cook on each side until grill marks appear and the chicken is cook through. Alternatively, sear the chicken on each side and remove to a pan to bake at 375 degrees until cooked through.
  • Once chicken is cooked, remove to a cutting board and let rest for 5 to 10 minutes before slicing.

To Assemble the Salad:

  • In a large serving bowl, layer the lettuce, arugula, and spinach.
  • Drain off the liquid from the amount of pickled onions you would like to use. You won't use the entire batch for this salad. The rest can be stored in the refrigerator.
  • Add the drained onions, quinoa, feta, grilled corn, and sliced chicken on top of the greens.
  • When ready to serve, add the tortilla strips and fresh cilantro, if desired. Toss with dressing.

Notes

Pickled red onions:  Recipe adapted from Bon Appetit, method from Gimme Some Oven
Use any kind of chicken for this salad, such as rotisserie chicken, leftover chicken, chicken breasts seasoned with salt and pepper and grilled in olive oil, or chicken breasts or thighs marinated in the seasonings from the Costco Chicken Street Tacos and cooked in a grill pan.
Homemade Panera Chile Lime Ranch Dressing recipe HERE
You’re Gonna Bake It After All
bakeitafterall.com
Keyword chicken, gluten free, main dish, salad


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