Did you have any teenage moments when you thought you were quite the grown up? For me, it was the first time I ordered the Applebee’s Oriental Chicken Salad.
My mom, sisters, and I were seated at a high top in the bar area. I felt too old and too sophisticated for the kids menu, and my mom was not going to let me order a steak, so I drifted to the Oriental Chicken Salad, which fell somewhere in between.
The Oriental Chicken Salad also happened to be what the two other older, clearly cooler teenagers I could spot from my high vantage point were eating. They seemed hip and cool. I wanted to be hip and cool. Oriental Chicken Salad it would be. I ordered my chicken crispy and my dressing on the side. Extra crunchy noodles please.
I was quite the sophisticate.
When the salad arrived, I gave it a skeptical toss (really, adults eat salads and consider it a meal?), and took a tentative forkful. It was love at first bite!
If you’ve never had the Applebee’s Oriental Chicken Salad, you should know that it’s delicious. I went on to order it many times through high school, and years later, it’s still flagged as a customer favorite on the Applebee’s menu. It contains all the critical components that make a salad satisfying: crisp greens, filling protein, almonds and chow mein noodles for crunch, and a sweet, creamy dressing to tie it all together.
As a teenager, I gave little thought to the nutritional quality of my meals, and it never would have occurred to me that any dish with the word “salad” in its title might not be healthy. As an adult, I’ve learned that, unfortunately, salads are often one of the least healthy things on a restaurant’s menu. While writing this post, I became morbidly curious about the Applebee’s Oriental Chicken Salad calorie count and had to take a peek. I was shocked. Depending upon your diet, it could be nearly a day’s worth of calories.
I generally try to avoid counting calories, especially when I go out to eat, but I do believe it is reasonable to expect my salads to be nutritious. I also expect them to be yummy, filling, and offer a good variety of ingredients, flavors, and textures. Have I set the bar too high? Absolutely not! Case in point: today’s homemade version of Applebee’s Oriental Chicken Salad. It’s just as deliciously addictive as Applebee’s version, but it is actually good for you and reasonable in the calorie department too.
About This Oriental Chicken Salad
In place of the deep-fried chicken strips Applebee’s puts on its Oriental Chicken Salad, I swapped these Crispy Asian Chicken Tenders. They offer the same juicy-on-the-inside, crispy-on-the-outside sensation but are oven baked instead of fried. I kept the chow mein noodles and toasted almonds (gotta have that crunch!) and layered in extra fresh veggies. Finally, I made my own homemade oriental dressing, which uses Greek yogurt in place of the mayo in the Applebee’s version.
I inhaled this salad for lunch and can see it being a great choice for light, cool meals throughout the summer. I love it topped with my chicken tenders, but you can also easily swap grilled chicken, Crock Pot Shredded Chicken, or even salmon or shrimp.
Make Ahead and Storage Tips
- To Store. This salad is best enjoyed the day it is made, but you can store it in an airtight storage container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.
- To Make Ahead. If you’re hoping to make this salad ahead for a party or easy lunches, you can individually prepare and store the ingredients. Prepare the chicken tenders, dressing, and all the salad ingredients except for the almonds and chow mein noodles. Store the lettuce and dressing in separate containers in the refrigerator, and store the almonds and chow mein noodles at room temperature. Combine and toss when ready to eat.
More Main Dish Salad Recipes
Applebee's Oriental Chicken Salad
For the Salad:
- 5 cups chopped romaine lettuce about 1 head
- 1 1/2 cups shredded red cabbage
- 1 1/2 cups shredded carrots
- 8 Crispy Asian Chicken Tenders
- 1/3 cup toasted sliced almonds
- 1/3 cup chow mein noodles
- 2 green onions chopped
For the Dressing:
- 1/2 cup nonfat plain Greek yogurt
- 2 tablespoons honey
- 1 tablespoon rice vinegar
- 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
- 1/4 teaspoon sesame oil
- 1/8 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1-2 tablespoons nonfat milk if necessary
- Prepare the dressing: In a small bowl or large measuring cup, combine the Greek yogurt, honey, vinegar, mustard, sesame oil, and salt. Taste and add more salt as desired. If the dressing is too thick for your liking, stir in 1 to 2 tablespoons milk, until the desired consistency is reached.
- In a large mixing bowl, toss the romaine, red cabbage, and carrots. Arrange the chicken tenders on top. Drizzle with the dressing. Sprinkle with the chow mein noodles, almonds, and green onion. Enjoy immediately.
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