This ensalada de pollo (Mexican chicken salad) is packed with fresh flavors and perfect to bring to potlucks, picnics, and the office. It is creamy, chunky, and can be made ahead!
Enjoy this amazing and super easy Mexican salad 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 (known in English as Mexican chicken salad) is a simple and budget-friendly recipe very popular in Mexico and other Latin American countries.
The recipe features shredded chicken tossed with various vegetables such as potatoes, corn, carrots, lettuce, and peas; all deliciously coated with Mexican crema and mayonnaise.
In Mexico, this chicken salad is served mainly at parties and potlucks along with saltine crackers or tostadas (crispy tortillas), or as a lunch to bring to work and eat stuffed in a sandwich.
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 for 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 on the same plate.
Ingredients And Substitutions
- CHICKEN – In this 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!
- POTATOES – Make sure they’re not overcooked. Rinse them with cold water as soon as you see they’re ready.
- VEGGIES – Carrots, peas, and corn. You can cook them or use canned.
- LETTUCE – Use Iceberg lettuce or replace it with romaine lettuce.
- DRESSING – Mayonnaise and Mexican crema are 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 or yogurt instead.
- CHILIES – Pickled jalapenos are a must-have in this recipe and for extra flavor add also some of the brine.
Now, let’s see how to make ensalada de pollo in a few simple steps.
How To Make Mexican Chicken Salad Recipe
Useful Recipe Notes And Tips
- For an easy way to shred the chicken, you can use a mixer. 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 until all meat is nicely shredded.
- Make sure potatoes and carrots are cut into small bites so they will be easier to eat.
- Allow the salad to rest, so the flavors will blend together and make the final dish even more delicious.
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 crispy.
- Make a sandwich – to bring anywhere, use any kind of white bread for sandwiches or whole grain bread for a healthier choice.
- With salty crackers – for a quick snack in the afternoon. Maybe while sipping a cool.
- As a side dish – For roasted or grilled veggies or your favorite Mexican dishes.
- Chicken. Skip cooking the chicken, you can use rotisserie chicken leftovers, grilled chicken, or even turkey leftovers (despite the recipe’s name!).
- Other spices. A pinch of paprika, cumin, garlic, black pepper, or even taco seasoning can add an extra flavor.
- Make it spicy. You can add chili flakes, chili powder, or a bit of chipotle paste for a spicy kick.
- Other veggies. Green onions, celery, cherry tomatoes, and green beans work perfectly in this Mexican recipe.
- Tangy. Lime juice or some mustard add some tangy flavor.
- Meats. Other types of meats can fit well in this Mexican chicken salad, such as ham, crispy bacon, or hotdog sausages.
Make Ahead And Store
Ensalada de pollo is the perfect prep meal that can be made ahead. Leftovers can last up to 4 days in the refrigerator.
Or you can also store all ingredients in separate airtight containers in the fridge and store them for later. Then just mix everything in a bowl and enjoy.
We don’t recommend freezing it because mayonnaise and cream separate when thawed.
More Mexican 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 (Mexican chicken salad)
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 a 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.
- Place salad to chill in the fridge for 30 minutes before serving.
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How many calories are in this chicken salad?
The recipe yields 6 servings, each of which has about 484kcal.
Can I make it dairy free?
Yes. Leave out Mexican crema or substitute with cashew cream.
Is this Mexican chicken salad gluten-free?
Yes, our recipe doesn’t include any products with gluten.
Can I use frozen vegetables?
Yes! And you don’t need to thaw them, just throw them into the boiling water and cook until tender.