During my dieting years, I considered salads an obligation food—something I had to choke down to “earn” my other food. Understandably, salads eventually started feeling like a punishment, and that led to years of getting exactly zero enjoyment out of a big bowl of fresh veggies.
But thankfully, the mind and soul eventually heal from diet culture, and I’m happy to say I am fully, completely, head-over-heels in love with salads now! I now eat salad because it makes my heart and soul happy, not out of any sense of dietary obligation. And that’s easy to do when you have a salad as robust, flavorful, and beautiful as this Chopped Chinese Chicken Salad!
It’s easy to appreciate the wonderful crunch of crisp Napa cabbage and crispy chow mein noodles. What’s not to love about the sweet, juicy explosion of mandarin oranges and the tender, savory bites of chicken? I love the way our homemade Asian salad dressing smoothly drizzles on top. This is a salad that inspires joy. To me, this is nourishment in a bowl—nourishment for your mind, body, and soul.
We know this isn’t traditional Chinese fare, but the flavor profile was inspired by common ingredients from Chinese and other Asian cuisines—soy sauce, rice vinegar, ginger, and sesame. We are grateful to have so much wonderful inspirations from across the globe to help us in our recipe creation!
How do I make this Chinese chicken salad?
If you’re starting with already cooked chicken, you only need about 10 minutes of prep time to be on your way to a delicious Chinese chicken salad lunch:
- Make the dressing. Blend the dressing ingredients on high in a blender until smooth.
- Mix it together. Stir the dressing in to the cabbage, oranges, chicken, and green onions until everything is coated with the dressing. Stick it in the fridge for 30+ minutes.
- Add some crunch. Right at serving time, add the crunchy almonds and chow mein noodles. Enjoy!
Talk to me about this Asian salad dressing!
This dressing is so darn good, you might find yourself just dipping a spoon in the bottle. It’s a breeze to mix up, but it does require some special ingredients that you can grab from either your local Asian grocery store or the international food section of your supermarket. Once you have them on hand, they are shelf-stable for a long while, so you can make this dressing at will. Here’s what you’ll need for the dressing:
- Soy sauce, coconut aminos, or tamari
- Rice vinegar
- Red pepper flakes
- Fresh ginger (about 1 tablespoon minced)
- Olive oil
- Sesame oil
- Sweet chili sauce
- Honey or orange marmalade
- Lime juice and zest
- Salt and pepper
Do you eat it hot or cold?
This chopped salad is meant to be eaten cold, although if your chicken is still warm from cooking, that’ll work perfectly fine on top!
What do you serve with Chinese chicken salad?
This hearty chopped salad is a great light lunch or light dinner on its own! Add some crackers, breadsticks, or bread alongside to fill it out for a more hearty dinner.
Can I use rotisserie chicken?
Absolutely! Rotisserie chicken is one of our favorite cooking shortcuts, and it works great in this Chinese chicken salad.
Can I meal prep this?
A salad in a jar is one of our go-to meal prep recipes. In fact, the flavor gets even better after some time in the fridge! Just hold off on adding the almonds and chow mein noodles until right before serving, or they will lose their crunch.
How long is mandarin chicken salad good for?
Theoretically, you can make this up to 5 days in advance. But honestly? It rarely makes it that long—it’s too good to leave languishing in the fridge!