Who’s the Empress of summertime salads? It’s the Chinese Chicken Salad, of course!
Let’s cut to the chase.
This Chinese Chicken Salad is so good you may be tempted to just scroll right down to the bottom to get the recipe then make a mad dash to the kitchen to make yourself some.
I get it, but please resist the urge, because as tempting as it may be, talking about its finer points and how to to make it the only Chinese Chicken Salad recipe you’ll ever need is worth a paragraph or two. Unless you don’t like recipes that can be prepped ahead and assembled when it’s time to eat or time to entertain. Then go ahead, scroll on, friend.
Let the empress impress.
But before we turn you into a prep cooking pro, let’s talk about why this Chinese Chicken Salad is the bee’s knees. Besides being chock full of veggies, it’s got healthy fats from avocado oil (or olive oil) and nuts, and plenty of protein from chicken – all in one big, gorgeous bowl.
If you like your salad with crunch, wait to add the dressing and nuts just before serving, but if you’re a “just need to make it easy to get it in my belly” kind of person, go ahead and just toss it all together and store it in the fridge for a day or so. It’ll be a bit soggy but still be tasty. I prefer to dress it as I go, but you’re the boss, applesauce. Do what works for you.
Now that we’ve established that this Chinese Chicken Salad is delicious, let’s talk about all occasions it’s great for:
- Any time you need a Whole30 dish that others will love (we actually have a lot of those recipes and you can find them all here)
- Bridal showers
- Baby showers
- Lunches at your desk
- Really, any day ending in -y
Prep now to enjoy later.
Lately, I’ve been obsessed with recipes that I can prep ahead, but not fully prepare or cook. I used to spend hours (long lonely hours) in the kitchen on Sundays preparing several recipes to reheat and eat during the week. Don’t get me wrong, it was great having a meal that just needed reheating, but as a family, we got tired of reheated meals and longed for the days when I actually had time every evening to make a hot meal from scratch. Those were the days before The Real Food Dietitians grew into full-time jobs for me and Stacie, and before my daughters had after-school activities and tutoring every night of the week.
So naturally, in developing recipes I’ve kept this “need” in mind and this Chinese Chicken Salad definitely fits the bill. The veggies call all be pre-cut and you can either cook the chicken using our method for the perfect chicken breast or make it really easy on yourself and use a rotisserie chicken, leftover Instant Pot Whole Chicken or whip up a big batch of our super versatile Easy Instant Pot Shredded Chicken (so. many. options!).
If you’re also into prep-ahead meals that come together quickly for a freshly made meal when you’re ready, then be sure to check out our Dinners Made Simple Guide.
Shop, Chop, Store, then Toss.
The key to easy meals on demand is to think like a prep cook. If you’ve never been a prep cook in a restaurant the idea is simple: Prep ahead the foods that can be stored for up to 3 days so they’re ready to use when it’s time to cook. In the case of this Chinese Chicken Salad, that means you could:
- Slice the cabbage, green onions, and sugar snap peas
- Shred or julienne the carrots (this julienne slicer makes quick work of this task!)
- De-stem the cilantro leaves (i.e. remove the leaves from the stems)
- Toast the almonds
- Make the dressing
- Cut or “supreme” the oranges if not using canned mandarin oranges (Note: for a Whole30-friendly option be sure to choose oranges in water or juice – not syrup or “light” syrup)
Break It Down: How to Store It All
If you’ve got mad prep cook skills, go ahead and skip on down to the recipe, but if you’re new to meal prepping this might be helpful:
- Store the cabbage, green onions and carrots together in a lidded container or large zip-top bag in the fridge.
- Store the cilantro separately in a container in the fridge so you can give it a rough chop before adding it to the salad.
- Store the toasted (and fully cooled) almonds in the pantry until ready to use.
- Store the dressing in the fridge in a lidded container (we like a half-pint mason jar with these lids or this lid with a handy pour spout).
- Store the oranges (cut, supremed, or from a can and well-drained) in a container with a lid in the fridge (maybe hide them in the back so no one eats them…or maybe that only happens at my house??)
Next Stop: Salad Nirvana
Alright, if you’re still reading this…thank you. You’re well on your way to becoming a prep cook ninja and enjoying one of my most favorite summertime salads (though honestly, it’s good all year round so you’d do well to enjoy it often – which I sincerely hope you do!).
For the Salad:
- 3 cups thinly sliced Napa cabbage (may substitute green cabbage)*
- 1 cup thinly sliced red cabbage*
- 1 cup shredded carrots (look for pre-shredded carrots in the produce aisle)
- 1 cup sugar snap peas, thinly sliced
- 1 cup fresh cilantro, leaves separated from stems and roughly chopped
- 3 green onions, white and green parts, thinly sliced
- 1 cup oranges (peeled and cut into chunks. ‘supremed’ or a 12-15 oz. can mandarin oranges in 100% juice, drained well)
- ⅓ cup slivered or sliced almonds, toasted
- 3 cups cooked, shredded chicken (or 1¼ lbs. raw chicken breast cooked using our method for Perfect Chicken Breasts or Easy Instant Pot Shredded Chicken)
- Optional: Black and/or white sesame seeds for garnish
*May substitute one 12-ounce bag of bagged coleslaw mix for cabbage and add an additional ½ cup carrots or snow peas if desired.
For the Dressing:
- Combine cabbage, carrots, sugar snap peas, onions, and cooked chicken in a large bowl. Toss well to combine.
- In a small bowl (or jar) combine dressing ingredients. Whisk or shake well to combine. Pour over salad just before serving.
- Gently stir in oranges, cilantro, and almond. Sprinkle with sesame seeds and enjoy.
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- Serving Size: 1/6th recipe
- Calories: 324
- Sugar: 10g
- Sodium: 214mg
- Fat: 18g
- Carbohydrates: 15g
- Fiber: 3g
- Protein: 27g
What’s your preferred method of meal prepping? And do you have a go-to salad that everyone asks for the recipe? Share in the comments below!
Pin it now & Make it later
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