This Chinese Chicken Salad takes the lighter road than the heavier versions I always see at those popular food chains that everyone loves. It’s made with crunchy romaine, wontons, and an almond crunch, and is topped with protein-packed chicken breast, pasta noodles, and a flavor-flav sesame dressing.
Healthier Chinese Chicken Salad
Lighter fare that totally satisfies is what I’m craving now. And as summer’s flowy skirts and loose-fitting shift dresses morph into fall’s jeans and thigh hugging pants, it seems lighter food is part of my weekly anthem.
And that’s where my all-time favorite—and healthier—Chinese chicken salad comes in.
I 100% crave this Chinese salad, and lately, it’s been on my lunch train repeat. With meal prepped cooked chicken breast and pasta noodles (if I want) in the fridge, and a bunch of chopped romaine at the ready, all I have to do is toss it all in a bowl and I’m ready to eat.
I based this salad on two of my Los Angeles quick eats faves: Feast from the East where they use it to dress crunchy romaine topped with their lightly fried and highly addictive wonton strips, but I added rotini pasta noodles ala the Chinese chicken salad from California Chicken Cafe. Since I don’t live in the same states as the restaurants where I used to pick them up for lunch anymore, I’ve created a tasty homage to two of my favorite Chinese chicken salad spots, and man, they are on point.
Good thing I had these food memories embedded in my taste buds so I could replicate.
What’s in Chinese Chicken Salad?
I know this may not sound like 100% healthy-for-you food (fried wontons?), but moderation is my favorite friend.
So, as long as you watch your portion size, the amount of dressing you use, and the number of crunchy wontons and pasta you top it with, you’ll still be in the zone and your cravings will be 100% satisfied yet still healthified.
Because the ingredients have true staying power, this Chinese salad is so easy to meal prep for the week and have everything ready to go. Here’s what you’ll need to make the Chinese chicken salad itself:
- romaine lettuce
- chicken breast
- green onions
- rotini pasta (use whole wheat or gluten-free if you prefer)
- sliced almonds
- fried wontons (you can leave these off, but they’re so good that moderation is my favorite ingredient too 🙂
What’s in the Sesame Dressing?
The sesame dressing is the key to the flavor for this salad. It’s incredibly easy to make and takes just a few minutes to shake into shape.
Simply add the following ingredients to a small jar with a lid and shake. Or, of course you can whisk away if you’d like.
- grapeseed oil — it has a milder flavor than olive oil. You can use canola oil if you’d like too
- seasoned rice vinegar — get the seasoned version, not the unseasoned
- sesame oil
- light soy sauce
- sesame seeds
- fresh ground pepper and kosher salt
How to Make Chinese Chicken Salad
Fry the wonton strips in batches until crisp, then place on a paper towel-lined plate to soak up any excess oil. Toss together the chopped romaine, chicken breast, green onion, almonds, and pasta.
Pour the Chinese chicken salad dressing over the lettuce mixture, then sprinkle with fried wonton strips and sesame seeds before serving.
Can I Use Another Type of Pasta?
Of course! Any short, sturdy pasta will work. Avoid thin pastas like spaghetti as they won’t work well in this recipe.
Can I Meal Prep Chinese Chicken Salad?
I recommend waiting to assemble the Chinese chicken salad until you’re ready to eat it. However, you can meal prep the individual ingredients (i.e. whisk together the dressing and store in a jar, cook the chicken and pasta, and so forth).
Tips for Making Chinese Chicken Salad
I’m a fan of meal prepping a few chicken breasts for the week to have them on hand for quick lunches and easy dinners, and this recipe is exactly one reason why.
A grocery store rotisserie chicken will always save a few extra minutes in the kitchen. I used just one chicken breast for these salads and saved the rest for the lunch leftovers.
The spiraled rotini pasta that tops the crunchy romaine plus the spunky green onion are probably my favorite additions to this salad. While you could skip the rotini pasta, I don’t.
More Asian-Inspired Salads We Love
If you make this recipe, please let me know! Leave a star rating on this recipe below and leave a comment, take a photo and tag me on Instagram with #foodiecrusheats.
Chinese Chicken Salad with Sesame Dressing
Simple and refreshing, this copy cat recipe is based on my favorite salads from Santa Monica’s Feast from the East and California Chicken Cafe.
For the Salad:
, sliced into 1/4″ strips
canola or corn oil
, for frying
chopped romaine lettuce
cooked chicken breast
, toasted lightly
cooked fusilli pasta noodles
For the Dressing:
(or canola oil)
seasoned rice vinegar
(add more to taste if you prefer a strong sesame taste)
light soy sauce
fresh ground pepper
Heat canola or corn oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. When oil starts to shimmer, fry the wonton skins in batches of 5-7 strips for 30 seconds each side or until lightly browned, working quickly so they don’t burn. Remove from the oil and drain on paper towels until cooled.
In a large bowl, combine lettuce, chicken breast, green onion, almonds, and pasta.
Add the dressing ingredients to a jar with a tight fitting lid and shake until until well mixed or whisk in a small bowl until the sugar dissolves.
Dress the lettuce mixture with 2-3 tablespoons of sesame dressing and top with more sesame seeds, wonton strips, and serve.
Chinese Chicken Salad with Sesame Dressing
Amount Per Serving (2 g)
Calories from Fat 387
% Daily Value*
Saturated Fat 5g31%
Vitamin A 8307IU166%
Vitamin C 6mg7%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.
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