This Chinese Chicken Salad is fresh, crisp, crunchy, and a million times healthier and more delicious than your favorite restaurant. Made with juicy shredded chicken, fried wontons, mixed greens, and the very best homemade Asian sesame vinaigrette, enjoy this easy chicken salad as a satisfying lunch or light and refreshing dinner.
Easy Chinese Chicken Salad
The Chinese Chicken Salad, also known as, Oriental Chicken Salad or Asian Chicken Salad, is a popular entree salad served throughout the United States. Despite a name implying that it has its origins from China, it is, in fact, a melting pot of ideas, recipes, and ingredients believed to have originated in California at a restaurant called Madame Wu’s in Santa Monica.
The first time that I ever ate a Chinese Chicken Salad was at The Cheesecake Factory well over a decade ago. Piled so high with crispy rice noodles, I didn’t understand how one person could eat a salad so big (yet, I did, and have many many times).
Typically made with ingredients such as lettuce, cabbage, chicken, and some kind of fried wonton or rice noodle, the ingredients may range from simple to complex depending on restaurant and preference.
With the dressing ingredients heavily influenced by Asian flavors, in this vinaigrette, you’ll find things like sesame oil, rice vinegar, soy sauce, ginger, and garlic.
You guys, this is one of those unexpectedly easy-to-make, amazing salads. You do not need to spend twenty dollars to make your Chinese chicken salad dreams come true – promise!
And while it may look just ok on the outside, just take a bite… The crunch combined with the mouthwateringly good vinaigrette, you won’t ever want to stop eating.
Chinese Chicken Salad Ingredients
The most important ingredients in a Chinese chicken salad include,
- Green onions (scallions)
- Fried wontons
I always include green cabbage because it’s crunchy, sturdy, and it is the perfect green for meal prepping. The trick is shredding it super thin so that you don’t get big fat bites of raw cabbage (unless you’re into that).
I also love mixing crunchy cabbage with some Romaine. It adds a different crunchy texture. One thing to note is that it does not stay fresh and crisp for more than a couple of days (without dressing). So if you plan to meal-prep a big bag of Chinese chicken salad for the week, maybe keep the Romaine in a separate baggy.
Finally, I know some of you don’t care for cilantro. That’s ok. Just leave it out.
Other delicious goodies you can add, mix, and combine to make your very own Chinese Chicken Salad recipe-
- Shredded carrots
- Shelled edamame
- Slivered almonds
- Sugar snap peas
- Mandarin oranges
- Bell Pepper
Asian Sesame Vinaigrette Ingredients
- Toasted sesame oil
- Rice wine vinegar
- Grapeseed oil
- Fresh ginger
- Fresh Garlic
- Soy Sauce
- Sesame seeds
When shopping for sesame oil at your local grocery store, make sure to purchase toasted sesame oil, not regular untoasted sesame oil, which is much lighter and yellow in color. Sesame oil is quite flavorful, so start with less and add more as needed.
Tips & Tricks
- I love to prepare this salad in bulk. It’s amazing for meal prep lunches and leftover dinners. The best way to do this is to decide which vegetables you want in your salad and set aside approximately 45 minutes to get everything together. Yes, it’s a lot of chopping, and depending on how fast you are, it may take more or less time, but it’s totally worth it!
- Use a salad spinner to wash and dry your greens. Salad spinners are AMAZING! Especially if you want to prepare chopped greens in bulk (since soggy lettuce and herbs are no good).
- Store the cabbage in one container, the lettuce, green onion, and cilantro in a second container, the chicken in a third, and finally all the others (carrots, edamame, etc) in a fourth.
- Make this salad gluten-free by swapping the soy sauce for gluten-free Tamari and leave out the fried wonton noodles and chow mein noodles.
- Make extra vinaigrette. It keeps for up to two weeks in the refrigerator and it is crazy good as a marinade.
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More Asian-Inspired Recipes,
If you try making this Chinese Chicken Salad, please leave me a comment and let me know! I always love to hear your thoughts.
Chinese Chicken Salad Recipe
For the Salad Dressing:
For the Salad:
- 2 pounds boneless skinless chicken breast
- 4 cups romaine lettuce - shredded
- 4 cups Napa cabbage - shredded
- 1 cup red cabbage - shredded
- 1 cup cilantro - chopped
- 6 green onions - chopped
- 1 cup shredded carrots
- 2 cups edamame
- ¼ cup slivered almonds
- ½ cup crispy chow mein noodles
- ½ cup fried wonton noodles (fried wonton strips)
- 2 tablespoon sesame seeds
- Prepare the vinaigrette. Add all ingredients for the dressing to a medium-sized jar and secure with a tight fitting lid. Shake vigorously until fully combined. Season to taste and set aside until ready to use.
- Poach the chicken. Bring a large pot of water to a boil over high heat. Add the chicken and return the water to a rolling boil. Remove from heat, cover, and set aside to "poach" (cook) for approximately 20-25 minutes. Carefully remove chicken from the pot and set aside to cool before shredding (see notes if you prefer not to poach chicken).
- Prepare the salad. Add all of the ingredients for the salad, including the shredded chicken, to a large bowl. Gently mix to combine.
- Serve. Drizzle the salad with vinaigrette, mixing well to evenly combine. Or, serve the salad in individual bowls and drizzle each bowl with the desired amount of vinaigrette.
- The easiest way to work with ginger is to carefully cut away the skin with a paring knife and then grate approximately 1/2-inch piece on a Microplane Grater.
- Feel free to replace the poached chicken with pre-cooked chicken including leftover baked chicken breasts or rotisserie chicken. You will want approximately 2-3 cups of cooked, shredded chicken.
(Nutrition information provided is an estimate and will vary based on cooking methods and specific brands of ingredients used.)
Originally published in 2016 and updated with new images, post text, and recipe on March 24, 2019. Updated again on July 23, 2020.