Chinese Chicken Salad Recipe photo by Taste of Home
Total Time
Prep: 20 min. + chilling
Need a salad idea that's not boring? Mix crunchy, fresh veggies with crispy chow mein noodles and shredded chicken for a tastebud-pleasing Chinese chicken salad.

Updated: Mar. 22, 2024

If you’re tired of making chicken salads full of yogurt and mayonnaise, it’s time to try Chinese chicken salad. While your typical chicken salad on a flaky croissant will always be a classic, the best way to beat kitchen repetition is to switch things up. Nutty, umami flavors similar to those in stir-fries marry well with crisp cabbage and shredded chicken in this cold salad—a refreshing reprieve when it’s too hot to cook over a wok.

The salad gets its name from the various seasonings and ingredients often found in your favorite Chinese takeout orders, but it’s not an authentic Chinese dish. Seen on menus since the golden age of Hollywood and then popularized again in the 1970s and ’80s with the resurgence of Asian fusion food, Chinese chicken salad remains a popular dish for Americans.

Chinese Chicken Salad Ingredients

So, what are the ingredients that make a Chinese chicken salad stand out from the mainstream version? Let’s get into it!

  • Cabbage: Chinese and napa cabbage offer leafy, tender crunchiness to the salad, while red cabbage adds loads of antioxidants.
  • Dressing: Unsurprisingly, a Chinese chicken salad comes to life when tossed with the typical ingredients found in Asian cuisine: soy sauce, sesame oil, rice vinegar and ginger.
  • Chicken: A staple in a chicken salad! The meat should be precooked and cooled.
  • Gingerroot: Health benefits of ginger aside, the root adds a marvelously peppery punch to this salad.
  • Chow mein noodles: The thin, stringy egg noodles are used in typical chow mein dishes, but a crispy version of the noodle (more like a cracker) tops off this salad.

Directions

Step 1: Mix the salad components

In a large bowl, combine the first six ingredients and toss thoroughly.

Step 2: Make the dressing

In a small bowl, whisk oils, vinegar, soy sauce, sugar, garlic, ginger and pepper until well combined.

Step 3: Coat the salad

Pour the dressing over the cabbage mixture, and toss again to coat. Sprinkle the top of the salad with the crispy chow mein noodles and sesame seeds.

How do you store Chinese chicken salad?

Storing salads is always tricky—you never want soggy leaves the next day. To preserve the crisp nature of all the ingredients, store the first six ingredients in a separate container than the dressing ingredients and the garnishes. Keep the cabbage mixture and the dressing refrigerated until you’re ready to eat, then toss together and garnish according to your tastes.

Chinese Chicken Salad Tips

Chinese Chicken Salad in bowls with fork and chopsticksTMB Studio

What other dressings can you use for Chinese chicken salad?

If you’re looking to change up the dressing for this salad, try a peanut sauce or experiment with various spices to upgrade the sauce that’s part of this recipe.

Are there any shortcuts to making Chinese chicken salad?

Need lunch in a hurry? Use store-bought rotisserie chicken and precut cabbage to save time in the kitchen. You could even use ground ginger and garlic powder if you don’t have time to mince those fresh ingredients.

What else can you add to Chinese chicken salad?

Like any of your favorite salads, tossing in ingredients you have on hand that might pair well with the Asian-inspired flavors are all game. Add sriracha for heat, hoisin sauce for slight sweetness, orange slices for a burst of citrus and water chestnuts if the cabbage isn’t enough crunch for you. If you can’t find crispy chow mein noodles, swap in wonton strips.

Chinese Chicken Salad

Prep Time 20 min
Yield 4 servings.

Ingredients

  • 4 cups coarsely chopped Chinese or napa cabbage
  • 2 cups shredded red cabbage
  • 2 cups shredded cooked chicken
  • 1 cup shredded carrots
  • 4 green onions, chopped
  • 1/4 cup minced fresh cilantro
  • 3 tablespoons canola oil
  • 2 tablespoons sesame oil
  • 2 tablespoons rice vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1 teaspoon minced fresh gingerroot
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 1 cup crispy chow mein noodles
  • 2 tablespoons sesame seeds, toasted

Directions

  1. In a large bowl, combine the first 6 ingredients. In small bowl, whisk oils, vinegar, soy sauce, sugar, garlic, ginger and pepper. Pour over cabbage mixture; toss to coat. Sprinkle with chow mein noodles and sesame seeds.

Nutrition Facts

1-1/2 cups: 441 calories, 27g fat (4g saturated fat), 62mg cholesterol, 847mg sodium, 24g carbohydrate (8g sugars, 4g fiber), 25g protein.

Chinese chicken salad is a great dish to make ahead and bring for weekday lunches. Even after the salad is dressed, the cabbage stays crunchy. Add the chow mein noodles just before serving. —Taste of Home Test Kitchen