Thai Chicken Salad with Spicy Peanut Sauce

Last weekend, our church had a two day conference that was simply outstanding.  After it was over, I left feeling like a better version of myself:  humbled, energized, uplifted, happy and ready to conquer the challenges life flings at me.  We all need that in our lives every so often, don’t we?  Sometimes we don’t realize how far from our goals we have strayed until we take the time to step aside from the daily madness and re-evaluate exactly where we are.

I had been too busy to completely recognize I wasn’t where I wanted to be.  Course correction time.

After our conference was over on Sunday evening, I served this gorgeous salad for dinner instead of the normal Sunday fare of roast, potatoes, rolls and dessert.  In general, serving a salad as a main dish doesn’t go over very well with the Jones kiddos, but when you replace their most sacred meal of the week with one….boy, oh boy!  You should have seen the looks and heard the grumblings.  However, after actually eating the salad, the response was….(no lie, this is a direct quote)….”If salads always tasted as good as this one, I would eat them all the time!”

This main dish salad was addictive!  The last of it was eaten for lunch two days ago and I can’t stop thinking about it.  Salty, savory, sweet, sour, spicy and completely satisfying.  Honestly, salads can’t get much better than this one.  The fact that it is healthy doesn’t even come into your mind because you are too busy shoving it in your pie hole as fast as you can.
Just toss this salad together in your favorite big serving bowl (this one is my favorite because of the cute handles!) and let the feasting begin.
My only suggestion for this recipe is to please, please, please don’t try to substitute regular cabbage for the napa cabbage.  If you have never tried napa cabbage, you are really missing out because it is the perfect balance between cabbage and romaine lettuce.  It is like the two mated and had the perfect little leafy baby.  And don’t worry, if I can get it at my store here in the middle of nowhere Minnesota, I’m sure your grocery store carries it as well.

Thai Chicken Salad
(recipe adapted from Taste and Tell)
serves 8

Chicken marinade
1/2 C vegetable oil
2 Tb rice vinegar
1/4 C sugar or 2 Tb Truvia
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 bunch cilantro, chopped
1 lime, juiced
dash of salt and pepper
4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts – about 2 1/2 pounds total

2 hearts of romaine, chopped
1/2 large head of napa cabbage, chopped
1 cucumber, peeled, seeded and chopped
2 carrots, shredded
1 red bell pepper, chopped
5 green onions, chopped
1/2 bunch of cilantro, chopped
1 C salted peanuts

1/4 C rice vinegar
1/4 C Thai sweet red chili sauce
1 tsp sesame oil
1/2 tsp sugar or Truvia
pinch of salt and pepper

Peanut Sauce
1/4 C natural peanut butter
2 Tb soy sauce
1 Tb rice vinegar
1 Tb Thai sweet red chili sauce
2 Tb water

1.  In a ziplock bag, combine all the ingredients for the chicken marinade.  Mush it all around, then place it in the fridge for at least 4 hours to marinade.  Cook the chicken either on a hot grill, 6-8 minutes a side or in a 350 degree oven for 40 minutes.  Allow it to cool a bit, then chop up all the chicken into bite sized pieces.
2.  Combine all the salad ingredients in a large bowl, except for the peanuts, then add the chicken.  Combine all the dressing ingredients then pour over the salad.  Toss until the salad is evenly coated with the dressing.  Dish out the individual servings of the salad.
3.  Stir together the ingredients for the peanut sauce in a small bowl.  If the sauce is too thick to drizzle, add a bit more water.  Generously drizzle the peanut sauce over each serving of salad then top with the peanuts.


**My friend, this post contains Amazon affiliate links which means I receive a small compensation, at no additional cost to you,  if you make a purchase using my link.  If you decide to give this project a try, I will be your bestie if you would use the links from this post.  And no worries….I only link to products that I both use and love! ~Carole 


  1. says

    Yum!! That even looks good to this pregnant lady who thinks NOTHING looks good right now, except maybe chocolate :-) When I start attempting to make meals again this is top of the list.

  2. Tracy says

    I just made this for lunch and it was delicious! Love the tangy spice of the chili and the freshness of the cilantro and the saltiness of the peanut sauce. I can’t wait to make it for my boyfriend… He’s going to love it!

  3. Anonymous says

    This was amazing. A new staple in our house for sure! I substituted eggplant for the chicken and after marinating it, I breaded and pan fried it in a little oil. All the flavors were so great together. Best salad I’ve had in ages.

  4. says

    I just made this last night and HOLY YUM! It was heavenly. Unfortunately, I didn’t have cilantro which I thought could really add flavor but it was excellent even without! I’ll be making this time and time again. Thanks for sharing!

  5. Anonymous says

    I made this for dinner last night and just evoked the leftovers for lunch. I used the crockpot for the chicken breast and browned them in a little sesame oil just before serving. It was fabulous- Thanks for the great recipe!

  6. says

    This was the best salad I have ever made at home. Probably beats out the majority of salads I’ve eaten at restaurants. Thank you for sharing the deliciousness.

  7. says

    This looks amazing! I do have a question, though–I have Asian garlic chili sauce, and I have Thai red curry paste, but I don’t know if I have seen Thai sweet red chili sauce. Would either of the things I have work as a substitute? I’m excited to try this! Also, will another vinegar work? I am kind of cheap 😉

  8. says

    David and Leah – Definitely do not use the red curry paste! The garlic chili sauce might work, but I can’t guarantee what your results will be like. The sweet red chili sauce is quite sweet, yet spicy and it really needs those flavors. As far as the vinegar, you could try substituting a different sweet vinegar, like an apple cider vinegar, but again, the flavors will be different and I can’t guarantee what the end result will be. As always, I strongly encourage you to stick the recipe as written.

  9. Gilly says

    How spicy is spicy? I am a wuss and can’t handle much in terms of spice. You say it’s a sweet chili sauce but is it overpowering with spice? What would you compare it to to give me an idea of the heat? Thanks.

  10. Anonymous says

    This is the best salad I have ever made, and quite possibly eaten. It is amazing!!! I have had it four times this week, and see no reason to slow down. It is sweet, tangy, spicy and fresh. I’m actually eating right now!! It is so good, and deserves a food award. Thanks so much for posting, it’s a treasure. Kristina

  11. says

    Kristina- so glad you loved it!! I made it this week as well and my daughter got so many comments from the lunch ladies when she brought the leftovers for lunch at school.

  12. Julie says

    This recipe sounds very similar to the Thai Chicken Salad from Panera Bread, my favorite salad! The one from Panera adds fresh edamame beans which is really yummy! Thanks for the recipe

    • Carole says

      I’ve never tried that salad from Panera before but I think edamame would be amazing in this salad. Thanks for the suggestion Julie! -Carole

  13. marie says

    This salad was one of the best things I’ve made in a long time! I never feel compelled to leave reviews on food blogs, but this was the exception because the recipe was unbelievably good. Thanks for posting it!

    • Carole says

      Thanks so much Marie! I appreciate you taking the time to come back and let me know how it went! -Carole

  14. suking says

    My daughter made this for a birthday potluck and it was so fresh and delicious. And you can keep the the leftovers for a couple of days because of the hearty greens in it. So good!

  15. Janelle Moore says

    I have never posted a response comment to an online recipe; however, this recipe is soooooo yummy it warrants a reply! I searched all over for a good tai chicken salad recipe and chose this one by chance. I am addicted! It tastes very fresh and it’s extremely hearty. I’m on a no carb fast so it’s been the perfect lunch and dinner meal. This is my second week (consecutively) making it!

  16. Jenn says

    You aren’t kidding about it being addictive. I have found myself making it on a Sunday and making enough to have for lunch a couple times during the week. I added the Chinese noodle doo hickeys to it too and OMG that made it even more addicting.

  17. Laurie says

    Get in mah belleh!!
    Gonna make this tonight! Hopefully I can find the Napa cabbage. I’ll return to post how it turned out. I like the edamame idea as well and maybe some won ton crispy strips you can find in the salad toppings section in the grocery store. Wish me luck.

      • Laurie says

        Everything is prepared. Just need to wait for my husband to tell me he’s on his way home from work (which takes about an hour). That’s when I’ll cook the chicken and throw everything together. This was really easy to prepare. I’m not sure if I can wait from my husband. LOL

  18. Laurie says

    It’s delicious! I added edamame and won ton strips. I tried to post a pic in here, but it won’t let me. Ima go stuff my pie hole now!

  19. says

    My goal with the new year is adding more fresh fruits and veggies to our eating routine. This salad was fabulous and a complete meal. The dressing and peanut sauce made it so savory. When a dish requires a fair amount of prep work, I rarely make it more than once. During the chopping I said I probably wouldn’t make it again. After tasting, I quickly changed my mind. Well worth every minute of prep.

  20. Carrington says

    Is the salad still crunchy for leftovers even though you put the dressing on the entire salad before serving? I know some recipes suggest only putting the dressing on individual servings in order to prevent the entire salad from wilting.

  21. says

    Absoloutly delicious. Cilantro in the UK is coriander. I couldn’t get Napa cabbage so just doubled up on the Romaine. About 350 cals per portion, 24g carbs, 22g fat and 13g protein. I’m low carving at the moment and this fits the bill. Thanks Carole

  22. Sonny says

    What are your thoughts on substituting Rice Vinegar with Regular Distilled White Vinegar and substituting Sesame Oil with Peanut Oil?

    • says

      Sonny- I would say the vinegar would not be the best but would be ok if you added a bit more sugar. Apple cider vinegar would be a better substitute than white vinegar. For the sesame oil, it is a must have for sure!! It has a strong flavor and is there for taste and not as an oil. Great questions!

      • Sonny says

        Hello Carol,

        Thank you for the super quick response. Ill stick to your recipe for now :) I have a tendency to experiment!

        You learn something new everyday :)


        Sonny Ali

      • Sonny says

        Hello Carol,

        Thank you for the super quick response. Ill stick to your recipe for now :) I have a tendency to experiment!

        What is your recommendation, toasted sesame oil or extra virgin? Only two choices here in frozen Boston suburbs.


        Sonny Ali

  23. Leilani says

    How many ladies would this feed as the main dish? Also, I know you say not to deviate from your recipe but……would Splenda be the same as Truvia?

    Looks yummy!

    • says

      Great questions Leilani! I would say 6-8 women depending on what else you are serving and how much they eat. You can make that substitution but Splenda has a strong aftertaste that will effect the taste of the dish. I strongly suggest using Truvia or real sugar.

  24. says

    I found your recipe over at Pinterest, and couldn’t resist stopping by to tell you how fantastic it looks. I can’t wait to give it a try, and linked to it on my healthy recipes roundup over on my blog to share with my readers.

  25. Jonalee says

    Hi looks yummy. I don’t use sugar substitutes so what is the equivalent amount of real sugar.
    Thanks much

  26. Andrea says

    i was wondering if I could use regular peanut butter instead of natural? Would that change the recipe very much?

    • says

      Great question Andrea. You could use regular but you will want to reduce the amount of sugar because regular peanut butter has quite a bit of sugar

  27. Joy says

    This salad was absolutely incredible!!!! I’m not a huge salad fan but have been trying to eat healthier and this recipe is awesome! So good! Thank you for sharing

    • says

      Joy- that sauce mainly adds both sweetness and heat to the recipe. You could sub in some red chili flakes and some type of liquid sweetener, just know that the result will be a bit different

  28. says

    What do you like to serve with this salad? I’m going to make it for a family gathering on Sunday for lunch. Thanks ever so much!

  29. Angela says

    I made this for dinner last night and it was fantastic! I had the leftovers for lunch today. I think my boyfriend and I agreed it was one of the best salads we’ve ever had. Will be making this one again and again!!

  30. Jody says

    I only have regular Jiff peanut butter on hand, not natural. Can I use that? What is the significance of using natural?

    • says

      Jody- you can certainly use your Jiff. The natural PB has no added sugar and will have a richer peanut taste to your sauce. Great question! -Caroleq

  31. MelanieB. says

    Made this for dinner and it was amazing! Subbed sugar for honey and didn’t have chicken so I skipped it, but it was still heavenly! New favorite chopped salad to make, and quick prep time too~!

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