Frugal Foodie Friday: Light & Cheap Chinese Chicken Salad


Do you find your tastes migrating as the summer heat dwindles? I mean, I know I will be craving hearty soups and pumpkin goodies very soon, but even my salad desires are slowly drifting. Since we will be moving to a much cooler climate, I am sure that some warm salads will be on the horizon, but right now I guess my tastes are simply transitioning from “bright and fresh” to “comforting.” It is still 90+ degrees out, so by comforting I mean dishes like a quick quiche and this Chinese Chicken Salad.

Light Chinese Chicken Salad

This is one of those simple and flavorful dishes that I have always loved, but for some reason, until now, had never, ever made at home. So delicious! As an added bonus, unlike restaurant versions of this popular salad, this one is quite low in fat, and very inexpensive to make! I didn’t have any of those crunch chow main noodles, and I used romaine instead of Napa, but trust me, it is all about the taste … and you can use whatever add-ins you like to make it more “authentic”.

Light Chinese Chicken Salad

Special Diet Notes: Chinese Chicken Salad

By ingredients, this recipe is dairy-free / non-dairy, egg-free, and peanut-free.

For vegetarian / vegan: Use mock chicken or extra firm tofu.

For nut-free: Substitute toasted sesame seeds or crispy chow mein noodles for the almonds.

For gluten-free: Use wheat-free tamari.

Frugal Foodie Friday: Light & Cheap Chinese Chicken Salad
Serves: 4
  • 1 lb boneless skinless chicken breasts
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce or wheat-free tamari
  • 1 teaspoon sesame oil
  • 1 large garlic clove, crushed or minced
  • ⅓ cup rice vinegar (unseasoned)
  • 3 tablespoons soy sauce or wheat-free tamari
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar or sweetener of choice (agave, honey, or maple syrup will also work nicely)
  • 1½ teaspoons sriracha or chili-garlic Sauce
  • 1 teaspoon minced fresh ginger
  • 2 tablespoons peanut, olive, or grapeseed oil
  • 1 teaspoon sesame oil
  • 8 to 10 cups greens (In the salad pictured, I used 2 small romaine hearts and 3 cups of bagged coleslaw mix. Napa cabbage, purple cabbage, etc. would also work well)
  • 1 large carrot, shredded
  • 2 green onions, thinly sliced
  • 1 red bell pepper, thinly sliced
  • ¼ cup sliced almonds
  • Optional: thinly sliced cucumber, water chestnuts, mandarin orange, crispy chow mein noodles
  1. If the chicken breasts are thick, butterfly them. Place the chicken in a single layer in a glass baking dish. Combine the soy sauce, sesame oil, and garlic, and drizzle over the chicken. If you have time, allow the chicken to marinade for at least 30 minutes or overnight. If not, pop them in the oven as soon as it preheats.
  2. Preheat your oven to 350º. Bake the chicken for 25 to 30 minutes, or until it is cooked through. The juices should run clear, but be careful not to overcook the breasts, as they can easily dry out. Once done, slice the chicken into bite-sized pieces.
  3. In a small bowl, combine all dressing ingredients. (I usually combine everything but the oil, and then drizzle the oil in while whisking out of habit. It seems to work well).
  4. Combine all of the salad ingredients, except for the almonds, in a large bowl. Add the chicken, drizzle with the salad dressing, and toss to coat. Divvy up the salad amongst four plates, and sprinkle each serving with 1 tablespoon of the almonds.

About Author

Alisa is the founder of, Food Editor for Allergic Living magazine, and author of the best-selling dairy-free book, Go Dairy Free: The Guide and Cookbook for Milk Allergies, Lactose Intolerance, and Casein-Free Living, and the new cookbook, Eat Dairy Free: Your Essential Cookbook for Everyday Meals, Snacks, and Sweets. Alisa is also a professional recipe creator and product ambassador for the natural food industry.

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