Crunchy ramen Chinese chicken salad is made with rotisserie chicken, three kinds of cabbage, carrots, green onions, mandarin oranges and a sweet tangy homemade salad dressing.
The chicken is completely optional, but I can’t ever make it without it. With the added protein, it makes a great lunch or main dish for dinner. I especially love the chicken marinated in The Original Japanese BBQ Sauce. It’s being sold everywhere lately, but I first found it at Costco. It is so good and goes perfectly with this salad! Using a rotisserie chicken makes it so simple so there’s minimal cooking!
This oriental chicken salad is a great dish for a potluck. I remember when I was like 15ish, I went to a camp at a college. I stayed the first night with a girl I had grown up with and her roommates. We went on a little BBQ/picnic and a girl made a salad with crunched up top ramen noodles. I thought it was so weird. Years later my girlfriend gave me this recipe and it’s delicious. Very light, but flavorful and those ramen noodles add the most amazing crunch!
Ingredients for Chinese Chicken Salad with Ramen
At first glance, this is going to look like a long list of ingredients, but I promise that it’s worth it! The flavor is so bold! Here is what you will need…
- Rotisserie Chicken: you can cook your own chicken breasts or buy it precooked
- The Original Japanese BBQ Sauce: this is optional, but it adds fabulous flavor to the chicken
- Peanut Oil: the base of the homemade salad dressing, adds a subtle nutty flavor
- Peanut Butter: you’ll want creamy peanut butter
- Sugar: balances the acidity of the vinegar
- Rice Vinegar: adds tanginess to the dressing
- Soy Sauce: grab low sodium so the dressing doesn’t get too salty
- Sesame Oil: the tiniest bit adds the most delightful nutty flavor
- Butter: used to toast the ramen noodles
- Ramen Noodles: crunch them up so they are bite size and ditch the seasoning packets
- Almonds: sliced and toasted with the ramen noodles
- Sesame Seeds: you can use black or just regular seeds and they also get toasted with the ramen
- Napa Cabbage: has a slightly sweeter flavor and the leaves are tender and great for eating raw
- Green Cabbage: chopped thin and adds to the base of the salad
- Red Cabbage: chopped thin and adds a bright pop of color
- Carrots: shredded on cheese grater
- Green Onions: adds that delicious onion flavor but it’s more subtle
- Mandarin Oranges: drained and left whole
This is meant to be just a brief overview of the ingredients needed for the salad and homemade dressing. For the measurements needed of each ingredient, scroll down to the recipe card at the end of the post.
How to Make Oriental Chicken Salad
The steps for making Chinese chicken salad are really simple. I’ll include the basic instructions here, but for all the details, jump down to the recipe card.
Watch How to Make Ramen Noodle Chinese Chicken Salad
Place the chicken in a ziplock with the Original Japanese BBQ Sauce and allow it to marinate in the fridge. This could be done up to a day ahead of time, but let it marinate for at least 30 minutes.
The dressing needs to be cooked on the stove to properly blend all the ingredients. Add all the ingredients together in a saucepan and bring it to a boil. Let it boil for a minute and then let it cool to room temperature.
Crush the uncooked ramen noodles in a gallon size freezer bag. TIP: I like to use a meat tenderizer to smash them. Very therapeutic! Melt the butter in a skillet over medium heat then add the noodles, almonds and sesame seeds and stir occasionally until browned. Move them to a plate to cool.
Thinly cut all the cabbages, slice the green onions and shred the carrots. Combine everything in a large bowl. Add the drained oranges, chicken and toasted ramen (with almonds and sesame seeds) pour the dressing over the top. Toss to coat and serve immediately.
Tips for the Best Chinese Chicken Salad
- I use a mandolin to slice my cabbage extra thin.
- If you’re in a hurry, you could use a package of coleslaw mix to save time.
- If you can’t find that specific brand of BBQ sauce, use teriyaki sauce to flavor the chicken.
- Add dressing just before serving. You don’t want it to sit for too long on the ramen noodles.
How is Napa Cabbage Different than Regular Cabbage?
Napa cabbage has a sweeter flavor and the leaves are far more tender.
Is Cabbage Good for You?
Cabbage is a low-calorie vegetable that is rich in vitamins, minerals and antioxidants.
Cabbage is high in vitamin C, an antioxidant that may protect against heart disease, certain cancers and vision loss.
Variations for Oriental Chicken Salad
You can add or omit anything you want to this salad! It’s very easily customizable. Some items that could be added might be sunflower seeds, diced red bell peppers, snow peas, black olives, broccoli florets, edamame, etc.
Can I Make This Salad in Advance?
I like to make the noodles and homemade salad dressing in the morning and store them separately. I will often put the dressing in the fridge and then stick it on the counter an hour before dinner to loosen it up. Both could even be made a day or two ahead of time.
Once you are ready to serve the salad, add the noodles and dressing to the cabbage mixture and toss everything together. Serve immediately.
How to Store Chinese Chicken Salad
Salad should be eaten soon after it is prepared, but left overs can be refrigerated for a day or two. The ramen and almonds will lose their crunch over time.
Chinese chicken salad with ramen noodles is a flavor powerhouse, not to mention it’s bright and beautiful! Perfect for summer potlucks! Everyone will be asking for the recipe.
Ramen Chinese Chicken Salad
For the Chicken
- 2 Cups Rotisserie Chicken, cooked and chopped *optional
- 1 Cup The Original Japanese BBQ Sauce, *see note
- 3/4 Cup Peanut Oil, *see note
- 1 Tablespoon Peanut Butter
- 1/2 Cup Sugar
- 1/4 Cup Rice Vinegar
- 2 Tablespoons Soy Sauce, low sodium
- 1/8 Teaspoon Sesame Oil
For the Ramen
- 1/2 Cup Butter
- 3 packages Ramen Noodles, crunched, seasoning disposed of
- 1/3 Cup Almonds, sliced
- 1/4 Cup Sesame Seeds
For the Salad
- 3/4 Head Napa Cabbage, chopped thin *see note
- 1/3 Head Green Cabbage, chopped thin
- 1 Cup Red Cabbage, chopped thin
- 1/2 Cup Carrots, shredded on cheese grater
- 6 Green Onions, chopped, whites disposed of
- 1-2 Cans Mandarin Oranges, drained
For the Chicken
- If you're using the chicken, add it to a ziplock with the Original Japanese BBQ Sauce and allow to marinate in the fridge until you're ready to eat.2 Cups Rotisserie Chicken, 1 Cup The Original Japanese BBQ Sauce
For the Dressing
- In a saucepan over medium heat, whisk together all of the dressing ingredients and allow to come to a boil. As soon as it's boiling, set the timer for 1 minute and keep it boiling the whole minute. Remove from the heat to a bowl in order to cool to room temperature.3/4 Cup Peanut Oil, 1 Tablespoon Peanut Butter, 1/2 Cup Sugar, 1/4 Cup Rice Vinegar, 2 Tablespoons Soy Sauce, 1/8 Teaspoon Sesame Oil
For the Ramen
- Add the Ramen Noodles to a gallon sized freezer zip lock bag and smash them into small pieces with a meat tenderizer.3 packages Ramen Noodles
- In a skillet over medium heat, add the butter and melt.1/2 Cup Butter
- Pour in the noodles, almonds and sesame seeds, stirring through the butter until well coated and then continue to stir occasionally until beginning to brown and smell nutty from the browned butter.1/3 Cup Almonds, 1/4 Cup Sesame Seeds
- Pour off onto a plate to cool. See note.
For the Salad
- Cut off the cabbage end and heart and throw away. Repeat with remaining cabbage and then use a sharp knife or mandolin to slice the cabbage in long shreds. Set aside.3/4 Head Napa Cabbage, 1/3 Head Green Cabbage, 1 Cup Red Cabbage
- Slice your green onions and add them to your bowl along with all remaining ingredients and toss well with the dressing.1/2 Cup Carrots, 6 Green Onions, 1-2 Cans Mandarin Oranges
- Serve immediately.
- I use a mandolin to slice my cabbage extra thin
- Chicken is optional and the BBQ is only used to marinate the cooked chicken, otherwise leave it out.
- If you can’t find that specific brand of BBQ sauce, use teriyaki sauce
- I like to prepare my sauce and noodles in the morning and just store the sauce on the counter and noodles in a sealed bag.