A good salad never goes unfinished in our house, especially in the warm summer months. They are lighter and most often filled with fresh seasonal ingredients, and are the perfect healthy family dinner. And this Thai chicken salad with noodles is packed with tons of fresh, crisp, raw veggies, a few noodles, chicken and the most amazing thai-inspired peanut dressing you will ever find.
Since it is summer and oh so hot out, salads are on the menu at least three times a week. Sometimes we opt for a hearty steakhouse salad for dinner, and sometimes a light vegetable centric orzo salad with a light lemon dressing is the perfect light lunch or side dish.
And this Thai chicken salad with noodles is another great hearty salad that is perfect for a healthy lunch or dinner. It is quick, easy and super adaptable. And the dressing, OH THE DRESSING, sweet, tangy, salty, a little spice and creamy with peanut butter. You will want to put this on everything you make!
When I say this salad is adaptable I mean, like super adaptable. The vegetable options you can use are pretty much endless, and it changes every time I make this salad. And I will do you one even better, you can also add as little or as much as you like. Want less noodles and an even healthier thai chicken noodle salad? Use less noodles or no noodles and increase the veggies? Really love noodles and want a carb fest? Put more in! This salad recipe is made for those who want to open their fridge and use what is in there. But in case you need some direction, here is a list of what I put in every time (at a minimum) to make it the best Thai chicken salad with noodles.
- Chicken. The kind of chicken is really up to you. Have some left over? Use it up. Have some chicken breasts you need to grill before they're no good? Yep, those work just fine. Don't wanna bother and want to grab a rotisserie chicken from the grocery store and shred it up? I do this all the damn time. Be smart and make this simple for yourself.
- Shredded cabbage, a lot of it. This is the bulk vegetable I use in this salad. I use a mix of green and red cabbage that I finely shred myself with my food processor. If you're pressed for time, buy shredded cole slaw mix at the store and use that.
- Red bell pepper. I like to thinly slice like matchsticks. They add a lovely sweetness and a good amount of crunch against the softer noodles.
- Carrots. Also matchstick, also add good crunch.
- Green onions. Not as sharp as a red or yellow onion, but still give a nice balance to the salad.
Peanut dressing ingredients
Now onto the ingredients for the dressing. And oh what a dressing it is! I wish I could take credit for this dressing, but unfortunately I cannot. This dressing is the creation of Sylvia Fontaine, of Feasting at Home, a really great food blog. She shares this dressing as part of a Thai crunch salad. After checking out several peanut dressing recipes, I really fell in love with this one and use it with so many things. But it is absolute perfection with this thai chicken salad with noodles. What you'll need:
- Orange juice and zest.
- Lime juice
- Honey or maple syrup. I always use honey, I think it goes good in Asian inspired dishes.
- Olive oil. Or you can use a neutral vegetable oil if you like.
- Sesame oil. A little goes a long way.
- Rice vinegar
- Sambal. This is by far the best red chili paste, IMO.
See recipe card for quantities.
Substitutions and additions
SO when I say this Thai noodle salad with chicken is adaptable to what you have on hand, I really mean it. Use your favorite veggies here. The ratio of vegetables to noodles is roughly 4:1, and I don't know, unless I am low carbing it for a month, I like having the noodles, especially when I eat this for dinner. But when I am trying to exceptionally healthy, I use zucchini noodles and you most certainly can exclusively use zucchini noodles (raw also) which makes this a super legit healthy meal.
I have also made this Whole30 compliant by using coconut aminos in lieu of soy and almond butter in lieu of peanut and cutting out the honey (though I really like the honey). the dressing is thick, but not at all oily, really smooth and almost creamy.
Tips for success
- Slice your cabbage as thin as possible. Cabbage is roughage and not something you necessarily want a big chunk of in a salad.
- This dressing is best made in a blender or food processor, you really want to get it fully blended and emulsified.
- blender or food processor
For the salad
- 6 cups mixed cabbage green and purple sliced as thin as you possibly can
- 1 cup carrots shredded or matchstick
- 2 cups red bell peppers sliced thin, matchsticks
- 2 cups cooked chicken I use rotisserie chicken
- 1 cup raw asparagus sliced extra thin, almost shaved
- ½ cup sliced green onions
- 4 ounces brown rice noodles cooked and cooled to at least room temperature
- ¼ cup unsalted peanuts or sliced almonds
For the peanut dressing (I always triple this and save the rest for later) - from Feasting at Home
- 1 clove garlic
- ¼ cup peanut butter almond butter tastes just as good
- ¼ cup fresh orange juice
- 1 tablespoon lime juice
- 3 tablespoon soy sauce
- 3 tablespoon honey
- 3 tablespoon toasted sesame oil
- 1 tablespoon sambal olek red chili paste
- 1 teaspoon rice wine vinegar
- 3 teaspoons minced ginger or ginger paste
- ½ teaspoon salt or to taste
- Put all the ingredients (except the salt) for the vinaigrette in a blender or food processor and combine until totally emulsified and smooth. Taste and add salt if you want/need it.
- If you are smart like me, and make a double or triple batch, portion out what you need for this salad and put the rest in a mason jar or storage container and put in the fridge.
- Combine all the salad ingredients EXCEPT the peanuts/almonds in a large bowl. Pour your dressing over and toss together coating all the veggies and noodles really well. Add your peanuts to the top and enjoy.