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Spicy Thai Chicken Salad with Chili Lime Dressing

Spicy Thai chicken salad with chili lime dressing is fresh and delicious. It’s the perfect light and refreshing lunch or dinner, and it’s great for meal prepping. This Thai spicy chicken salad recipe comes together quickly – just toss all of the ingredients in a bowl. With plenty of crunch and texture, this salad is satisfying, good for you and so delicious.

I’ll give you variations and substitutions where I can, plus helpful tips and tricks for success. Read on for this info as well as the recipe. If you’d like to skip straight to the recipe, use the jump to recipe button at the top of the post.

You may also be interested in my Israeli salad and my Delicata squash salad recipes. For ease of browsing, you can find all of my salad recipes in one place.

Spicy Thai chicken salad in clear glass bowl.

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Why you should make this recipe

  • Quick & Easy – This recipe takes about 20 minutes, start to finish.
  • Make ahead – Perfect for making ahead for lunches during the week.
  • Versatile – Most of the ingredients can be adjusted to suit your personal preferences.

Spicy Thai chicken salad

This recipe for spicy Thai salad with chicken is one of my favorites. I love it in the heat of summer, but the truth is, I eat this year round.

It’s especially good after holidays or occasions when you have eaten more than usual and welcome a lighter meal.

Bowl of salad with chicken and cabbage.

Is this supposed to be an “authentic” Thai recipe? No. It’s something I made up over ten years ago. It has Thai flavors and that’s the name I gave it a decade ago.


This is the base of the salad – lots of vegetables and herbs with a bit of chicken. If you choose to omit the chicken, this salad is vegan.

I go heavy on the herbs, because I like it that way. If you don’t, feel free to cut back on them, or add in more cabbage, carrots or chicken.

Ingredients for Thai chicken salad.
  • Cabbage – Use green or Napa cabbage, or buy a coleslaw mix for a shortcut.
  • Chicken – Shredded chicken breast provide protein in the salad. Buy a rotisserie chicken as a time-saver.
  • Snow peas – Fresh snow peas are delicious and crunchy.
  • Carrots – Shredded or grated carrots give a crunchy sweetness to the salad.
  • Scallions – Also called green onions, they have a very mild onion flavor.
  • Mint – Spearmint is most commonly found in stores and gardens.
  • Cilantro – If you don’t like cilantro, substitute with flat leaf parsley.
  • Thai basil – Found at Asian markets, a good substitute is regular Italian basil.
  • Peanuts – They provide extra protein and crunch.
Asian chicken salad in bowl on a pink background.

Chili lime dressing ingredients

This spicy Thai dressing is super quick and easy. If you have difficulty finding fresh chili peppers, and you like a little heat in your food, you can add a dash of sriracha or any other hot sauce that you like.

To make the chili lime vinaigrette, this is what you’ll need –

Ingredients for chili lime dressing.

I roasted all of my garlic, forgetting that I needed raw for this dressing. Either way, it was still delicious.

One more note, I prefer Thai red chili for this dressing, but the Asian market was out of them, so I had to use a green hot pepper. Again, the dressing will be delicious no matter what kind of chili you use.

Thai chili lime dressing

Combine rice vinegar, lime zest and juice, shallot, chili pepper and garlic in a small bowl. The acid will help break down and mellow garlic & shallot and the flavors along with the chili pepper will infuse dressing.

Chili lime dressing in bowl.

Let this sit for 10 – 15 minutes before adding the remaining ingredients. After you’ve added everything, give it whisk and let it sit for another 10 – 15 minutes.

I like the acidic bite of vinegar and lime juice, however, if you don’t, reduce limes to one.

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WÜSTHOF Classic 8 Inch Chef’s Knife

This is the knife I own and use every day. I've had this knife since my culinary school days, about 20 years ago.

This Chef's knife is a workhorse - it is nicely balanced, feels good in your hand and will not let you down. It's great for everyday use and for every level of cook.

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03/17/2024 09:10 pm GMT

How to make Thai chicken salad

Making this Thai chicken salad recipe could not be easier. Everything is mixed up in one large bowl. I will admit that there is a bit of chopping, if you don’t have a food processor, but it isn’t too much work.

Thai basil (pictured below) can be found at any Asian market. This is out of my garden. It was flowering, so I picked it, yours will likely not have flowers.

Thai basil with blossoms.

If you can’t find Thai basil, substitute with regular basil, or omit it. The flavor is very unique, so I recommend checking out your local market to try to find it.

Once you have all of the vegetables and herbs chopped, the chicken shredded and the dressing whisked together, it all goes into a bowl. Give it a good mixing and serve. It’s so simple to make and it is so delicious!

Thai chicken salad with peanuts in bowl.

Time saving shortcut – Use rotisserie chicken from the store instead of cooking chicken breasts!

For this recipe I only used the breast meat. If you are using a store-bought rotisserie chicken, reserve the thighs for sandwiches or soups, the carcass for stock, etc.

I poached a couple of chicken breasts while I was grating vegetables and chopping herbs. It barely takes any time at all, it will be cooked by the time you finish everything else. Then use a couple of forks to shred the meat and set it aside to cool slightly.

Over head view of salad with chopsticks.

Combine everything in a large glass bowl to show off all of the colors from the veggies and herbs. This salad is perfect for weekday lunches and meal-prepping. Full of flavor, texture and lots of crunch, it’s as good for you as it is delicious.

Asian chicken salad FAQ’s

Can I make this ahead of time?

Yes! Keep the dressing separate and dress before serving so it doesn’t get soggy.

How can I make this vegan?

Simply omit the chicken and this salad is vegan.

How long will it last in the fridge?

Stored in an airtight container in the fridge, undressed, it will last up to 5 days.

Thai chicken salad in glass bowl.

Variations and substitutions

  • If fresh snow peas are unavailable, try fresh green beans.
  • For those who prefer a less spicy dressing, omit the chili pepper, or cut the amount in half.
  • Use a bagged coleslaw mix for a short-cut, as well as a store-bought rotisserie chicken for maximum timesaving.

Helpful tools and equipment

If there is one thing that I would recommend, it would be a good Chef’s knife. This is the same one I’ve had since culinary school and it continues to serve me well.

A food processor makes quick work of shredding cabbage and carrots, and it’s certainly nice to have.

More quick and easy salad recipes

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Spicy Thai Chicken Salad with Chili Lime Dressing

Cheryl Bennett
Spicy Thai chicken salad with cilantro chili lime dressing is fresh and delicious. It's the perfect light and refreshing lunch or dinner, and it's great for meal prepping.
5 from 5 votes
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 12 minutes
Total Time 22 minutes
Course Salads
Cuisine Thai – American
Servings 8 servings
Calories 239 kcal


For the dressing

  • 3 tbsp. rice vinegar
  • zest and juice of 2 limes
  • 1/2 shallot finely sliced
  • 1 clove garlic minced
  • 1 1/2 tbsp. sugar
  • 1 small red Thai chili green if you can’t find red, minced
  • 4 tbsp. neutral oil vegetable, grapeseed, canola
  • salt & freshly ground black pepper to taste

For the Thai chicken salad

  • 1 small head green or Napa cabbage
  • 3 medium carrots
  • 10 ounces cooked chicken breasts shredded or finely sliced (2 small)
  • 1/2 cup salted peanuts roughly chopped
  • 1 bunch scallions green onion, sliced on bias
  • 1 cup snow peas thinly sliced on bias
  • 1 tbsp. cilantro chopped
  • 2 tbsp. Thai basil chopped (sub regular basil if you can’t find, or omit)
  • 2 tbsp. mint chopped
  • salt & pepper to taste


Make the chili lime dressing

  • Combine rice vinegar, lime zest and juice, shallot, chili pepper and garlic in a small bowl. Let this sit for 10 – 15 minutes, then add remaining ingredients and give it a whisk. Let the dressing sit for an additional 10 – 15 minutes. Set aside until ready to use.
  • Make the Spicy Thai chicken salad
  • Shred the cabbage and carrots in the food processor, or grate carrots on box grater and thinly slice cabbage. Add to large mixing bowl.
  • Add shredded chicken, peanuts, scallions, snow peas, herbs, salt and pepper. Toss to combine.
  • Pour dressing over and mix thoroughly to coat. Serve immediately.


If you are serving this salad later, or meal prepping, DO NOT add dressing. Keep it separate and mix just before eating. The acid will turn the herbs dark and make the mixture soggy. The crunch is the best part of this salad!
Omit the chicken and this salad is vegan.


Serving: 1gCalories: 239kcalCarbohydrates: 17gProtein: 14gFat: 13gSaturated Fat: 2gPolyunsaturated Fat: 10gCholesterol: 30mgSodium: 171mgFiber: 3gSugar: 11g
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!

Thanks for stopping by! Have a delicious day 🙂

Questions? Send me an email, I’m happy to help. I’d love to send you weekly tips and recipes, so you can get updates about what’s happening in the kitchen!

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Originally published 7/10/12.

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