Shredded Un-Chicken Salad

A vegetarian take on the Chinese chicken salad of my youth. Toss shredded lettuces and cabbage, lots of cilantro, green onions, and the protein of your choice with a strong sesame-soy dressing punctuated with the bite of hot mustard. Forever one of my favorite salads.

Shredded Un-Chicken Salad

This has been an evolving recipe over the past twenty years and I think it *finally* nails all the notes I love in a great Chinese chicken salad. Specifically, it's a vegetarian take on what I think of as the amazing Chinese chicken salads of my youth, circa the 1980s. This version includes all my favorite components - the awesome super-strong hot mustard & sesame-soy dressing, the pile-it-on approach to cilantro, the scallions and toasted nuts. Then, with this version, you introduce some sort of alternate protein (or plant-based chicken). The whole situation is compiled into a feathery, light mountain of deliciousness.
vegetarian version of chinese chicken salad recipe - salad served in a large, wide bowl

Protein: You Have Options

In place of shredded chicken, in the traditional version, you have options. I’ll be honest and say, I’m not a huge fan of the highly-processed plant-based meats available, but there is one brand of plant-based chicken Wayne buys on occasion. This one - green bag, original (*not sponsored). I occasionally reach for it, especially in a recipe like this one, when I’m really chasing the nostalgia. Anyway, it’s the best I’ve tasted. Alternately, if you’re willing to let go of the chicken angle - a hard-boiled egg, or a bit of pan-fried tofu is all you need to make a one bowl meal of things.
ingredients for shredded un-chicken salad arranged on a countertop

On The Go: Shredded Un-chicken Salad in a Jar

This makes a great on-the-go salad. Here’s the plan. Place the lettuce / cabbage mixture in a large jar, with the plant-based chicken, egg or tofu tucked into that jar as well. The dressing should go in a separate jar, and a little side container is the way to keep the nuts crunchy. Deploy a little ice pack. Then when you’re ready, a quick toss, and you've got a beautiful, vibrant salad. It's a good one for work, or picnic, or potluck.

ingredients for shredded un-chicken salad arranged on a countertop

One More (optional) Component

There was always a crunchy component to the chicken salads I love most as a kid. It was either tons of strips of fried wonton wrappers or fried thin rice noodles (vermicelli). I don’t love deep frying, so I normally skip this component when I make this salad at home, but you can certainly add it if you like.
vegetarian version of chinese chicken salad recipe - salad served in a large, wide bowl
The photo above is the version I made yesterday using plant-based chicken, apples, and cashews along with shredded cabbage, arugula, and little gem lettuces. And the version below is from a few years back. You can see there's a bit of radicchio, sprouts, peanuts, and some watermelon radishes. This is a long way of saying, you can play around with different components of this salad based on what you have on hand. The dressing really brings is all together!
vegetarian version of chinese chicken salad recipe - salad served in a large, wide bowl

More Salad Recipes

Few people love a shredded salad or slaw more than me. So, if you’re ready to show off your knife skills here are a few favorites.

vegetarian version of chinese chicken salad recipe
Enjoy and let me know in the comments if you land on any adaptation that you like in particular!

101 Cookbooks Membership

Premium Ad-Free membership includes:
-Ad-free content
-Print-friendly recipes
-Spice / Herb / Flower / Zest recipe collection PDF
-Weeknight Express recipe collection PDF
-Surprise bonuses throughout the year

spice herb flower zest
weeknight express

Shredded Un-chicken Salad

0 from 0 votes

To make this gluten-free use gluten free tamari in place of the soy sauce or shoyu.

  • 2 teaspoons rice vinegar (white or brown)
  • 2 teaspoons sugar or brown sugar
  • 3 teaspoons soy sauce or shoyu
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons dry Asian hot mustard powder
  • 2 tablespoons toasted sesame oil
  • 4 generous handfuls of a mix of thinly sliced green cabbage, iceberg lettuce, little gem lettuce, arugula, endives, radicchio, and/or micro sprouts
  • 1 small bunch of cilantro, de-stemmed and chopped
  • 1 bunch of green onions, thinly sliced
  • 1 medium carrot or apple, very thinly sliced
  • 1 large handful of toasted cashews, peanuts or nut/seed mix
  • top with: 8 ounces plant-based chicken strips (pan-fried), a couple hardboiled eggs, or broiled tofu
  1. In a small jar or bowl, which together the vinegar, sugar, soy sauce, mustard powder, and toasted sesame oil.
  2. Rinse and dry the cabbage and lettuces. Prep the cilantro, green onions, and carrot or apple if you haven't already. If you’re not making the salad immediately, you can store these ingredients in a jar or bowl, refrigerated.
  3. When ready to serve, toss everything with as much dressing as you like, before tossing in a bunch of nuts and/or seeds. And lastly, add whatever protein you like to make a meal of it.

Serves 4-6.

Prep Time
30 mins
Cook Time
10 mins
Total Time
40 mins
If you make this recipe, I'd love to see it - tag it #101cookbooks on Instagram!
weeknight express
101cookbooks social icon
Join my newsletter!
Weekly recipes and inspirations.

Post Your Comment

Recipe Rating


What a great vegetarian alternative 😀 I love when you add nuts for crunch in a salad with a zingy dressing! It just works so well 😀 The boiled eggs are a nice touch too 🙂 x

Jules @ WolfItDown

I need to seriously work on my lunch salad game. This is gorgeous.


Hello dinner tonight! Thanks for the recipe!


This looks delicious! And you have such beautiful photography. 🙂 I can’t wait to try it! It seems like it would be perfect for my husband to take to work for lunch.


Thanks Heidi, this looks so refreshing and flavorful! Do you have a good brand/source of miso that you recommend?

There is a woman who makes great miso here in San Francisco – Aedan Foods. I see her at the markets and like to buy from her. But there is a lot of good miso out there. And if you avoid soy, you can find chickpea miso, etc. I look for non-GMO / organic when possible.


What a great refreshing salad! Thank you 🙂


I love salads in a jar. And this one is as beautiful as a spring bouquet! Yummy and gorgeous!


This is such a beautiful salad, pinned this for later! Thank you for sharing!

Sara | Life's Little Sweets

My daughter in law gave me this wonderful hint for carrying salads in a jar. Put the dressing on the bottom, then protein , then vegs. Shake before eating.


love this, a perfect salad lunch-on-the-go, and the picture is so inspiring!


Looks fantastic – and the addition of the peanuts should add a great crunchy “twist”. Nom nom!


Hi Heidi
This salad looks great. If I have some leftover dressing, how long would it keep for? I never know when garlic or onion is involved…thank you!


    Hi Sarah – roughly up to a week.

    Heidi Swanson

I just returned from a trip to Myanmar. Their cuisine is an interesting mix of Chinese, Indian and Thai influences, plus some unique bits of their own. Salads are a big deal there, and they LOVE crunchy add-ons!! I’ve never had such varied and interesting salads. Their signature dish, though, is a salad made of fermented tea leaves: Lahpet. Think salty, smoky sauerkraut-ish base with all the crunchy, fresh toppings you could imagine. Their uses for fermented vegetables was kind of inspiring!! Anyway, this salad also looks delish as well and I’ll be trying it soon! Thank you!


This is such a lovely thing! I adore all the freshness and color going on. Perfect lunch for Springtime!


More Recipes

101cookbooks social icon
Join my newsletter!
Weekly recipes and inspirations.

Popular Ingredients

Use of this site constitutes acceptance of its User Agreement and Privacy Policy.

101 Cookbooks is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Any clickable link to on the site is an affiliate link.