Thai Chicken Salad with Peanut Dressing

Thai chicken salad with homemade peanut dressing is a delicious recipe for ladies’ luncheons or baby and bridal showers! Crunchy slaw mix, cooked chicken and fresh veggies are tossed with a peanut butter-soy sauce dressing. Prep this easy make-ahead party dish in about 15 minutes and make it up to 2 hours ahead.

This is a light entrée salad That’s loaded with cabbage, chicken, crunchy vegetables, avocado and mango. It’s all covered in a peanut butter dressing with soy sauce, red pepper flakes, lime, and rice vinegar.

The combination of flavors is sweet and savory with loads of texture for a fantastic meal. And if you like this type of dish you’ll love cold Asian noodle salad with peanut sauce.

Why You’ll Love It

This is a recipe you’ll reach for again and again when hosting parties.

  • It’s a crowd-pleaser. I made this Asian-style chicken salad for a spring ladies luncheon menu and it was a huge hit!
  • It’s loaded with vegetables so it has a healthy element to it.
  • Toss in cooked chicken, shrimp, or edamame for protein options.
  • This is a main dish salad so there’s no reason to serve a separate green salad.
Chicken salad on plate served with bread slices.

Make-Ahead Recipe

This is great for entertaining, because you can make it a couple of hours ahead and refrigerate until ready to serve.

Alternatively, you can mix and store the salad and the dressing separately, then toss them together when you’re ready to serve.

PARTY TIP: Make it the night before and added the avocado, mango, nuts, & cilantro just before serving.

How to Make Thai Chicken Salad

This chicken salad has a lot of ingredients but they’re all pretty common and easy to find. And the end result is worth it! Here are some easy shortcuts and tips to follow.

Salad Ingredients & Substitutions

  • Cabbage. Use a bagged slaw mix to make it quick and easy. It can be tri-color mix with purple cabbage and carrots included. Of course you can cut a head of cabbage yourself if you want.
  • Cooked Chicken. Purchase a rotisserie chicken to use instead of cooking the chicken breasts your self. Otherwise you can poach or bake 2 chicken breasts and cut them in bite-size strips. Substitute with large cooked shrimp too.
  • Carrots. Use packaged pre-shredded matchstick carrots.
  • Red Bell Pepper. This adds color and texture. You could substitute yellow bell peppers if you want but I don’t recommend green. It’s not quite as sweet as red or yellow.
  • Green Onion. They give you a mild onion taste without the pungency. I use the green part only.
  • Mango. Use fresh if you like, but you can also use frozen mango chunks without losing any quality in the ingredient. For slightly different flavor substitute canned mandarin oranges or pineapple, drained.
  • Avocado. Select avocados that are firm but not hard when you squeeze it lightly.
  • Peanuts. Dry roasted or cocktail peanuts, either salted or unsalted will work just fine. Try cashews or pistachios as an alternative.
  • Cilantro. Add this as a topping when you’re ready to serve. Some people can’t eat it so you may want to serve it on the side and let guests top their own. Substitute with flat leaf parsley if you want.
Thai chicken salad ingredients in white bowl.

Peanut Dressing

This delicious sauce is made with Thai-style flavors that are pantry staples.

  • Peanut Butter. Use your favorite brand of smooth peanut butter. Peanut butter is the traditional ingredient in my recipe but you could also use almond or cashew butter too.
  • Soy Sauce. I always cook with Low-Sodium soy sauce to keep the salt in check.
  • Rice Wine Vinegar. It adds a mild acidity and slight sweetness.
  • Sesame Oil. Find this in the Asian ingredients aisle. It’s a condiment, not a cooking oil, and adds so much flavor.
  • Lime Juice. Fresh squeezed is best and so simple to do with a citrus press tool.
  • Honey. Such a great natural sweetener and different varieties have subtle flavor differences.
  • Red Pepper Flakes. The recipe calls for a small amount that adds just a bit of zing, but you can up the heat level by adding an extra pinch.
peanut dressing mixed up in white bowl with whisk.

Whisk all the dressing ingredients together until well blended.

Mixed chicken cabbage salad with toppings in white bowl.

Pour dressing over the salad ingredients and combine well. Stir in toppings when ready to serve.

PRO TIP: Did you know that frozen mango chunks are a GREAT substitute for fresh mango? Just thaw it at room temperature for a couple of hours, or in the fridge overnight. It doesn’t lose its firmness like frozen berries do.

Storage

Cover or store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for about 2 days. After that it can lose its crunchy texture, and become watery.

Close up of mixed chicken salad with slaw mix.

Other Add-Ins to Try

Although this chicken and cabbage salad is pretty perfect as written you certainly can try some of the alternatives or additions. Just remember to keep the dry salad ingredients in ratio with the peanut sauce.

  • Sliced ​​cucumber
  • Crushed instant ramen noodles, uncooked
  • Crispy Chow Mein Noodles

PARTY TIP: Divide the salad in half and mix chicken into one and shelled edamame in the other for a vegetarian version.

What to Serve It With

Round out your party menu with any one of these items.

I hope you love this Thai chicken salad recipe as much as we do. It’s such an easy and delicious entrée for luncheons and dinner parties.

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Thai chicken salad entree with peanut dressing, recipe card.

Thai Chicken Salad with Peanut Dressing

This crisp chicken salad entree is full of crunchy textures and a delicious peanut dressing. This is a fabulous make-ahead dish for a ladies luncheon or casual entertaining.

Ingredients

  • 1 bag {16 oz} tri-color slaw mix

  • 2 small chicken breasts, skinned and cooked {baked, roasted, or boiled}

  • 1 red pepper, very thinly sliced ​​{julienne style}

  • 1 cup julienne cut carrots

  • 2 green onions, sliced ​​thin

  • 1 avocado

  • 1 mango

  • fresh cilantro, rough chopped

  • 1/2 cup dry roasted peanuts

Dressing

  • 1/2 cup smooth peanut butter

  • 3 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

  • 2 Tablespoons rice wine vinegar

  • 2 Tablespoons soy sauce

  • 2 Tablespoons honey

  • 1/4 teaspoon sesame oil

  • juice of 1 lime

  • 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes

Instructions

    1. To make dressing, combine all ingredients with a whisk until smooth. Set aside.
    2. To prepare salad combine slaw, carrots, red pepper, and green onion. Cut chicken into bite size pieces and add to salad.
    3. Pour dressing over mixture and combine well. Cover and refrigerate for at least 2 hours.
    4. Prior to serving, dice avocado and mango and fold into salad *squeeze fresh lemon juice over diced avocado to keep it from browning.
    5. Fold in peanuts, and cilantro to taste, and serve.

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