Cashew Chicken Salad

Cashew Chicken Salad will transport you to the tropics!

This Cashew Chicken is loaded with juicy coconut, cashew crusted chicken, pineapple, mangoes, cucumbers, lettuce, green onion and red bell peppers and Pineapple Ginger Vinaigrette!  It creates tantalizing layers of texture and flavor that are satisfyingly healthy, satisfyingly delicious, and satisfyingly summer.  You’ll want to dive mouth first into its paradisaical flavors and never come back!

 

cashew chicken salad on an orange plate

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Cashew Chicken Salad Recipe

I hope you still feel like tasting summer just a little bit longer, because if there ever was summer on a plate, this Cashew Chicken Salad is it.

This sensational salad is inspired by my Baked Cashew Coconut Chicken Tenders.   Juicy chicken is crusted in cashews, coconut and panko spiced with ginger, cayenne, garlic and onion and sweetened with the coconut and brown sugar.   The perfect blend of sweet and spicy, crunchy outside, tender inside and delicious all over!

To transform the cashew chicken into Cashew Chicken Salad, it lays on a throne of lettuce, pineapple, mangos, cucumbers, lettuce, green onion and red bell peppers – AKA crunchy, juicy, sweet, tangy all in one bite. 

The Cashew Chicken Salad then gets drizzled in the most intoxicating Pineapple Ginger Vinaigrette.  This dressing is almost too delicious to handle.  It’s comprised of fresh pineapple, fresh ginger, garlic, honey, apple cider vinegar, oil and paprika – truly a dressing to live for.

It’s sweet and tangy with a little attitude.  This dressing should have its very own post.  If you don’t want to make the whole salad, make this dressing!

But really, you should also make this Cashew Chicken Salad of sweet fruit, crunchy vegetables, crispy chicken and heavenly vinaigrette.   Make it while its still summer in September so you won’t have to wait for a whole year to go by!

top view of cashew chicken salad with crispy cashew chicken

WHAT CHICKEN IS BEST FOR CASHEW CHICKEN?

The Cashew Chicken is the star of this Cashew Chicken Salad. It is wonderful crunchy and flavorful from not just cashews but COCONUT as well!

I recommend chicken tenderloins for the Cashew Chickenbecause they emerge extremely tender on the inside and crunchy on the outside. Their thinner size also creates the perfect proportions of juicy chicken verses crunchy breading.   

If you only have chicken breasts at home, you can still use them to make this Cashew Chicken Salad, but you’ll want to pound them to an even thickness first (about 1/2″) and if they are extra thick, you’ll want to slice them through the equator first.

Ingredients for Cashew Chicken

The Cashew Chicken is similar to breading other chicken, with the addition of coconut and cashews. You will need:

  • cashews:  use toasted, unsalted cashews.  I like to get my cashews at the bulk bins at Sprouts. 
  • coconut:  you will want to use sweetened shredded coconut flakes and NOT unsweetened coconut flakes.  Sweetened shredded coconut adds sweetness and balances out the rich cashews and robust seasoning. 
  • panko: are a Japanese breadcrumb and can be found next to the traditional/Italian breadcrumbs at your grocery store.  Panko breadcrumbs are lighter, larger and dryer than normal breadcrumbs so they absorb less moisture which produces a way crispier breading.  Please do NOT substitute with traditional breadcrumbs and expect the same results.  
  • flour:  I use all-purpose flour but I’m sure almond flour, etc. would also work.
  • eggs:  2 large eggs will do the trick.
  • brown sugar:  use light brown sugar.  You may substitute granulated sugar if that’s all you have on hand. 
  • seasonings:  garlic powder, onion powder, ginger powder, pepper, cayenne pepper.
lining cashew chicken on a plate for cashew chicken salad

Ingredients for Cashew Chicken Salad:

  • romaine lettuce: remove the outer leaves so you’re left with crunchy lettuce. You can also swap the Romaine for spinach or for half iceberg lettuce.
  • pineapple: take care your pineapple is ripe so it’s sweet.
    mango: If you are intimidated by cutting mangos – don’t be, just check out my How to Cut A Mango Post that teaches everything you could ever want to know about mangos!
  • green onions: you can swap for red onions if that’s all you have on hand.
  • cucumber: I like to use English cucumbers because they have less of a tendency to be bitter.
  • bell pepper: I use red but any color works great.
  • avocado: is optional but I love the depth of creaminess it adds. Take care you use a ripe avocado but not too soft or it can get mushy.

Cashew Chicken Salad Variations

You can swap the ingredients for any of your favorites:

  • Berries: Strawberries, raspberries, blueberries and blackberries would be tasty.
  • Oranges: Sweet and juicy Mandarin oranges would add to the tropical flavor.
  • Peaches: You can tell if a peach is ripe by gently squeezing, much like you would an avocado. If there’s a little bit of a give there, then it means the fruit is almost ripe but not quite; if there is real “give” then the peach is ready to use immediately.
  • Grapes:  Cashews and grapes are a fabulous combo!
  • Lettuce:  You can swap the lettuce for half spring salad mix, all spring salad mix or a spinach arugula blend.  You can also use Romaine, kale, etc.
  • Broccoli:  Adds a wonderful earthy crunch.
  • Asparagus:  Trim ends of asparagus and chop into 1-inch pieces; blanch for 1-minute in boiling water then transfer to ice water.  
  • Mushrooms:  Add your fresh chopped mushrooms or marinated mushrooms for a sweet and tangy flair.

HOW TO SERVE CASHEW CHICKEN SALAD

  • If not expecting leftovers:  Add romaine, mangos, pineapple, red bells, cucumbers, avocados and green onions to a large salad bowl and give it a good toss.  Now you can either toss with the dressing and lay chicken on top OR serve the dressing on the side and let everyone dress their own Cashew Chicken Salad.
  • If expecting leftovers:  Add romaine, red bells, cucumbers, and green onions to a large salad bowl and give it a good toss.  Serve the pineapple, mangos, and avocados on the side as they will make leftovers soggy. Serve chicken and dressing on the side as well.
  • Salad Bar.  If you have picky eaters or want a fun entertaining idea, then consider a salad bar where everyone can pile on as much or as little of their favorite toppings.  
  • You don’t have to make a salad!   The fixings or leftovers of this Cashew Chicken Salad are fabulous in wraps or tropical rice bowls!
showing how to make dressing for cashew chicken salad by adding pineapple to a blender

TIPS FOR CASHEW CHICKEN SALAD

  • Customize ingredients.  The salad ingredients and measurements are simply suggestions.  You can use add/swap any ingredients for your favorite veggies or fruits. Just take care there are some sweet fruit elements.
  • Chill dressing.  You’ll want to refrigerate the Pineapple Vinaigrette for at least an hour but it is even better refrigerated overnight.
  • Prep ahead:  You can make your chicken, chop all your veggies, make the dressing all ahead of time and store in air-tight containers in your refrigerator so all that’s left is to do is assemble and EAT! Detailed prep ahead instructions below.

PREP AHEAD Cashew CHICKEN SALAD

I love this Cashew Chicken Salad but the additional of cashew crusted chicken is a little more involved than just grilled or rotisserie chicken. To cut down on some of the prep work at dinner time, I suggest doing some prep beforehand: You can prep all or some of the below:

  • Vegetables:  can be chopped 24 hours in advance and stored in separate airtight containers in the refrigerator.
  • Fruit: can be chopped 24 hours in advance and stored in separate airtight containers in the refrigerator.
  • Dressing:  can be made three days in advance and stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator.
  • Chicken:  can be cooked 1-2 days in advance and stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator BUT it will not be as crispy. Instead, I suggest making the breading, then all you have to do is bread and bake when you’re ready to devour this Cashew Chicken Salad.
cashew chicken salad dressing in a glass pitcher

HOW LONG IS CASHEW CHICKEN SALAD GOOD FOR?

When the veggies, fruit, dressing and chicken are stored separately, this Cashew Chicken Salad should keep well for 3-5 days.

The Cashew Chicken should be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator.  I suggest stacking the chicken with a piece of parchment paper in between each layer so the chicken doesn’t become soggy. Refrigerated chicken will still be flavorful but not as crunchy as freshly baked.

Looking for more Chicken Salad Recipes?

up close cashew chicken salad recipe

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Cashew Chicken Salad with Pineapple Ginger Vinaigrette

Cashew Chicken Salad with juicy coconut, cashew crusted chicken, pineapple, mangoes, cucumbers, lettuce, green onion and red bell peppers and Pineapple Ginger Vinaigrette!   This Cashew Chicken will transport you to the tropics with its paradisaical flavors and textures and you'll never want to come back!
Servings: 6
Prep Time: 45 minutes

Ingredients

Tangy Pineapple Ginger Vinaigrette

  • 1 cup fresh pineapple chopped from 1 whole pineapple
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 3 tablespoons cider vinegar
  • 1/4 cup canola oil
  • 1/4-1/2 teaspoon paprika
  • 1/4 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 clove garlic, peeled
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons freshly grated ginger
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Tropical Salad

  • 1 head romaine lettuce, chopped
  • 5 green onions, chopped
  • 1 large cucumber, chopped
  • 1 large red bell pepper, chopped
  • pineapple, chopped (Remaining not used in vinaigrette)
  • 1 large mango, chopped
  • 1 avocado, chopped (optional)

Instructions

  • Prepare Crispy Cashew Coconut Crusted Chicken according to recipe. Cut into strips when slightly cooled.
  • Place all of the Pineapple Vinaigrette ingredients in a blender or food processor and puree until smooth. Taste and add additional honey, paprika, salt and pepper if desired, keeping in mind the fruit will be sweet. (I add a little more paprika for a kick)
  • Toss all the salad ingredients together or toss vegetables then add pineapple, mango and avocado to individual servings if you know there will be some left (so you can save separately). Drizzle individual servings with dressing (you don't need a lot). Enjoy!

Notes

*Coconut Cashew Chicken Recipe makes 12 chicken tenders so depending on personal preference of chicken to salad ratio (and how "hearty" you want your salad), you can make half or the whole recipe.

HOW TO SERVE

  • If not expecting leftovers:  Add romaine, mangos, pineapple, red bells, cucumbers, avocados and green onions to a large salad bowl and give it a good toss.  Now you can either toss with the dressing and lay chicken on top OR serve the dressing on the side and let everyone dress their own Cashew Chicken Salad.
  • If expecting leftovers:  Add romaine, red bells, cucumbers, and green onions to a large salad bowl and give it a good toss.  Serve the pineapple, mangos, and avocados on the side as they will make leftovers soggy. Serve chicken and dressing on the side as well.
  • Salad Bar.  If you have picky eaters or want a fun entertaining idea, then consider a salad bar where everyone can pile on as much or as little of their favorite toppings.
  • You don’t have to make a salad!   The fixings or leftovers of this Cashew Chicken Salad are fabulous in wraps or tropical rice bowls!

PREP AHEAD:

I love this Cashew Chicken Salad but the additional of cashew crusted chicken is a little more involved than just grilled or rotisserie chicken. To cut down on some of the prep work at dinner time, I suggest doing some prep beforehand: You can prep all or some of the below:
  • Vegetables:  can be chopped 24 hours in advance and stored in separate airtight containers in the refrigerator.
  • Fruit: can be chopped 24 hours in advance and stored in separate airtight containers in the refrigerator.
  • Dressing:  can be made three days in advance and stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator.
  • Chicken:  can be cooked 1-2 days in advance and stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator BUT it will not be as crispy. Instead, I suggest making the breading, then all you have to do is bread and bake when you're ready to devour this Cashew Chicken Salad.

Storage:

  • When the veggies, fruit, dressing and chicken are stored separately, this Cashew Chicken Salad should keep well for 3-5 days.
  • The Cashew Chicken should be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator.  I suggest stacking the chicken with a piece of parchment paper in between each layer so the chicken doesn't become soggy. Refrigerated chicken will still be flavorful but not as crunchy as freshly baked.

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12 Comments

  1. Valerie | From Valerie's Kitchen says

    We’ve got a couple of things in common – I live in California too (Northern) and I love squish faced doggies 🙂 I can’t get over how cute your pup is. This salad is my idea of the perfect meal! Vibrant, fresh, and delicious.

  2. Rachael says

    Oh Jen, can I just live in your house and play with your cute dog, and get fed by you daily? And those photos! I mean seriously. Drooling!

  3. shelby says

    I love your dog!! The photos are so precious. 🙂
    This salad looks amazing and I can accept your not being ready for fall yet. 😉

  4. Kim says

    Made this tonight and loved it 🙂 thanks!

    • Jen says

      Awesome, so happy you loved it Kim! That makes me happy :)! xoxo!