Sesame Chicken Salad with Spicy Peanut Garlic Crunchies


This is a delicious, protein-packed meal prep salad that will keep you fueled up all week. Quinoa or rice, chicken, and veggies get tossed in a sweet and salty sesame dressing. Peanuts, garlic, ginger, and red pepper flakes get toasted in oil until golden and crispy for a next level topper. That Infused oil gets drizzled over top for a spicy, garlicky kick. 

Note: this salad is heavy on the prep – cook the quinoa, chicken, and make the dressing ahead!

Ingredient highlight

Chicken! Chicken is a great way to get in high quality protein that’s also packed with selenium, choline, niacin (Vitamin B3), and vitamin B6, and B12.

Servings 4
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes


  • ½ cup quinoa or rice (about 1 ¼-1 ½ cups cooked)
  • 2 cups shredded chicken (from about ¾ lb) (Instant Pot Shredded Chicken recipe)*
  • 7 cups thinly sliced or grated veg (cabbage, carrot, bell pepper, etc…)**
  • 1 bunch scallions, thinly sliced
  • Chopped avocado

For the dressing:

  • 3 tbsp soy sauce or tamari
  • 3 tbsp rice vinegar
  • 2 tbsp toasted sesame oil
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tbsp tahini
  • 2 tsp maple syrup

For the spicy peanut garlic crunch:

  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • ½ cup toasted peanuts
  • 3-4 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
  • 2-inch knob ginger, thinly sliced into matchsticks***
  • ½ tsp red pepper flakes
  • ¼ tsp kosher salt
  • *You can make my Instant Pot shredded chicken or use any type of cooked and shredded or chopped chicken (grilled, baked, pan-seared, etc…). Save time and buy a rotisserie chicken!
  • **You could buy a pre-sliced bag of coleslaw mix to save time. I used a combo of cabbage and carrot (5 cups thinly sliced cabbage, 2 cups grated carrot)
  • ***Or use 2 more thinly sliced garlic cloves


  • Cook the rice or quinoa (cooking instructions here).
  • Cook and shred the chicken (recipe).
  • In a jar with a lid, add all dressing ingredients and shake vigorously to combine.

To make the peanut crunch:

  • Line a plate with paper towel. In a small/medium skillet over medium-high heat. Add the oil and peanuts. Once the peanuts begin to sizzle and the oil is just starting to smoke, stir in the garlic, ginger, and red pepper flakes. Continue to toast everything in the oil for about 2-4 more minutes or until you notice the garlic is just beginning to turn a light golden brown, stirring often.
  • Remove from heat and immediately use a slotted spoon or spatula to transfer the contents onto the plate to cool off. Pour the oil into a small heat-safe container. Sprinkle the salt all over the peanuts and toss to coat.

To make the salad:

  • In a large bowl, add the cooked grains, chicken, veggies, and scallions. Pour the dressing over top and toss to coat. Serve topped with the toasted peanut mixture and chopped avocado. Drizzle the reserved chili garlic oil over top.

Items you can prep ahead (optional)

  • Cook ½ cup quinoa or rice 
  • Cook and shred 2 cups chicken (from about ¾ lb)
  • Make the crunchy peanut topping
  • Thinly slice or grate 7 cups veggies (cabbage, carrot, bell pepper, etc…)
  • Thinly slice 1 bunch scallions
  • Make the dressing
  • Make the salad


  • To make vegetarian, skip the chicken. Add 2 cups of cooked edamame or roasted tofu cubes.
  • Use almond or peanut butter in place of tahini
  • To make nut-free, make the peanut topping but without peanuts. Toast the ginger/garlic in the oil until they are almost golden, stir in sesame seeds during the last minute and toast until light golden. Pour the oil into a jar through a fine mesh sieve to catch the seeds.


  • Store leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 4 days.
  • Store peanut topping separately in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 5 days.
  • Store leftover oil in an airtight container at room temp for up to 7 days.

Leftovers + Repurposing:

  • You can eat this salad cold, but I prefer it to be room temp or a little warm by popping it in the microwave for 30-60 seconds. Top with the peanuts/spicy oil and avocado. A squeeze of lime and some fresh herbs are nice on top if you have some.
  • Top with a fried egg.

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