You know the hottest days of summer? The ones where you just don’t want to turn on the oven, or even the BBQ, or even move from your seat right in front of the fan? Chinese Chicken Salad is the perfect meal in a bowl, and since we can buy pre-cooked chicken at the grocery, no cooking involved!
One of my former college roommates (and still one of my favorite people in the world!), Cathy, is the type of person I admire so much, because she is many things I aspire to be. Always kind. Always positive. Always sees the best in people. She is also a talented Landscape Architect, something I didn’t even know EXISTED until I met her. She always makes me happy. We do have some stories to tell, the two of us, but that’s for another time. And a margarita. Maybe some chocolates.
Anyway, when we first met, she was my neighbor. When she moved in, her amazing mom had sent her with a freezer (jam-packed) full of homemade food, packed into neatly stacked square tupperware containers, one or two servings apiece: pulled pork barbecue, beef stew with everything meticulously tiny-diced, beef stroganoff. On occasion, she would share. OMG, so so good!
Years later, after we graduated, I visited Cathy. She made this awesome Chinese Chicken Salad with Kraft Miracle French Dressing, which was basically a vinaigrette with something red (Catsup and/or paprika?) in it. Loved it! For some reason I always thought it was her Mom’s recipe. Maybe because it was THAT good.
Since then, I’ve loved Chinese Chicken Salad. Crunchy fresh lettuce and cabbage, tender chicken, sweet mandarins, crisp almonds, that tangy sweet dressing, all topped with crunchy Chow Mein noodles. I know, it isn’t really Chinese food. But it is SO good. And so easy!
I’ve been making this salad for years. You can’t find Miracle French anymore, as far as I can tell, so I just use some rice vinegar and sesame oil, along with other goodies to make a quick and tasty dressing. (I didn’t even try to re-create it, truth be told.) But my Sesame Ginger Dressing hits all the notes: sour, sweet, tangy, umami. All the YUM! I’m guessing once you make this Chinese Chicken Salad, it’ll be on the repeat in your house, too! Regardless of the weather!
This recipe is infinitely adaptable. You can add or subtract salad ingredients if you like. You can cook your own chicken, or use pre-cooked, or even shred the breast meat of a rotisserie chicken, if you like.
For the cabbage, I used 2 cups of slaw from a bag of shredded red and green cabbage, and just cut it into smaller pieces, which I like for this salad. And, if you don’t want or like cabbage, just add an additional 2 cups of Romaine. For that matter, if you don’t like or want Romaine, any lettuce will do – leaf lettuce, spring mixed greens, whatever!
The dressing is pretty quick and easy, too. Just measure all of the ingredients into a jar with a lid. Put the lid tightly on the jar and shake until they are emulsified. That’s the only part of this recipe that could even elicit a drop of sweat.
So for Cathy and her sweet mom, here is my recipe for that yummy Chinese Chicken Salad. For all the great friendship and memories they have provided over the years. Cheers, friends!
If you are looking for salads, please check this super-simple Beet Salad from Anthony Bourdain or this tasty Steak Salad or my signature Strawberry Gorgonzola Salad with Sweet and Spicy Pecans.Print
Chinese Chicken Salad
A perfect lunch or dinner for hot weather! Chinese Chicken Salad is full of flavors and topped with a yummy ginger/sesame dressing. So good!
I used already cooked and sliced chicken, but feel free to cook your own.
- Prep Time: 15 min
- Cook Time: 15 min
- Total Time: 30 min
- Yield: 6 Dinner-sized Servings 1x
- Category: Salad
- Cuisine: American
For the Salad:
- 1 lb Boneless Skinless Chicken Breasts, cooked and sliced
- 6 c Chopped Romaine Lettuce
- 2 c Chopped Cabbage, any color (See Note 1)
- 1 Medium Carrot, sliced or shredded
- 3 Green (spring) onions, sliced
- 4 oz. Sliced Water Chestnuts
- 11 oz. Can Mandarin Oranges in Water, drained
- 1/2 c Sliced Almonds
- 2 c Crunchy-style Chow Mein Noodles (such as La Choy)
For the Dressing:
- 6 Tbls. Seasoned Rice Vinegar (I use Marukan)
- 2 tsp. Soy Sauce
- 1 Tbls. Grated Fresh Ginger
- 1/2 tsp. Garlic Powder
- 1 Tbls. Granulated Sugar
- 3 Tbls. Canola Oil (or any neutral oil)
- 4 tsp. Toasted Sesame Oil
Compose the Salad:
- I used pre-cooked and sliced Chicken Breasts for this recipe (don’t judge, it was a hot day!). If you wish to cook your own, you can poach, broil, or pan-fry them. It will take about 4-5 minutes per side. Just make sure they are done. You can serve them warm or cold on the salad.
- In a large bowl, place the romaine, cabbage, carrot, green onion, water chestnuts, and mandarins.
- Top with the sliced and/or cubed chicken.
Make the Dressing:
- In a jar with a lid, place all of the Dressing ingredients. Shake until emulsified.
- Pour dressing over salad, mix. Top with chow Mein noodles and sliced almonds.
- For the cabbage, you can use any color of cabbage. I used pre-packaged coleslaw mix that consisted of mainly purple cabbage.
Keywords: Chinese Chicken Salad