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. I switched up the ingredients to meet my tastes and what was in my fridge, and added just a little more pizzaz to the dressing. Although it no longer has seven layers, This Crunchy Chinese Chicken Salad is still super tasty, required no cooking (if using a rotisserie chicken), and gave me all the “cold and crunchy” that my little heart desired.

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. I have shied away from it in the past thinking that it would be expensive because the heads are usually pretty large. Large vegetables that are priced by the pound usually equals big bucks. BUT, to my delight, the cabbage’s thin leaves are packed less tightly than regular cabbage which meant it was not nearly as heavy as expected (read: affordable!). I’ll be using Napa cabbage more often. I highly suggest using Napa for this Crunchy Chinese Chicken Salad because the texture is just perfect.

If you happen to have a random can of mandarine oranges in your pantry, they would be awesome in this salad. What, am I the only one who has cans of random stuff hiding in the back of the pantry?

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4.96 from 21 votes

Crunchy Chinese Chicken Salad

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



  • 1/4 cup Canola or vegetable 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)


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


  • 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.


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.

Nutritional values are estimates only. See our full nutrition disclosure here.
Tried this recipe?Mention @budgetbytes or tag #budgetbytes on Instagram!

Crunchy Chinese Chicken Salad

Crunchy Chinese Chicken Salad -



Step by Step Photos

Quick Sesame Dressing

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). 

Chop Napa Cabbage

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.

Shred Carrots

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 Vegetables

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.

Pull Chicken

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.

Add Sesame Dressing

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

Stir Crunchy Chinese Chicken Salad

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

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