Chicken Salad with Tahini Dressing

A quick weeknight salad with a refreshing crunch and savory sesame flavor, this recipe relies on rotisserie or leftover cooked chicken. With that done, you’ll have dinner on the table in less than 30 minutes!

Easy sesame chicken salad in a white bowl.

Simply Recipes / Lori Rice

During the busy work week, I love turning to simple salads for dinner, and this is one of my favorites.

It comes together in less than half an hour and relies on leftover chicken, cold from the fridge, or a rotisserie bird picked up on the way home from work. I can easily prep enough ingredients and extra dressing to store for a quick lunch the day after.

The chicken is served over a bed of romaine lettuce, cucumbers, and radishes. The dressing is a savory mixture of tahini, toasted sesame oil, soy sauce, and honey.

Tips and Tricks for Making Chicken Salad

A few tips when making this weeknight-friendly sesame salad:

  • Use a thin-skinned cucumber like English, Persian, or Japanese.
  • If you don’t have leftover chicken or a rotisserie chicken, you can also poach chicken breasts in salted simmering water until cooked through.
  • If the dressing is too thick, add more water, half a tablespoon at a time, until you reach a viscous but pourable consistency.
  • I use whole leaves in this salad, which means it’s not a salad you’ll toss together in a bowl and eat with a fork. Rather it’s a plated salad meant to be eaten with a knife and fork for a more satisfying, slow-paced meal. However, if you want to make it just a fork salad, slice the romaine and toss everything together with the dressing in the serving bowl.
Weeknight chicken salad in a bowl.

Simply Recipes / Lori Rice

Easy Substitutions

This salad is ready and easily adaptable to suit your personal taste and make do with what you have on hand.

  • While I think of chicken as the ideal protein here, if you have leftover cooked pork loin, cooked shrimp, or even a sliced, grilled steak, you can also swap them in.
  • For a veg-forward sesame salad, add some quickly sautéed or blanched green beans, asparagus, or sugar snap peas.
  • To make this recipe vegan, you would want to use maple syrup or agave to sweeten the dressing instead of honey.
  • I used daikon radish in this recipe, but you can use any type of radish you have on hand, from pink-skinned French breakfast radishes to pink-fleshed watermelon radishes.
  • If you have a bagged salad mix, you can also use that here in lieu of romaine.
  • This salad gets its sesame flavor thanks to a toasted sesame oil and tahini dressing. If you don’t have tahini, you could use smooth peanut butter for another variation, but the toasted sesame oil is a key ingredient in the dressing that should not be swapped out.

Plan Ahead

This recipe yields enough for four servings. If not serving it all at once or if you are prepping extra for a quick lunch the next day, prep the recipe as written, but keep the salad ingredients and dressing separately for up to two days in the fridge.

Easy sesame chicken salad in a white bowl.

Simply Recipes / Lori Rice

More Fork-and-Knife Salads

Chicken Salad with Tahini Dressing

Prep Time 25 mins
Total Time 25 mins
Servings 4 servings

For a vegan version, use agave or maple syrup instead of honey in the dressing, and replace the chicken with sautéed or blanched green beans, asparagus, or sugar snap peas.

Two poached chicken breasts will be enough for this recipe.

Ingredients

  • For the salad
  • 2 scallions, thinly sliced on a bias
  • 4 ounces daikon radish, cut into thin slices
  • 1 head (about 1/2 pound) romaine lettuce, leaves separated
  • 1 English cucumber, quartered lengthwise and thinly sliced
  • 1 pound (about 2 cups) shredded cooked chicken
  • 1 tablespoon toasted sesame seeds, to serve
  • For the dressing
  • 6 tablespoons tahini
  • 6 tablespoons water
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons toasted sesame oil
  • 1 tablespoon rice vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon honey
  • 2 teaspoons fresh ginger, finely grated
  • 2 teaspoons garlic, finely grated
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

Method

  1. Prep the salad ingredients:

    In a small bowl of iced water, soak the scallions and radish until ready to use. This will keep them crisp.

    Mixing ingredients for quick chicken salad with tahini dressing

    Simply Recipes / Lori Rice

  2. Make the dressing:

    In a small bowl, whisk the tahini, water, soy sauce, toasted sesame oil, rice vinegar, honey, grated ginger and garlic, and salt until very smooth.

    Making the dressing for quick chicken salad with tahini dressing.

    Simply Recipes / Lori Rice

  3. Assemble the salad:

    Divide lettuce leaves, cucumbers, radishes, and shredded chicken between 4 serving plates. Drizzle each portion generously with tahini dressing. Top with drained and dried scallions, then garnish with toasted sesame seeds. Serve immediately.

    Quick chicken salad with tahini dressing in a wooden bowl.

    Simply Recipes / Lori Rice