This vintage Chinese chicken salad is adapted from my mom’s PTA recipe from the 60s.
I’ve updated it and made a healthier version. This one starts with finely shredded Napa cabbage. Shredded chicken breast, Mandarin oranges, scallions, sesame seeds and almonds are added, then a sweet Asian dressing is drizzled over everything. I’ve left out the msg filled “flavor packets” which are filled with sodium and chemicals, carb filled ramen noodles and substituted swerve for the sugar. (Although if you’re not on a low-glycemic diet, the original dressing recipe contains just 5 Tablespoons of granulated sugar which amounts to just a few teaspoons per person).
The weather is starting to warm up again…salad days are here again. I could eat a salad every day, and usually do in the summer. There are no outstanding favorites for me, because I like them all, from Greek to Mediterranean. (This post was originally published on May 18th, 2012 and has been updated. Don’t forget to scroll and see my video! This post contains affiliate links.)
I often hesitate ordering a Chinese Chicken Salad in a restaurant though, because they can really pack in hidden calories with the super sweet dressings! I like to know what goes in my food, whether it’s good or bad. My mom made Chinese Chicken Salad for PTA functions in the 60’s, when it was considered “exotic”. A lot of Chinese Chicken Salad recipes use the ramen seasoning package and noodles. Those packets are loaded with chemicals, MSG and who-knows-what else. This dressing recipe is just as easy, but with simple ingredients. I also use Mandarin oranges that are canned in their own juice rather than “syrup”.
This recipe is also versatile!
Swap out the Mandarin oranges for fresh tangerines or diced mango, and cashews or peanuts for the almonds. I used to add crunchy noodles, but I find that the nuts give it plenty of crunch! If I’m making this salad just for the family, I’ll add fresh chopped cilantro. If I’m making it for a big group, I omit it, since cilantro seems to have a small fan base. The good thing about using cabbage is that it holds its crunch a lot longer than lettuce, so you can make it an hour or so ahead of serving. It will even taste good the following day for lunches.
This recipe makes a lot of Chinese chicken salad!
It’s my “go-to” salad for baby and wedding showers and will make 8 luncheon portions. If you’re serving smaller portions as a side dish for a picnic or BBQ, it will serve double that.
Some of the items used in this post are available at my Amazon Affiliate Store.
Chinese Chicken Salad
- 1/4 cup rice wine vinegar
- 4 teaspoons swerve (regular sugar may be substituted)
- 2 Tablespoons sesame oil
- 2 teaspoons fresh grated ginger
- 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
- 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
- 1/3 cup avocado or light olive oil
- 4 cups cooked chicken breast either shredded, diced or chopped
- 1 bunch of green onions slice thin on the diagonal
- 2 11 ounce cans of Mandarin Oranges drained (or fresh oranges)
- 1/4 cup toasted sesame seeds
- 1 cup sliced or slivered almonds toasted
- 1 large head of cabbage shredded. About 8-10 cups. (you may use pre-packaged cabbage as well)
- Combine the first 7 ingredients, rice wine vinegar to vegetable oil, in a small sauce pan and heat over a low heat just until sugar is dissolved. Let cool and refrigerate.
- For the salad, combine all ingredients in a large bowl and toss with dressing.