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Bursting with vibrant colors and a variety of flavors, this Thai Chicken Salad is a balance of sweet, savory, and spicy notes that will tantalize your taste buds.
Here we are in a new year and as usual I’m trying to eat better. I wish we didn’t have two major holidays at the end of the year because I feel like in between Thanksgiving and Christmas all I do is bake, eat, and cook.
I think almost everyone gains weight because there are always sweets and treats around. It’s hard not to nibble on them whenever there is a festive atmosphere.
Every year when January rolls around I start trying to eat better. In years past I started doing Zumba again in January but it’s harder to do with my schedule now. I generally try going for walks and eating better.
One thing we don’t eat a lot of in the winter is salad. It’s often too cold outside and I don’t want to have a salad. I’m looking for hot comfort foods.
However, the last week we’ve hit 50 degrees several days and it’s been warm enough for us to want a salad. I made this flavorful Thai Chicken Salad with homemade Lime Ginger Dressing and it was totally delicious.
What Flavors are in Thai Cooking?
Thai cooking is known for complex and vibrant flavors, which often balance sweet, sour, salty, and spicy elements. Sweetness typically comes from some type of sugar. The sour flavor in Thai cuisine often comes from lime or vinegar. Salty flavors come from either soy sauce or fish sauce. Finally, the spicy flavor comes from a variety of chili sauces or pastes.
- boneless, skinless chicken breasts
- shredded cabbage (I prefer green but you can use red)
- lettuce (use your favorite type)
- red bell pepper (or any other color)
- lime juice (fresh squeezed is best but bottled will do)
- fish sauce
- soy sauce
- fresh ginger (don’t use powdered, fresh is best in this dressing)
- Thai sweet chili sauce
- garlic cloves
The base of the salad is made with lettuce, cabbage, and shredded carrots. This gives it a variety of textures and flavors.
What type of lettuce is best in this salad?
You can use your favorite type of lettuce. Some popular choices are romaine, iceberg, and butterhead. Other lettuce that would work would be red leaf lettuce, green lead lettuce, arugula, endive, or Frisee.
It’s actually more of a chopped salad because in addition to the lettuce, cabbage, and carrots there are other vegetables as well. Chopped red peppers, cilantro, and scallions are also tossed in with the lettuce.
On top of the salad we put grilled chicken. While you can put a rub on the chicken I have found that just a little salt, pepper, and garlic powder work well in this recipe.
Can I use a different Protein on the salad?
Pork or beef can be used in place of the chicken if you are looking for another meat option. If you want your salad to be vegetarian then firm tofu can be used in place of the chicken.
Once the chicken is placed on top it’s time to add the crunch to the salad. I used crunchy Chinese noodles and salty cashews on top. This adds a salty flavor and the crunchy texture.
Finally it’s time to make the dressing. I think that the dressing is the real star of this salad. It has equal parts sweet, salty, and tangy which make for the perfect Thai dressing.
How do I store the dressing?
I like to make and keep my dressing in a small Mason jar. That way I can shake the jar to mix up the dressing without having to worry about it leaking. Then I can store it in the mason jar in the refrigerator for up to two weeks. You can also use a small air tight container to keep the dressing in.
The sweetness in the dressing comes from the honey. The saltiness comes from the fish sauce and the soy sauce. Then the sour flavor comes from the lime juice.
I think a splash of Sriracha or other hot sauce would be good in it as well but I left that out for now because I wanted our son to eat some of the chicken. Overall this was a tasty and healthy entree salad that didn’t really need a side dish in order to fill us up.
More Thai Recipes:
- Thai Meatball Lettuce Wraps
- Thai Beef with Vegetable Ribbons
- Thai Iced Tea
- Grilled Thai Beef Tacos
- Thai Tea No Churn Ice Cream
- Thai Chicken over Rice
This salad was delicious. My husband and I ate every bit of it, even the salad. It had the perfect combination of flavors and crunch. It’s one of those salads we could have again and again.
For the chicken:
- 1 lb. chicken breasts
- 1 Tablespoon olive oil
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- salt and pepper
For the salad:
- 4 c. shredded cabbage
- 4 c. lettuce, chopped
- 1 red pepper, diced
- 3 carrots, grated
- 2 scallions, chopped
- 1/4 c. cilantro, chopped
- 1/2 c. cashews, chopped
- 1/2 c. crunchy Chinese noodles
For the dressing:
- 4 Tablespoons lime juice
- 2 Tablespoons fish sauce
- 2 Tablespoons soy sauce
- 1 Tablespoons ginger, grated
- 1 teaspoon Thai sweet chili sauce
- 1-2 Tablespoons honey
- 3 Tablespoons olive oil
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- Put the olive oil in a skillet over medium heat.
- Sprinkle the chicken with garlic, salt, and pepper. Place in the pan.
- Saute for 5-7 minutes per side or until a thermometer reads 170 degrees. Remove from pan and slice into strips.
- Combine all ingredients for the salad and divide between 4 plates.
- Top the salad with the chicken.
- Place all ingredients for the dressing in a mason jar. Screw on the top and shake for 30 seconds. Pour over salads.
- Top with crunchy noodles.
Recipe adapted from Wendy Polisi