The old lettuce and chicken with balsamic is just not cutting it anymore? This Chinese Chicken Salad Recipe is packed with loads of colourful crunchy veggies, and sweet mandarin oranges and topped with a delicious Asian-Inspired Salad Dressing.
First, let me say, there is really nothing authentically Chinese about this salad outside of the mandarin oranges and dressing using many commonly used Chinese ingredients. I have been to China twice and honestly don’t think I actually saw a salad as we know it there. This salad highlights some of the authentically Chinese flavours which I loved while there and miss! Orange, sesame oil, salty soy-based steamed dishes and nutty sesame seeds.
This Asian-inspired salad has become my go-to salad for so many reasons!
Why I Love This Chinese Chicken Salad Recipe
- It is loaded with veggies chopped thinly for a great crunch.
- The colour… look at all those bright veggies!
- This salad makes a tonne so you can have it for up to 5 days for lunch or dinner.
- The Asian-inspired dressing is the BEST! And you can make enough to last the whole week too.
- If you don’t have the veggies I recommend you can always improvise with what you have in the fridge. I would avoid cucumbers though because they can get slimy fast once they are chopped.
10 Foods That Are High Sources of Sugar:
- Low-Fat Regular Yogurt
- BBQ Sauce
- Protein Bars
- Pasta Sauce
I am not a Nutritionist of any kind but cutting out these foods has been a game-changer. One of my biggest questions for some reason was about carrots though? Aren’t they high in sugar? Why aren’t they on the list? Let’s dive in…
Ingredients You’ll Need
For the salad
- Romaine Lettuce – shaved thin. Ice burg lettuce is also a great swap.
- Red Cabbage – adds great colour and crunch. Be sure to shave this thin as well.
- Red Pepper – Seeds removed and you guessed it chopped thinly. Orange and Yellow peppers can work too… they all add a little sweetness, color and crunch.
- Green Onions – the whites and green sliced. They are a little more subtle in flavor than red onion and add some color. I personally prefer more of the green parts of the onion myself.
- Carrots – You can shave them with a grater or I like to find the match sticks already cut at the grocery store and throw that in.
- Mandarin Oranges – I use those little cups you get for the kid’s lunches, drain the juice and toss those in. This way the skins are removed and I don’t have to do the work.
- Rotisserie Chicken – Sliced or chopped. To make this salad even easier the rotisserie chickens from the grocery store are perfect! Just slice or chop and the chicken is ready!
- Chopped Peanuts – totally optional but I love the flavor they add! Sliced almonds work well too.
I like to make this big colourful Chinese Chicken Salad Recipe as part of my meal prep for the week. It keeps very well in the fridge for up to 5 days but only if you don’t add the dressing. The instructions make for a large enough salad to bring to picnics and potlucks and every time I bring it somewhere it is a crowd favourite with people always asking me for the recipe. You just simply can’t go wrong with this crowd pleaser!
The bright colours of the red peppers, carrots, green onions, red cabbage and bright green romaine make for a rainbow of goodness. Add the roasted peanuts (optional) and spicy sesame dressing and again the perfect salad! That is if you like spicy as much as I do.
Now let’s talk about dressing!
Chinese Chicken Salad Dressing Ingredients
- Vegetable Oil – or a lightly flavoured oil that you prefer.
- Balsamic Vinegar – Adds a little zing and lots of flavor.
- Soy Sauce – Adds a slightly salty Asian-inspired flavor. For those watching their salt in take you can use low-sodium soy sauce or tamari for those who are gluten-free.
- Sesame Oil – nutty and fragrant – don’t skip on this!
- Honey – balances out the vinegar with a hint of sweetness.
- Crushed Peppers – optional if you don’t like spicy food but an amazing addition if you do.
- Salt and Pepper – an essential seasoning for almost everything.
- Sesame Seeds – raw or toasted they add a little pizzazz and add a little nuttiness.
The recipe for the dressing makes enough for two of these salads and you can add no chilli peppers or more chilli peppers depending on who you like your heat level. Be warned though that when this dressing sits those chillis really come to life and light a fire so be careful not to add too much. The sweetness of the mandarin oranges helps to take the edge off the heat and provides a nice contrast of flavour.
Making Chinese Chicken Salad
First things first… you want the freshest veggies you can get to get the maximum crunch possible. Sesame oil and soy sauce can be found in the Asian food section of most grocery stores.
Slice the romaine lettuce, red cabbage, green onions and red pepper very think. Add chopped cilantro and carrot sticks to add even more colour and the mandarin oranges offer a little sweetness to brighten up this salad. For the dressing – some sesame oil, soy sauce, honey, balsamic vinegar, vegetable oil, roasted sesame seeds and chilli flakes (optional).
2 rotisserie chicken breasts to add when ready to eat.
In a large bowl add all the veggies and mandarin oranges. Mix well.
Roast the sesame seeds by placing them in a small pan on the stove at medium heat for about 3 minutes. Shaking or stirring occasionally to ensure the seeds are evenly roasted. Remove from heat and let cool for a few minutes.
For less mess, I like to use a funnel to help me add the ingredients to my salad dressing bottle. This way all the ingredients go straight in the bottle and not all over your counter. Add the sesame oil, vinegar, vegetable oil, soy sauce, sesame seeds and chilis. Seal lid tightly and shake. The seeds will always float to the top so make sure you shake well each time you go to use.
Store the sesame dressing in a sealed container until you are ready to use it.
Shred the chicken breast using a fork or I simply peel it apart with my hands caveman style. For speed, I like to just use grocery store roasted chickens and almost always have one in my fridge for recipes just like this. This way I always have some protein on hand when I need some for salads or alongside some raw veggies at lunch.
Add the chicken to the salad when you are ready to eat along with the sesame dressing and toss to combine. Looks like a lot but only takes about 15 minutes to prepare this salad and it is a big salad so enough for a family of four or a few weekday lunches.
Are Carrots High In Sugar?
Yes, they are high in natural sugars but not by much more than other vegetables. One-half cup is only 26 calories and grams of sugar. Carrots though are very high in fibre and help to keep you feeling full longer and also give you a satisfying bit of crunch that sometimes is lacking in a low-carb lifestyle.
Storing This Asian Chicken Salad Recipe
This is a big salad and perfect for a meal prep recipe because you can make it up and have it for the work week. Store it in a tightly sealed container in the fridge without having added the salad dressing for up to 5 days.
Only add the salad dressing when you are ready to eat the salad. Adding early and storing will cause the vegetables to break down from the acid and vinegar and become soggy.
Store the Chinese Chicken Salad Dressing in a tightly sealed container for up to two weeks and use on this healthy Chinese chicken salad or use it on another of your favourite salads to shake things up!
Chinese Chicken Salad
- 1 cup shredded carrots
- 1 1/2 head romaine lettuce shredded very thin with a sharp knife
- 1/2 head purple cabbage shredded very thin with a sharp knife
- 1 bunch green onions chopped
- 1 red bell pepper sliced very thin
- 1 cup fresh cilantro
- 1/2 cup canned mandarin oranges – well drained drained
- 2 large Chicken breasts
- 1/4 cup roasted peanuts chopped (optional)
- ¼ cup vegetable oil
- ¼ cup balsamic vinegar
- ¼ cup soy sauce
- 2 tbsp sesame oil
- Hot chili pepper flakes to taste
- 1 tbsp raw honey
- 1/4 tsp each sea salt & pepper to taste
- 1/3 cup of toasted sesame seeds
- Lightly toast the sesame seeds in the oven or in a frying pan on low
- Add chopped and sliced veggies to a large bowl
- Add well drained manadarin oranges and roasted peanuts (optional)
- Shred chicken with a fork or cut thin with a knife and add to salad just before ready to eat.
- Toss salad to mix
Asian Salad Dressing
- Add liquid ingredients to small bowl or dressing bottle and mix well then add toasted sesame seeds and chili flakes (optional)
- Add Dressing to salad just before you are about to serve and mix well
For the step-by-step version of this recipe, check out the How To Make A Crunchy Chinese Chicken Salad story.