Spicy Thai Chicken Salad Recipe with Cabbage

You are going to love this Paleo Thai Garden Bowl – it’s so incredibly easy to make and loaded up with the most vibrant and crunchy veggies. Thanks to hardy cabbages as the veggie base, this nourishing bowl stays fresh and crispy for days stored in the fridge, even dressed in the crave-ably spicy peanut sauce, which truly is one of my favorite salad dressings ever. I could eat this protein-packed sauce by the spoonful, but I also love repurposing leftovers as a veggie dip or drizzled over zoodles when I’m craving Thai food. With healthful ingredients like red bell peppers, green and red cabbage, orange segments, cucumbers, chicken and cilantro, this is such a hearty salad and a truly satisfying way to load up on plant foods in one flavorful package. If you are tired of boring salads, you will love the diversity of tastes and crunchy veggies in this bowl. The ginger and garlic-laced spicy peanut sauce is amazing – it makes your tastebuds perk right up! Topped with tender juicy chicken, this nutrient powerhouse has everything needed for a well-rounded meal, making it perfect for lunch or even a quick weeknight dinner. While I typically enjoy this fresh Asian chicken salad during the warmer months of the year, occasionally I’ll whip up a batch in winter when craving its bright flavors. This is an all-around great option for wholesome Paleo fare. With its balance of tender protein, crispy vegetables and addictive nut-free “peanut dressing”, this checks all the boxes for flavor, nutrition and satisfaction. It’s the perfect balance and truly one of my favorite salads!

What you need to make the Paleo Thai Chicken Garden Bowls

Salad Base:

Green and Red Cabbage – Using fresh cabbage means you will have crunchy cabbage, which is the key to nailing this salad base.  This recipe does not call for any romaine lettuce, but you could certainly use that as a substitute for the green cabbage.

Orange – The recipe calls for segmented oranges.  I like to prepare my segmented oranges over a small bowl to collect any extra orange juice that collects as the oranges are segmented.  I’ll enjoy a few sips of freshly squeezed orange juice right on the spot or toss straight over the sliced cabbage. Mango would be a great alternative as well

Carrot – The recipe calls for one julienned carrot.  However, to save time, sometimes I’ll buy pre-shredded carrots from the grocery store and throw a couple of handfuls over the cabbage. 

Cucumber – Cut the cumbers into slices. Use regular, english or mini cucumbers. Whichever you prefer!

Red Bell Pepper – The red bell peppers are julienned and add a nice color to this recipe.

Rotisserie chicken – Using a pre-cooked rotisserie chicken is such a easy way to add tender chicken to this salad. Also see my shredded chicken recipe. You can store in the freezer and pull out for a quick and easy meal! You could also use a sliced chicken breast instead, or omit completely for a vegetarian meal.


Nut butter – I prefer to use SunButter when possible, but you can use any nut butter you like.  Almond butter is another great subsitute.  The most traditional nut butter to use in this recipe would be peanut butter.

Coconut aminos – Coconut aminos are always an excellent substitute to use instead of soy sauce.  I do find that coconut aminos are slightly sweeter than soy sauce, so I typically balance the sweetness with the juice from a lemon or lime as later noted in the ingredients section.

Coconut milk – In order to keep the dressing as thick and creamy as possible, it is recommended to use full fat coconut cream from a can of coconut milk.

Honey – Maple syrup can be used in lieu of honey.

Fresh ginger – Using fresh ginger really does create the best final product, but you can substitute for 1 tsp ginger powder.

Garlic clove – Using fresh garlic really does create the best final product, but you can substitute 1 tsp garlic powder.

Lime juice – With the flavor profile of this salad, fresh lime juice is my recommendation.  However, you will get a similar flavor profile by using fresh lemon juice or even apple cider vinegar.   Rice vinegar is another wonderful substitute, but is not a paleo ingredient.  Many recipes for Thai salad call for fish sauce, however I find that the combination of coconut aminos and acid provides a somewhat similar flavor profile.  Also, such a small amount of fish sauce is usually called for in this type of recipe.  You can skip the additional cost of the fish sauce, and save your grocery money for something else!

Sriracha – You can make your dressing a spicy peanut dressing by adding sriracha.  This ingredient is optional, and I recognize that many of you are different paths with your healing journey and food protocol.  During some of my sickest years, I was unable to tolerate anything spicy.  Initially, I left this ingredient out.  Now, I have grown to love the little heat that comes from the sriracha.  Alternatively, you can sprinkle in a few red pepper flakes.  However, there is something so delicious about a spicy Thai salad, so I highly recommend using this ingredient if tolerated. 

Avocado oil – To keep this recipe strictly paleo, I have called for avocado oil in the dressing ingredients list.  I intentionally chose avocado oil as it is essentially flavorless.  You could use olive oil if you would like.  I have not tried using olive oil in this recipe but suspect that if you did the coconut aminos and nut butter would mostly mask the flavor of the olive oil.  However, you can use sesame oil instead but the recipe will no longer be paleo.

Hot to make the Paleo Thai Chicken Garden Bowls

Prep the garden bowl – cut the fresh veggies according to the recipe. Assemble by putting the cabbage down first and then layer the vegetables and chicken. Top with the dressing

Dressing – Put all of the salad dressing ingredients into a blender and blend until combined. Add water until the consistency you like is achieved. 

Beautiful bowl of thai chicken salad

Spicy Thai Chicken Salad Recipe with Cabbage

Sarah Erickson
Paleo Thai chicken garden bowl with nut free peanut sauce
Prep Time 15 minutes
Course lunch, Salad
Cuisine Asian, Thai
Servings 2


  • 1 cup green cabbage sliced
  • 1/2 cup red cabbage sliced
  • 1 orange segmented (mango would be a great alternative)
  • 1 carrot julienned
  • 1/2 cup cucumber slices
  • 1/4 cup bell pepper julienned
  • 8 ounces rotisserie chicken


  • 1/3 cup nut butter I used sunbutter
  • 1/4 cup coconut aminos
  • ¼ cup full fat coconut milk
  • 2 TBS honey
  • 1 inch fresh ginger or 1 tsp ginger powder
  • 1 garlic clove or 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 TBS lemon or lime juice or ACV
  • 1 TBS siracha leave out if sensitive to spice
  • 1 TBS avocado oil
  • 1/2 tsp salt plus more to taste
  • Water to thin optional, depending on your desired thickness

Toppings (optional):

  • Everything but the bagel seasoning
  • Toasted cashews
  • Cilantro leaves
  • Crispy Grain-Free Tortilla Strips in lieu of wonton strips
  • Bean sprouts
  • Green onions
  • Fresh herbs
  • Any other fresh veggies
  • Sesame seeds


  • Put all of the salad dressing ingredients in a blender and blend until fully combined.
  • Add water until desired consistency achieved (I added approximately 1/3 cup, this will vary based on the texture of your nut butter).
  • Build your salad, add desired toppings and drizzle the dressing on top.


Storage –  Store in an airtight container if you want to meal prep. Just store the dressing in separate containers
Equipment – large mixing bowl, airtight container 
Keyword chicken salad, dairy free, garden bowl, gluten free, paleo, salad, thai chicken

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