I have to be honest up front…this loaded Thai chicken salad is not a *pretty* dish. But it IS easy, healthy, and (most critically) delicious. No lie, the first time I made it, I threw it together while on a conference call, just putting myself off-camera every few minutes to do another step.
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It’s hard to even know what to call the dish…is it a Thai cabbage salad? A slaw? I think Thai chicken salad works nicely, though somehow under-represents the sheer volume of veggies in it. This will look like it makes a ton, but it’s really only about 4-6 servings (depending on if it’s your main dish or a side).
I’ve made a number of small tweaks to the original recipe to better suit my tastes and simplify as well. I prefer using a fresh head of cabbage (I use a half-head here), but bagged can work too. I used much less pepper, carrot, and herbs, and more chicken (to keep me full longer).
And wow, the heat from the gochujang really comes through! It creeps up on you a bit (though I’m a total baby about spice, so your mileage may vary). The recipe calls for Sambal Oelek, with gochujang as a good substitute (and what I had on-hand).
Now what I can’t tell you is that this makes perfect leftovers. It makes *fine* leftovers, but it has a tendency to get watery (which isn’t the end of the world, and you can drain off the liquid). So here are a couple tips if you’ll be mostly eating it as leftovers:
- Definitely don’t use too much lettuce, or any at all
- The red onion really takes over once it’s been siting for a while, so go really light if you’ll be eating as leftovers, or keep separate
- I found I liked to warm it up slightly…like zap it in the microwave for like 20-30 seconds. I liked it cool or room temp, but not fridge-cold (deadens the flavors)
- You also *could* reserve the dressing and dress it as you go…that feels overly complex but it would keep it from getting soggy or watery
Shred and chop up your veggies to start, and throw them into a giant bowl…you want enough room in the bowl to be able to toss and stir everything together without it spilling out everywhere.
Chop up your herbs as well, and toss them in.
I use my crazy easy poached and shredded chicken in this salad. I always keep some on hand, and you can make this ahead if you want.
In a smaller bowl, whisk together the peanut butter, coconut milk, soy sauce, lime juice, Sambal or gochujang and brown sugar until smooth. Taste and adjust in case you need to balance it out (sweet, spicy, tart, savory).
Honestly in hindsight I might just do this in a food processor…you can definitely do by hand, but it’s hard to apply the necessary force to get it to emulsify WHILE not splashing it everywhere.
In a large bowl, combine the shredded cabbage, romaine, carrots, cilantro, mint, and peppers, as well as red onion if you’re serving immediately (see notes). Add the shredded chicken as well.
Pour the dressing over the salad and toss to fully coat. Taste it and add salt as needed (mine always needs).
Serve immediately. Garnish with chopped peanuts if desired.
This has gone into my regular “I feel like I need a detox” recipe rotation! It’s so easy but the texture and flavor makes it super satisfying as well.
Make sure to reference my notes at the top of the post related to adjustments you might make if you’ll be mostly eating it as leftovers. And you can use any kind of shredded (or even chopped) chicken, but I swear by my crazy easy poached chicken, with a 10-second hack for shredding!
Other healthy meals you’ll love:
- The Crispiest Chicken Tenders in the Air Fryer
- Amazing & Easy Chicken Shawarma
- Roasted Vegetable & Barley Salad with Lemon Tahini Dressing
- Baked Whole Wheat Penne with Summer Veggies & Beef
- “Crack” Beef & Cabbage Stir Fry
Other Thai-inspired dishes to try:
- Comforting Thai Khao Soi with Chicken
- One-Skillet Thai Ground Turkey Curry with Rice
- Easy Pad Thai
- Thai Peanut Noodles with Chicken & Veggies
- Delicious Thai Massaman Curry with Chicken
Adapted from Bev Cooks
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- 2-3 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, poached and shredded (see hack for poaching & shredding in the post)
- 1/2 head of green cabbage, shredded
- 5 romaine leaves, washed and finely shredded (see notes)
- 1/2 cup matchstick or shredded carrots
- 1/8 cup thinly sliced red onion (see notes)
- 1/2 red or orange bell pepper, seeded and thinly sliced (I prefer mini bell peppers, less watery)
- 1/2 cup of loose cilantro leaves, roughly chopped
- 1/4 cup of loose mint leaves, finely chopped
- 1/2 cup of smooth peanut butter
- 1/2 cup of coconut milk (from a can, with fat)
- 2 teaspoons of Sambal Oelek or gochujang
- 3 tablespoons of soy sauce or coconut aminos
- Juice of 1 lime
- 2 tablespoons of brown sugar
- Salt to taste
- Optional: peanuts, for garnish
- In a large bowl, combine the shredded cabbage, romaine, carrots, cilantro, mint, and peppers, as well as red onion if you're serving immediately (see notes). Add the shredded chicken as well.
- In a smaller bowl, whisk together the peanut butter, coconut milk, soy sauce, lime juice, Sambal or gochujang and brown sugar until smooth. Taste and adjust in case you need to balance it out (sweet, spicy, tart, savory).
- Pour the dressing over the salad and toss to fully coat. Taste it and add salt as needed (mine always needs).
- Serve immediately. Garnish with chopped peanuts.
- See my notes at the top of the post related to adjustments you might make if you'll be mostly eating it as leftovers, to avoid it getting too watery. For instance, I'd leave out or decrease the lettuce, and leave out the red onion (as it really takes over the longer it sits).