This crunchy Chinese Chicken Salad is quick, refreshing and satisfying, loaded with crisp, vibrant veggies, crunchy wonton strips and nuts all doused in tangy Sesame Ginger Dressing!
This Chinese Chicken Salad recipe is not only healthy, it is addicting and destined to become one of your favorite Asian salads of all time. It is a tantalizing combination of Napa cabbage, snow peas, carrots, bell peppers, Mandarin oranges, sliced almonds, wonton strips and sesame seeds. It makes fabulous prep ahead/portable lunches, light dinners or crowd pleasing potluck sides. It stores beautifully, is clean-out-the-fridge customizable and is a texture lover’s dream with all that CRUNCH!
CHINESE CHICKEN SALAD VIDEO
Chinese Chicken Salad
Do you love Chinese Chicken Salad?! Chinese Salad is probably the salad I order more than any other when I dine out. It is vibrant, fresh, crunchy, healthy and one of the few salads I don’t feel like I want to eat a second meal after.
From the Cheesecake Factory, to P.F.Chang’s, to California Pizza Kitchen, to Applebee’s, everyone has their own spin on this Asian fusion salad. But, I have to admit, this irresistible Chinese Chicken Salad recipe is my most favorite of all. It is not only restaurant delicious, but is healthier and super easy to make at home in your slippers!
The key to a dynamite Chinese Chicken Salad is fresh ingredients, a flavor exploding dressing and tons of CRUNCH – and this salad has it all!
What goes in Chinese Chicken Salad?
Chinese Chicken Salad ingredients vary greatly between recipes. There is no right or wrong way to make a Chinese Chicken Salad – you can essentially use whatever ingredients you have in your refrigerator as long as you have a killer dressing (below) and have tons of CRUNCH.
The crunch mainly comes from the Napa cabbage and wonton strips or chow Mein noodles. In addition to these essentials, a healthy does of cilantro and green onions adds a dynamic Asian flair.
For my Chinese Chicken Salad recipe, I’ve stuck with the essentials and hand picked accessible, fresh veggies that I think make a stellar cast:
- Napa cabbage
- shredded chicken
- red cabbage
- shredded carrots
- snow peas
- red bell pepper
- mandarin oranges
- green onions
- almonds or chopped peanuts
- wonton strips or chow Mein noodles
- sesame seeds or sunflower seeds
Chinese Chicken Salad Alternatives
You can also swap out the aforementioned veggies (aside from the Napa cabbage) for:
- bean sprouts
- water chestnuts
Optional Salad Add-Ins
In additional to veggies, I love the sweet citrus the Mandarin oranges add to the Chinese Chicken Salad that compliments the earthy salad ingredients. Along with the Mandarin oranges, these would also make fabulous sweet additions:
- craisins (highly recommended!)
- Asian pear
If you’ve never tried craisins in your salads before, I highly recommend the in addition to the Mandarin oranges. Their sweetness is a delightful reprieve you will be loving and even seeking in every bite!
How do you make Chinese Chicken salad?
Although the ingredient list is somewhat lengthy, don’t be intimidated by this Chinese Chicken Salad Recipe! It just requires some chopping and whisking or shaking of your salad dressing ingredients AND you don’t even have to turn on your stove! Read how easy it is:
- Add all of the Chinese Chicken Salad Dressing ingredients to a mason jar with a tight fitting lid or a small bowl. Shake jar or whisk dressing vigorously.
- Remove 3 tablespoons dressing to a bowl with the chicken. Stir until evenly coated. Let chicken marinate while you prep the vegetables. Refrigerate the remaining dressing.
- Add all salad ingredients to a large bowl except for wonton strips IF you are expecting leftovers. Whisk/shake salad dressing and drizzle desired amount of dressing over salad and toss until well combined. Add wontons strips to individual servings if expecting leftovers.
The Secret to the Best Chinese Chicken Salad
As you can see in step 2 above, I do a little something different in my Chinese Chicken Salad Recipe – part of the salad dressing becomes our chicken marinade!
The pre-cooked chicken seeps up an astonishing amount of flavor in just minutes as you prep your veggies. Marinating your chicken ensures it isn’t bland but juicy, Asian infused chicken worthy of it’s name, Chinese Chicken Salad. Marinating the chicken also prevents it from becoming dry if storing your chicken.
How to make your own Shredded Chicken
You can purchase a rotisserie chicken for easy, shortcut Chinese Chicken Salad or you can make your own shredded chicken. To make your own shredded chicken:
- Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat.
- Add 1 ¼ pounds chicken breasts pounded thin (3-4 breasts) and cook 3-5 minutes, or until golden brown on one side.
- Flip chicken and add 1 1/2 cups chicken broth. Cover and reduce heat to medium and simmer 10 minutes, then flip chicken over and continue to cook 5-10 minutes or until chicken is cooked though and tender enough to shred. You may need to add more chicken broth if it is already absorbed when you flip your chicken over.
- Remove chicken from skillet and let rest 5 minutes before shredding.
How do you make Chinese salad dressing?
Another defining factor in my Chinese Chicken Salad is the Chinese Salad Dressing. I use a slightly modified version of my Chinese Chicken Salad Wraps Dressing, because it is tangy, sweet soy perfection.
It is so good, I even had a reader comment on my IG, that other Chinese Chicken Salad Dressings are “lackluster, but not the problem with this dressing!”
Our Chinese Chicken Salad Dressing is comprised of:
- 1/3 cup rice vinegar
- 1/4 cup low sodium soy sauce
- 2 tablespoons Asian sweet chili sauce
- 1 1/2 tablespoons sesame oil
- 2 tablespoons sugar
- 1/2-1 teaspoon sriracha optional
- 1 1/2 teaspoons minced garlic
- 1 1/2 teaspoons freshly grated ginger
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon pepper
- 3 tablespoons peanut or canola oil
These pantry ingredients can be whipped together in minutes and deliver the flavor punch required to enliven our crunchy yet otherwise neutral cast of cabbage, carrots, bell peppers, snow peas, etc.
This Chinese Chicken Salad Dressing is tangy and robust yet light at the same time. It has a sweet heat zing provided by the Asian Sweet Chili Sauce, sriracha, ginger and garlic. If you aren’t a fan of heat then start with less sriracha and add more to taste, but keep in mind the flavor and heat of the dressing will be dramatically diluted when poured over the entire salad.
Notes about Chinese Chicken Salad Recipe
- Napa Cabbage. Napa cabbage is the base of our Chinese Chicken Salad. It is light and fresh with a more mild cabbage taste. Napa cabbage pairs beautifully with red cabbage because it is thinner and softer than traditional cabbage but still delivers a fabulous, yet not overpowering crunch.
- Where to find Napa Cabbage/Substitute. You should be able to find Napa cabbage at your grocery store alongside green and red cabbage. If your store doesn’t care it, for whatever reason, then Sprouts or Whole Foods definitely will. If you have to substitute your Napa cabbage, then use a sturdier lettuce such as romaine or iceberg.
- Red Cabbage. I heart cabbage 10X over lettuce. It’s crispier and stays fresh way longer. You can also use green cabbage instead of red. Red cabbage pairs beautifully with Napa cabbage to deliver an awesome crunch without being overpowering.
- Mandarin Oranges. Try to purchase Mandarin oranges in water, but if you can only find them packed in light syrup then drain oranges, and rinse with water, and pat dry. I prefer 2 11 oz. cans of Mandarin oranges because I love their sweetness, but that is totally up to you.
- Pre-shredded vegetables. For shortcut salad prep, you can buy bags of pre-shredded cabbage and matchstick carrots. I find all of the ingredients can be chopped pretty quickly with the most time consuming being the carrots, so that might be worth splurging for.
- Food Processor. If you have a food processor, then your salad prep time just got faster! Attach your shredder blade for the for Napa and red cabbage and use your grater blade for the carrots.
- Rotisserie chicken: Store-bought rotisserie chicken makes the chicken component come together super quickly.
- Customize. This Chinese Chicken Salad is all about making it YOUR favorite Chinese Chicken Salad. Do this by adding more or less of any of the ingredients to your liking, or omitting some ingredients completely, as long as you have something sweet (like Mandarin oranges/craisins) and plenty of CRUNCH!.
- Asian Sweet Chili Sauce. This is my secret ingredient in my Chinese Chicken Salad Dressing and many other recipes. It just adds that little extra layer of flavor that equals dynamic perfection. To me, Asian Sweet Chili Sauce it is the perfect balance of tangy sweet heat and so worth keeping stocked in your refrigerator. If you’ve never purchased Asian Sweet Chili Sauce before, it is a very common ingredient and can easily be found in the Asian section of your grocery store. Mae Ploys brand is simply called, “Asian Sweet Chili Sauce” and Lee Kum Kee’s brand is called, “Thai Sweet Chili Sauce.”
- The CRUNCH: The crunch is the most important part of this Chinese Chicken Salad – so don’t skimp! You can use wonton strips (usually found in the produce department) or chow mein noodles. You could even use toasted top ramen noodles like I did in My Crunchy Aisan Salad. You will also want to use plenty of sliced almonds or peanuts. Although not pictured, my personal favorite is crushed peanuts. You also have the option between sesame seeds and and sunflower seeds – I vote sunflower seeds – soooo good!
- Hold the Dressing. Start with less dressing than you think you need and add more to taste. The dressing is strong and you don’t want it to overshadow your salad. Also, the dressing will soften the cabbage and you don’t want a soggy salad!
- Scale to your Needs. This Chinese Chicken Salad Recipe makes enough for a family meal, but you can easily half the recipe if you prefer. That being said, this salad makes awesome leftovers, so I wouldn’t be shy.
HOW TO PREP CHINESE CHICKEN SALAD AHEAD
Chop the salad ingredients then keep them stored separately in sealable bags or airtight containers in the refrigerator. When ready to serve, toss salad ingredients together. If you are expecting leftovers, then only add Mandarin oranges, almonds/peanuts, wonton strips/chow mein noodles, and and dressing to individual servings.
That being said, the tossed Chinese Chicken Salad will still hold up for a couple days in the refrigerator, aside from the wonton strips/chow mein noodles because we are using cabbage instead of lettuce. I was eating my tossed salad for days 😊.
The Chinese Chicken Salad Dressing can be whisked together and kept in an airtight container in the refrigerator for 5 days.
Keep salad components separate in airtight containers in the refrigerator for maximum freshness and days of delicious lunches or dinners.
LOOKING FOR MORE CHICKEN SALAD RECIPES?
- Caprese Chicken Salad with Creamy Balsamic Reduction Dressing
- Cobb Salad with Honey Mustard Chicken
- Buffalo Chicken Salad with Blue Cheese Cilantro Ranch
- Chipotle BBQ Chicken Salad with Tomatillo Avocado Ranch
- Teriyaki Chicken Salad with Pineapple Sesame Dressing
- Cilantro Lime Chicken Taco Salad with Fiesta Catalina Dressing
- Greek Chicken Salad with Tzatziki Dressing and Pita Croutons
- Chinese Chicken Salad Wraps
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