Thai Chicken Salad

Thai chicken salad with jar of dressing

Thai chicken salad is the runaway hit of summer, inspired by our favorite Thai flavors. With juicy chicken, so many crunchy veggies, and that peanut dressing we all live for, this is a must make!

Thai inspired chicken salad

Thai chicken salad for dinner

It’s going to be a good night because Thai flavors are famously refreshing. In fact this chicken salad is just about the best meal ever when you want to beat the heat, eat outdoors, or just bask in everything great about summer. This slaw style chicken salad is fresh, cool, colorful, and crunchy!

tossing Thai chicken salad

ingredients for Thai inspired chicken salad

  • chicken ~ I baked some boneless skinless chicken thighs, but you could use breasts, or tenders. Use rotisserie chicken for a shortcut. I use a lot or a little depending on how hearty you want your salad to be. This can easily stand in for dinner when you load it up.
  • cabbage ~ I love a combination of Savoy (the one with the ruffly, textured leaves) and red cabbage for crunch and color.
  • carrots ~ peeled and shredded. I like to do it in a food processor with the shredding disk because the shreds come out bigger and crunchier than they do with a box grater.
  • bell peppers ~ the more colors the merrier, but the red and yellow are the sweetest 🙂
  • cucumber ~ thin skinned English, pickling or Persian cukes are best. They have smaller, more tender seeds and you don’t need to peel them.
  • snap peas ~ love their crunch, and I like to slice the pods open for a peek at the peas.
  • green onions ~ every salad needs a little bit of that bite that only onions can provide. Use red onions if you prefer.
  • cilantro ~ essential for Thai salad, but if you absolutely hate it, use basil.
  • peanuts ~ some would argue that these are the best part, so don’t skimp!

Thai peanut dressing

This stuff is liquid gold, and the concept is so simple. The flavors can get as spicy and complex or as mild and kid-friendly as you like. The basics are:

  • creamy peanut butter
  • mild vegetable oil
  • rice vinegar
  • toasted sesame oil
  • chili paste
  • garlic and ginger

Fresh lime juice and fish sauce are also great in this dressing, but I didn’t happen to have them in stock at the time. Add them to taste if you like.

snap peas in a bowl

best way to shred cabbage for slaws and salads

  • Remove loose outer leaves and slice the cabbage in half, through the core. Remove the cores.
head of red cabbage, sliced
  • Set the halves face down on a cutting surface. Slice in half again to make quarters, and then slice as thinly as you can with a sharp knife. You can also use a mandoline slicer set to 1/8 inch.
slicing red cabbage

what to serve with Thai chicken salad

I think this salad is a meal in itself, whether for lunch, or dinner. But if you feel the need to add something, I think small bowls of Thai coconut soup (tom kha) would be nice.

pouring peanut dressing on a Thai chicken salad

variations and faqs

I’m allergic to peanuts, what can I substitute?

You can leave it out, or try sunbutter. which is made from sunflower seeds. If you can tolerate other nuts you can use cashews or almonds.

Can I use lettuce instead of cabbage?

Yes, but you’ll lose a lot of that great crunch. I would recommend a sturdy lettuce like romaine.

Is this dressing spicy?

It’s a little bit spicy because of the chili paste, but not overly so. You can leave the chili paste out if you like, or add more for a bigger kick.

What else can I add to this salad?

Other ingredient options might include shredded unripe papaya, cashews, shredded broccoli, beansprouts, mint, or lime juice. You can also add noodles, soft or crunchy.

I can’t stand cilantro, what can I substitute?

I would use basil. If you can find Thai basil, all the better!

What can I use instead of chicken?

I think shrimp or thin slices of steak would be wonderful.

Can I make this salad ahead?

You can make the salad up to several hours ahead, but any more than that and it will start to lose its famously fresh crunch. You can get a head start by shredding the veggies the day before (store in baggies in the fridge) and then assemble and dress the salad shortly before serving.

eating Thai chicken salad

more Thai inspired recipes

tossing Thai chicken salad
5 from 6 votes

Thai Chicken Salad

Thai chicken salad with juicy shredded chicken, healthy crunchy veggies, and that peanut dressing we all live for, it's a must make!
Course Salad
Cuisine Asian/American
Prep Time 20 minutes
Total Time 20 minutes
Yield 8 servings
Calories 205kcal
Author Sue Moran


peanut dressing

  • 1/4 cup creamy peanut butter
  • 2 Tbsp mild vegetable oil
  • 1/4 cup rice wine vinegar
  • 1-2 cloves garlic
  • 1 Tbsp toasted sesame oil
  • 1-2 tsp chili paste
  • 1 1/2 tsp minced ginger, or ginger paste


  • 3 cups loosely packed shredded Savoy cabbage (shred on 1/8 inch setting of mandoline, or with a very sharp knife)
  • 2 cups loosely packed shredded red cabbage (shred on 1/8 inch setting of mandoline, or with a very sharp knife)
  • 2 carrots peeled and shredded
  • 1/2 lb shredded chicken
  • 1 bell pepper, cut in thin strips Note: I used 1/2 yellow and 1/2 red for lots of color
  • 1 cup chopped or sliced cucumber
  • 1 cup snap peas, sliced on an angle
  • 6 small green onions, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 cup fresh cilantro leaves, rough chopped


  • roasted salted peanuts
  • sesame seeds


  • Blend the dressing ingredients with an immersion blender or in a small food processor. Taste to adjust any of the ingredients. If you find the dressing too thick, you can thin it with a little more vegetable oil and vinegar.
    Thai peanut dressing
  • Prep your ingredients. You can shred the vegetables the morning ahead, and keep wrapped in plastic in the refrigerator, if you like.
    prepped salad ingredients
  • Arrange or toss the salad ingredients into a salad bowl. I like to use a wide shallow bowl to show off all the colors and textures.
    Thai chicken salad ingredients in a bowl
  • Toss the salad with enough dressing to moisten well, but you may not need all of it.
    tossing Thai chicken salad
  • Serve the salad garnished with peanuts and sesame seeds. Serve any extra dressing on the side.
    Thai chicken salad with jar of dressing


Calories: 205kcal | Carbohydrates: 10g | Protein: 12g | Fat: 14g | Saturated Fat: 2g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 4g | Monounsaturated Fat: 7g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 21mg | Sodium: 106mg | Potassium: 428mg | Fiber: 4g | Sugar: 5g | Vitamin A: 3839IU | Vitamin C: 51mg | Calcium: 53mg | Iron: 1mg
The nutritional information for recipes on this site is provided as a courtesy and although tries to provide accurate nutritional information, these figures are only estimates.
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  • Reply
    June 20, 2022 at 7:44 am

    What type of peanut butter is best. I only buy a brand with no salt or sugar that is creamy. Is that OK maybe with the addition of more salt in the dressing? or do you think a sugar added peanut butter is better?

    • Reply
      Sue Moran
      June 20, 2022 at 8:46 am

      Yes, for sure, you can use your creamy no salt style pb. It’s whatever you like.

  • Reply
    July 10, 2021 at 6:50 am

    5 stars
    This was fantastic. I added 1 tablespoon of fish sauce and the juice of one lime to the peanut dressing, also subbed one thai red bird’s eye chili for the chili paste. I just used very thinly shredded red cabbage as the base. I shredded chicken breasts I had poached the day before and moistened them with a bit of reserved dressing. Wowza, so yummy!

  • Reply
    July 7, 2021 at 4:23 pm

    5 stars
    This was sooo delicious! I made it for dinner last night starting with a bag of broccoli slaw, added some rotisserie chicken and more veggies, and it was ready in a flash! My husband can’t eat chilis so I made it without, then drizzled some rooster sauce over mine, was so good!

  • Reply
    July 2, 2021 at 10:24 am

    Looks amazing.Making your basil lemon pasta salad as I type..that mayo!!!!??????????

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