Baby Bok Choy Salad with Sesame Dressing Recipe

Turn the ramen in your pantry into Baby Bok Choy Salad, a crunchy, good-for-you recipe loaded with vegetables, almonds, toasted noodles, and a killer sesame soy dressing. Faster to make than a bok choy stir fry, this salad is hands-down fantastic for parties or just lunch for the week. Crunchy stuff in salads make every bite more interesting. For other ramen noodle salad recipes, try Crunchy Broccoli Slaw. Nutty about nuts? Toast some pecans and make Strawberry Spinach Salad. Or roast some walnuts and whip up Israeli Couscous Salad. And don't forget the homemade salad dressings, like an Asian Salad Dressing that doubles as a marinade, or garlicky Green Goddess that does double duty as a dip.

Baby bok choy salad with sesame dressing in a wooden bowl.
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A stellar green salad like this one will be the hit of the party as long as it lasts, so you may want to double or triple it up. It's big on leafy greens, even bigger on crunchy texture, and absolutely huge on flavor.

The great part about bok choy slaw or salad is that it stays crisp longer than any lettuce, so it's perfect for big gatherings and lots of grazing. It has a mild flavor, too, which highlights any bold, Asian-style vinaigrette.

And in case you find yourself overstocked on grocery store ramen noodles, well, this might be the perfect recipe for using them up.Like all the best recipes, you can add and subtract what you see fit. If you can't find baby bok choy, use finely chopped cabbage, Napa cabbage, or even a bagged coleslaw mix. The sesame dressing will prevail, bringing all the flavors and textures together!

Making Baby Bok Choy Salad for a spring fling? Just click and slide the number next to “servings” on the recipe card below to adjust the ingredients to match how many you’re feeding—the recipe does the math for you, it’s that easy.

What is bok choy?

Also known as pak choi, pot choi, or Chinese cabbage, Bok Choy is a cruciferous vegetable in the mustard family--just like broccoli, turnips, kale, and cabbage!

True bok choy has firm white stalks and deep dark green leaves, and can grow to a pretty large size. Baby bok choy is technically a different variety--Shanghai bok choy--that has light green stalks, spoon-shaped soft leaves, and stays small.

Just like its cruciferous family members, the whole plant is edible. You can eat any type of bok choy raw in salads, or cooked, in stir frys.

How to Clean and Store Baby Bok Choy:

The easiest way to clean Baby Bok Choy is to treat it like a bunch of celery. Trim off and discard the end of the bulb and separate the stalks. Then rinse the stalks in cool water, carefully brushing away any sand or dirt on the leaves.

Then use it right away, or wrap in paper towels and store for up to a week in your refrigerator’s crisper drawer.

Slice the stalks in the same manner as you would slice celery, using the entire stalk-- including the leaves at the top.

What you need to make bok choy salad:

Don't worry--there are lots of good substitutions for ingredients in this salad, if you don't have exactly what the recipe calls for.

  • Baby bok choy. Usually found sold in big bags at Asian markets. Use mature bok choy (Chinese cabbage) or Nappa cabbage instead.
  • Ramen noodles. Curly, raw ramen noodles, right out of the package. And no, you don't need the seasoning packet for this recipe.
  • Sliced almonds. I like the blanched, sliced kind (without skins), but skin-on almonds or slivered almonds are fine, too.
  • Scallions.
  • Olive oil. Just a little for pan-toasting the noodles and almonds.  You can also oven bake the noodles/nuts/seeds, too. There's an option below.
    Baby bok choy salad with sesame dressing ingredients in various bowls.

Other fun ingredients:

  • Sliced red bell pepper.
  • Celery, chopped on the bias.
  • Chow mein noodles. 
  • Mandarin orange segments.
  • Shredded carrots.

For the sesame dressing:

  • Light brown sugar. As always, if you're watching your sugar intake, feel free to use less.
  • Olive oil. Some readers switch out a little of the olive oil for toasted sesame oil, which boosts the nutty flavor.
  • Red wine vinegar. If you don't have it, don't worry. Use lemon juice, cider vinegar, rice vinegar, or white vinegar instead.
  • Sesame seeds. Raw sesame seeds, or toasted. See the notes below for toasting your own!
  • Soy sauce. Going gluten free? Use GF soy sauce, coconut aminos, or liquid aminos instead.
    Sesame dressing ingredients in various bowls.

Making the Bok Choy Salad dressing:

This homemade sesame soy dressing is almost drinkable it's so good, but if you need a salad NOW, go ahead and use your favorite bottled brand. I've heard good things about Kewpie Roasted Sesame dressing, Costco's Sesame dressing, and Paul Newman's Sesame Thai dressing. But really, anything with a sesame, soy, or ginger component will taste great.

The homemade dressing can be made in advance and stored in a jar in the refrigerator.

To make the sesame dressing, add the brown sugar, oil (olive oil, or a toasted sesame oil), vinegar, sesame seeds, and soy sauce to a jar with a tight-fitting lid. Close the lid and give the jar a little shake to mix. Keep out at room temperature while making the salad, so the flavors have a chance to blend together.

How to make Baby Bok Choy Salad:

  1. First, pan toast the crushed ramen noodles and almonds with a small amount of olive oil in a skillet on the stove until toasted and brown. This step keeps the noodles crispier, longer.
    Alternatively, you can spread out the almonds, ramen, and even the sesame seeds (if raw) on a baking sheet--no oil needed-- and toast in the oven at 350 degrees. Give the ingredients a stir every 5 to 10 minutes until toasty. This technique is hands-free so you can prep your veggies, too!
    Baby bok choy salad ingredients being toasted in a black skillet.
  2. After cooking, let the crunchy mixture cool to room temperature before mixing with the cold vegetables.
  3. Meanwhile, chop up the bok choy and scallions (as well as any other fun, fresh ingredients) and add them to a big bowl. Then add the ramen noodles and almonds. Drizzle the dressing of your choice over the salad, and toss to combine.
    Baby bok choy salad with sesame dressing in a wooden bowl.
  4. Serve immediately at room temperature.

Make ahead Bok Choy Salad:

  • Make the salad dressing several days in advance.
  • After you toast the noodles and nuts, let them cool and store them in an airtight container in the pantry for up to 6 months, or a zippered freezer bag in the freezer for up to a year.
  • Chop the vegetables the night before you need them, but store them in separate containers and combine them just before the final toss.

Gluten-free bok choy salad:

To make the salad completely gluten-free, switch out the soy sauce for your favorite substitute, such as coconut aminos or GF soy sauce. Then make the salad without the ramen noodles, and be sure to add some extra vegetables!

Baby bok choy salad with sesame dressing in a wooden bowl.

Baby Bok Choy Salad with Sesame Dressing Recipe

Turn the ramen in your pantry into Baby Bok Choy Salad, a crunchy, good-for-you recipe loaded with vegetables, almonds, toasted noodles, and a killer sesame soy dressing. Faster to make than a bok choy stir fry, this salad is hands-down fantastic for parties or just lunch for the week. 
4.94 from 15 votes
Print Pin Rate
Course: Salad
Cuisine: American, Asian
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 25 minutes
Total Time: 30 minutes
Servings: 8 servings
Calories: 239kcal
Author: Meggan Hill

Ingredients

For the sesame dressing:

  • 1/4 cup light brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons toasted sesame seeds (see notes)
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce

For the salad:

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 package ramen noodles crumbled, seasoning packet discarded (see notes for vegan information)
  • 1/4 cup sliced almonds
  • 1 bunch baby bok choy sliced (5 – 6 bulbs)
  • 5 scallions chopped

Instructions

To make the dressing:

  • In a small bowl or in a jar with a tight-fitting lid, combine brown sugar, olive oil, vinegar, sesame seeds, and soy sauce. Allow flavors to blend at room temperature while preparing the rest of the salad.

To make the salad:

  • Heat olive oil in a large sauce pan over medium heat until shimmering. Reduce heat to low. Add ramen noodles and almonds; sauté until toasted, about 10 minutes, stirring frequently to avoid scorching.
  • In a large bowl, combine baby bok choy, scallions, and crunchy mix. Drizzle salad dressing over the top and toss until uniformly combined. Serve at room temperature.

Notes

You may purchase toasted sesame seeds or toast regular sesame seeds yourself.
To toast sesame seeds (for oven and microwave methods, click here):
  1. In a medium skillet over medium heat, heat the sesame seeds until golden brown and fragrant, stirring occasionally, about 3-5 minutes.
  2. Remove from heat and immediately transfer to a plate to cool completely. Store in an airtight container in the pantry for 6 months or freezer storage bag in the freezer for up to 1 year.
To make ahead:
  • Mix Sesame Dressing and store covered in the refrigerator.
  • The baby bok choy and scallions may be chopped and store separately in containers in the refrigerator.
  • The crunchy mix may be toasted ahead of time, cooled, and stored at room temperature.
  • I recommend that you prep the ingredients no more than 1 day ahead of time.
To make the salad gluten free:
  • Leave out the ramen noodles
  • Substitute GF soy sauce
To make the salad vegan:
  • Choose Top Ramen brand ramen noodles which are 100% vegan.

Nutrition

Calories: 239kcal
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  1. Sandy A.

    We received baby bok choy in our local produce bag this week. I was determined not to saute it. This recipe was perfect. A wonderful update of the standard Asian cabbage salad I have been making for years. We had sugar snap peas in the bag so I blanched them and added them to the salad, as well as sliced tangerine pieces. We topped the salad with grilled chicken. Great dinner for a warm evening!5 stars

  2. Rachal Brantley

    Made this tonight. Served with grilled chicken breast. It was outstanding! Will definitely be making this again!

  3. Jane

    Hi! I got this recipe (or a slightly different itteration of it years ago – around 1995 – from an old co-worker. She would make it for pot-luck luncheons and it was gone in seconds! The difference between hers and yours is that with hers you can eliminate the oil to fry the ramen noodles and almonds and also you don’t have to worry about toasting the sesame seeds – you do it all in one step. Simply place the crushed ramen noodles, almonds and sesame seeds on a rimmed cookie sheet and bake at 350 and stir every 5 to 10 minutes until everything is toasted. I’ve also substituted chinese cabbage for the bok choy and it’s still wonderful. Thanks for the recipe – I hadn’t thought about this for a long time until I found your website and started looking around!5 stars

    1. meggan

      Hi Jane, I love this idea. The oil doesn’t really add anything to the flavor, of course, so may as well just try-toast it all in the oven. I’ll definitely make it that way so I feel like I can speak to it personally, and then update the post with all of this info (and probably the recipe too – people who are eating bok choy salad likely won’t miss the oil!). Thank you so much for the idea, and I love your story. Wonderful stuff. Take care! -Meggan

  4. Nana Sin

    Substituted suey choy and raspberry balsamic vinegar and it was great! Great recipe!5 stars

  5. rcl

    I use Paul Newman’s Own Light Sesame Thai Dressing with it and add shrimp. Perfect5 stars

  6. Brett Smalley

    loved the dressing! changed out the ramen noodles for crunchy chow mien noodles and added mandarins. great recipe!5 stars

    1. Meggan

      Yum! That sounds like a great swap! Thanks Chris! :D

  7. Ellen Mc.

    *perfect. Sorry for the typos.
     
    I also wanted to add that never in my life have I left a comment on a recipe except for this one. :)

  8. Ellen Mc.

    I have made this at least every other week since I ran across it several months ago. I do add a bit of toasted sesame oil to the dressing, but it definitely is prefect the way it’s written. Thank you so much for posting this recipe. It’s addixtive.5 stars

  9. Shal

    I like to add a teaspoon or two of Sesame oil to the dressing.4 stars

  10. Kathy Hughes

    What can i use instead of the red wine vinegar? Can’t have wine

    1. meggan

      Hi Kathy! I would use another vinegar, perhaps apple cider vinegar. I think regular white vinegar would not be as flavorful, but you might be able to play around with the other ingredients to make it work if that’s what you have. I hope this is helpful! Sorry for the delay in my response.

    2. meggan

      Hi Kathy! I would use another vinegar, perhaps apple cider vinegar. I think regular white vinegar would not be as flavorful, but you might be able to play around with the other ingredients to make it work if that’s what you have. I hope this is helpful! Sorry for the delay in my response.

  11. Kathy Hughes

    I can’t have red wine vinegar can I use apple cider vinegar instead or what would you suggest?

  12. caroline

    This was absolutely delicious .  I did not have sesame seeds so I substituted sesame oil for the olive oil and cut the sugar in half.  We loved it.5 stars

    1. meggan

      Thank you so much Caroline!! This makes my day. I’ve tried it with less sugar as well and it’s really so good either way. Thanks again and take care! Thank you!

  13. Clera

    Hi
    Thanks for your post!  I appreciate the dressing recipe as I usually make this with premade Sesame dressing from Costco.  I usually add some breaded chicken ( cut up in cubes) to this recipe when I serve it, for those who desire some added protein;)5 stars

    1. meggan

      Hi Clera, the breaded chicken sounds AWESOME. Protein yes, and also for anyone who wants some awesome in their salad. :) I will look for the Costco dressing. It’s nice to have something in the pantry once in a while! Thanks for your comment.

  14. Bev

    Is there a substitute for the red wine vinegar that I could use?  I’m not supposed to have vinegar.

    1. meggan

      Hi Bev, you could lemon juice. I haven’t tested it myself, but I think it would taste good (I use it in dressings a lot). The acid in it will be balanced out by the sweetness in the brown sugar (and there isn’t much vinegar/lemon juice required, anyway). It’s worth a shot if you want to try! Good luck.

  15. Jillygr

    Could just be the formatting in my device but the recipes says:
    2 tablespoons cup red wine vinegative

    Does that mean 2 Tablespoons + cup? That would explain the sugar but it seems that ft?

    1. meggan

      Hey Jill, that is just a typo. So sorry about that! It should be 2 Tablespoons of red wine vinegar. Basically, the original recipe had twice as much recipe (so it was 1/4 cup of the red wine vinegar) but that would leave the salad SWIMMING in dressing. It was entirely unnecessary. So, I halved the dressing. It is definitely 1/4 cup sugar and olive oil and then 2 T. red wine vinegar. Sorry about that and thanks for pointing it out. I should also say that you can make the dressing however you like! :)

  16. We love baby bok choy and the stores in our neighborhood have really fresh ones in this week. I know we’ll love this salad. Thank you so much for sharing your recipe.

    1. meggan

      Thank you so much, Kathryn! :)

  17. Dave

    FIVE stars kid. Delicious! Count me in as an admiring and rabid fan!! :-))5 stars

  18. Dave

    Thanks for mentioning gluten-free options for those out there who may be new at it. You solved my “What’s for dinner?” dilemma today. Going to make some Asian chicken with orange-sesame sauce served over rice to go with your yummy salad. You are simply amazing! XO5 stars

    1. meggan

      I don’t normally talk about GF options, but I should really cater to my rabid fan base. :) JUST KIDDING! Your orange-sesame sauce sounds just divine. :) Happy Thursday Dave!

  19. babykitted

    I love salads so much. I like mixing with fruits (mango and strawberry) and always eat with a protein and a carb. I usually choose rice or potatoes and fish or chicken meat. 

    1. meggan

      Sounds like I’d love to have dinner at your place, ha ha! :) Thanks for stopping by!

  20. I’ve never made bok choy  before but this looks incredible! And the dressing sounds fabulous! Now that I am working from home, I think I’ll have to make it for myself to “take” to lunch :)

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