Napa Cabbage Picnic Salad

SaladLow CarbVegetarianCabbage

Perfect for a picnic potluck! With napa cabbage, radishes, snow peas, toasted almonds, and a creamy sesame mayo dressing. A real crowd pleaser!

Photography Credit: Elise Bauer

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

Look no more, this is it. The 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 Picnic Salad

Napa 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 Chinese 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. Enjoy!

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.


  • 1/3 cup slivered almonds
  • 4 cups (1/2 lb) 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 Tbsp plus 1 1/2 teaspoons rice vinegar (seasoned or unseasoned)
  • 1 Tbsp sugar
  • 1 Tbsp 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 almond slivers in stick-free or cast-iron skillet on medium high, stirring frequently until browned. Set aside.

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

3 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 When ready to serve, gently combine the dressing and almonds with the cabbage mixture.

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Recipe barely adapted from one in Sunset Magazine, July 2004

Showing 4 of 35 Comments / Reviews

  • Lisa

    I LOVE THIS DRESSING! I made this salad to go with brisket last night and didn’t have peas so I used broccoli instead. The whole thing was DELISH especially the dressing. I will definitely make this again. Thanks Elise!


  • Erin

    The dressing is drinkable. Sooo good. This recipe circulates among my friends at various get togethers and I’m always happy to see it.

  • Marie

    This has been our go-to summer salad recipe for years. It’s easy to riff on, leave things out your don’t have, add what you do. For anyone worried about sugar, we’ve made it with and without and it’s delicious either way.

  • Terry

    Fantastic! I grow so much of this recipe for market, combined it as you laid it out- Wow!!! Thank you so much.

  • Patricia Gandy

    Oh my gosh….this recipe is fantastic! Everything in it is healthy.. but I used artificial sugar instead of regular sugar. My whole family loves this dish. I love it too. It smells so good while making it…..yummy!

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