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.

Table of Contents
  1. Recipe ingredients
  2. Ingredient notes
  3. Step-by-step instructions
  4. Recipe tips and variations
  5. Recipe FAQs
  6. Chinese Chicken Salad Recipe

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.

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

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More hearty salad ideas

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.
5 from 27 votes
Prep Time 10 mins
Cook Time 5 mins
Total Time 15 mins
Servings 6 servings
Course Salad
Cuisine Asian, Chinese
Calories 410

Ingredients 

For the Asian salad dressing:

  • 1/3 cup rice vinegar (see note 1)
  • 1/4 cup hoisin sauce (see note 2)
  • 2 tablespoons canola oil (see note 3)
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon fresh ginger grated (see note 4)
  • 1/2 teaspoon toasted sesame oil

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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Comments

  1. This is delicious! Very fresh. Followed your tips for cutting your own cabbage and it definitely improves the flavor for me vs pre chopped slaw mix. My only critique would be the dressing is a little hoisin heavy for me (but I like things vinegar-y) so next time I think I’d cut back on the hoisin for a little more rice vinegar and maybe some extra garlic. Could even add thinly chopped celery for extra crunch. Added some avocado on top and it was delish! Thanks!!5 stars

  2. Delicious! I have been searching for a version of dressing like one in a family favorite restaurant and this one is the closest I have found! I left the fennel out as it is not a flavor I enjoy (or detected in the one we love). Thanks for this great dressing recipe!5 stars

  3. I love this salad and so does my family! For the dressing I added fresh minced garlic and it tastes amazing! For the salad, I actually use half romaine and half cabbage. Usually I’ll just buy the bag of precut cabbage and it works just the same and then you aren’t dealing with the mess of cutting cabbage. I also use garlic ginger wonton strips instead of chow mein noodles. Just a few little tweaks I do. Thanks for the recipe!5 stars

  4. Had a special guest pop over when she lost power due to winter storm. Stopped at the grocery and picked up a roasted chicken and a couple bags of pre-made salad mix. Whipped up this salad dressing and I kid you not, it was better than any Asian salad I ever had at Applebee’s. I did add about a tablespoon of honey, but that extra sweetness was just my preference, definitely not necessary. I just love it when recipes actually work! Thank you!5 stars

  5. This was AMAZING! I followed the suggestion of adding some garlic and honey to the dressing. Very easy and so delicious. I shared with my parents and loved it just as much. Thanks for the get recipe!5 stars

  6. Love this salad however I did cut down on ginger by half since I’m not a big fan of it, added a small clove of minced garlic and a tablespoon of honey. Dressing was unbelievable 5 stars

  7. Meggan,
    I am excited to maje this salad for tomorrow’s VT vs ND tailgate! Can I cut the cabbage today for tomorrow? I don’t want it to turn brown, etc. The dressing is already made and in the fridge. Thanks for helping!

    1. Hi Carol!!! Sorry I didn’t get back to you in time. YES you can cut the cabbage today for tomorrow (or yesterday for today….). It’s super hardy and won’t turn brown. You could store it in water even, if you were worried about it. Sorry for not getting back to you in time. BUT HOORAY FOR TAILGATING!!!!!!

  8. Meggan, Joe added to perfection I can tell by his comment. This salad has become a regular that we eat several times a month. So good for us too. I’m going to check out some of your other salads now that I’m here again:)5 stars

  9. Thank you Meggan for this awesome recipe! Like Heather said, it’s a nut-n-bolts base – you can add 1,000 things! I add chopped water chestnuts, toasted slivered almonds, mandarin oranges and crushed ramen noodles. To the dressing I add a clove of shredded garlic and some of the mandarin orange syrup. Nom Nom!5 stars

    1. Thank you!!! Seriously, makes my day. I love that salad too, but I’m always delighted when someone else likes it too. :) Take care and thanks again!

  10. I love produce that sticks around for a while! Cabbage is so nice that way. cilantro, on the other hand…little bugger. This salad is a classic! I love the dressing!!5 stars

    1. when you buy cilantro cut the tip ends off the stems, about 1/2 inch. put the cilantro stem down in a jar or cup of water (like you would flowers) cover cilantro tops loosly with a plastic bag, to hold in moisture and keep in your refrigerator, lasts a remarkably long time. refresh the water every couple of days.

  11. You’re so right about the humble cabbage – it will sit there for weeks and come to no harm!

    Chinese recipes are a perfect way to use it up. I’ve never made a Chinese salad like this, Meggan, but agree that it looks delicious.

    I love your way of thinking too that less is more when it comes to the ingredients.5 stars

  12. I used this as a base and it was AMAZING!  I subbed scallions for the white onion and sesame-oat sticks for chow mein noodles.  I also used marinated shaved pork, seared then chopped in place of chicken.  I found a bag of “Cruciferous Crunch” at Trader Joe’s that I used for the cabbage.  The dressing was so good as written that I made a double batch to keep for other salads.  I prepped it all on Sunday then assembled big bento boxes each morning before work.  I ate this for 3 straight days and was sad when I had to find something else on the 4th day! 5 stars

    1. Heather, this is really quite spectacular. I do love that cruciferous crunch from TJ’s and all your subs. I might remake this recipe to include some of them! I’ll credit you if I do. :) So glad you enjoyed it! I’m craving this salad now!

  13. I also love Chinese chicken salads and yours looks so scrumptious! Can hardly wait to try it at home. Thanks for sharing.5 stars

  14. Hey Meggan,

    I loved your recipe. Made it twice already. I am planning to add this recipe in my Best of October recipe roundup to be published on the 31st of October, this year. I know it’s an old post but I have found this recipe useful, and the fresh flavours don’t really go out of style. I would love to add a picture of the salad in my blog post. I hope it is alright by you.
    Would love to hear back.
    Thank you.5 stars

    1. Hi Shreyashi, thank you so much for your kid words! I’m glad you liked the salad. Recipes never really get “old”, so even though it’s an old post, like you said, a fresh flavors never go out of style! Especially salads! You can certainly use an image as long as you link back. I look forward to seeing your post at the end of the month! :)