No mayo? Yes way-o. Healthy Chicken Salad with almond butter dressing has the creamy texture you’re craving and the flavor you’ve been missing! This fast and easy meal is packed with crisp, colorful veggies and crunchy nuts and seeds, then finished with a creamy, no mayo almond butter dressing. A totally fresh, filling, and flavorful antidote to mundane meal prep that can be ready in 25 minutes!
Asian-inspired healthy chicken salad is definitely an “if you love it so much, why don’t you marry it?” recipe. And I’m sorry in advance to your partners, friends, family, roommates, and co-workers. Because you will become obsessed with this recipe. And whoever relies on you to cook for them (or whoever steals your lunch out of the fridge) is going to have to eat this for a while.
Maybe you fall in love because you’re looking for a new way to use up last night’s leftover shredded chicken. Next thing you know, you’re defrosting chicken breast that’s been in the back of your freezer since time immemorial. It will inevitably end with you buying multiple wholesale club memberships and driving to different locations so they don’t know just how much rotisserie chicken you go through each week.
Cause here’s the thing… when you find something that is 1) fast and easy to make, 2) genuinely wholesome and good for you, and 3) tastes friggin amazing, but 4) doesn’t make you want to curl up in the fetal position hugging a bottle of antacid after you eat it, you cherish that recipe. You make promises and vows to that meal. You forsake all others.
The only way I know of to break the spell is to swap over to another shredded chicken salad recipe and introduce a new flavor, like chicken salad with apples, or buffalo chicken lettuce wraps. So, apologies and you’re welcome in equal measure.
See Ya Mayo!
I tolerate mayonnaise in very reasonable quantities, and typically when it’s hidden – like folded into crab cakes, or to used make an aioli dipping sauce. I am NOT a mayo girl. But I am a make-ahead-lunch-for-the-week-and-get-in-my-veggies-and-protein kind of girl, and that’s where this recipe was born.
I swear you won’t miss the mayo once you take a taste of this healthier, asian-inspired almond butter dressing. Slightly sweet and very tangy, it hits all the right notes – both flavor and texture.
And you really won’t miss the mayo when you’re on day 4 and you don’t have to throw out your chicken salad because it’s swimming in a puddle of run-off moisture. (Thank me later.)
What Makes This Asian Chicken Salad Healthy?
- Lean Shredded Chicken: this healthy chicken salad is a perfect way to put leftover rotisserie chicken to good use. Don’t have any? Make shredded chicken in the instant pot, or just cook a whole chicken (we’ve got three foolproof methods!)
- Rainbow Veggies: swap traditional napa cabbage for shredded Brussels sprouts, and green cabbage for red to incorporate a wider variety of vitamins and micro-nutrients. Want more? Grab some leafy butter lettuce and get wrapping.
- Almond Butter Dressing: goodbye heavy mayo dressings! You’ll still have creamy results with way more flavor.
- Healthy Fats: from sesame seeds, almonds, and almond butter. Want more? Feel free to serve and eat with some sliced avocado.
- All the accommodations: while you can’t please all the people all the time, we’re coming pretty darn close with Asian chicken salad – it’s grain and gluten free, egg and dairy free, and peanut free. There’s no soy and no added sugar. It’s paleo compliant and easily converted for Whole30. And it’s low carb, high protein, and high fiber.
How to Make Healthy Asian Chicken Salad
Asian-inspired Healthy Chicken Salad is great for grab-and-go lunch – plus it should last you all week. (Assuming you don’t eat it all in one sitting.) A silky almond butter dressing brings tons of tangy flavor to tender shredded chicken and crisp shredded veggies. Toss it all with seeds and nuts for added crunch.
- Toss together the raw vegetables with sesame seeds, almonds, cilantro, and shredded chicken in a large bowl.
- Add dressing ingredients to your food processor and blend until smooth.
- Pour dressing over the chicken salad and toss until well combined.
- Portion into bowls and top with additional nuts and seeds if desired. Alternatively, portion into meal prep containers.
- For quick and easy chopping, shredding, and julienne-ing, use a vegetable mandoline. Prep only took 10 minutes using my favorite trusty mandoline.
- Want to save even more time? Look for pre-shredded cabbage and Brussels sprouts in the produce aisle.
- Add water to the dressing as needed. Turn the motor to continuous and add through the feed tube, 1 tablespoon at a time, until the consistency is smooth and pourable. Scrape down the sides at least once to ensure all ingredients are incorporated.
- Skip the blender and whisk the dressing ingredients by hand. Be sure to mince the garlic very finely, or (preferably) use a garlic press.
- Leftovers will keep very well in the fridge for 5 days in a sealed container.
Make it Your Way
Add or swap veggies: swap the bell peppers for cucumbers (or just add them in). If you don’t tolerate raw Brussels sprouts, try using shredded romaine lettuce instead.
Sick of cilantro? Try parsley or thai basil instead.
Add more crunch: if you tolerate wheat, toss in a few handfuls of wonton strips.
Keep it compliant: to make healthy chicken salad Whole30 compliant, omit maple syrup in dressing, and substitute with 1 tbsp date syrup or 4 soaked dates. If you have keto maple syrup on hand, you can certainly swap that as well. Make sure your almond butter has no added sugar.
Did you make this healthy asian chicken salad? I’d love to know how it turned out! Leave a comment and a rating below.
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Healthy Chicken Salad
- ½ head red cabbage, shredded (or 8 oz pre-shredded)
- ½ lb brussels sprouts, shredded (or 8 oz pre-shredded)
- 1 bell pepper, thinly sliced
- 4 green onions, thinly sliced
- ½ c shredded carrots
- ⅓ c sesame seeds
- ⅓ c sliced almonds
- ⅓ c cilantro, chopped
- 4 cup roasted or poached chicken, shredded
Almond Butter Dressing
- ⅔ c almond butter
- ¼ c extra virgin olive oil
- ¼ c rice vinegar
- 2 tbsp maple syrup
- 2 tsp sesame oil
- 2 cloves garlic, chopped
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 tsp pepper
- 2-4 tbsp water, as needed
- Place the cabbage, brussels sprouts, bell pepper, carrots, sesame seeds, almonds, cilantro, and chicken into a large bowl. Toss to combine.
- Place the almond butter, olive oil, rice vinegar, maple syrup, sesame oil, garlic, salt and pepper into the bowl of a food processor. Process until the garlic is minced and the consistency is smooth. Turn the motor to continuous and add the water through the feed tube, a tablespoon at a time, until the consistency is smooth and pourable. Scrape down the sides at least once to ensure all ingredients are incorporated.
- Pour the dressing over the chicken salad and toss thoroughly to combine. Portion into bowls and top with additional nuts and seeds if desired. Alternatively, portion into meal prep containers. This salad keeps in the fridge for up to 5 days.
Love this salad, fresh and healthy. Thank you!