5 from 1 vote

Healthy Chinese Chicken Salad

 March 12, 2023

Say goodbye to soggy salads for good. Introducing, my crunchy and Healthy Chinese Chicken Salad recipe that is gluten-free, paleo-friendly, Whole30 compliant, and absolutely delicious. This salad is loaded with flavor and nutrition, making it the perfect meal for anyone looking for a healthy and satisfying dish. The combination of tender chicken, crunchy vegetables, and savory dressing is simply irresistible. I love meal-prepping this salad at the beginning of the week for a lunch that gets better with time, or on those days where I only have a few minutes to make a nutritious meal!

A bowl of the Chinese chicken salad, sitting on a countertop, with chopsticks sitting inside of it

As someone who used to follow a gluten-free and paleo lifestyle, I know how challenging it can be to find tasty and nutritious recipes that meet these requirements. Oftentimes, learning to eat this way (and cook with real, whole food ingredients), can feel like you have to give up your favorite foods. And I’m here to tell you that you don’t!

This Chinese Chicken Salad recipe is not only easy to make, but it is delicious, crunchy, tangy, and a great way to get your veggies in! It’s packed with protein and filling thanks to the chicken thighs, and crisp and crunchy thanks to the cabbage! In fact, I not only love the cabbage because it is crunchy (and packed with fiber) but also because it doesn’t get soggy over time. Unlike traditional lettuce, which gets wilted and soggy over time, thanks to the dressing, this salad stays crisp and crunchy all week long. I love preparing a big batch at the beginning of the week and having it to enjoy all week long!

And if you’re looking for more meal-prep friendly salad recipes, then don’t worry, I’ve got you! I also love my Shaved Brussels Sprouts salad and my Easy Meal Prep Breakfast Sandwiches as two other healthy options.

What You Need to Make This Crunchy, Meal-Prep Friendly Salad

  • Chicken Thighs: Thick, juicy chicken thighs add the perfect flavor to this salad! You’ll want to use whole chicken thighs that you can slice yourself.
  • Coconut Aminos: Coconut aminos are an alternative to soy sauce that is gluten-free and has just a hint of sweetness. Of course, you can also use traditional soy sauce here, but I like using coconut aminos to make it paleo-friendly and Whole 30 compliant.
  • Red Wine Vinegar: A splash of red wine vinegar adds the perfect amount of acidity to make this dressing shine.
  • Olive Oil or Avocado Oil: You’ll need a little bit of oil in order to cook your chicken. I personally like using olive oil, but avocado oil also works well!
  • Sesame Oil: When it comes to sesame oil, remember that a little goes a really long way.
  • Onion Powder & Ground Ginger: These will really kick up the flavor of this salad to the next level!
  • Purple and Green Cabbage: Instead of lettuce, we’ll be using a combination of purple and green cabbage as the base for this salad. This is what will make it extra crunchy, especially as you let the salad sit for longer!
  • Carrots: Carrot’s are known as “nature’s retinol,” because they are loaded with vitamin a, which can help your skin and eye health! I love the crunch that carrots add to this recipe.
  • Green Onion: Sliced green onions are an essential ingredient for Chinese Chicken Salad.
  • Cilantro: Cilantro adds a burst of fresh flavor to this salad.
  • Black & White Sesame Seeds: The combination of black and white sesame seeds as the best flavor. They may be small, but they really pack a punch. Don’t skip them!
  • Pumpkin Seeds: These are optional, but I love adding in a few pumpkin seeds for an extra dose of healthy fats and plant-based protein.
  • Mandarin Oranges: Mandarin oranges add a burst of flavor and vitamin c! With all of the salty thicken and veggies in this salad, these oranges add a sweet and delicious flavor.
All of the ingredients needed to make this Chinese chicken salad, in a bowl, with the dressing actively being poured on top
Cook your chicken, chop your veggies, then add all of your salad ingredients to a large bowl and pour the salad dressing over it. Toss to combine.

How to Make This 10-Minute Salad Recipe

To make this salad recipe, start by whisking together the ingredients for the dressing in a small bowl. Then, set aside.

Next, place your chicken in a bowl, along with 1/4 cup of the dressing, cover the bowl and place in the refrigerator for 30 minutes to marinate. While the chicken is marinating, dd all of the ingredients for the salad into a large bowl, along with remaining dressing and toss to combine.

Once your chicken has finished marinating, remove it from the refrigerator. Then, heat a cast iron skillet on the stove over medium-high heat and add in your oil.

A close-up image of a bowl of the healthy Chinese chicken salad, with a pair of chopsticks sticking out of it

When the pan is hot, add in your chicken and cook it for approximately six minutes on each side, until it’s cooked through. Once the chicken is done, remove it from the heat and let it cool slightly before slicing it.

Finally, toss your sliced chicken into the salad and use your hands to mix together the ingredients well. Garnish with salt and pepper to taste and more cilantro/sesame seeds if desired! Once you’re done, serve your salad immediately or store any leftovers in an airtight container, in the fridge, for up to one week, Enjoy!

If you make this recipe, please be sure to leave a review and rating below! To see more recipes and behind the scenes, follow along on InstagramTikTok, and Youtube! I’m also now on Pinterest, so stop by and take a look at what’s new.

** Photography by Gayle McLeod
A bowl of the Chinese chicken salad, sitting on a countertop, with chopsticks sitting inside of it
Dairy Free/gluten-free/Nut Free/Paleo/Refined Sugar Free

Healthy Chinese Chicken Salad

5 from 1 vote
Nicole Modic
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Total Time 40 minutes
SERVES 4 Servings
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Ingredients

FOR THE DRESSING:

  • 1 Pound organic skinless chicken thighs (or breast!)
  • Cup coconut aminos (@traderjoes has it for cheap!)
  • 2 Tablespoon red wine vinegar, acv, or champagne vinegar
  • 3 Tablespoon olive oil or avocado oil
  • 2 Tablespoon sesame oil
  • 2 Teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1 Teaspoon onion powder

FOR THE SALAD:

  • ½ head purple cabbage, thinly sliced
  • ¼ head green cabbage, thinly sliced
  • 1 Cup sliced carrots
  • 1 bunch green onion, thinly chopped 
  • ½ Cup cilantro, roughly chopped
  • 3 Tablespoon black sesame seeds
  • 3 Tablespoon white sesame seeds
  • ¼ Cup pumpkin seeds (optional)
  • 1 can mandarin oranges, no sugar added

Instructions

  • In a small bowl, whisk together the ingredients for the dressing.
  • Place chicken in a bowl, along with 1/4 cup of the dressing, cover the bowl and place in the refrigerator for 30 minutes to marinate.In a large bowl, add all of the ingredients for the salad, along with remaining dressing.
  • Remove chicken from the refrigerator.
  • Place a cast-iron skillet on the stove over medium heat, greasing well with oil so the chicken doesn't stick.
  • Cook chicken for approximately six minutes on each side, until cooked through.
  • Remove chicken from heat, let cool, and slice into thin strips.
  • Add chicken to the salad, and use your hands to mix together the ingredients well.
  • Add salt and pepper to taste and more cilantro/sesame seeds if desired! 

Did you make this recipe?

I’d love to see what you made – tag @kalejunkie
in your posts and I’ll re-share!

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  1. 5 stars
    Made this for my picky family…..and the verdict, drum roll please, They loved it!!! My hardest critics just loved it. I went a simple route (to save time) I used rotisserie chicken. But next time I’ll use chicken breast (my choice of the chicken). But this recipe was amazing!!

    • Woohoo! Rotisserie chicken sounds amazing in this recipe! Thank you so much for making it, and for leaving such a kind review!