This ensalada de pollo Mexicana (Mexican chicken salad) is packed with fresh and simply amazing flavors. Creamy, chunky, and with a nice spicy touch from pickled jalapeños, this is the perfect salad for your potlucks!
Enjoy this amazing and super easy ensalada de pollo as a side dish for your favorite grilled protein, or serve over tostadas for a crunchy kick.
What is ensalada de pollo?
Ensalada de pollo is a simple, budget-friendly potato and chicken salad very popular in Mexico and other Latin American countries. It features shredded chicken tossed with various vegetables and coated with Mexican crema and mayonnaise.
When I was a kid, my mother used to prepare this salad for the birthday of every-family-member. Always. It was like the ultimate dish to any birthday party or gathering.
For example, a traditional birthday plate will have a portion of the main dish like chicken in adobo, a portion of this Mexican chicken salad, mosaic jello, and of course, a slice of birthday cake. All in the same plate.
Also, this Mexican chicken salad will make it to almost all picnics and outdoor trips we did. It was always served in a disposable plate with salty crackers or tostadas. Then the next day the leftovers will become a sandwich that I had to bring to school for lunch. Every-single-time.
So no wonder why this salad brings so many memories to me and why I am here sharing this simple yet delicious dish.
About the chicken
In this ensalada de pollo recipe I am cooking the chicken and shredding it. You can use breasts or dark meat, as you prefer. And if you want to speed up things, use your Instant Pot to cook the chicken!
Anyway, because I like to always give you some options, let me tell you that this recipe is perfect to use your rotisserie chicken leftovers, or, despite the recipe’s name, your turkey leftovers.
How To Easily Shred The Chicken
The easiest way to shred cooked chicken is while is still warm. You need a hand mixer to make this step a breeze. So, just place your cooked chicken in a bowl, make sure it doesn’t have any bones in it and use the mixer at low speed. Mix until chicken is beautifully shredded.
MEAT – Chicken and ham are what traditionally is used in this salad, but sometimes you’ll see that also crispy bacon or hot dog sausages are thrown into the mix.
POTATOES – Make sure they’re not overcooked. Rinse them with cold water as soon as you see they’re ready.
VEGGIES – Carrots, peas, corn, and iceberg lettuce for a crunchy touch. Sometimes also green beans are thrown into the mix or even apples!
FOR COATING – Mayonnaise and Mexican cream is what the popular recipe for ensalada de pollo calls for. If you can’t find Mexican cream where you live, you can use sour cream instead.
CHILIES – What kind of Mexican salad this would be without a few hot chilies?. Pickled jalapenos are a must-have here.
How To Make It
How to serve
- On top of tostadas – Deliciously crunchy. You can even make your own tortillas if you want and then fry them or bake them in the oven until crunchy.
- Make a sandwich – to bring anywhere, use any kind of white bread for sandwiches or a whole grain bread for a healthy choice. I like to use Japanese bread rolls!
- With salty crackers – for a quick snack in the afternoon. Maybe while sipping a cool agua fresca de chia.
- As a side dish – For roasted or grilled veggies.
Make Ahead & Store
Ensalada de pollo is the perfect prep meal that can be made ahead. But, if you want to keep the crunchiness from lettuce, don’t add it the day you make it, leave it out, and just add it the day you intend to eat the salad.
Place the prepared Mexican chicken salad (or leftovers) in an airtight container and store in the fridge for up to 4 days.
More Mexican Creamy Salads
- Ensalada de atun – Creamy salad with tuna and veggies.
- Ensalada de coditos – The classic Mexican macaroni salad with a tropical kick.
- Ensalada de Navidad – Mexican Christmas salad with apples and pecans.
Ensalada de pollo
For the chicken
- 2 small chicken breasts
- 1 garlic clove
- 2 bay leaves
For the salad
- 3 medium potatoes (peeled and diced)
- 2 small carrots (peeled and diced)
- 1 can peas (4 oz)
- 1 can sweet corn (7 oz)
- 2 cups lettuce (shredded)
- ½ cup mayonaisse (or greek yogurt)
- 1 cup Mexican crema (or sour cream)
- 2 Tbsp pickled jalapeños (diced)
- Cook chicken breast in boiling water with salt, garlic, and bay leaves until tender.
- Let chicken cool slightly then shred it using two forks. Place chicken in a large bowl and set aside.
- Place a medium saucepan with water and 1 tablespoon of salt over high heat and bring to boil.
- When the water starts boiling add potatoes and set the heat to medium.
- Simmer until tender (about 8 minutes) then remove them with a slotted spoon and give them a quick rinse with cold water.
- Drain well and place potatoes onto the bowl with chicken, then proceed to do the same with carrots (about 4 minutes cooking time).
- Add corn, peas, and shredded lettuce to the bowl.
- Mix in mayonnaise, cream, and jalapeños.
- Coat evenly and season with salt to taste.
- Serve or store the salad in the fridge until needed.
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