I’ll be the first to admit — I am a total fan of those bagged chopped salads that have become a staple in grocery stores nowadays. My friends got hooked on them a few years ago and turned me onto them. And ever since, I almost always have a bag stashed in my fridge for quick lunches or dinners. They’re so dang quick and fresh and easy, and I love trying out all of the new brands and flavors that pop up in the various stores that I frequent.
But of all the flavors I’ve tried, I always seem to come back to a classic — the sesame chopped salad. It seems like every brand (and most restaurants that serve salads) has a slightly different take on this salad, but the main ingredients are always the same — a cabbage-based slaw, a sesame vinaigrette, sliced almonds, and maybe some fried wonton strips and fresh cilantro and extra sesame seeds if you’re lucky. Definitely a good start…but if you’ve seen me make this salad on Snapchat (where it makes a pretty regular appearance), you might notice that I always soup mine up with some extra avocado and chicken. It’s just not quite the same without it. ;)
That said, most of those bagged salads at the store aren’t organic, which is a priority for me when purchasing leafy greens. So recently, I decided to try making a homemade version with some organic cabbage and carrots and cilantro that I picked up at the market. And of course, I grabbed an avocado and grilled up some marinated chicken to go with it. And for something different, instead of the uber-sweet vinaigrettes that usually come with these salads, I decided to try whipping up a creamy sesame-almond dressing. And the result?!
Alright, so let’s talk details.
Often, I’ll just shred up a rotisserie chicken or thaw out some frozen shredded chicken to pop in these salads when I’m pressed for time. But on the day I made this one, I took a few extra minutes to whip up a simple sesame marinade for some chicken breasts, and then cooked them in my grill pan while I prepared the rest of the ingredients.
Then I tossed everything in a big bowl — fresh cilantro, avocado, chopped cabbage, chicken, almonds, carrots, and green onions. (Probably should have chopped up that chicken and avocado a bit more to make this technically a “chopped” salad, but eh, we’re not very technical around here.) ;)
And then I whipped up a simple creamy sesame-almond dressing using Blue Diamond Almond Breeze Unsweetened Original Almondmilk and almond butter as a base (in lieu of oil!), along with some rice wine vinegar, soy sauce, sesame oil, and a hint of sriracha, which was delicious. Loved the creamy vibe for a change! (And fun fact — just learned that Blue Diamond Almond Breeze is the official almondmilk of Team USA Volleyball, who I’m looking forward to cheering on! ?)
Then I tossed everything together. (Well, all of the salad stuff. I decided to drizzle on the dressing later.)
And in less than 30 minutes, this bright and beautiful sesame chicken chopped salad was ready to enjoy.
Love how simple it was to make homemade. Love all of those flavorful, fresh ingredients. And I absolutely loved the creamier, naturally-sweetened dressing for a change. Definitely a winner.
So if you love sesame salads as much as I do, check out the recipe below, and happy chopping!
Toss all ingredients together until evenly combined. Serve immediately.
To Make The Creamy Sesame Dressing:
Whisk all ingredients together until combined, adding in the sriracha if you would like a spicier dressing. Use immediately, or refrigerate in a sealed container for up to 1 day. (Also, if you would like a sweeter dressing, feel free to stir in a few teaspoons of honey.)
You’re welcome to just season the chicken breasts with olive oil, salt and pepper, then grill, bake or saute them until cooked through. BUT, if you would like to kick the flavor up a notch, I highly recommend whipping up this quick sauce and letting the chicken breasts marinate in it for at least 15 minutes (or up to 8 hours) before cooking. Or, if you want a shortcut, you can also just shred a rotisserie chicken for this recipe. Here’s the marinade sauce:
1/4 cup low-sodium soy sauce
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
2 teaspoons ground ginger
1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
This post is sponsored by Blue Diamond Almond Breeze, maker of my favorite almondmilk. They only use Blue Diamond Almonds to make their almondmilk, and are proud to be an official sponsor of USA Volleyball. Check out www.ServeUpYourBest.com if you’d like to learn more, and also visit for a chance to win $5,000 for the ultimate beach day, learn fun volleyball moves, get an Almond Breeze coupon and smoothie recipes!
Where do you find almond butter?
Hi Debbie! Near the peanut butters. If for some reason you can’t find any though, you can just use peanut butter. We hope you enjoy this!
YUM! looks A.MAZING!!
Thanks Courtney — we hope you enjoy it!
OMG! I’m making this tomorrow! Gorgeous food shots as well!
Thanks Donna — we hope you enjoy this! :)
How do you get such gorgeous tack sharp vivid pictures? Do you have any helpful hints for a novice? They are stunning! Thanks for sharing
Hi Lisa! Thanks for your sweet words! Ali actually has a great photography resource page with lots of helpful info and tips! :)
Looks like I know what I’m having for lunch today! This looks so light and bright and full of flavor- cannot wait to try it out!
Thank you Karly — we hope you enjoy! :)
To make this nut free, would you recommend the
Asian Honey Vinaigrette – from “Crunchy Asian Ramen Noodle Salad”
…or the Sesame Ginger Vinaigrette – from “Lighter Chinese Chicken Salad”
…or something else?
Hi Jennifer! Oh man, honestly we think either one would be delicious and work great, so it’s totally your call! We don’t think you can go wrong with either. :)
Yum! I didn’t have avocado – that would have made it even better! I like the dressing and did find that I wanted it a little bit sweeter as you mentioned (I used homemade almonds only almond butter). It’s gorgeous with purple cabbage.
We’re so glad you enjoyed it Leah! :D
Any substitution recommendations for the dressing? My husband is really allergic to almonds :/
Hi Kari! Yes, you could use peanut butter if he’s not allergic to that!
The ladies I worked with brought a similar salad to our office lunches, but they added mandarin oranges in extra lite syrup, & used a lettuce & herb plus cabbages (red & green both), & chicken. It was a real delight. Hope you’ll try such a mix with yours & that you’ll enjoy it. Thank you for sharing…C.J.
I just had to stop by and tell you that I absolutely L O V E this salad. I have made it no less than ten times since reading the recipe. I’ve even shared it with my co-workers and they were as amazed as I was at how absolutely delicious this recipe is. Seriously. I was surprised. With or without the chicken, this recipe is fantastic! It’s my new favorite make-ahead lunch recipe. I can make a big bowl of this on Sunday and have it to eat all week. Yum!!
Thanks for your sweet words, Pam — we’re so happy you love the salad and we appreciate you sharing the recipe with folks! :)
This looks so good!
would peanut butter be a good substitute for almond butter?
Yes, definitely! We hope you enjoy! :)
Loved this, substituted peanut butter for almond butter and it was delicious.
We’re so glad you enjoyed it, Rachel!
I have tried at least a dozen of your recipes. The gorgeous photographs always catch my eye, and the flavors NEVER disappoint. So many of your recipes have become our family favorites. Jambalaya, eggplant parm, beef and broccoli. I always know that I can trust a recipe of yours. Seriously, you kill it.
Can you suggest a substitution for the almond milk? Thank you!
Yes, I want to know what I could use instead of almond milk – mostly because I would have to go out and get it. But I have everything else right here on hand. ?? I’m going to just do it with regular milk, for now.
another winner! loving these salad recipes– working my way through all of them. The sesame chicken is my fave so far, now I’m going to try your new chipotle chicken salad! Thanks! <3 Molly
This is one of our favorite salads to make, especially for meal prep! I always make the marinade for the chicken breasts, and marinate over night if possible. But I have done for approx 4 hours and it’s still super yummy. I do take a short cut for the dressing…I use Panera’s Asian Sesame Vinaigrette and we love it!
This is super delicious and makes an absolute ton of yummy salad.
I am curious to know why you indicate that the dressing is only good for a day?
I made this salad. The dressing is wonderful, I subbed peanut butter because I didn’t want to go to the store. It was not too salty ( from the tamari) and just the right amount of sweet.
Tahini would also make a great substitute for almond butter