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 served on crispy tortillas or bread.
Ensalada de pollo is a Mexican salad made of shredded chicken tossed with various vegetables such as potatoes, corn, carrots, lettuce, and peas. Everything is deliciously coated with Mexican crema and mayonnaise.
In Mexico, this chicken salad is served mainly at parties and potlucks along with saltine crackers or tostada shells, or as a lunch to bring to work and eat stuffed in a sandwich.
Mexican chicken salad has a creamy, lightly tangy, and sweet taste. And it also has a mild-spicy kick from pickled jalapeños!
- 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!
- VEGGIES – Carrots, potatoes, peas, and corn. You can cook the carrots and potatoes as I did, or just use 2 cans of mixed vegetables.
- LETTUCE – Use Iceberg lettuce for a nice crunch 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.
How To Make Ensalada de Pollo
Place chicken in a stock pot and cover with water. Add salt, garlic, and bay leaves. Bring to a boil and cook until the chicken is nicely tender.
Top Tip: You can also make ensalada de pollo using rotisserie chicken leftovers.
Let the chicken lightly cool down then shred it using two forks or your hands—place in a large mixing bowl and set aside.
Place a medium saucepan with water and salt over high heat and bring to a boil. When the water starts boiling add cubed potatoes and let them simmer until tender.
Remove potatoes with a slotted spoon and then cook the carrots. Drain and place all in a bowl to cool down completely.
Place lettuce, shredded chicken, potatoes, carrots, and peas in a large mixing bowl.
Tip: To speed up preparation you can use a 14.5oz can of mixed vegetables instead.
Add mayonnaise, Mexican crema, pickled jalapeños, and a bit of the jalapeño brine. Mix to coat nicely and season with salt to taste.
Serve immediately or place in the fridge to chill a little bit before serving.
- 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.
- We recommend cutting potatoes and carrots into small bites so they will be easier to cook and eat.
- Allow the salad to rest a little bit (10 minutes), so the flavors will blend together and make the final dish even more delicious.
- Skip cooking the chicken, you can use rotisserie chicken leftovers, grilled chicken, or even Mexican turkey leftovers.
- Other spices. A pinch of paprika, cumin, garlic, black pepper, or even taco seasoning can add an extra flavor to this ensalada.
- 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 potato and chicken salad 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.
How To Serve
On top of tostadas: Spoon the potato and chicken salad on crispy tortillas to enjoy as a delicious appetizer.
Make a sandwich: Stuff it in your favorite sandwich bread. I recommend whole-grain bread for a healthy choice.
With salty crackers: For a quick snack in the afternoon along with your favorite drink. Mine is this agua de pepino.
As a side dish: For roasted or grilled veggies or your favorite Mexican dishes.
Ensalada de pollo leftovers last up to 3 days in the fridge nicely stored in an airtight container.
Or if you want it to make ahead, just place all ingredients for the ensalada in separate airtight containers in the fridge and store them for up to 3 days. When ready to eat, just mix everything in a bowl and enjoy.
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.
What is Ensalada?
Ensalada is the Spanish word for “salad.” It refers to a dish that consists of a mixture vegetables, fruits, herbs, and sometimes proteins, dressed with a vinaigrette, or other flavorful sauce.
More Mexican Chicken Recipes
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Ensalada de pollo (Mexican chicken salad)
For the chicken
- 2 small chicken breasts (read notes)
- 1 garlic clove
- 2 bay leaves
For the salad
- 3 medium potatoes (peeled and diced)
- 2 small carrots (peeled and diced)
- ½ cup peas
- 1 cup sweet corn
- 4 cups lettuce (shredded)
- ½ cup mayonaisse (or greek yogurt)
- 1 cup Mexican crema (or sour cream)
- 2 Tbsp pickled jalapeños (diced)
- salt (to taste)
- Boil chicken breast with salt, garlic, and bay leaves until cooked through.
- Let chicken cool slightly then shred it. Place chicken in a large bowl and set aside.
- Fill a pot with water, add 1 tablespoon of salt, and bring to a boil.
- When the water starts boiling add potatoes and cook until tender but still a little firm on the inside.
- Remove potatoes with a slotted spoon and place them on a plate to cool down.
- Cook carrots in the same way, drain, and place on the plate with the potatoes.
Make the salad
- Add lettuce, chicken, potatoes, carrots, corn, and peas to a large mixing bowl.
- Add cream, mayonnaise, and pickled jalapeños. Mix for 2 minutes, then adjust the salt to taste.
- Serve immediately or chill the salad for 10 minutes in the fridge before serving.
- You can also use rotisserie chicken to make this recipe. 4 cups of shredded chicken will be enough.
- For an easy way to shred the chicken, you can use a mixer. So, place your cooked chicken in a bowl, make sure it has no bones, and use the mixer at low speed until all meat is nicely shredded.
- Ensure potatoes and carrots are cut into small bites to be easier to cook and eat.
Maricruz Avalos Flores is a Mexican cook and photographer living in Italy where she shares authentic Mexican & Italian recipes that can be easily made at home using easy-to-find ingredients.