When it comes to restaurant salads, nothing beats Applebee’s Oriental chicken salad.
With a medley of veggies, nuts, and chicken and a sweet and tangy Asian dressing, it’s a salad that even salad-haters will enjoy.
Salad mostly gets a bad rap for being bland. But trust me, there’s nothing boring about this one.
I mean, just look at it! Those vibrant colors alone will make you want to try it. Good job, Applebee’s!
Here’s the best part: you can easily make it at home. With this simple recipe, there’s no need to head out to Applebee’s.
Just go straight to your kitchen, and in just 20 minutes, your salad will be ready.
Applebee’s Oriental Chicken Salad
Applebee’s Oriental chicken salad takes the flavors of Asia and turns it into a mind-blowing salad.
Made with colorful veggies, crunchy nuts and noodles, and a sweet and creamy dressing, it’s like summer in a bowl!
The individual ingredients may be simple. But when you toss them all together with a bright dressing, it transforms into a hearty and amazing dish.
It’s so good, even the kids will enjoy it. I’ll bet they won’t even realize it’s good for them.
There are hundreds of copycat recipes out there, but out of the ones I tried, this one replicates the original the best.
It’s very easy, too, and calls for basic ingredients. That means you can make this salad any day of the week!
To sum up, this salad is tasty, nutritious, and easy to make. It’s definitely a keeper.
For the Dressing:
- Honey – For a deep, sweet flavor.
- Vinegar – For a tangy contrast. Any type of vinegar works, but rice wine vinegar is best to achieve that Asian flavor.
- Mayonnaise – For a rich and creamy dressing.
- Mustard – It also adds a tangy flavor.
For the Salad:
- Cabbage and Lettuce – At the base of every salad are the greens. Using cabbage means this salad keeps well. Add both Red and Napa cabbage for nice color contrast. Romaine lettuce is in there, too!
- Green Onions – For that lovely pungent flavor.
- Chow Mein Noodles – One of the trademark ingredients in Applebee’s salad. It’s crisp, crunchy, and transforms the salad from so-so to spectacular.
- Almonds – For a nutty and crunchy salad.
- Chicken – Don’t make life hard. Just use whatever leftover chicken you have available. You can shred the chicken for easier eating. I do prefer my chicken crunchy, though, so I like to use breaded and deep-fried chicken.
If you don’t like chicken or don’t have it on hand, just use any meat or protein you want. Salmon, shrimp, ham – take your pick.
Tips for the Best Salad
- If using uncooked chicken, use boneless, skinless chicken for easy cooking. Chicken tenders, breasts, and fingers all make great options.
- Preheat the oil before frying. If the oil is not hot enough, you’ll end up with sad, soggy chicken.
- Place cooked chicken strips on a plate lined with paper towels to eliminate excess grease.
- If the chicken is under-cooked, pop it in the oven and bake at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for 5 minutes.
- Use a combination of red and green cabbage for pretty color contrast. Throw in some shredded carrots, too!
- For a more effortless salad, get a bag of pre-chopped salad mix.
- For a lighter dressing, use light mayonnaise or Greek yogurt.
- Place leftover salad in an air-tight container and store in the fridge for up to 3 days.
- Want more dressing? Simply double the dressing and a bit more honey.
- I prefer fried chicken strips for a nice crunch, but grilled or baked chicken works, too.
- For an authentic Asian flavor, use rice wine vinegar for the dressing. Add a teaspoon of sesame oil, too.
- For a more filling dinner, turn the salad into salad wraps. Just wrap them in tortillas, and voila!
- To make it ahead of time, prepare the salad sans the chicken and noodles, and cover with plastic wrap. Make the dressing and store it in a separate container.
Refrigerate it until ready to serve. Combine salad, dressing, and top with noodles and chicken. You can make the salad a day in advance.
I don’t recommend freezing the salad, as fresh is always best. Check out my post “Can You Freeze Chicken Salad?” for info on freezing creamy sauces.
- Give the dressing a nice kick by adding half a teaspoon of sriracha or red chili oil.
- Make a peanut dressing: puree garlic, lime juice, soy sauce, peanut butter, rice vinegar, honey, sesame oil, ginger, and red chili flakes.
- Instead of corn flakes, coat chicken fingers in Panko crumbs or Ritz crackers and fry.
- Instead of deep-frying, use the air fryer. It will be as flavorful minus the extra grease.
Preheat the air fryer to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Place the chicken fingers in the basket in a single layer.
Cook for 12 minutes or until the internal temperature reaches 165 degrees Fahrenheit.
Extras and Add-ins
The great thing about salads is that you can add whatever mix-ins you like. Whether you want a fruity flavor or a crunchy contrast, your options are limitless. Here are some suggestions:
- Mangoes, peaches, pineapple, and mandarin oranges for a bright, refreshing salad
- Crispy wonton strips, sesame seeds, and toasted coconut for texture
- Toasted cashews, walnuts, and pecans for crunch
- Steamed snow peas, diced red bell peppers, broccoli, and cucumbers for nutrition
More Applebee’s Copycat Recipes
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