This BBQ Chicken Salad is just like the popular restaurant favorite but it’s cheaper and tastes so much better! It’s made with grilled BBQ chicken, veggies, cheese, avocado, cilantro, and tortilla strips and is tossed with a simple BBQ Ranch dressing. The CPK classic has nothing on this homemade BBQ Chicken Salad.
CPK Copycat BBQ Chicken Salad
For years I have been going to California Pizza Kitchen for one reason, and it wasn’t the pizza. I was obsessed with the BBQ Chicken Salad at first bite. Other restaurants have a version on their menus, but the CPK version is the best by leaps and bounds. I love it so much I could eat it every day and never get tired of it.
This past year at home meant no CPK BBQ Chicken Salad so it was time to create my own version.
I’ve recreated other favorite restaurant recipes at home, like the Bibb & Blue Salad from Macaroni Grill, the Teriyaki Chicken Salad from Red Robin, and the classic Olive Garden Salad. I knew I had to do right by my favorite meal, so I started with fresh ingredients.
This salad has crisp romaine lettuce, cilantro and tomatoes. But my favorite ingredient? JICAMA.
Jicama is a root vegetable with a thick brown skin and juicy white flesh. It’s crisp and juicy like an apple, slightly sweet with a nutty flavor. It’s super delicious and crunchy and it is perfect in this BBQ Chicken salad.
Here’s the whole list of ingredients you’ll need to recreate this salad at home:
- Romaine Lettuce: I prefer the crunch of romaine to other lettuces, but feel free to go with what you like.
- Cilantro: If I’m being honest I usually leave this out because I’m not a fan. But the best way to mix it into the salad is to toss it with the lettuce. If you don’t love cilantro you can omit it or add parsley for your fresh herbs.
- Black beans and corn: both canned and drained. I only use about half a can and save the rest to toss into Chicken Tortilla Soup. Fresh corn on the cob would be delicious too.
- Monterey Jack cheese: Again, use what you love. I prefer the mild flavor of jack cheese to a sharper cheddar but either will work. I also like colby jack cheese.
- Veggies: diced tomatoes, avocado, jicama, and green onions, all chopped. If you can’t find jicama or just don’t like it, you can omit it.
- Tortilla chips or strips: For topping and to add crunch.
- Chicken: You can cook your chicken any way you like. If you need a recipe, try our BBQ Ranch Grilled Chicken, Instant Pot BBQ Chicken, or BBQ Baked Chicken Thighs.
- Dressing: I just toss together bottled ranch dressing with BBQ sauce. If you want to really impress, use my Homemade Ranch Dressing and Homemade BBQ Sauce.
How to Make BBQ Chicken Salad
* Be sure to see the recipe card below for the
complete list of ingredients and full instructions *
Toss lettuce and cilantro. Rather than adding the cilantro with all of the other ingredients, you want to toss it with the lettuce to get it evenly distributed.
Chop veggies. The key to a chopped salad is the chopping. All ingredients are cut into smaller, bite sized pieces, and are similar in size if possible.
Serve. For serving, you can either toss all of the ingredients in the bowl with the lettuce, or plate the lettuce and let everyone customize their own salads.
Same goes with the dressing – When I’m serving my family, I usually mix up the dressing. But if I’m serving to guests, I let them choose their own.
- This salad doesn’t last long once dressed. If you need to prepare it ahead of time, chop and store ingredients separately, then toss together when you are ready to serve.
- To save time, use a store-bought rotisserie chicken, and toss it with BBQ sauce first.
- This salad is easily customizable. Don’t like black beans? Leave them out! Love the jicama? Double it! Add more of the things you like, and less or none of the things you don’t.
More Salad Recipes You’ll Love
- Bacon Avocado Chicken Salad
- Strawberry Chicken Salad with Citrus Vinaigrette
- Winter Salad with Tangy Homemade Vinaigrette
- Kale Salad with Quinoa and Chickpeas
- Panzanella Salad
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BBQ Chicken Chopped Salad (CPK Copycat)
- 8 cups romaine lettuce chopped
- 3 tablespoons chopped cilantro optional
- ½ cup black beans drained and rinsed
- ½ cup corn kernels cooked and cooled
- ½ cup freshly shredded jack cheese
- ½ cup tortilla strips
- 2 ripe Roma tomatoes seeded and diced
- 1 large avocado cubed
- ½ cup jicama
- 4 green onions sliced
- 2 grilled chicken breasts diced (about 2-3 cups)
- ½ ranch dressing or more to taste
- ½ cup BBQ sauce or more to taste
- 1 lime cut into 8 wedges, for serving
- In a large bowl, toss lettuce and cilantro.
- Arrange lettuce into 4 meal size serving bowls or plates. Divide toppings among the 4 bowls (black beans, corn, cheese, tortilla strips, tomatoes, jicama, green onions, avocado, and chicken).
- Drizzle ranch dressing and BBQ sauce over each salad before serving. Serve with lime wedges.