Chopped Cashew Chicken Salad

Oh, you know, nothing much going on around here except for THE BEST CASHEW CHICKEN SALAD IN THE UNIVERSE. And if online shouting offends, I’m sorry, but I have to get my point across somehow.

If fresh, flavorful salads that are hearty enough to fill you up for dinner are your kind of thing, you don’t want to pass over this amazingly delicious chopped cashew chicken salad. After you power through the carpal tunnel effects of chopping all the fresh ingredients (it’s really not that bad, you guys, promise + the end result is so completely worth the repetition), it’s a matter of tossing the crunchy salad with the simple, blended homemade cashew dressing, piling it up on plates and calling it good. Oh, and don’t forget the extra sprinkle of roasted, salted cashews. They kind of make everything right in the world, those cashews.

Chopped Cashew Chicken Salad

We’ve eaten this for dinner several times in the last couple weeks. The dinner repeats have been for only one purpose: to provide a lunch I can look forward to. I hold my family to one dinner serving each so that I can pull out the deliciously fresh leftovers the next day (if heaven is smiling down upon me, for a couple days) and eat in absolute crunchy cashew salad bliss alongside my sweetie toddler (who’s most likely smashing grilled cheese and yogurt all over the place).

Cashew chicken salad…good cashew chicken salad…is a very beautiful thing.

What To ServeFresh, seasonal fruit
Divine breadsticks

Chopped Cashew Chicken Salad

Chopped Chicken Cashew Salad with Homemade Creamy Cashew Dressing

Yield: Serves 4-6

Chopped Chicken Cashew Salad with Homemade Creamy Cashew Dressing

If you don't have cooked chicken (a rotisserie chicken works great here), this simple, flavorful method for cooking chicken to shred or chop is a great alternative. If doing the above (cooking the chicken to use in the recipe), try rubbing the soy sauce + sesame oil mixture on the chicken before cooking instead of tossing with the cooked chicken like called for in the recipe.


  • 1/2 cup roasted, salted cashews
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh ginger
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
  • 2 tablespoons chopped shallots
  • 2 tablespoons rice vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lime juice (from about 1 lime)
  • 2 tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1 teaspoon honey
  • 2 tablespoons canola, olive or avocado oil
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Salad:
  • 3-4 cups cooked, chopped chicken (see note above)
  • 1/2 tablespoon low-sodium soy sauce
  • 1/2 tablespoon toasted sesame oil
  • 4 cups shredded Napa cabbage
  • 2-3 cups chopped romaine lettuce
  • 1 cup chopped snow peas
  • 1 cup chopped carrots
  • 2 green onions, white and green parts thinly chopped
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro
  • 1/2 - 1 cup chopped roasted, salted cashews


  1. For the dressing, pulse the 1/2 cup cashews in a blender or food processor until the texture is like a paste. Add the rest of the dressing ingredients and process until well-combined and mostly smooth. Set aside or refrigerate for up to a couple days.
  2. Toss the cooked, chopped chicken with the 1/2 tablespoon soy sauce and 1/2 tablespoon sesame oil. In a large bowl, combine the cabbage, lettuce, snow peas, carrots, green onions, and cilantro. Add the chicken.
  3. Toss the salad with the dressing (add a bit at a time; you can serve any extra alongside if you don't use it all to dress the salad). Sprinkle the cashews on top and serve. If you are planning to have leftovers, don't toss the salad with the dressing as a whole - serve the dressing on the side and store the dressing and salad leftovers separately in the refrigerator.

Recipe Source: adapted from a recipe in Cuisine at Home April 2015 (altered and increased the dressing amounts, changed a few ingredients in the salad lineup and used cooked chicken)

26 Responses to Chopped Cashew Chicken Salad with Homemade Creamy Cashew Dressing

  1. Rachael says:

    Is there something I can use in place of shallots? Onions, perhaps? I want to make this, but don’t I won’t get to the grocery store until later this week.

  2. Jocelyn says:

    My family loved this salad! Thanks so much for a terrific recipe.

  3. Nicole H says:

    Hey Mel. I was looking at your different salads and when I read this one again, the dressing reminded me of one that I had last weekend at a restaurant in Orem called Aubergine. When you come here this summer, if you’re feeling like you want an amazing, fresh salad and/or a delicious smoothie, you should definitely check it out. It’s on State and University Parkway by Sprouts farmers market. Their Goddess chopped salad is so good and I think you would love it (it has a cashew ranch dressing and apples…I actually thought of you when I saw that it had apples. Haha). Anyways, I’m signs up for the 10k and am really looking forward to it. I hope that your training is going well!

    • Mel says:

      Several people have recommended that restaurant to me lately so it must be good! I better make time to try it in June. So glad you are running the 10K and looking forward to hopefully seeing you!

    • Nicole H says:

      Yikes. Remember how I said that Aubergine had a salad called Goddess salad was good? Well, I went there last night and it doesn’t exist. But they do have one called Dream salad 🙂

  4. Stacie says:

    I made this last week and it was soooo delicious! I also wanted to say thank you for everything you do for this site. I can’t imagine that it’s easy, especially with all the things you juggle day in and day out, but your efforts do not go unnoticed! Everything I have learned about cooking I have learned from you. Faithful follower of almost 6 years here, I sing your praises to everyone I know, I LOVE YOU MEL! 🙂

  5. Mimsie says:

    I am in the process of making this. Just wondering about the amount of soy sauce and sesame oil to toss with the chicken. The recipe list says 1/2 Tbsp. of each; the instructions say 1 Tbsp. of each. Not a big deal, but wondering if you changed it for a reason, taste-wise. Thanks!

    • Mel says:

      Mimsie – good question. I started with 1 tablespoon of each but cut it down to 1/2 tablespoon when that was plenty of flavor – and just forgot to update the instructions. Will do so now!

      • Mimsie says:

        I used the smaller amount, and it was just right. Followed your tip about serving the dressing on the side… we have just enough leftovers for lunch. This was delicious. Thx again.

  6. Robin says:

    I used some of this dressing/ sauce on pasta and it was delicious.

  7. Robin says:

    Yumm. Ginger, lime, sesame oil, cilantro. I thought I would like it.
    This salad is delicious.

  8. Pat says:

    This recipe is a BIG winner on several counts – hubby and I regularly buy rotisserie chickens for dinner and make the leftovers into several other meals like casseroles, quesadillas, etc. so I was excited to try this recipe! I had everything for the dressing, except the cilantro (which I’m not a big fan of anyway!) and it turned out fine and was incredibly delicious! I was missing a couple salad ingredients, but with this yummy dressing – any combination of salad ingredients tastes fantastic!
    Look forward to all your great recipes Mel – thanks!

  9. mangomama says:

    I assume you don’t cook the snow peas ahead– use them raw just like the carrots? Looking forward too trying this!

  10. Liz says:

    I made this salad for dinner tonight–AMAZING!! I used shredded carrots, subbed sugar snap peas for the snow peas, and added cucumbers and avocado (I had one I needed to use and surprisingly it was a delicious addition). Yum! I can’t wait to eat the leftovers tomorrow. Thanks for another great recipe, Mel!

  11. Chopped salads are my favourite thing ever. And I love having them for supper too, mainly for the leftovers for lunch the next day! I always make sure to have enough for leftovers! This salad looks amazing, love all the cashews!

  12. Liz says:

    I am HUGE on doing all kinds of things with cashews and have successfully subbed cashew cream for heavy cream in everything I’ve tried including caramel sauce. Cashews are the bomb in my opinion!

    I do typically soak cashews at least an hour… – primarily because I’ve read that nuts/legumes/beans have something on/in them that protects them but that also prevents people from getting 100% of the nutritional value from them. Hey, I read it on the internet!

    Also, I have Vita-Mix (8 years old and going strong!) and it absolutely turns cashews and water into “cream’.

  13. Kim in MD says:

    My family eats salad for dinner most nights during the warmer months, so I am always on the hunt for new and delicious recipes. This one is going to the top up the must try list!

  14. We have hit a milestone as a family.
    My 11 and 12 year old boys have said they are willing to eat salad (with meat) for dinner.

  15. Cammee says:

    Oh baby, this looks sooooo good!

  16. THE BEST SALAD IN THE UNIVERSE YOU SAY?! Clearly I must face plant into this fresh and crunchy green-tastic deliciousness AT ONCE! I love that you used cashews in the salad and the dressing! DOUBLE THE YUM! Pinned!

  17. I really like the cashews you used both as a topping and in the dressing. Sounds like a good combination.

  18. Sheila says:

    Oh, this sounds so flavorful, full of nutrition, and delicious! The perfect recipe to make the following week after the loaded Easter dinner with dessert. Really like the “cashew” ingredient in this salad. Cashews are extremely tasty and for me very hard to just eat a handful. I could munch on them all day long. Thank you for re-creating this recipe and sharing for our families to enjoy also.

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