Crunchy Chinese Chicken Salad

The “cold and crunchy” summer food cravings continue for me. So, this week I reached into my vault (text files that I created 15 years ago when I first moved out on own) and pulled out a seven layer Chinese Chicken Salad recipe that my mom used to make. It’s one of those really easy but delicious recipes that shows up at potlucks and has probably been passed between thousands of moms and wives on handwritten recipes cards over the decades. It’s easy, delicious, and reliable!

Overhead view of a bowl full of Crunchy Chinese Chicken Salad

I switched up the ingredients of the classic seven layer Chinese chicken salad to fit my tastes and what I had on hand. Although this Chinese chicken salad no longer has seven layers, it’s still super tasty, requires no cooking (if using a rotisserie chicken), and gives me all the “cold and crunchy” that my little heart desires.

What is Napa Cabbage?

Lets also talk Napa cabbage for a minute before we start. I love this stuff. The leaves are thinner and more delicate than regular green cabbage, but still more sturdy than traditional salad greens. The flavor is light and fresh, with a more muted cabbage-y flavor. While you can use regular green cabbage for this Crunchy Chinese Chicken Salad, I highly suggest using Napa cabbage because the texture is just perfect.

What Else Can I Add?

If you happen to have a random can of mandarine oranges in your pantry, they would be awesome in this salad. Peanuts are also awesome with this salad, if you don’t have almonds on hand.

Side view of a bowl of Crunchy Chinese Chicken Salad, chopsticks on the side

 
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4.96 from 21 votes

Chinese Chicken Salad with Sesame Ginger Dressing

A super crunchy Chinese chicken salad with an easy homemade sesame ginger dressing. Light, crunchy, and perfect for summer! 
Total Cost: $9.62 recipe / $1.20 serving
Author: Beth - Budget Bytes
Prep Time: 20 mins
Total Time: 20 mins
Servings: 8 cups

Ingredients

DRESSING

  • 1/4 cup cooking oil ($0.17)
  • 3 Tbsp rice vinegar ($0.33)
  • 1 Tbsp honey ($0.15)
  • 1 tsp soy sauce ($0.10)
  • 1/2 tsp ground ginger (dried) ($0.05)
  • 1/8 tsp garlic powder ($0.02)
  • 1/2 tsp toasted sesame oil ($0.29)
  • Freshly cracked pepper ($0.05)

SALAD

  • 1 head Napa cabbage (about 2 lbs.) ($2.86)
  • 2 carrots ($0.24)
  • 4 green onions ($0.38)
  • 1/4 cup sliced almonds ($0.66)
  • 1 3oz. package uncooked ramen noodles, seasoning discarded ($0.29)
  • 1/2 rotisserie chicken (about 2 cups chopped) ($3.50)

Instructions

  • Prepare the dressing first by combining the oil, vinegar, honey, soy sauce, ginger, garlic powder, sesame oil, and pepper in a jar or bowl. Shake the jar or whisk the ingredients in a bowl until combined. The dressing will separate a bit as it sits, but will be stirred again prior to adding to the salad.
  • Rinse the cabbage well and shake off as much excess moisture as possible. Slice the cabbage into thin strips and add it to a bowl (about 8 cups of shredded cabbage). Peel the carrots and then shred them using a large holed cheese grater. Slice the green onions. Add the carrots, green onions, and almonds to the bowl.
  • Before opening the package of ramen, crush the noodles using the heel of your hand. Open the package, discard the seasoning envelope, and add the crushed noodles to the bowl.
  • Pull the meat from half of a rotisserie chicken, then chop it into small pieces (or use two cups of pre-cooked chopped chicken). Add the chicken to the bowl. Give the dressing a brief stir, then pour it over the salad ingredients in the bowl. Stir until everything is evenly coated in dressing, then serve.

Notes

This recipe is priced per cup. It yields about 8 cups; 8 side dish servings of 1 cup each, or four larger 2 cup sized main dish servings.
See how we calculate recipe costs here.
Tried this recipe?Mention @budgetbytes or tag #budgetbytes on Instagram!

Nutrition

Serving: 1ServingCalories: 191.89kcalCarbohydrates: 11.7gProtein: 11.59gFat: 11.93gSodium: 209.88mgFiber: 3.85g
Nutritional values are estimates only. See our full nutrition disclosure here.

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How to Make Chinese Chicken Salad – Step by Step Photos

Quick Sesame Dressing in a jar with a bottle of sesame oil on the side

Begin with the dressing so the flavors have a little time to mingle while you chop up the rest of the ingredients. In a jar or bowl combine 1/4 cup Canola (or other light salad oil), 3 Tbsp rice vinegar, 1 Tbsp honey, 1 tsp soy sauce, 1/2 tsp toasted sesame oil, 1/2 tsp ground ginger, 1/8 tsp garlic powder, and some freshly cracked pepper. Whisk or shake the jar until the ingredients are combined.

I included a photo of the sesame oil for reference. Even though this bottle doesn’t say “toasted” you can tell that it’s toasted by the deep coffee color. Untoasted sesame oil is light in color, like vegetable oil, and does not have the rich, nutty flavor of toasted sesame oil. Toasted sesame oil is also usually sold in very small bottles (but you only need a touch to add BIG flavor). 

Head of Napa cabbage being thinly sliced

Wash one head (about 2 lbs.) of Napa cabbage well. Shake off as much moisture as possible. Dressing doesn’t stick well to wet leaves, it just slides off. Cut the cabbage into very thin strips. I like to make a couple cuts lengthwise (leaving it attached at the base) before cutting crosswise into strips. The long cuts keep the thin strips to a shorter length. Place the sliced cabbage into a large bowl.

Carrots being shredded on a cheese grater

Peel two carrots then shred them using a large holed cheese grater. Slice four green onions. Add the carrots and green onions to the bowl with the cabbage.

Salad Ingredients in a bowl

Crush a package of ramen noodles with the heel of your hand, then open it and discard the seasoning packet. Add the crushed noodles and 1/4 cup sliced almonds (or chopped peanuts) to the bowl.

Rotisserie chicken with meat pulled off

Pull the meat off of half a rotisserie chicken (I saved the other half for a different recipe). Chop the chicken into small pieces. Add the chopped chicken to the bowl.

Sesame dressing being poured over salad ingredients

Stir the dressing again and then add it to the salad.

Mixed Crunchy Chinese Chicken Salad in the bowl

Stir everything REALLY well until the dressing is evenly distributed. Then EAT. Mmmm.

Overhead view of a bowl full of Crunchy Chinese Chicken Salad with chopsticks on the side

This is the type of salad that I can totally FILL UP on.