Chinese chicken salad is a unique and delicious mix of crunchy veggies, tender chicken, nuts and mandarin oranges! All tossed with a flavor packed Asian dressing.
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Chinese Chicken Salad Recipe
If you are looking for a fun and unique salad recipe to change up your weekly meal routine, you are in the right place! This Chinese chicken salad has a variety of flavours, textures, and colours. Making it not only a beautiful and delicious salad, it is unique and not just another basic boring leafy green lettuce salad!
What is Chinese Chicken Salad?
Chinese Chicken Salad was created in the 1960s in the USA. The salad rose to popularity and fame in the 80s when Wolfgang Puck made his own version. The salad is made with a variety of ingredients commonly used in Chinese cooking. The base of the salad is a combination of Napa cabbage, purple cabbage, romaine, shredded carrots, and cooked chicken.
There are many different versions of this salad and it is customizable to your personal liking. Common salad mix-ins include, green onion, mandarin oranges, nuts (almonds, cashews, or peanuts), and crispy wonton strips or crispy chow Mein salad noodles. The dressing is a sweet and tangy Asian vinaigrette with rice vinegar, soy sauce, sesame oil, oil, honey, garlic and ginger.
What to Serve with Chinese Chicken Salad
- Wonton Soup
- Instant Pot Hot and Sour Soup
- Teriyaki Salmon
- Crab Rangoons
- Crispy Honey Garlic Beef
- Honey Garlic Chicken and Green Beans
What is in Chinese Chicken Salad?
- Napa Cabbage – this cabbage variety originates in China. It is softer than regular green cabbage and has a more mild flavor. It is perfect for salads as it soaks up the flavor from the dressing and does not get overly soggy.
- Purple Cabbage – adds a beautiful colour and crunch to the salad. Purple cabbage is harder than Napa so it adds a nice texture to the salad.
- Romaine Lettuce – you can use any lettuce variety you prefer but we recommend romaine as it is quite thick and does not get overly soggy when dressed. You can also use green leaf lettuce, red leaf lettuce, or Boston Bibb lettuce.
- Carrot – one of our favorite ways to add carrot to a salad is to shred it just like you would shred cheese. It saves time over having to slice the carrots into thin match sticks.
- Green Onions – adds a fresh pop of onion flavor to the salad. You can also use thinly sliced red onions if you prefer.
- Cooked Chicken – we love this salad because it is a quick weeknight meal or lunch because you can use cooked rotisserie chicken. This is also a great way to use up any leftover chicken you may have in the fridge. Simply shred it up and add it to the salad.
- Mandarin Oranges – keeping a can of Mandarin oranges in your pantry is a great way to elevate any salad! They are beautiful in color, packed with flavor and instantly elevate any boring salad.
- Nuts – any combination of peanuts, sliced almonds, cashews, walnuts or pecans can be used for this salad.
- Sesame Seeds – we recommend using roasted sesame seeds but unroasted work as well.
- Crispy Wonton Strips or Crispy Chow Mein Noodles – these are served on top of the salad and mixed in right before serving so they remain crispy. You can make your own crispy wonton strips by thinly slicing wonton strips and pan frying them on oil or use store bought crispy Chow Mein noodles found in the international aisle of most grocery stores.
- Rice Vinegar – this vinegar is less tangy and acidic than regular white vinegar. It has a slight sweetness and is perfect for salad dressings.
- Oil – use any light neutral oil of choice (ex. Extra light olive oil, avocado oil, etc.).
- Soy Sauce – we recommend using light soy sauce or low sodium soy sauce. If you only have regular soy sauce, you can add a splash of water if the dressing is too salty for your liking.
- Honey – adds a subtle sweetness to the dressing and helps thicken it.
- Garlic and Ginger – two classic ingredients in Asian cooking. They are added into the dressing raw and the vinegar lightly pickles them so you don’t need to worry about a raw garlic flavour.
- Sesame Oil – adds a rich umami flavor and deep sesame flavor to the dressing. If you have never cooked with sesame oil you are in for a real treat with this dressing!
How to Make Chinese Chicken Salad
Full Printable Recipe at Bottom of Page
1 Combine all the dressing ingredients in a jar and shake. Set aside in the fridge for the flavors to develop while you prepare the salad ingredients.
2 Place all the salad ingredients into a large bowl.
3 Add the dressing and toss to fully coat the salad.
4 Top with garnishes and serve immediately. Enjoy!
Tips for the Best Chinese Chicken Salad
- You can use any cooked chicken you have, for example rotisserie chicken, leftover grilled or baked chicken also works and great for quicker meal preparation.
- Crispy chow mein noodles or wonton strips can be found in the salad dressing aisle near the croutons. You can also purchase wonton wrappers, slice them into strips and pan fry them.
- Light soy sauce is lighter in color and flavor than regular soy sauce. Regular soy sauce is fine to use. Do not use dark or sweet soy sauce.
- For quicker preparation use store bought pre-shredded coleslaw mix instead of shredding cabbage and carrots. You can also find pre-chopped romaine lettuce.
FAQs Chinese Chicken Salad
If you anticipate having leftovers, do not dress the whole salad. Instead dress individual servings and store the leftover salad and dressing in the fridge in airtight containers for 3-4 days. Dressed salad will last in the fridge for 1-2 days (note the cabbage and romaine will get softer the longer it sits in the fridge).
To make this salad ahead of time keep the salad ingredients, dressing and garnishes separate until ready to serve. The undressed salad will last for 3-4 days in an airtight container in the fridge. Dressing will last for 3-4 days in fridge. Cooked chicken keeps for 3-4 days in the fridge and can also be frozen.
Yes! This is a healthy salad packed with vegetables and high protein low calorie chicken breast.
Replace the chicken with tofu or plant-based alternative.
Replace the chicken with tofu or plant-based alternative.
For a gluten free recipe ensure the wonton strips or crispy chow Mein noodles you are using are gluten free. Or use gluten free croutons of choice.
This recipe is dairy free.
More Fun Salad Recipes
- Dill Pickle Chopped Salad
- Strawberry Panzanella Salad
- Greek Feta Potato Salad
- Avocado Corn Tomato Salad
- Watermelon Salad
- Greek Chickpea Salad with Tuna
- Greek Salad (Horiatiki)
Chinese Chicken Salad
- 2 cups Napa cabbage, shredded
- 2 cups purple cabbage, shredded (or sub Napa cabbage)
- 4 cups romaine lettuce, chopped
- 4 green onions, white and green parts, thinly sliced
- 1 cup carrots, shredded
- 3 cups cooked, shredded chicken
- ⅓ cup rice vinegar, or rice wine vinegar, apple cider vinegar
- 3 tbsp light soy sauce
- 3 tbsp honey
- 1 tbsp toasted sesame oil
- ¼ cup oil, any neutral oil (peanut, light olive oil, vegetable oil)
- 3 cloves garlic, peeled and finely minced
- 1 tbsp fresh ginger, finely minced
- Sesame seeds
- Crispy wonton strips or crispy noodles
- Salted cashews or peanuts
- Mandarin oranges, drained from can
- Combine all the dressing ingredients in a jar and shake. Set aside in the fridge for the flavours to develop while you prepare the salad ingredients.
- Place all the salad ingredients into a large bowl.
- Add the dressing and toss to fully coat the salad.
- Top with garnishes and serve immediately. Enjoy!