I grew up loving asian-inspired “Chinese Chicken Salad” and whenever I saw it on a menu, I’d order it—without the chicken! I know that might sound crazy, but it I loved the toasted sesame dressing, juicy mandarin orange slices, and colorful salad. And as a vegetarian since age eight, I never missed the chicken.
Fast forward a few decades to today. I figure it’s about time to create a vegan version—but step it up a notch from my “no chicken” days. In this recipe you’ll make your own sesame dressing from scratch, and instead of chicken, you’ll add chickpeas to the salad. Chickpeas are delicious and give this Asian-Inspired Chickpea Salad that filling protein boost!
A fresh and delicious vegan Chinese Chicken Salad—a plant-based spin on the asian-inspired dish found on many restaurant menus. Instead of chicken we’re using the beloved protein-packed chickpea! Enjoy!
- 3 cups of shredded Napa cabbage
- 1 cup of thinly sliced purple cabbage
- 1 cup of shredded carrots
- 1 can of chickpeas (drained and rinsed)
- 3 green onions (white and green parts sliced into thin rounds)
- 1 cup of fresh cilantro (roughly chopped)
- 1 cup of mandarin oranges in juice (juice drained)
- ⅓ cup of slivered almonds (toasted)
- 1 teaspoon of black sesame seeds (optional)
- ⅓ cup or soy sauce
- ¼ cup of granulated sugar
- 3 tablespoons of toasted sesame oil
- 2 tablespoons of rice vinegar
- ½ teaspoon of ground ginger
- ½ teaspoon of garlic powder
- In a large serving bowl, add the Napa cabbage, purple cabbage, carrots, chickpeas, green onions, and cilantro and mix well.
- In a small bowl, add all dressing ingredients and whisk together vigorously until fully combined.
- Drizzle dressing evenly across the salad, mix well, and top with mandarin oranges, toasted almond slivers, and black sesame seeds. Serve and enjoy!
This salad is best enjoyed fresh since the purple cabbage will turn the chickpeas purple over time. If you’d like to prep it in advance, keep the dressing separate from the salad until you’re ready to eat it.
What Can I Use Instead of Chicken?
In this recipe I use chickpeas because it’s so quick-and-easy to open a can, rinse them, and sprinkle them on the salad. But by no means are you limited to chickpeas! You can use any number of hearty alternatives to create your own spin on this Asian-Inspired Chickpea Salad. Such as…
- White beans or any other beans you enjoy
- Grilled or baked tofu
- Vegan chicken nuggets, baked and sliced
- Veggie burger(s), grilled and roughly chopped
- Roasted peanuts or cashews
- Sunflower seeds
All of these will give a nice protein boost similar to chickpeas.
I have extra Napa cabbage—what can I do with it?
Shred it up and toss it in the salad! There should be plenty of dressing to cover more greens.
I have extra dressing—what can I do with it?
Store it in a sealed container in the fridge and use it for your other salads throughout the week!
I don’t like raw chickpeas—what can I use instead?
Not to worry! You can toss the chickpeas in a tablespoon of vegetable oil with some salt and garlic powder and roast them in the oven for a crispier bite. If you want to skip the chickpeas altogether you can use any of the other vegan alternatives to chicken listed above (tofu, vegan nuggets, veggie burgers, etc.).
I hate cilantro—is it needed?
Nope! Feel free to leave out the cilantro and this salad will still be delicious. The dressing is so flavorful it won’t feel like something is missing.
More Delicious Vegan Recipes to Try:
We want to thank our amazing recipe tester J.J. Steele for helping us perfect this recipe!
Asian-inspired Vegan Chinese Chicken Salad recipe by Michelle Cehn, author of The Friendly Vegan Cookbook, for World of Vegan. Copyright of World of Vegan™, all rights reserved. Please note that this article may contain affiliate links that support our work at World of Vegan.