Chinese Chicken Salad with Sesame Dressing

from 18 votes

Ditch the deli counter and whip up a homemade recipe for Chinese Chicken Salad with Sesame Dressing. This flavor-packed salad is a vibrant medley of crisp veggies, tender chicken, crunchy almonds, and sweet Mandarin oranges, all tossed in a savory-sweet homemade sesame dressing. Perfect for a light lunch, dinner or potluck gathering, this salad is sure to become a favorite in your recipe rotation!

Chinese chicken salad with cucumbers, mandarin oranges, crispy chow mein noodles, shredded purple cabbage and romaine lettuce all tossed in a sesame dressing and garnished with black sesame seeds.

That big bowl of flavor and crunch up there is my dinner at least once a week. Fast, fresh and figure-friendly, my mom’s recipe for Chinese Chicken Salad has become my go-to alternative to all things DoorDash, Uber Eats and GrubHub.

This colorful mix features a plethora of tastes and textures, from shredded purple cabbage and tender chicken to crunchy almonds, crisp cucumber batons, and yes, those classic Mandarin oranges. All that goodness is tossed in a homemade sesame dressing that’s sweet, tangy and a touch sour.

This Chinese chicken salad is ideal for meal prep and lunches on-the-go. Simply layer the ingredients into mason jars and stash the dressing in an airtight container. When you’re ready to dig in, pour the dressing into the jar, seal it, shake it and get your salad on!

If you’re looking for more ways to ditch the delivery and still satisfy those takeout cravings, don’t miss recipes for Baked Orange Chicken, Chicken Egg Rolls with Ginger-Soy Dip, and Sticky Pineapple Chicken.

Ingredients

Chinese chicken salad ingredients in various sizes of glass bowls, including mandarin oranges, shredded purple cabbage, crispy chow mein noodles, sliced cucumbers, chopped scallions, shredded romaine lettuce, sesame dressing, cooked chicken breast slices and sliced almonds.

FOR THE SALAD:

  • Shredded cooked chicken: I buy a rotisserie chicken and shred the meat (discarding the skin). It’s fast, fresh and just enough meat for 4 to 6 servings.
  • Romaine lettuce: To shred romaine lettuce, wash and remove the core, then stack the leaves, roll them tightly and slice thinly to create thin strips. Fluff the shreds to separate them, and your lettuce is ready to use in your salad!
  • Purple cabbage: Adds a vibrant pop of color and a slightly sweet flavor to the salad.
  • Scallions: For a mild onion flavor.
  • Cucumber: I’m a big fan of English cucumbers, sometimes called seedless cucumbers, because they have a tender skin and fewer seeds. You can usually spot them in the produce section wrapped in plastic. Regular ol’ cucumbers work great, too! 
  • Almonds: Sliced or slivered. When I have time, I like to toast them in a dry skillet over medium heat until golden brown and fragrant for added flavor and crunch.
  • Crispy chow mein noodles: Look for them in the international aisle of your grocery store or in the Asian foods section. Pro Tip: Add the chow mein noodles to the salad just before serving to maintain their crispness.
  • Mandarin oranges: I prefer the canned or fruit cup varieties packed in juice, rather than syrup, or fresh if they’re in season.

FOR THE DRESSING:

  • Sesame oil: Adds a rich, nutty flavor. 
  • Rice wine vinegar: Adds a tangy-sweet flavor to the dressing. If seasoned rice wine vinegar isn’t available, you can use plain rice vinegar or apple cider vinegar as a substitute. 
  • Oil: I prefer to use a neutral-flavored vegetable oil but a light olive oil works well, too. 
  • Sugar: Adds a touch of sweetness to balance the acidity of the vinegar and enhance the overall flavor of the dressing. You can adjust the amount of sugar to taste, adding more for a sweeter dressing or less for a more tangy flavor. 
  • Salt and pepper: Season to taste.

See the recipe card for full information on ingredients and quantities.

How to Make Chinese Chicken Salad

Shredded chicken breast, sliced almonds, sliced cucumbers, shredded purple cabbage, chopped scallions, crispy chow main noodles, shredded romaine lettuce and mandarin oranges in a large glass bowl.

Making this Asian salad could not be easier! Once you’ve prepped all of your ingredients, there’s just two simple steps: 

  1. Add all of the salad ingredients to a large bowl and toss to combine. 
  2. Make the dressing. In a small bowl, whisk together the dressing ingredients and then pour over the salad, tossing to coat.

That’s it!

What to Serve with Chinese Chicken Salad

Although hearty enough to be served on its own, Chinese chicken salad pairs well with a variety of Asian-inspired dishes that complement its flavors and textures. Here are a few of my favorites:

Common Questions

Can I make this salad in advance?

Yes, this is a great salad for meal prepping. Prepare the salad ingredients and dressing ahead of time and store them separately in the refrigerator. Combine them, along with the crispy chow mein noodles, just before serving to maintain freshness and crunchiness.

Can I use a different type of protein?

Absolutely! Feel free to substitute shredded cooked turkey (I do this with leftover Thanksgiving turkey), pork, tofu or your favorite protein for the chicken.

How long does the dressing keep?

The sesame dressing can be stored in an airtight container for up to 5 days.

Chinese chicken salad with sesame dressing, mandarin oranges, sliced cucumbers, crispy chow mein noodles and sliced almonds on a salad plate.

More Asian-Inspired Salads You’ll Love

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Main Course

Chinese Chicken Salad with Sesame Dressing

Fast, fresh and figure-friendly, my mom’s recipe for Chinese Chicken Salad has become my go-to alternative to takeout.
Author: Kelly Senyei
4.84 from 18 votes
Chinese chicken salad with cucumbers, mandarin oranges, crispy chow mein noodles, shredded purple cabbage and romaine lettuce all tossed in a sesame dressing and garnished with black sesame seeds.
Prep Time 20 minutes
Total Time 20 minutes
Servings 6 servings

Ingredients 

For the salad:

  • 4 cups shredded cooked chicken (See Kelly’s Notes)
  • 3 cups shredded Romaine lettuce
  • 2 cups shredded purple cabbage
  • 2 scallions, thinly sliced (white and green parts)
  • 1 medium cucumber, thinly sliced into batons
  • 1/3 cup sliced almonds
  • 1 cup crispy chow mein noodles
  • 1 cup Mandarin oranges

For the dressing:

  • 3 Tablespoons sesame oil
  • 1/4 cup seasoned rice wine vinegar
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 2 Tablespoons sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon fresh black pepper

Instructions 

  • In a large bowl, combine all of the salad ingredients, tossing until well mixed.
  • In a small bowl, whisk together the dressing ingredients and then pour over the salad, tossing to coat.

Kelly’s Notes

  • I buy a rotisserie chicken and shred the meat (discarding the skin). It’s fast, fresh and just enough meat for 4 to 6 servings.
  • ★ Did you make this recipe? Don’t forget to give it a star rating below!

Nutrition

Calories: 351kcal, Carbohydrates: 9g, Protein: 23g, Fat: 25g, Saturated Fat: 10g, Cholesterol: 72mg, Sodium: 660mg, Potassium: 469mg, Fiber: 2g, Sugar: 6g, Vitamin A: 2485IU, Vitamin C: 20.2mg, Calcium: 58mg, Iron: 1.3mg

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Comments

  1. 5 stars
    I absolutely love this salad!! I use this recipe and make 4 salads in a jar that last me most of the work week. Thanks so much!

    1. Hi Miya! Unfortunately we can only estimate the nutrition and I don’t have the breakdown for only the dressing.

  2. 5 stars
    I made it first with baked salmon and added a few thinly-sliced carrots as well. It’s a beautiful salad to look at. I am searching for a better rice wine vinegar, as there are some poor imitations that are not very nutritious. The next day, with chicken, I crisped-up the skin and added it on as a quick sub for the chow-mien noodles. A few sesame seeds on top looks pretty good too. Thanks for this recipe, it’s really crunchy and interesting! Perhaps you can recommend a rice wine vinegar? Thank again, really enjoyed it and added it to my go-salads.

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