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 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!
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.
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.
- 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.
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.
variations and faqs
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.
Yes, but you’ll lose a lot of that great crunch. I would recommend a sturdy lettuce like romaine.
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.
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 would use basil. If you can find Thai basil, all the better!
I think shrimp or thin slices of steak would be wonderful.
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.
more Thai inspired recipes
- Spicy Thai Spaghetti Salad
- Thai Chicken Satay Bowls with Peanut Sauce
- 6 Easy Thai Recipes You Can Make at Home
- Thai Coconut Soup (tom kha)
- Steak Pad Thai Salad
- Thai Beef Salad
Thai Chicken Salad
- 1/4 cup creamy peanut butter
- 2 Tbsp vegetable oil, or other mild-tasting 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 shredded Savoy cabbage, loosely packed. *See Notes
- 2 cups shredded red cabbage , loosely packed *See Notes
- 2 small carrots, peeled and shredded
- 1/2 lb shredded chicken
- 1 bell pepper, cut in thin strips. *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.
- Prep your ingredients. You can shred the vegetables the morning ahead, and keep wrapped in plastic in the refrigerator, if you like.
- 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.
- Toss the salad with enough dressing to moisten well, but you may not need all of it.
- Serve the salad garnished with peanuts and sesame seeds. Serve any extra dressing on the side.
Questions and Reviews
Made this a couple days ago and loved it. I flattened chicken breasts, skillet sautéed them, then shredded. Worked well, that’s what I had.
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?
Yes, for sure, you can use your creamy no salt style pb. It’s whatever you like.
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!
Thanks Sarah 🙂
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!
Looks amazing.Making your basil lemon pasta salad as I type..that mayo!!!!??????????