Sweet Chili Chicken Salad made with the best peanut dressing is full of flavor and packed with crunch from purple cabbage, carrots, and edamame.
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Sweet Chili Chicken Salad Recipe
If you have a goal of eating more greens, this salad packed with chicken, cabbage, edamame, carrots, and the most amazing Thai Sweet Chili Vinaigrette is for you.
There are times when you just don’t feel like turning on your stove or really cooking anything for that matter. I get you. It’s during these times that I like to turn to salads for an easy, healthy, yummy dinner. I think salads are a great vehicle for using up leftover protein from other meals.
So, yesterday when I was craving something sweet and spicy I decided to create a simple salad using sweet chili sauce and peanut butter in the dressing. The result was perfect — sweet and spicy, just was I was looking for. I rounded it out with a bunch of crunchy vegetables, a touch of cilantro, and then some extra protein from the edamame and peanuts.
This dish makes a delicious lunch or dinner. And, if you are someone who happens to dine at Panera frequently, you may recognize this scrumptious salad as an adaptation of their Thai Chicken Salad.
What Makes This Sweet Chili Chicken Salad Healthy?
The whole reason for eating a salad is because it’s (supposedly) healthy right? If you make it correctly (and don’t opt for lots of cheeses, creams, sauces, and other unhealthy toppings) they are good for you and a great way to pack in some extra nutrition. That being said, here’s what makes this salad particularly healthy.
- Sauces such as sweet chili and soy add tons of flavor without lots of extra fats, sugar, and salt (especially if you use low-sodium versions) of these sauces.
- Rice wine vinegar contains an acid that is good for boosting the health of your digestive system. Vinegar also helps your body absorb other nutrients when eaten in conjunction. It’s also good for your blood pressure and contains zero calories.
- Reduced fat peanut butter and peanuts are a great source of plant protein and can really help to fill you up and keep you feeling fuller, longer. Plus, when you use reduced-fat peanut butter, you are shaving off some unhealthy fats from your diet.
- Lime juice is a great citrus juice that can aid in digestion and can also help with constipation. Limes also provide high levels of potassium, as well as antioxidants and bioflavonoids.
- Boneless, skinless chicken breasts are a great protein source. They are leaner than most red meats, and are also low in fat, salt, and of course contain zero sugar.
- Edamame is surprisingly high in protein, and is one of the best plant protein sources you can find. It can also help lower your cholesterol, reduce your risk of some cancers, and helps to keep your bones nice and strong.
- Cilantro is a great herb that goes well with so many different dishes. Whether you think it tastes good or bad, eating it can help you live longer, stave off obesity, diabetes, and some forms of heart disease. It also can make your hair and skin look healthier and increase your energy.
- Carrots, purple cabbage, and lettuce are great veggies to add to your diet, no matter how you choose to add them. In a salad is a great start! Pack on the vitamins and minerals that these veggies provide, like vitamins A, C, and B. They are also low calorie and filling, which is great if you’re watching your weight.
How Do I Make A Thai Chili Vinaigrette?
The dressing for this salad is a great one to make not only for this particular dish, but to make in a big batch and use on salads all throughout the week. Making your own salad dressings is easy on the wallet and the waistline. To make the dressing for this salad, I combined sweet chili sauce, rice wine vinegar, soy sauce, and lime juice.
Other ingredients you could add to this dressing include garlic (grated or minced), fish sauce, or fresh grated ginger.
Here is the basic recipe:
- 1 tbsp sweet chili sauce (leave out for Paleo, Low Carb, and Clean Eating)
- 1 tbsp rice wine vinegar
- 1/2 tbsp soy sauce
- 1 tbsp reduced fat peanut butter
- Juice of 1 lime
Ideas for Customizing This Sweet Chili Chicken Salad
This salad is a great one for customization. I think Asian-based-ingredient salads can just call for so many items and swaps.
- If you are allergic to peanut butter or just don’t care for it, you can substitute another nut butter, or nut-free butter. You could even try sesame paste for a nutty flavor without the actual nuts.
- This salad would also be good for using up leftover grilled steak, leftover pork, or leftover shrimp or salmon.
- You could add in drained water chestnuts, bamboo shoots, or those adorable little baby corns for some crunch.
- Skip the cilantro and add a few chopped green onions instead. It’s also delicious with basil and/or mint.
- Red bell peppers would blend nicely with this Sweet Chili Chicken Salad.
- You can use just about any lettuce or green in this salad too. Try a spring mix, baby kale, or a pre-made bag of shredded Brussels sprouts, kale, or broccoli.
- For a vegetarian option, use tofu instead of the chicken. You can also double up the edamame for an extra dose of plant based protein.