Home >> Recipes >> Applebee's® >> Applebee's Santa Fe Chicken Salad Copycat Recipe  
Applebee's Santa Fe Chicken Salad Copycat Recipe
Applebee's Santa Fe Chicken Salad
By Todd Wilbur

Recipe Type: Salad
Calories: 990
Cook Time: 50 minutes
Recipe Rating: 5.0 (4 reviews)
Menu Description: "Grilled chipotle chicken breast with guacamole and sour cream on a bed of greens tossed with two cheeses, pico de gallo, tortilla strips and our Mexi-ranch dressing."

Create a robust chipotle marinade that fills your chicken fillets with flavor. As you wait for the chicken to marinate you have plenty of time to throw together clones of the Mexi-ranch dressing and fresh pico de gallo. Now most of the work is done, and you're standing in front of the gate to salad heaven. When you're ready to enter, simply grill the chicken, assemble your salads and open wide.

You should know that if you don't have buttermilk for the dressing, and don't want to buy a whole carton to use just a single tablespoon, simply substitute regular milk. You'll find ground chipotle pepper where all the spices are stocked in the market: I use McCormick. If you can't track down ground chipotle, use ground cayenne pepper. Just be sure to measure roughly half the amount, since cayenne packs more heat than chipotle.

Source: Top Secret Restaurant Recipes 2 by Todd Wilbur.

2 cups water
1/3 cup soy sauce
3 tablespoons granulated sugar
2 tablespoons salt
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
1 tablespoon ground chipotle pepper
(or 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cayenne pepper)
2 teaspoons hickory smoke flavoring
2 teaspoons paprika
2 teaspoons garlic powder
1 teaspoon onion powder
1 teaspoon ground black pepper

4 skinless chicken breast fillets

Mexi-Ranch Dressing
1/2 cup mayonnaise
2 tablespoons minced onion
2 tablespoons diced tomato
1 tablespoon buttermilk
1 tablespoon white vinegar
2 teaspoons minced fresh cilantro
1 teaspoon canned green chile pepper
3/4 teaspoon paprika
1/2 teaspoon granulated sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
Pinch dried dill weed
Pinch ground cumin
Pinch ground cayenne pepper

Pico de Gallo
2 medium tomatoes, diced
1/3 cup diced red onion
1 jalapeno, seeded and diced
2 teaspoons lime juice
2 teaspoons minced fresh cilantro
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper

8 cups chopped iceberg lettuce
8 cups chopped romaine lettuce
1 cup chopped red cabbage
1 cup fancy shredded Cheddar cheese
1 cup fancy shredded Monterey Jack cheese
Handful tortilla strips or chips
1/2 cup sour cream
1/2 cup guacamole

1. You want to marinate the chicken for 2 hours in advance, so make the marinade first by combining all of the ingredients for the marinade in a medium bowl. Stir well until the sugar has dissolved. Drop the chicken breasts into the marinade, then cover and chill for 2 hours. You don't want to marinate for much more than 2 hours or the chicken could toughen up.

2. While the chicken marinates, make the Mexi-ranch dressing by combining the ingredients in a medium bowl. Cover and chill so the flavors will develop as the chicken marinates.

3. You'll also make the pico de gallo in advance so that it can rest a bit in the fridge. Combine all of the ingredients in a medium bowl, then cover and chill this as well.

4. When the chicken has marinated for 2 hours, fire up the grill to medium/high heat. Grill the chicken breasts for 4 to 7 minutes per side or until chicken is done. Take the chicken off the grill then let it rest for a bit while you prepare the salads.

5. Build each salad in a large bowl by first tossing 2 cups chopped iceberg lettuce and 2 cups chopped romaine lettuce with 1/4 cup chopped red cabbage and about 1/4 cup of the dressing.

6. Combine the shredded cheeses then add about 1/2 cup to each salad on the lettuce. Sprinkle a handful of tortilla strips or crumbled chips on next.

7. Slice each chicken breast into strips and arrange each one on each of the salads. Sprinkle about 1/4 cup of pico de gallo over the top.

8. Finish off each salad by adding a 2-tablespoon scoop of sour cream on one side of each salad, then a 2-tablespoon scoop of guacamole on the other side of the salad.

Serves 4.

Yum yummy!
Laura Holterman  
Submitted on: 01/20/14
I absolutely love this recipe. It is delicious. It does take some time to make the marinade and dressing but both are worth all the work. In my opinion it does not exactly taste the same as the restaurant, but I like this recipe better!
Submitted on: 07/23/07
We tried this last night and boy was it good. Instead of making the mexi-dressing, we used Marzetti Southwestern Ranch dip. Tasted almost the same, but really cut down on the prep time. May try using canned diced tomatos for the pico de gallo. Chicken was great!!
Submitted on: 06/22/06
This recipe was excellent! We go to Applebees often and this is our favorite dish. It took a lot of time cutting, chopping and mixing all the ingredients but it tasted just as good as what we are served at the restaurant.
Submitted on: 07/31/05
This is so good. The chicken is excellent.