A wonderfully flavorful Chinese chicken salad that you can make in advance and refrigerate. I like to make a big batch and enjoy it over a few days.
This salad is so good! The dressing, based on sesame oil and soy sauce with a hint of garlic and ginger, is phenomenal. I also love the crunch that the shredded cabbage provides.
One of the main advantages of this Chinese chicken salad is that you make it in advance. When I anticipate a busy week, I make a big batch of it on Sunday and have ready-made meals for a few days.
The ingredients you'll need
Here's an overview of what you'll need to make this tasty salad. The exact measurements are included in the recipe card below:
For the salad:
Shredded cooked chicken: I tend to use pre-cooked baked chicken breasts. You can also use rotisserie chicken. Just make sure to remove the skin.
Shredded green cabbage: Adds a wonderful crunch to the salad. To make life easy, I use a bag of coleslaw mix that also includes a small amount of shredded carrots and red cabbage.
Sliced green onions: I use only the green parts. They add both color and flavor. You can either mix them into the salad or sprinkle them on top for a pretty presentation.
For the sesame dressing:
Soy sauce: I use reduced-sodium soy sauce in most of my recipes. I find that traditional soy sauce is too salty. Obviously, you can also use a gluten-free alternative.
Sesame oil: I like to use toasted sesame oil in this Chinese chicken salad. It's so flavorful!
Rice vinegar: If you don’t have any on hand, it’s OK to use white wine vinegar instead. I don’t recommend using plain distilled vinegar, though. It’s too acidic, in my opinion.
Honey: Just one tablespoon to balance out the other flavors. You can omit this ingredient if you wish.
Minced garlic and ginger: You can mince them by yourself, or be lazy like me and use the stuff that comes in a jar. I don't recommend subbing powders, though - they're not as flavorful.
Red pepper flakes: They don't make the salad truly spicy - they just add an extra layer of flavor.
How to make Chinese chicken salad
It's so easy! Scroll down to the recipe card for the detailed instructions. Here are the basic steps:
1. In a large bowl, toss together the shredded chicken, shredded cabbage, and sliced green onions.
2. In a small jar, mix the dressing ingredients. Pour over the salad and toss to coat.
3. Cover and refrigerate for one hour to allow the flavor to meld. Toss again before serving.
Variations and substitutions
Some recipes add canned mandarin oranges to this type of salad. I prefer not to, simply because I'm not fond of fruit in savory salads. I also don't add grapes to my chicken salad. Having said that, definitely feel free to add ¼ cup of them if you wish.
You can definitely skip the crunchy noodles often added to these salads. The cabbage provides plenty of crunch. And if you'd like, you can add ¼ cup of slivered almonds.
As mentioned above, you can skip the honey, although I do like the way it balances out the other flavors.
How to serve Chinese chicken salad?
Much like Thai chicken salad with peanut dressing, this is a main-course salad. It has chicken and vegetables and it's very substantial and filling. It's the perfect lunch, of course. But I also like to serve it for dinner, especially in the summer when I don't feel like cooking.
There's no need to serve this salad with sides. Just serve a bowl of it for a tasty, satisfying meal.
Can you keep the leftovers?
Yes! You can keep them for 3-4 days in the fridge, in an airtight container (but remember to start counting these 3-4 days since the day the chicken was cooked). As mentioned above, I like to make a big batch of this tasty salad and then enjoy it over the course of a few days.
One of the best things about Chinese chicken salad is that you can make it in advance and refrigerate. In fact, it tastes better as the flavors are allowed to meld, so it's best to make it a few hours before you plan on serving it.
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Chinese Chicken Salad
- 3 large chicken breasts cooked and shredded (1.5 lb. raw weight)
- 12 oz colesalw mix (or ½ medium head green cabbage)
- ⅓ cup thinly sliced green onions green part only (2 oz)
- 2 tablespoons reduced sodium soy sauce (or use a gluten-free alternative and add salt as needed)
- 2 tablespoons sesame oil
- 2 tablespoons rice vinegar
- 1 tablespoon honey real or sugar-free
- 1 tablespoon minced fresh garlic
- 1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger root
- ¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes
- Use your hands to shred the chicken breasts. Place the chicken pieces in a very large mixing bowl.
- Add the shredded cabbage and the green onions and toss together.
- In a small jar, add the dressing ingredients. Shake well to mix. Pour over the salad and toss to coat (I sometimes use my hands to ensure everything is well-coated).
- Cover and refrigerate for one hour to allow the flavors to meld. Toss again before serving.