This BBQ Chicken Salad is a copycat of Bob Evans’ Wildfire Chicken Salad. Tangy barbecue chicken tops a bed of fresh veggies. Top with a simple 2-ingredient barbecue ranch dressing.
I love when our family goes out to eat together. Even though we have dinner around the table at home almost every night, there is something about sitting around a restaurant table and having someone else do most of the work for you that is so relaxing. It seems like we have much better conversation at restaurant tables than at home tables. We need to work on that somehow!
One of the few places we can eat a good meal at moderate prices is Bob Evans. My regular order used to be Chicken & Noodles, but now I’m madly in love with the Wildfire Chicken Salad that Bob Evans serves. Dinner salads are the best!
This Barbecue Chicken Salad is our version of the Wildfire Chicken Salad at Bob Evans and definitely satisfies that craving!
About this BBQ Chicken Salad Recipe:
Flavor: BBQ takes center state in this salad, but it is not an overwhelmingly strong bbq flavor. The bbq sauce is mixed with ranch which makes it more mild and creamy.
Texture: It’s a salad, so it is loaded with texture. You have crisp lettuce, tomatoes and onions, plus the fried chicken and cheese with a creamy sauce on top.
Grilled Chicken vs Fried Chicken
If you visit Bob Evans, you can choose grilled chicken or fried chicken with their Wildfire chicken salad. I’ve gotten both, and honestly, I can’t tell a huge difference between two, but obviously grilled chicken is healthier.
I love using fried chicken when I need something quick. You can buy store-bought fried chicken tenders and heat them quickly in the air fryer or oven.
You can also use leftover bbq grilled chicken or rotisserie chicken tossed in bbq sauce for a quick meal. Both are great!
Lettuce. Romaine lettuce works great, but Iceberg or spring mix work well, too.
Corn. If you have corn on the cob, steam the cobs, then cut the corn off. You can also use frozen corn that you’ve allowed to thaw.
Cheese. Sharp cheddar cheese or Monterey jack cheese.
Chicken. This can be boneless skinless chicken breast that you grill with some bbq sauce, rotisserie chicken or fried chicken. Cut the chicken into bite size pieces so it is easier to eat the salad.
Crunchy tortilla strips. Crushed tortilla chips work well too. You can find tortilla strips to top your salad around the produce section of your grocery store.
How to make BBQ Chicken Salad
The amounts are dependent on how much salad you need, but it will give you general idea of how to build the salad.
On a plate, layer the lettuce, corn, tomato, onion (I used red onion, but you can also use green onions), cheese and grilled or fried chicken slices.
Then whip up this tangy little bbq ranch dressing.
Drizzle the dressing over the salad, top with tortilla strips for extra crunch and serve.
What is bbq ranch dressing, exactly? Just equal amounts of barbecue sauce and ranch dressing. So simple, but soooo perfectly tangy and creamy. For one serving I use 2 tablespoons each of ranch dressing and bbq sauce.
Add black beans. They’ll add protein. This will be similar to Panera’s bbq chicken salad that became so popular recently.
Add cucumbers for a little extra crunch.
Chop up an avocado and add it to the salad for an extra bit of creaminess.
Add peppers such as red bell peppers or even jalapeño peppers for heat.
Make the salads in a mason jar. Layer the dressing, chicken, cheese, corn, onion and tomato. Then top with the lettuce. Cover and refrigerate until serving. Easy meal prep!
To serve a crowd, place the ingredients in a large bowl and mix just before serving.
Layer the lettuce, corn, tomatoes, cheese, onion and sliced chicken on a plate.
Mix barbecue sauce and ranch dressing in a small bowl. Drizzle over the top of your salad.
Sprinkle with Santa Fe tortilla strips, if desired.
*I sometimes toss my chopped chicken in barbecue sauce if it is leftover and has dried out a bit.*I used Fresh Gourmet’s Santa Fe Tortilla Strips.*This recipe is for one salad, but it is easily adapted to make more than one.