Low FODMAP Chinese Chicken Salad is a YUMMY main dish salad filled with colorful veggies, fresh mandarin oranges, grilled chicken, and a ginger sesame dressing. This recipe is also gluten-free, dairy-free, and meal prep-friendly.
Low FODMAP Chinese Chicken Salad
Hearty, colorful salads are one of the quickest ways to this dietitian’s heart and this salad is definitely vibrant and filling. Like many other Chinese chicken salads (which are not likely Chinese at all), this recipe is filled with colorful cabbage, carrots, mandarin oranges, grilled chicken, and a yummy Asian-inspired sesame ginger dressing.
Adding my own twist, I’ve replaced some of the large amounts of cabbage typically seen in other Chinese chicken salad recipes with lower FODMAP kale or romaine lettuce. Cabbage can be enjoyed on the low FODMAP diet, which is why I’ve included a FODMAP-friendly amount of red cabbage, but serving size is important.
This Chinese chicken salad is FODMAP-friendly, gluten-free, and dairy-free. It also has minimal added sugar with just a touch of sweetness coming from maple syrup, is meal prep-friendly, and ready in about 30 minutes.
Ingredients Needed to Make This Recipe
For this recipe, we’ll need ingredients to make an easy sesame ginger dressing and marinade, as well as a veggie-filled base.
For the sesame ginger dressing and chicken:
- Red Wine Vinegar adds a bit of acid and depth to the dressing and marinade. Rice vinegar could also be used.
- Reduced Sodium Tamari is a gluten-free and wheat-free version of soy sauce. If you tolerate gluten and wheat, feel free to use soy sauce in this recipe. The low FODMAP diet does not need to be gluten-free or wheat-free. Wheat and I just don’t play nicely together (not IBS-related). So, tamari is what I use in my low FODMAP recipes.
- Avocado Oil is a higher heat cooking oil making it a great option for our grilled chicken marinade. It’s also packed with heart-healthy monounsaturated fats and has a nice nutty, not too avocado-y, flavor. I usually pick up an affordable avocado oil at my local Aldi, but you can also find it at many big box stores or online.
- Maple Syrup – the real stuff, please. Or, a little freshly squeezed mandarin juice would be a delicious substitute.
- Fresh Ginger Root is a great way to add low FODMAP flavor. It’s aromatic and adds warmth and zest to this salad.
- Toasted Sesame Oil adds a punch of Asian-inspired flavor to this salad and a little goes a long way.
- Boneless, Skinless Chicken Thighs are what I use in this recipe, but you can sub in boneless, skinless chicken breasts, if that’s what you prefer.
For the colorful salad base:
- Lacinato Kale (or Romaine Lettuce) can be used. If you’re meal prepping, kale tends to hold up better in the fridge. It’s also an excellent source of vitamins A & C and a good source of low FODMAP calcium (source). Kale does have a more pronounced flavor, so if you’re not the biggest fan of kale (e.g. my husband, Al) or are looking for a more “traditional” Chinese chicken salad, choose the romaine.
- Shredded Red Cabbage adds a vibrant pop of purple to this salad. You can also sub in green cabbage or use a mixture of both. To help keep things low FODMAP, use up to 2 cups cabbage for the entire 4-serving recipe (or ½ cup per serving).
- Grated Carrots or carrot matchsticks. My local grocery store sells carrot matchsticks in a bag, which can be a timesaver.
- Fresh Mandarin Oranges aka Halos or Cuties here in the US of A.
- Green Onion Tops add FODMAP-friendly onion flavor. Although the white bulbs are high in FODMAPs, the green tops of green onions are low in FODMAPs and can be enjoyed throughout the entire low FODMAP experiment.
How to Make Chinese Chicken Salad
Start with the marinade. In a small bowl, whisk together red wine vinegar, tamari sauce, avocado oil, and maple syrup. Reserve a ¼ cup of the liquid. It will be used for the chicken marinade later.
Make the dressing. To the remaining larger portion of the liquid, add the finely grated ginger and toasted sesame oil. Stir to mix and set aside. This will be our salad dressing.
Prep the chicken. Place the chicken in a medium bowl with the ¼ cup of reserved dressing without the ginger and sesame oil. Toss to coat the chicken. Let the chicken briefly marinate while you heat the grill or broiler in the next step.
Heat a tabletop grill or broiler on high. I use an old-school George Foreman from our college days (hey, it gets the job done), but the newer versions have removable, dishwasher safe grill plates, which I totally plan to purchase once ours goes kaput. If broiling, turn the broiler on high and place the chicken on a greased broiler pan.
Cook the chicken. Once the grill is hot, cook the chicken, flipping once, until done. The safest way to tell is with a food thermometer. Chicken is done when the thermometer inserted into the meatiest part reaches an internal temp of 165°F. It usually takes me about 12-15 minutes using my small tabletop grill to cook all the chicken. It may take longer or shorter depending on your grill or broiler and the size of the chicken used. Remove the chicken from the grill and place it on a clean cutting board. Let the chicken rest for a few minutes before slicing into bite-sized strips.
Assemble veggies and fruit. I like to assemble the salad while the chicken is cooking. Place the kale (or romaine), red cabbage, carrots, mandarin orange segments, and green onion tops (green parts only) in a large bowl and stir to mix.
If you’re making this salad for later …
Let the sliced chicken cool for 10-15 minutes longer before adding it to the salad mixture. This helps to prevent the greens from wilting. Store the salad mixture and salad dressing separately in the fridge until ready to eat. I like to divide into individual portions and store the salad mixture in glass containers with lids and the dressing in stainless steel condiment containers. This salad should keep for 3-4 days in the fridge.
If you’re serving this salad right away …
Add the sliced chicken and dressing to the salad mixture. Toss to mix, divide, and serve topped with optional cilantro and sesame seeds or sliced almonds.
Recipe Notes and FAQs
- Can I use chicken breasts instead? Yep! Boneless, skinless chicken breasts will work in this recipe.
- Can I meal prep this? You betcha! See the tips above under the “how to make” section or in the recipe card’s instructions below.
- Can I make this paleo? Soy-free? Added sugar-free? Yes, but it may no longer be FODMAP-friendly. Coconut
aminosmay be substituted for the soy-containing tamari, but this product has not been tested for FODMAPs. If this is a product you typically use, it is recommended to test individual tolerance when symptoms are well controlled. Freshly squeezed mandarin orange juice may be substituted for the maple syrup to make this added sugar-free.
Low FODMAP Chinese Chicken Salad is YUMMY main dish salad filled with colorful veggies, fresh mandarin oranges, grilled chicken, and a ginger sesame dressing. It’s also gluten free, dairy free, and meal prep-friendly.
Sesame Ginger Marinade, Chicken, & Dressing
- ⅓ cup red wine vinegar
- 3 Tbsp. reduced sodium tamari (or soy sauce)
- 2 Tbsp. avocado oil
- 2 tsp. pure maple syrup
- 1 Tbsp. finely grated fresh ginger root
- 2 tsp. toasted sesame oil
- 1.25 lb. boneless, skinless chicken thighs
- 2 cups shredded lacinato kale or romaine lettuce (if using kale, remove stems before shredding)
- 2 cups shredded red cabbage
- ½ cup grated carrots (or carrot matchsticks)
- 3 fresh mandarin oranges (like Halos), peeled and segmented
- ¼ cup chopped green onion tops (green parts only)
- Chopped fresh cilantro
- Sesame seeds or sliced almonds
- In a small bowl, whisk together red wine vinegar, tamari sauce, avocado oil, and maple syrup. Reserve a ¼ cup of the dressing. It will be used for the chicken marinade in step two. To the remaining larger portion of the dressing, add the finely grated ginger and toasted sesame oil. Stir to mix and set aside.
- Place the chicken in a medium bowl with the ¼ cup of reserved dressing (without the ginger and sesame oil). Toss to coat the chicken. Allow the chicken to briefly marinate while you heat the grill or broiler in the next step.
- Heat a tabletop grill or broiler on high. Once the grill is hot, cook the chicken, flipping once, until done. This usually takes me about 12 minutes using my small tabletop grill. Remove the chicken from the heat and place it on a clean cutting board. Let the chicken rest for a few minutes before slicing into bite-sized pieces.
- While the chicken is cooking, I like to assemble the salad. Place the kale, red cabbage, carrots, mandarin orange segments, and green onion tops (green parts only) in a large bowl and stir to mix. Add the cooked chicken and dressing. Toss to mix.
- Serve salad topped with optional cilantro and sesame seeds.
MEAL PREP: Cool the cooked chicken for an additional 5-10 minutes after slicing. This can help prevent the lettuce or kale from wilting. Then, add it to the undressed salad. Store the salad dressing and the salad mixture separately. Undressed salad should keep 3-4 days in the fridge.
TIMESAVERS: Try bagged pre-cut romaine, shredded red cabbage, and carrot matchsticks.
Lacinato Kale or Romaine Lettuce: Both work great in this salad and have minimal amounts of FODMAPs. Kale tends to hold up better in the fridge but has a more pronounced kale flavor. Try romaine if you’re not a kale fan or if you’re looking for a more “traditional” Chinese chicken salad.
Red Cabbage: Per Monash University, a low FODMAP serving of red cabbage is ¾ cup or 75 grams.
Green Onions: Green onion tops (the green parts only) are low in FODMAPs. The green onion bulb or white part is high in FODMAPs.
Sesame Seeds: Per Monash University, a low FODMAP serving of sesame seeds is up to 1 Tbsp. or 11 grams.
Almonds: Per Monash University, a low FODMAP serving of almonds is up to 10 nuts or 12 grams.
- Category: Main Dish
- Method: Grilled
- Cuisine: American
Keywords: FODMAP friendly, chicken salad, dairy free, gluten free, oranges