Thai chicken salad with spicy peanut dressing is bursting with flavor in every bite! Make a double batch of the dressing – you’ll want to eat it on everything.
We’ve been eating a lot of salads lately. Mostly because it’s too hot to cook but also because we’ve been cutting back on carbs. Have you tried cutting back on carbs? IT’S HARD! We’re not anywhere near keto-levels, but there are only so many ways you can combine meat and vegetables and boy does it get old fast. At least with salad you can drown your sorrows with spicy peanut dressing. Right? Right.
Even before you get to that delicious dressing, this Thai salad definitely isn’t boring! Plus since it’s made with hearty ingredients that don’t wilt or break down quickly, it’s great for meal prep. Just be sure to store the dressing separately until you’re ready to eat – I use little 2-ounce cups like these.
The key to a delicious salad is to make sure you use a variety of flavors and textures that keep every bite interesting. Samin Nosrat, culinary goddess that she is, has even broken it down into an easy-to-follow formula – every balanced salad needs salt, fat, acid, crunch, and umami.
Let’s break down this Thai chicken salad and see how it stacks up:
Salt. This comes from the peanuts and also the peanut butter and soy sauce in the dressing.
Fat. Again, this one comes down to the peanuts and the dressing. They’re both super important in this recipe, so you don’t want to take too many liberties by leaving them out or you’ll really throw things off. If you need to, you can swap in cashews and use sunbutter to make the dressing.
Acid. A generous squeeze of fresh lime juice brightens this salad up and brings all of the flavors together. Again, this component of the salad really makes a huge difference, so don’t be tempted to skip it!
Crunch. I love using kale and red cabbage for a crunchy, slaw-like base in this salad. I also add a handful of snow peas – they’re unexpected and make this salad feel extra special. Finding crunchy ingredients to add is pretty easy, so there’s more flexibility here – if you prefer romaine hearts to kale or can’t find snow peas, it’s not a dealbreaker.
Umami. Umami is always a tricky flavor to nail down. Most salad recipes will get this flavor from tomatoes. This salad gets it from the soy sauce and fish sauce in the dressing.
It all comes together to make a super delicious salad that will make your mouth water.
- 2 boneless skinless chicken breasts
- 8 cups shredded kale
- 1 cup shredded red cabbage
- 1 cup snow peas
- 2 carrots shredded
- 4-5 basil leaves torn into small pieces
- 4-5 sprigs cilantro chopped
- 4-5 mint leaves chopped
- ⅓ cup salted peanuts
- 2 limes quartered
For the dressing:
- ¼ cup creamy natural peanut butter or sunbutter
- ½ lime juiced
- 1 Tablespoon rice vinegar
- 1 Tablespoon low sodium soy sauce
- 1 teaspoon fish sauce
- 1-2 teaspoons sambal oelek chili paste, to taste
- Season the chicken with salt and pepper. Add 1 tablespoon oil to a pan set over medium-high heat. Add the chicken and cook, turning once, 10-12 minutes, or until cooked through. Remove from heat and let cook, then dice into bite-sized pieces.
- In a large bowl, combine the kale, cabbage, snow peas, carrots, and fresh herbs. Squeeze 4 of the lime wedges over the salad base; gently toss to combine. Top the salad with diced chicken and peanuts.
- Combine the dressing ingredients in a blender; blend until smooth and combined. If necessary, add a tablespoon or two of water to thin it out.
- Drizzle the dressing over the salad and serve with remaining lime wedges.