Chopped Salad with Air-Fried BBQ Chickpeas

Your classic chopped salad gets a boost of BBQ tang in this delicious vegan version, which adds extra substance with smoky-sweet chickpeas. Coated in a homemade spice blend and air-fried to crispy perfection, these little nuggets of flavor are amazing as a salad topper but also quite tasty on their own. The base of lettuce, corn, quinoa, tomatoes, and bell pepper is enhanced with a creamy avocado dressing that’s so good you’ll be licking the plate clean. Enjoy this colorful salad as a light lunch or serve alongside a cup of classic tomato soup to turn it into a bigger meal.

For more hearty salads, check out these tasty ideas:

By Nancy Macklin, RDN,


  • 1 tablespoon + ⅛ teaspoon paprika
  • 1½ teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon packed brown sugar
  • 1½ teaspoons garlic powder
  • 1½ teaspoons onion powder
  • 1¼ teaspoons dry mustard
  • ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, plus more for garnish
  • ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • ¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1½ 15-oz. cans no-salt-added chickpeas, rinsed and drained (2¼ cups)
  • 2 tablespoons lime juice
  • 6 cups chopped romaine lettuce
  • 2 cups cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 1 cup fresh sweet corn kernels (from 2 ears)
  • 2 cups cooled cooked tricolor quinoa
  • ½ cup chopped red bell pepper
  • ¼ cup chopped red onion
  • 1 avocado, halved, seeded, and peeled
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
  • ⅓ to ½ cup unsweetened, unflavored plant-based milk
  • Sea salt, to taste
  • Freshly ground black pepper, to taste


  • To make BBQ Spice Blend, stir together 1 tablespoon paprika, 1 teaspoon garlic powder, 1 teaspoon onion powder, and 1 teaspoon dry mustard, ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, the cumin, brown sugar, cayenne pepper, and cinnamon in a small bowl. Store in an airtight container. Makes about 3 tablespoons.
  • For BBQ chickpeas, preheat an air fryer to 360°F. In a medium bowl toss together chickpeas, 1 tablespoon of BBQ Spice Blend, and 1 tablespoon lime juice. Place half in air fryer. Air-fry 10 to 15 minutes or until browned and crisp, stirring occasionally. Transfer to a rimmed baking sheet to cool. Repeat with remaining chickpeas.
  • In a bowl combine romaine lettuce and the next five ingredients (through red onion). In a blender combine the remaining 1 tablespoon lime juice, the avocado, parsley, remaining ½ teaspoon each of garlic powder, onion powder, and dry mustard, and remaining ⅛ teaspoon paprika. Cover and blend until smooth, gradually adding milk to reach drizzling consistency. Drizzle over salad; toss to coat. Season salad with salt and black pepper. Top with chickpeas.

Comments (4)

(4 from 3 votes)

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Good tasty salad. The chickpeas should be baked for 40 minutes or more in a convex oven for a truly crunchy texture. I always double the spices in fok salad dressing recipes. Doubled the spices and added more lime juice at the end. I think the entire salad dressing recipe could be doubled for such a large salad for more flavor.


Bland and very wet - needed more salt and lemon, less almond milk


Takes more like 2 1/2 hours or so. It is a little bland - it needed more salt and a little more lemon in the dressing.


A bit bland. Will use my own spice blend next time and try to figure out how to give the dressing more flavor

About the Author

Headshot of Nancy Macklin

About the Author

Nancy Macklin, RDN

Nancy Macklin has a bachelor of science in dietetics from Iowa State University and a Master of Science in health services administration from the University of Saint Francis. Macklin worked as a hospital-based clinical dietitian, providing counseling for diabetes, heart disease, and weight loss and as a food service director in health care dining sites. She now serves as a test kitchen dietitian, developing 500+ recipes per year. She is a member of the Academy for Nutrition and Dietetics and International Association of Culinary Professionals. Find her on LinkedIn.
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