Chicken and Avocado Salad with Buttermilk Dressing

DinnerSaladChickenSalad Dressing

This simple, satisfying salad is the perfect way to use up leftover chicken. Top it with a zingy buttermilk dressing and a wedge if garlicky toast!

Photography Credit: Sally Vargas

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In this recipe, chicken transforms salad from a side dish into a meal by itself.

That leftover chicken in the fridge? Whether it’s poached, baked, or grilled, give it a home in this salad!

You won’t find dainty croutons here. I adore serving this salad with big slices of garlic toast. Pick a hearty, crusty artisan-style bread, cut it into thick slices, and toast it in the oven. This makes toast that’s crunchy on the outside but still a little chewy on the inside (my favorite). If you like a lot of crunch, cut thinner slices and toast them in a toaster.

This is my go-to salad for when time is short and chicken is lingering from another meal. As a bonus, romaine lettuce is easy to prep: just roughly chop, give it a rinse and a spin in the salad spinner, and you’re ready to make your salad.

No fuss no muss!

Chicken and Avocado Salad with Buttermilk Dressing Recipe

  • Prep time: 15 minutes
  • Cook time: 15 minutes
  • Yield: Serves 4

If you're looking for an easy chicken recipe to make for this salad, try Easy Poached Chicken.


For the buttermilk dressing:

  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped shallots
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk
  • 2 tablespoons chopped chives

For the garlic toasts:

  • 4 slices of crusty artisan-style bread
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 clove garlic, peeled

For the salad:

  • 2 hearts of romaine, leaves torn in half, or any other crunchy leafy salad green
  • 2 cups shredded or sliced leftover chicken
  • 2 medium ripe avocadoes, sliced
  • A small piece of Parmesan (about 1 ounce), shaved with a vegetable peeler


1 Make the dressing: In a small mixing bowl or a jam jar, combine the shallots, lemon juice, salt and pepper. Let stand for 5 minutes. Add the mayonnaise and buttermilk, and whisk to combine (or put the lid on the jar and shake). Add the chives. Taste and add more salt and pepper if needed.

This dressing can be made ahead and kept refrigerated for about a week.

Chicken Avocado Salad

2 Make the garlic toasts: Preheat the oven to 375°F.  Brush the bread slices with oil and place on a rimless baking sheet. Bake for 12 to 15 minutes, until golden and crispy on the outside. Remove from the oven and cool them on the pan. Rub the garlic clove over each slice.

Chicken Avocado Salad Chicken Avocado Salad

3 Assemble the salad: Divide the romaine between 4 bowls or plates. Top each with avocado, chicken, and Parmesan. Drizzle with the dressing. Serve with the garlic toasts.

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Sally Vargas

Sally Pasley Vargas is a freelance writer and the author of three cookbooks (Food for Friends, The Tao of Cooking, Ten Speed Press, and The Cranberry Cookbook). She currently writes the column The Confident Cook for The Boston Globe along with seasonal recipes for the Wednesday Food Section.

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3 Comments / Reviews

No ImageChicken and Avocado Salad with Buttermilk Dressing

Did you make it? Rate it!

  1. Marta Rivera

    I honestly believe that there’s no substitute for a well-made dressing. I made this recipe for dinner last Friday after a long LONG day of running errands. It was just the right meal for filling me up, without being too heavy right before bed.


  2. Malika A. Black

    Hi Sally,
    This makes an easy meal for a busy week day!
    I never used buttermilk in a dressing for salads… Now that I think of it, it’s just like using yogurt but lighter! Huh?
    Thanks for sharing. Have a great day!

  3. Lydia

    Thanks, Sally. Looks delish. I will make it this week!

Chicken Avocado SaladChicken and Avocado Salad with Buttermilk Dressing