Chinese Five Spice Chicken Salad

This light and colorful Chinese Five Spice Chicken Salad makes a delicious lunch or light dinner. You can use the air fryer or a skillet on the stovetop to cook the chicken and then just toss all the colorful vegetables together and you're in for a treat.

Jump to Recipe (or scroll for photos and riveting information...)
Advertisement - Continue Below
Looking down at a bowl of Chinese Five Spice Chicken Salad with an orange napkin and a fork.

Healthy Chicken Salad

This recipe for Chinese Five Spice Chicken Salad is a great way to enjoy a healthy meal that is packed with protein, fiber, and vitamins. The five-spice seasoned chicken provides a good source of protein, while the abundance of vegetables and cashews add fiber and nutrients. It’s colorful, pretty and light. 

Hands pouring oil into a bowl of vinaigrette while whisking with ingredients around - soy sauce, rice vinegar, a can of mandarin segments.

Asian Salad Dressing

The dressing for this salad is made with a blend of soy sauce, rice vinegar, mandarin juice, a little sugar and fresh grated ginger. These ingredients come together to create a flavorful and slightly sweet dressing that complements the chicken and vegetables perfectly. If you prefer a spicier salad, add a touch of chili flakes to the dressing.

Chicken thighs cooked in a skillet with a cutting board of chopped vegetables and a bowl of lettuce in the background.

What is Chinese Five Spice

Chinese Five Spice is a blend of spices that is commonly used in Chinese cuisine. The blend typically includes cinnamon, cloves, fennel seed, star anise, and Szechuan peppercorn, but varies depending on what brand you buy. This combination of spices adds a unique and aromatic flavor to the chicken and also helps it to brown nicely, whether you’re cooking the chicken in a skillet on the stovetop OR in the air fryer. If you’re feeling ambitious, you could make your own five spice blend

Looking down on hands julienning a red pepper with shredded cabbage and shredded carrots also on the cutting board.

Preparing the Vegetables

This salad is pretty because of the combination of colors included, but to make it look its best, pay attention to how you slice the vegetables. Cut the lettuces into large bite-sized pieces, thinly shred the red cabbage and carrots and then slice the red pepper into thin strips. Keeping the slices even helps to give the salad that professional look. You can use a knife or a mandolin to slice the cabbage. I use a peeler with a julienne blade on the carrots and then slice the pepper by hand. These vegetables add color and crunch to the salad, and the thin slices make them easy to eat as well as give the salad its best look. 

Picking up and tossing an salad with mandarin segments, cashews and colorful vegetables.

Mandarin and Cashews in Asian Salad

The salad is finished off with the addition of mandarin oranges and toasted cashews. The mandarins add a touch of sweetness and a burst of citrus flavor, while the cashews add a nice crunch and a touch of saltiness. Both ingredients really enhance the flavor and look of the dish.

Looking at two white bowls with Chinese Five Spice Chicken Salad, orange napkins and a larger bowl of salad in the background.

How to Serve

I like to serve the Chinese Five Spice Chicken Salad while the chicken is still arm, but it’s also delicious cold or at room temperature too. The chicken can be served sliced or shredded, resting on top or tossed in. It all depends on you and how you’d like it.  If you’re making this salad ahead of time, or taking it to a party, toss everything together but wait to dress it with the vinaigrette until just before serving. It’s perfect for a quick and easy weeknight dinner and it’s full of goodness.

Featured Recipe Techniques

More about the skills used in this recipe.

Cooking School
How to Cut a Bell Pepper

There's a super easy and tidy way to cut bell peppers without getting the seeds all over your cutting board....View Technique

Advertisement - Continue Below

Chinese 5-Spice Chicken Salad

  • Prep Time: 15 m
  • Cook Time: 6 m
  • Total Time: 21 m
  • Servings:


  • 1 pound boneless skinless chicken thighs
  • 1 teaspoon Chinese 5-spice seasoning
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • Vegetable oil
  • 1 head butter lettuce
  • ½ head romaine lettuce
  • 2 cups shredded red cabbage
  • 1 carrot shredded
  • 1 red pepper julienned
  • ½ cup roasted salted cashews
  • 1 11-ounce can mandarin orange segments, drain and reserve juice
Asian Dressing:
  • ¼ cup mandarin juice reserved from can
  • 3 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons sugar
  • 2 teaspoons soy sauce
  • 1- inch fresh ginger minced
  • ½ cup vegetable or canola oil
  • Freshly ground black pepper


  1. Drain the can of mandarin orange segments and reserve ¼ cup of the juice.
  2. Make the dressing by combining the mandarin orange juice, rice wine vinegar, sugar, soy sauce, and ginger in a bowl or food processor. While whisking or with the processor running, slowly pour in the oil until the dressing is emulsified. (It’s ok if it separates again – just whisk it back together.) Season with freshly ground black pepper. Refrigerate until ready to use.
  3. Season the chicken thighs on both side with the Chinese 5-spice seasoning, salt and freshly ground black pepper.
  4. Pre-heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the vegetable oil and sauté the chicken thighs for 12 to 15 minutes, turning them over halfway through. Alternately, spritz the chicken thighs with a little vegetable oil and air-fry at 400°F for 10 to 12 minutes, turning them over halfway through. Transfer the cooked thighs to a cutting board and let them rest for a few minutes.

  5. While the chicken is cooking, assemble the salad. Cut the butter lettuce and romaine lettuce into bite-sized pieces and place in a large salad bowl. Add the red cabbage, carrots, and red pepper. Drizzle half of the dressing over the salad and toss together. Season with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Gently toss in the mandarin oranges and cashews. Transfer the salad to individual plates.
  6. Slice the cooked chicken thighs and place chicken on top. Serve immediately with the extra dressing at the table.
Advertisement - Continue Below
Advertisement - Continue Below
Advertisement - Continue Below

Comments (1)Post a Reply

  1. 5 stars
    I made this tonight and it was absolutely delicious! We ate it all and my husband asked me if it wouldn’t be too much trouble, could I please make him the same salad for him to take to work for lunch!! I was happy to do this, of course.
    The one and only charge I would make next time would be to add a bit more of ginger to give it a little more bite, but that’s just me!
    Great recipe Meredith, thank you so much! And by the way I thoroughly enjoy your pictures of Hazel and Lulu that you always include at the bottom of your recipes. They are sweethearts. We have a golden retriever whose name is Seamus, so I understand your love for them! ❤️❤️🐾🐾🐾🐾

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *