Retro Chinese Chicken Salad
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Best Chinese Chicken Salad – This classic fusion recipe combines shredded chicken, crunchy veggies, a tangy ginger dressing, and crispy wonton strips to make everyone’s favorite refreshing and hearty Asian chicken salad.
Why We Love This Recipe
I have always been a big fan of classic fusion dishes – those terrifically creative recipes that combine flavors from two (or more) different countries to create one unique yet familiar food. Think Szechuan beef burgers, Mexican caprese salad, apple pie cream cheese wontons, and buffalo ahi tuna tacos… They are all crazy-good enough to work!
This vintage Chinese Chicken Salad recipe is a favorite Chinese-American wonder for potlucks, easy lunches, and make-ahead meals. It combines tons of fresh shredded vegetables with pre-cooked shredded chicken and crunchy Chinese noodles or wonton strips, tossed in an easy homemade ginger dressing.
The recipe is perfection on its own, but feel free to mix things up with optional ingredients! (Check out our list of suggestions below.)
Because we use cooked chicken, the whole salad only takes about 15 minutes to put together! You can even prep it a day ahead (but hold off on the dressing) for a super quick and easy salad.
Ingredients You Need
For the Salad –
- Shredded cooked chicken – leftovers or rotisserie chicken breast or thighs
- Nappa cabbage – shredded, or romaine lettuce
- Red cabbage – shredded
- Carrots – shredded
- Sugar snap peas – chopped, or snow peas
- Scallions – chopped green onions
- Chinese chow mein noodles – or wonton strips for crunch
For the Chinese Chicken Salad Dressing –
- Rice vinegar – or apple cider vinegar
- Sesame oil – smooth, lightly nutty taste
- Vegetable oil – canola or sunflower
- Honey – or agave
- Garlic paste – or minced garlic
- Ginger paste – or minced ginger
- Salt and pepper – to taste
How to Make Chinese Chicken Salad
First, shred the pre-cooked chicken into bite-size pieces. Then shred and chop all the fresh produce.
Set out a large bowl. Add Napa cabbage, red cabbage, carrots, snap peas, and scallions.
Add the cooked chopped chicken to the bowl.
Make the ginger dressing recipe: Set out a small bowl, or measuring pitcher, for the dressing. Combine the rice vinegar, sesame oil, vegetable oil, honey, garlic paste, ginger paste, ½ teaspoon of salt, and ½ teaspoon of cracked black pepper. Whisk well until smooth.
Pro Tip: If making ahead, cover the salad and the dressing in separate containers, and refrigerate until ready to use.
Right before serving, pour the ginger dressing over the salad.
Toss well to coat. Then sprinkle on the Chinese crunchy noodles.
Get the Complete (Printable) Retro Chinese Chicken Salad Recipe Below. Enjoy!
Toss again and serve.
Optional Salad Add-Ins
- Mandarin orange segments – canned and drained
- Almonds – toasted slices
- Cashews – raw and whole or chopped
- Edamame – shelled, lightly cooked, and cooled
- Sesame seeds – a nice bit of light texture
- Fresh cilantro or mint – chopped
- Bell peppers – your choice of color, seeded and sliced
Load a generous portion of the salad into tortillas, rice pancakes, or butter lettuce for satisfying lunch or dinner wraps.
The recipe is fabulous to make for dinner and meal prep for the next day’s lunch!
Frequently Asked Questions
It is believed this retro dish was developed in America in the mid-1900s at a popular Chinese restaurant, Madam Wu’s, in California. From there it was featured in numerous magazines, and soon became a staple at many chain restaurants across the country.
Traditional wonton wrappers are made with flour, and therefore have gluten in them. However, you can use Chinese rice noodles or your preferred GF wonton strips for a gluten-free salad.
Yes, this recipe for Chinese chicken salad with ginger dressing is very healthy! It’s loaded with protein from the chicken, plus all kinds of fresh veggie goodness and a simple light vinaigrette. Overall the dish is low calorie and low carb; feel free to leave off the crunchy wontons for an even healthier salad.
All of the chopping and prep work can be done ahead of time. You can combine the salad ingredients like chicken and veggies and keep them in the fridge for up to 4 days. But it’s best to hold off adding the dressing and wontons until ready to serve.
After the full salad has been made it will keep well in the fridge for a day or so. Longer than that and the wontons and fresh veggies will lose their crispness.
Looking for More Easy Salad Recipes? Be Sure to Also Try:
- Thai Quinoa Salad
- Kachumber Salad (Indian Salad)
- Crunchy Asian Slaw with Peanut Dressing
- Som Tum (Green Papaya Salad)
- Japanese Ginger Salad Dressing
Retro Chinese Chicken Salad
For the Chinese Chicken Salad –
- 3 cups shredded cooked chicken from leftovers or rotisserie chicken
- 5 cups shredded napa cabbage
- 1 cup shredded red cabbage
- 1 cup shredded carrots
- 1 cup chopped sugar snap peas
- 1 cup chopped scallions
- 1 cup Chinese crunchy noodles or wonton strips
- Shred pre-cooked chicken into bite-size pieces. Then shred and chop all the fresh produce.
- Set out a large salad bowl. Combine the shredded chicken, Napa cabbage, red cabbage, carrots, snap peas, and scallions.
- Set out a small bowl, or measuring pitcher, for the dressing. Combine the rice vinegar, sesame oil, vegetable oil, honey, garlic paste, ginger paste, ½ teaspoon of salt, and ½ teaspoon of cracked black pepper. Whisk well until smooth.
- If making ahead, cover the salad, and the dressing, and refrigerate until ready to use.
- Right before serving, pour the ginger dressing over the salad. Toss well to coat. Then sprinkle on the Chinese crunchy noodles. Toss and serve.
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