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Napa Chicken Salad with Sesame Dressing

11 reviews / 4.5 average

This Napa Chicken Salad is crunched up to the MAX! Fresh napa cabbage, juicy rotisserie chicken, a super easy homemade sesame dressing, and crunchy handfuls of cashews, fried wonton strips, dried ramen noodles, crispy fried onions, or sesame sticks…the choice is yours!

Who’s ready for a new current salad obsession? Oh good, us too. In fact, we’re already here. Welcome!

Thinly sliced and ever so slightly sweet and tender-crisp fresh napa cabbage, juicy rotisserie chicken, a super easy homemade sesame dressing, and CRUNCHED UP TO THE MAX with handfuls of cashews, fried wonton strips, dried ramen noodles, crispy fried onions, or sesame sticks…really any delicious cruncher you can find. Or…dare we say…*every* delicious cruncher you can find? We won’t judge.

Live your best super crunchy, super fresh, napa chicken salad life. Super simple and so delicious.

In This Post: Everything You Need For Napa Chicken Salad

Ingredients For This Napa Chicken Salad

The ingredient list overall for this beauty is pretty darn simple, but each thing packs its own flavor and textural punch. The dressing is sweet but with a nice little tang and depth. The salad build is just a chomp-fest and we can’t get enough. Here’s what you’ll need!

All the salad fillers and crunchers:

  • shredded napa cabbage
  • green onions
  • shredded rotisserie chicken
  • cashews
  • fried wonton strips (super easy and our fave, but there other options too!)
  • sesame seeds

Homemade sesame dressing:

  • neutral oil like vegetable (avocado oil is also great if you like that flavor!)
  • a sweetener (granulated sugar, maple syrup, or coconut sugar)
  • apple cider vinegar
  • soy sauce
  • sesame oil
  • salt

You can play around with the dressing flavors to whatever you love best. Switch up the sweetener or scale/omit the sesame oil and vinegar, though they’re such a nice varied flavor boost that both are a must around here!

What Is Napa Cabbage and Where To Find It

If you’re not familiar with napa cabbage, it is oblong-shaped and thinner than regular green cabbage and has a more varied texture with tender leafiness as well as crisp parts. It is also slightly sweeter and milder. Napa cabbage is native to China (sometimes also sold as Chinese cabbage) and is a staple ingredient in East Asian cuisine. Super versatile and great for stir-frying, stewing, braising, grilling, and fermenting (yay kimchi!), but also is delicious straight-up raw and thinly sliced like in this salad!

It’s available at most grocery stores, so you shouldn’t have any trouble finding it, but if you get in a pinch, savoy cabbage or white cabbage would be a good substitute.

How To Clean Napa Cabbage

Because Napa cabbage is not as tightly balled-up as regular ol’ green cabbage, you really gotta get between those leaves to shake the dirt out. The preferred method over here is to pull the leaves from the stem, clean them well, and then stack ’em up and patiently slice super thin.

How To Cut Napa Cabbage

If you don’t want to stack the leaves up to slice them super thinly by hand, you could also go the mandoline route. Just slice the head on the cabbage first and then let the shreds soak in water for a bit so the dirt drops (kind of like how you clean leeks) but that one felt a little more awkward since napa cabbage isn’t as firm as regular cabbage.

We also like to mostly use the middle of the head, so you get some of the firmer crunchier white parts and some of the leafier more tender green parts, so we lopped off the bottom core and the floppier tops and went from there!

Let’s Get Cooking

Now that it’s cleaned and cut, get ready for a very pleasing texture party! There’s a little extra step to cut and fry up those wonton strips but you’ll be so thankful you did. And beyond that, thanks to rotisserie chicken and really only a couple items on the chop list, it comes together pretty quickly!

  1. Chop. Use your preferred method to shred the cabbage and chop the green onions and then that little mixture will keep in an airtight container for several days, yay! Shred your rotisserie bird.
  2. Shake. Toss all dressing ingredients in a jar, turn on your fave song, and shake-dance accordingly.
  3. Serve. Toss the cabbage mixture with the chicken, cashews, wontons, and a generous dressing splash. Sprinkle some extra green onion and sesame seeds on top for fun and flavor!
White hand pouring a jar of dressing into a bowl of salad

How To Make Fried Wonton Strips

A word about those homemade wonton strips: just cut wonton wrappers into strips and fry them in a little bit of oil over low heat; drain on paper towels and sprinkle with salt. That’s it! So quick and so worth it!

Fair warning that it is entirely possible you may get ready to toss and serve your salad only to find that you’ve eaten every last one of those crispy, salty, deliciously snackable little fried wonton strips, and whooooops. Luckily, they are very easy to make so you can hop right back on it.

Other Fun Crunchies and Add-Ins For Your Salad

Other add-in options for crunch and yum are crumbled-up dry ramen noodles (yes, those! from the package!), sesame sticks, crispy chow mein noodles, or even those crispy fried onions we know and love.

Want even more green in there? Edamame or avocado would not disappoint. You could also switch up the protein with a little shrimp maybe? Yum. Have at it.

How To Store This Salad

And, as if you needed even more to love about this salad, everything will keep really well for several days in separate containers so it is such a great meal prep option for you to toss up and chomp any day of the week. DREAMBOAT.

Napa cabbage salad in a bowl with a fork and cashews on the side

Napa Chicken Salad: Frequently Asked Questions

What other protein options would work in this salad?

Shrimp would be really, really good! For a vegetarian option, edamame would be perfect!

What’s a neutral oil that you recommend for the dressing?

Vegetable oil is neutral (no flavor), so that works well here. But if you don’t mind the taste of avocado oil, that also works really well here!

What should I do with my leftover dressing?

This makes a huge batch of dressing that will last through at least 10 cups of shredded napa cabbage! Great to keep in the fridge for lunches throughout the week, or toss altogether at once for a big dinner party or potluck-style salad.

Print
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Napa chicken salad in a bowl square

Napa Chicken Salad with Sesame Dressing


  • Author: Lindsay
  • Total Time: 20 minutes
  • Yield: 8 generous servings 1x

Description

This Napa Chicken Salad is crunched up to the MAX! Fresh napa cabbage, juicy rotisserie chicken, a super easy homemade sesame dressing, and crunchy handfuls of cashews, fried wonton strips, dried ramen noodles, crispy fried onions, or sesame sticks…the choice is yours! 


Ingredients

Units Scale

Napa Chicken Salad:

  • 1 head of napa cabbage, cleaned, trimmed, and shredded (about 10 cups)
  • 1 bunch of green onions, finely chopped
  • shredded rotisserie chicken (as much as you want)
  • 1 cup of cashews
  • 1 cup of something crunchy – fried wonton strips, crispy fried onions, or crushed-up dry ramen noodles
  • sesame seeds (optional)

Sesame Dressing:

  • 1/2 cup + 2 tablespoons vegetable oil or avocado oil (see FAQs)
  • 1/2 cup maple syrup or granulated sugar
  • 3 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons sesame oil (to taste)
  • salt to taste

Instructions

  1. Toss the shredded cabbage with the green onions (and you can keep this mixture in an airtight bowl in the fridge for several days)!
  2. Shake all the dressing ingredients in a jar. 
  3. When you’re ready to serve, toss the cabbage mixture with the chicken, cashews, wontons, and enough dressing to generously coat. Serve with extra green onions and sesame seeds on top!
  • Prep Time: 20 minutes
  • Cook Time: 0 minutes
  • Category: Salad
  • Method: Chop
  • Cuisine: Asian-Inspired

Keywords: napa chicken salad, napa salad, napa cabbage salad

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31 Comments

  1. Pinch of Yum Logo
    Weezie Prescott

    This salad looks delicious and I plan on making it. However, is there a lower sugar dressing you can recommend that would go nicely with it? I was just diagnosed with Type 2 Diabetes.

    1. Pinch of Yum Logo
      tracey

      I am also diabetic. I make this salad often and use monk sugar and only put enough in to give the hint of sweetness necessary. Otherwise keep the dressing separate and only add a little to yours.

      I also often sub toasted slivered almonds instead of cashews.

    2. Pinch of Yum Logo
      Krista @ Pinch of Yum

      Hi! I’m not sure of one off the top of my head, but you could definitely cut down on the sugar in this dressing recipe!

  2. Pinch of Yum Logo
    Lisa

    Has anyone tried honey instead with this recipe? Like less than 1/2 a cup? I have lots of honey but that seems sweet.

    1. Pinch of Yum Logo
      Krista @ Pinch of Yum

      Hi Lisa! We haven’t tried honey as a substitute, but it should work just fine! Also, shouldn’t be an issue if you cut down the amount to less than 1/2 cup.

      1. Pinch of Yum Logo
        Tara

        This is so good- kept the chicken separate and heated it up before adding the salad on top. Used dried ramen- not a good choice. Next time will leave out or maybe use the other options.






  3. Pinch of Yum Logo
    Vanessa

    I also added canned mandarins one day and chopped cara cara oranges the next and cut back on the sugar in the dressing as one commenter noted. Pretty tasty!






  4. Pinch of Yum Logo
    Maryanne

    This was outstanding! The only changes I made were, (and this is a big one, ) is that I used only 1 T of sugar in the dressing. The dressing was excellent! I also added sliced carrots, cilantro and a few red pepper flakes. My husband said this was better than the similar salad at Hillstone!!

    1. Pinch of Yum Logo
      Krista @ Pinch of Yum

      Thanks so much for the comment, Maryanne! We’re glad you both enjoyed it!

  5. Pinch of Yum Logo
    Theresa

    Delicious and so easy. The only change I would make for next time is to add a bit of purple cabbage for some added color and crunch.






  6. Pinch of Yum Logo

    This was delicious. Tasted just like restaurant-style Chinese Chicken Salad circa 1998! In place of the oil, I used 1/4 cup oil + 1/4 cup tahini + 2 tablespoons warm water. I used Stacy’s Pita Chips for the crunch.






    1. Pinch of Yum Logo
      Krista @ Pinch of Yum

      So glad you enjoyed it, Edith! So crazy, but based on your website/email address, I remember taking your cooking class at Local D’Lish many years ago!

      1. Pinch of Yum Logo

        Ha!! What a fantastic coincidence! It’s been a while since I’ve had the privilege of recipe-development, teaching, or blogging (I returned to practicing law, and in June will be trying to write a novel). So nice to have someone remember a previous life. It was one of my favorites. Thank you for replying!

        1. Pinch of Yum Logo
          Krista @ Pinch of Yum

          I still think about those recipes (curry sweet potato soup and quiche with beet greens!) from class. So yummy. Congrats to you on your new adventures!

  7. Pinch of Yum Logo
    Hilary

    Another winner! This was quick to make and so delicious. I used Cole slaw mix with cabbage and carrots to save even more time.






  8. Pinch of Yum Logo
    Larissa

    So good! I halved the dressing for one head of Napa cabbage, did 1/8 cup of maple syrup for sweetener, and added a red bell pepper. Delish






  9. Pinch of Yum Logo
    T

    I thought the proportion of oil to acid / salt was way off in the dressing and ended up doubling the soy sauce and vinegar. But it was a great way to use the radishes and head of cabbage I got in this week’s CSA share.






      1. Pinch of Yum Logo
        Shannon

        Next time I will follow the advice of doubling soy sauce and vinegar. It may be tasty with a bit more tang.






  10. Pinch of Yum Logo
    Marcia Keiter

    Don’t tell people to use vegetable oil for salad dressing! Worse ingredient ever!

  11. Pinch of Yum Logo
    Shannon

    We really enjoyed this! We are a family of 4 (two teenagers) and we nearly finished the entire bowl! I even used 2 pounds of chicken breasts! I agree to reduce the syrup by at least 1/2. We are gluten free so for the crunch I added crunched up corn chips and it was really good. Cilantro would be a welcomed addition as well!






  12. Pinch of Yum Logo
    Myrna V Seale

    I made this for a small girlfriend group – with enough for my husband for dinner the next night. And then again for my husband a week later because he liked it so much! First time to use Napa cabbage! I used honey – prob 2 T and added mandarin oranges just before tossing. That made it work for all – the punch of sweetness they added was perfect – along with color. I might add some of the liquid from the mandarin oranges can just before tossing to make it a bit more sweet next time. Fried wontons once – then sesame sticks – both were delicious!

  13. Pinch of Yum Logo
    Josie

    Definitely want to make this salad. How do you think the dressing would be with some white miso?