Chinese Chicken Salad

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Instead of using the “kitchen sink” approach, this crunchy, colorful Chinese Chicken Salad has a carefully-curated selection of vegetables and toppings. The dressing is delicious and doubles as a marinade and dipping sauce, too.

A bowl of Chinese chicken salad with Asian salad dressing.

Cabbage has superpowers: it almost never wilts, it’s super affordable, and it’s packed with nutrients. And it lasts forever and a day in the fridge, so now you know what you can do with the one rolling around in your veggie drawer!

Even though it’s really easy, the recipe is completely homemade, right down to the dressing, which is so good you’ll be tempted to drink it. And, no real cooking is required. Take that, weekday.

Recipe ingredients

Labeled ingredients for Chinese chicken salad.

At a Glance: Here is a quick snapshot of what ingredients are in this recipe.
Please see the recipe card below for specific quantities.

Ingredient notes

  • Rice vinegar: It might also be labeled as “rice wine vinegar” (they are the same thing).
  • Hoisin sauce: Usually used as a sweet glaze for meat, hoisin sauce is made from soy beans, fennel, garlic, and chili peppers. Easy to find in the Asian foods section of any grocery.
  • Canola oil: Or any neutral oil, like grapeseed oil or light olive oil.
  • Fresh ginger: Do not substitute ground (powdered) ginger because it doesn’t have the same flavor.
  • Napa cabbage: Lighter in texture (almost fluffy) than regular cabbage. If you can’t find it, use Savoy cabbage, bok choy, or plain old green cabbage. Find out how to cut cabbage like a pro, too.
  • Chicken: Leftover rotisserie chicken or yesterday’s grilled chicken breasts work great. You can even use some of the salad dressing as a marinade before cooking, to boost the flavor up even more (Safety first: make extra dressing for the marinade, then discard whatever comes into contact with raw meat).
  • Cilantro: If you don’t like cilantro, leave it out or substitute something else (fresh basil or parsley would both be good).

Step-by-step instructions

  1. To make the dressing, in a small bowl, whisk together oil, vinegar, hoisin sauce, soy sauce, ginger, and sesame oil. Allow flavors to blend at room temperature while preparing the rest of the salad.
A bowl of Asian Salad Dressing sitting in front of a bowl of Chinese Chicken Salad.
  1. In a large bowl, add chicken, green and red cabbage, carrots, scallions, and cilantro.
A bowl of Chinese chicken salad with Asian salad dressing.
  1. Drizzle with salad dressing.
A bowl of Chinese chicken salad with Asian salad dressing.
  1. Toss to combine and sprinkle with chow mein noodles and sesame seeds.
A bowl of Chinese chicken salad with Asian salad dressing.

Recipe tips and variations

  • Yield: This recipe makes 6 generous, entrée-sized servings.
  • Storage: Store leftover salad covered in the refrigerator for up to 4 days. Cabbage holds up better than lettuce, so this salad has staying-power.
  • Make ahead: Make the dressing up to 4 days before you need it. Just store in the refrigerator until you’re ready. The salad is best when tossed just before you’re ready to eat.
  • More mix-ins: Try slivered, toasted almonds, ramen noodles, edamame, bean sprouts, bok choy, wonton crisps, pea pods, or mandarin orange segments.
  • More Asian flavors: Start off your next Asian meal with Cream Cheese Wontons or Pot Stickers. Try a side dish of quick Brown Fried Rice or Baby Bok Choy Salad with Sesame Dressing. For a delicious main dish, try Hibachi Steak with Wasabi Potatoes and a drizzle of Teriyaki Sauce (inspired by The Cheesecake Factory).

Recipe FAQs

What is a substitute for Hoisin sauce?

You can make your own Hoisin sauce with common pantry ingredients.
4 tablespoons soy sauce
2 tablespoons smooth peanut butter
1 tablespoon honey or agave nectar
2 teaspoons distilled white vinegar
2 teaspoons sesame oil
¼ teaspoon hot sauce
⅛ teaspoon black pepper
⅛ teaspoon garlic powder

More hearty salad ideas

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A bowl of Chinese chicken salad with Asian salad dressing.

Chinese Chicken Salad

Instead of using the "kitchen sink" approach, this crunchy, colorful Chinese Chicken Salad has a carefully-curated selection of vegetables and toppings. The dressing is delicious and doubles as a marinade and dipping sauce, too.
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 5 minutes
Total Time 15 minutes
Servings 6 servings
Course Salad
Cuisine Asian, Chinese
Calories 410
4.97 from 77 votes

Ingredients 

For the Asian salad dressing:

For the salad:

  • 4 cups cooked chicken shredded or diced (see note 5)
  • 1 pound napa cabbage cored and finely shredded (about 4 cups, see note 6)
  • 2 cups red cabbage cored and finely shredded
  • 1 cup shredded carrots
  • 1 bunch scallions thinly sliced
  • 1/4 cup fresh cilantro minced (see note 7)
  • 1 cup chow mein noodles
  • 2 tablespoons sesame seeds for garnish, optional

Instructions 

  • To make the dressing, in a small bowl, whisk together oil, vinegar, hoisin sauce, soy sauce, ginger, and sesame oil. Allow flavors to blend at room temperature while preparing the rest of the salad.
  • In a large bowl, add chicken, green and red cabbage, carrots, scallions, and cilantro. Drizzle with salad dressing and toss to combine. Sprinkle with chow mein noodles and sesame seeds.

Recipe Video

Notes

  1. Rice vinegar: It might also be labeled as “rice wine vinegar” (they are the same thing).
  2. Hoisin sauce: Usually used as a sweet glaze for meat, hoisin sauce is made from soy beans, fennel, garlic, and chili peppers. Easy to find in the Asian foods section of any grocery.
  3. Canola oil: Or any neutral oil, like grapeseed oil or light olive oil.
  4. Fresh ginger: Do not substitute ground (powdered) ginger because it doesn’t have the same flavor.
  5. Chicken: Leftover rotisserie chicken or yesterday’s grilled chicken breasts work great. You can even use some of the salad dressing as a marinade before cooking, to boost the flavor up even more (Safety first: make extra dressing for the marinade, then discard whatever comes into contact with raw meat).
  6. Napa cabbage: Lighter in texture (almost fluffy) than regular cabbage. If you can’t find it, use Savoy cabbage, bok choy, or plain old green cabbage. Find out how to cut cabbage like a pro, too.
  7. Cilantro: If you don’t like cilantro, leave it out or substitute something else (fresh basil or parsley would both be good).
  8. Yield: This recipe makes 6 generous, entrée-sized servings.
  9. Storage: Store leftover salad covered in the refrigerator for up to 4 days. Cabbage holds up better than lettuce, so this salad has staying-power.
  10. Make ahead: Make the dressing up to 4 days before you need it. Just store in the refrigerator until you’re ready. The salad is best when tossed just before you’re ready to eat.

Nutrition

Serving: 1servingCalories: 410kcalCarbohydrates: 39gProtein: 32gFat: 14gSaturated Fat: 2gPolyunsaturated Fat: 4gMonounsaturated Fat: 6gTrans Fat: 1gCholesterol: 70mgSodium: 770mgPotassium: 521mgFiber: 4gSugar: 6gVitamin A: 696IUVitamin C: 38mgCalcium: 118mgIron: 4mg
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Meggan Hill is a classically-trained chef and professional writer. Her meticulously-tested recipes and detailed tutorials bring confidence and success to home cooks everywhere. Meggan has been featured on NPR, HuffPost, FoxNews, LA Times, and more.

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Comments

  1. Delicious! I made this for a group of 15 women and it was a big hit. Definitely make several batches of the dressing.5 stars

  2. Delicious! The Dressing is on point which will make it a hit every time. Yes, be sure to marinate your chicken and use whatever you want in the salad mix. I added cucumbers and also used Roman lettuce. Simply the best!

  3. I’ve tried many different Asian Chicken Salad recipes over the years, but this one beats them all! Happy the search is over as this will now be my “go to” Chinese/Asian Chicken Salad! It’s the perfect balance of textures and flavors and my whole family loved it as well!5 stars

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