I really, really like Chinese chicken salad, but almost every time I order it at a restaurant or eat it at a potluck, the salad is too oily. It almost feels greasy on my lips, which is super gross.
So when my neighbor brought this crunchy Chinese Chicken Cabbage Salad to my house for a Bunco night with the ladies, I fell in love, begged for the recipe, and it has been a favorite of mine ever since.
This crunchy Chinese chicken salad recipe is super easy, amazingly delicious, and packed with flavor — and it is almost always one of my first choices for potlucks, parties, and barbecues.
It’s also perfect for a light lunch or dinner at home! Note the recipe makes way too much for Brian and I to eat for one meal, so the key for us, is to keep the salad base, the chicken, the crunchy mix-ins, and the Chinese chicken salad dressing separate, only mixing them together in our bowls. This way we can store leftovers in containers in the refrigerator and have it the next day, instead of throwing out the leftover salad — hooray for less food waste!
Making the salad base is fast and easy: it’s just one head of cabbage and one bunch of green onions chopped and tossed together.
The chicken is cut into small pieces, tossed in olive oil and a splash of sesame oil, then cooked over the stove on medium heat, with salt and pepper added for taste. (We tend to bulk barbecue a large package of chicken at the beginning of the week to use in lots of meals, so often I’ll just chop up some of that chicken and quickly toss it in a tad of sesame oil and then heat it up over the stove.)
The Chinese Chicken Salad Dressing is simply made with olive oil, red wine vinegar, soy sauce, and sugar — and it is amazing. I use the same dressing recipe sometimes on Brussels sprouts or carrots before I roast them in the oven.
The salad mix-ins are where this Chinese Chicken Salad really shines. Made with toasted Top Ramen noodles, slivered almonds, and sesame seeds, it is the perfect blend of crunchy and salty to balance out the sweet salad dressing.
Did you catch that the Top Ramen noodles are toasted? Most people don’t toast the ramen noodles. Some deep fry the ramen noodles. I brown them on the stove, making them extra crunchy! Just be sure to watch them constantly so they don’t burn.
The key to making the delicious, nutty, crunchy, toasted Top Ramen noodles for this Chinese Chicken salad recipe is the little flavor packet included in the Top Ramen packages. Save the flavor packet!
First put two packages of chicken flavor Top Ramen noodles into a saute pan, breaking it up into small pieces and add 1/4 cup slivered almonds. Then drizzle the noodle and nut mixture with a little olive oil and a little sesame oil, sprinkle the seasoning from the flavor packets into the pan, and toss to coat the nuts and noodles.
Cook the mixture over medium heat, stirring constantly and letting the ramen noodles reach a light, toasted brown color. Sprinkle sesame seeds over the mixture, and continue cooking. When the ramen noodle mixture reaches a deep golden brown color, spread it out on paper towels to dry and col down.
The nutty, toasted Top Ramen noodle and almond mixture is seriously the best part of this Chinese Chicken Salad recipe. It takes all of the willpower I have to not eat it while it is cooling on the counter, or to sneak the leftovers as a snack — I have totally had to make a whole new batch of the crunchy salad topping for night two because I snacked on it too much during the day!
I hope you’ll try this recipe and let me know what you think!
Crunchy Chinese Chicken Salad
With a cabbage and green onion base and a crunchy, salty ramen noodle topping, this Chinese Chicken Salad recipe is a light and delicious summer treat.
- 1 head napa cabbage, chopped
- 1 bunch green onions
- 1-2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
- 1 bag sliced almonds
- Sesame seeds
- 2 packages Chicken Flavor Top Ramen
- 1/4 cup of butter
- 1 tsp sesame oil
- 1 tblsp olive oil
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 1/2 cup red wine vinegar
- 1 cup extra light olive oil
- 2 tsp soy sauce
- Sauté on low heat: butter, sesame oil, olive oil, crushed Top Ramen, and almonds until light brown. Add sesame seeds and sauté another 1-2 minutes. Let completely cool.
- Tenderize and cube chicken breasts. Sauté in olive oil and a splash of sesame oil. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
- Combine sugar, red wine vinegar, extra light olive oil, and soy sauce and mix well to make the dressing.
- Chop the cabbage and green onions, add ramen noodle mixture and the dressing and toss to combine. Serve immediately.
While this Chinese Chicken Salad recipe makes a great main course, consider excluding the chicken to make this salad a light and delicious side dish!
Serving only two? Keep the cabbage and onions, the chicken, the ramen noodle mixture, and the dressing separate, serving the salad in build your own style. By keeping the ingredients separate, you can save the leftovers and make fresh salads for another meal!