Napa Cabbage Picnic Salad

SaladLow CarbVegetarianCabbage

This Napa Cabbage Salad is perfect for a picnic potluck! It's made with Napa cabbage, radishes, snow peas, toasted almonds, and a creamy sesame mayo dressing. A real crowd pleaser!

Photography Credit: Elise Bauer

Perfect Picnic Salad

Are you looking for the perfect picnic salad to bring to a potluck?

Look no more, this is it. This napa cabbage picnic salad has been a favorite of my friends and neighbors for years. It’s one of the most requested potluck salads I’ve ever made.

My neighbor Pat first introduced it to me, followed by my friend Chigiy. The original recipe comes from Sunset magazine (July 2004) and serves a crowd.

We’ve scaled the recipe back for a regular family and friends meal, but you can easily scale it up for a large picnic.

Napa Cabbage Salad with slivered almonds in bowl

More Resilient than Lettuce

Napa cabbage (a kind of Chinese cabbage), while not as sturdy as regular cabbage, is much more resilient than lettuce, so it lends itself well to picnic salads that have to sit around for a while.

This salad has Napa cabbage, radishes, snow peas, toasted slivered almonds, and a sweet sesame ginger mayo dressing.

Much of it can be made ahead, and then assembled when you are ready to serve.

Asian-Inspired Salad Dressing

The mayo-based salad dressing has Asian-inspired seasonings whisked in, like rice vinegar, soy sauce, sesame oil, and ginger. The result is a light dressing that flavors every bite of this crunchy salad.

Make it a Meal

This recipe is meant to be a side salad for a backyard potluck, but it can also work for a stand-alone lunch. Add some grilled chicken or salmon to make it a full meal.

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Napa Cabbage Picnic Salad Recipe

  • Prep time: 20 minutes
  • Yield: Serves 4 to 6

The dressing recipe makes a little more than you will likely need. So, use about 1/2 of it to start, and add more to taste when you dress the salad.

This salad recipes scales easily for a potluck or picnic.

Recipe adapted from one in Sunset Magazine, July 2004


  • 1/3 cup slivered almonds
  • 4 cups (1/2 pound) coarsely shredded Napa cabbage
  • 6 ounces snow peas, sliced into half-inch slices on the diagonal
  • 2/3 cup thinly sliced radishes
  • 2/3 cup thinly sliced green onions (including greens)
  • 2/3 cup lightly packed chopped cilantro

Dressing ingredients:

  • 1 tablespoon plus 1 1/2 teaspoons rice vinegar (seasoned or unseasoned)
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce
  • 1/2 clove peeled and minced garlic (about 1/2 teaspoon)
  • 1/4 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/8 teaspoon cayenne powder
  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise


1 Toast the almonds: Toast the almond slivers in a dry nonstick or cast-iron skillet on medium high, stirring frequently until browned. Set aside.

2 Assemble the salad ingredients: Combine cabbage, snow peas, radishes, green onions, cilantro in a large bowl. Can make this step a day or two ahead.

3 Make the dressing: In a separate bowl, whisk together the rice vinegar, sugar, soy sauce, garlic, sesame oil, ginger, and cayenne until sugar has dissolved. Whisk in the mayonnaise.

4 Toss the salad with dressing: When ready to serve, gently combine the dressing and almonds with the cabbage mixture.

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Elise Bauer

Elise Bauer is the founder of Simply Recipes. Elise launched Simply Recipes in 2003 as a way to keep track of her family's recipes, and along the way grew it into one of the most popular cooking websites in the world. Elise is dedicated to helping home cooks be successful in the kitchen. Elise is a graduate of Stanford University, and lives in Sacramento, California.

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44 Comments / Reviews

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Did you make it? Rate it!

  1. Elisabeth

    Brought this to work for a potluck, as I wanted a light and crunchy option to all of that heavy food that normally inundates a potluck. It was really yummy, just needed a little extra salt in my opinion. Stays crunchy for a few days too! I think it’d be great with chicken or shrimp.


  2. Sharon

    I took some liberties with the salad ingredients. I didn’t have snow peas so I substituted broccoli stems thinly sliced, added a thin sliced mini cucumber and grated some carrots into it. I made the dressing according to the recipe and in my opinion, the dressing is the star of this salad! Next time I’ll add some Chinese noodles for a little extra crunch.


  3. Gcary

    Great recipe! No peas but I added carrot. Used honey in the dressing instead of sugar. Keeping the salad and dressing separate. Great for dinner last night! Awesome today for lunch with turkey and dried cranberries! Thank you for sharing!


  4. MJ

    This really is the perfect salad for a summer cookout or potluck. The Napa cabbage and peas stay firm, cool and crisp even through second helpings, and the radishes and green onions add a bit of a kick. The dressing is awesome. I served the cilantro on the side for non-fans. I’ll be taking it to a July 4 potluck. Thank you for your great recipes—yours is my go-to recipe site.


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  5. Sammy

    Excellent! Substituted sugar for honey in dressing. Used pumpkin seeds bc I didn’t have almonds. Would be good to add canned mandarin oranges! Crowd pleaser!


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