Chinese Chicken Salad

This Chinese chicken salad is a colorful and tasty way to use up some leftover chicken and makes for a light lunch. I experimented with few different dressings and ultimately settled on this one which I think is just the right balance of soy sauce, rice vinegar, ginger, garlic, and sesame oil. Do you have a favorite Chinese chicken salad dressing? Please let us know about it in the comments.

Chinese Chicken Salad Recipe

  • Prep time: 15 minutes
  • Cook time: 15 minutes
  • Yield: Serves 4-6.

Ingredients

  • 1 lb boneless, skinless chicken breast, sliced into strips
  • Salt
  • 1 Tbsp sesame oil
  • 1 Tbsp Peanut, grapeseed or canola oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1 head of iceberg lettuce or Napa cabbage, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 sweet bell pepper, thinly sliced
  • 3-4 scallions, sliced
  • 1 carrot, julienned
  • 1/2 cup loosely packed cilantro leaves, chopped
  • 1/2 cup roasted peanuts
  • Chow mein noodles, to taste (skip for gluten-free option)

Dressing:

  • 1 Tbsp soy sauce (use gluten-free soy sauce for gluten-free option)
  • 2 Tbsp rice vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon mustard powder
  • 1 teaspoon fresh grated ginger
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon chili pepper flakes
  • 2 teaspoons sugar
  • 1 Tbsp dark sesame oil
  • 1/4 cup peanut, grapeseed or canola oil

Method

1 Heat both oils over high heat in a large saute pan for 1 minute, then add the red pepper flakes and cook for 30 seconds. Sprinkle chicken strips with a little salt and add them to the pan. Stir-fry the chicken over high heat until cooked through, 3-6 minutes depending on how hot your burner gets. Drain and set aside to cool.

2 In a small bowl, whisk together the dressing ingredients. Adjust to taste. In a large bowl, toss the chicken and salad ingredients together. Just before serving, toss with dressin and top with the chow mein noodles.

20 Comments

  1. Anonymous

    You know, I’ll bet that around 1/4 cup of coconut milk and 2 cloves of grated garlic and the juice of 1 lime would add a lot of body and flavor to the dressing

  2. Aaron B.

    For the dressing I saw you were looking for comments, Asian dishes often works around GGS (ginger, garlic, scallion). Always delicious, it adds spacific flavor indigenous to Asian cuisine, similar to mire poix in french cuisine. I highly recommend this addition to the dressing. You should mince the garlic and ginger and let it steep for about five to ten minutes in the vinegar before adding other ingredients.

    • Elise

      Hi Aaron – I completely forgot to include minced garlic on the ingredient list, even though I use it. Great tip to let the garlic and ginger steep in the vinegar first. Thank you!

  3. Ole Aioli

    It’s another dressing all together, but to what you have I’d add:
    2T. crunchy peanut butter
    1t. hot pepper oil
    1T. sesame oil
    1T. white wine
    1t. hot mustard

    PS: Canola oil, to me, always seems to have a slightly industrial quality. I tend to use peanut oil for a clean taste in dishes like these.

  4. Ellen

    My favorite dressing for this has some mustard powder to give it a kick:

    3 Tbs soy sauce
    1 Tbs rice vinegar
    2 Tbs sesame oil
    1 tsp sugar
    1.5 Tbs mustard powder

  5. Jacqui

    This may be sacrilege, but my daughter makes a wonderful chicken salad with spinach leaves, red pepper, chunks of gouda cheese and Kraft poppy seed dressing. This is getting away from the “Chinese” idea, but it is very good.

  6. Betsy

    My husband loves this salad. I have thrown it together a few times now. Just this last time, I realized that the previous times I had not used Napa Cabbage. All the ingredients in this salad and in the dressing really give it a great flavor. This last time I made it, the dressing seemed a bit heavy, but now that I had the right cabbage it also seemed like it could use more cabbage (a bit more than the recipe was calling for). So adding more took care of the dressing. And anyway, my husband was NOT complaining. This is an excellent chinese chicken salad.

  7. Atarah

    Thank you for the idea! I am making this tonight for my parents and friend, and I have a feeling they will enjoy! I look forward to it as well, and THANKS AGAIN :)

    -Atarah

  8. Whitney

    This type of salad is also really good if you saute the chicken in sesame oil first, or press sesame seeds into the chicken before sauteing it.

  9. Mark

    I Really liked it!
    Dressing was good, I didnt have Napa and used cut up Romaine instead and topped off with some Crunchy chow main noodles.

  10. Erin M.

    Wow! I often buy the chinese chicken salad from trader joe’s and it’s very good, but I wanted a way to make my own… as usual this recipe was delicious. I really enjoyed the dressing and the cilantro added a kick. I added bean sprouts and wonton strips because I greatly enjoyed them in the trader’s salad. My boyfriend who normally doesn’t enjoy this type of salad (he calls it “girly salad”) ate 2 bowls of this :] Thanks Elise!

  11. Rose

    Mmmm… I made a variation of this for dinner tonight. I used thinly sliced romaine and added snow peas, cilantro, toasted almonds instead of peanuts, and orange slices. I also used the chicken method from “Martha’s Chinese Chicken Salad” (also on this site) and poached, then shredded and marinated, then stirfried the chicken. At the end of the stir-frying I added some sesame seeds to the pan.

    I don’t have a meal “rotation,” but if I did this would be in it!

  12. Nicole

    I have been using this dressing recipe for 15 years and I love it :)

    Salad Dressing:
    3 Tbsp. peanut oil
    1/4 cup vinegar
    1 tablespoon sugar
    1/2 teaspoon salt
    1/8 teaspoon pepper
    Directions:
    In a 2-cup liquid measuring cup, combine all salad dressing ingredients.
    Microwave on high 2 to 3 minutes or until boiling; stirring halfway through cooking.
    Chill well.

  13. verena

    I was looking for something not too heavy, with chicken, to make tonight. This was amazing! The dressing was perfect. I substituted fried wonton chips for the chow mein noodles.

  14. Elise

    Here’s another dressing recipe from The Best of Vietnamese and Thai Cooking:

    1 (1-inch) piece fresh ginger, peeled and thinly sliced
    2 cloves garlic, sliced
    1 teas dried chili flakes
    1/3 cup rice wine vinegar
    3 Tbsp water
    1 Tbsp molasses
    2 Tbsp honey
    3 Tbsp soy sauce
    1/2 cup dark sesame oil

    Combine all ingredients except sesame oil in a food processor and pulse until ginger and garlic are finely minced. With motor running, slowly drizzle in the sesame oil.

  15. Madeline

    I tried this salad by myself a couple of weeks ago and absolutely loved it. Tonight I served it to my boyfriend not expecting him to love it as much as I did but I was wrong, he could not get enough of it! This salad is so fantastic, thanks!

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