Healthy Chinese Chicken Salad for (Almost) Every Dietary Need


Most popular salads are doused in oily or dairy-laden dressings, but this Healthy Chinese Chicken Salad uses simple, naturally dairy-free ingredients. It’s just as fulfilling as the classic recipe, but with some nutritious and delicious twists.

Healthy Chinese Chicken Salad Recipe with Plant-Based, Gluten-Free & Oil-Free Options and a Rich Pecan Dressing

Healthy Chinese Chicken Salad for (Almost) Every Dietary Need

Instead of copious amounts of oil, this salad is topped with a rich pecan butter dressing. It’s almost, but not quite, oil-free as is.  However, I have some oil-free tips as well as options for other dietary needs.

Oil-Fee Healthy Chinese Chicken Salad

You can simply omit the sesame oil in the dressing. Wonton crisps are typically made with oil, so you will want to omit those, too. To add extra crunch, you can increase the amount of pecans (to 1/2 to 3/4 cup) or add water chestnuts in place of the wontons.

Plant-Based Chinese Salad

This is already a plant-forward recipe, but for a completely vegan option, you’ll want to swap the chicken out. I recommend substituting it with shelled edamame. They are wonderful in this type of salad. Other good options include chickpeas (1 can, drained and rinsed), grilled tofu, or chopped tempeh.

Soy-Free Chinese Chicken Salad

You can substitute coconut aminos for the soy sauce in the pecan salad dressing. Some wonton crisps are made with soy oil. If you avoid soy oil, then follow my recommendations in the Oil-Free options above for substituting the crisps.

Paleo Chinese Chicken Salad

Use the soy-free options, including substituting the wonton crisps. You’ll also want to substitute more greens for the rice noodles.

Pecan Butter Options

If you don’t have any pecan butter on hand, but you have pecans, then you can make your own! See this How to Make Nut Butter Recipe. But you can also substitute another nut or seed butter, if needed. They will each lend their own flavor, but will perform similarly. If you are allergic to nuts, you can use sunflower seed butter in the dressing and substitute more crisps for the pecans.

Healthy Chinese Chicken Salad Recipe with Plant-Based, Gluten-Free & Oil-Free Options and a Rich Pecan Dressing This Healthy Chinese Chicken Salad recipe with photo was shared with us by

Special Diet Notes: Healthy Chinese Chicken Salad

By ingredients, this recipe is dairy-free / non-dairy, egg-free, gluten-free option, and peanut-free. See above for vegan, plant-based, soy-free, and oil-free options.

Healthy Chinese Chicken Salad
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
This healthier version of a classic salad makes a great lunch or dinner, especially in the warmer months. The salad dressing is rich and flavorful thanks to the use of pecan butter.
Recipe type: Entree
Cuisine: Chinese
Serves: 4 servings
Asian Pecan Dressing
  • ¼ cup pecan butter (see post above for Pecan Butter Options)
  • 1 tablespoon rice vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 1½ teaspoons soy sauce or gluten-free tamari
  • 1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil (see post above for Oil-Free Option)
  • 2 tablespoons warm water, plus additional as needed
Chinese Salad
  • 4 ounces dried thin rice noodles
  • Cold water
  • 4 cups chopped romaine lettuce
  • 4 cups chopped iceberg lettuce
  • 1 cup mandarin oranges
  • ½ cup crispy wontons (omit or sub more pecans for gluten-free)
  • ¼ cup toasted and chopped pecans
  • 2 scallions, finely chopped
  • 2 tablespoons sesame seeds
  • 2 cups rotisserie chicken breast, chopped (see post above for Plant-Based Option)
Asian Pecan Dressing
  1. In medium bowl, whisk together the pecan butter, rice vinegar, honey, soy sauce or tamari, and sesame oil and until smooth.
  2. Add the 2 tablespoons warm water and whisk until incorporated. Add additional water, 1 teaspoon at a time, as needed, until the dressing reaches a pourable consistency.
Chinese Salad
  1. Cook the rice noodles according to package instructions. Once cooked, drain and transfer to bowl with cold water to keep from sticking.
  2. In a large bowl, toss the romaine and iceberg lettuces, mandarins, wontons, pecans, scallions, bean sprouts, and sesame seeds.
  3. Divide the salad among four plates. Top each with ½ cup chicken and serve with dressing.

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