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peanut chicken salad

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If you’ve read this blog for any amount of time, you know that when it comes to meal prep, lunches are my biggest struggle.

Asian Chicken Salad | anutritionisteats.com

Here’s the deal: lunches need to be different, most likely salads, full of vegetables, have a decent amount of protein, and not be leftovers. So I need to make two different lunch salads, for a total of 4-6 of them on any given week. (I post my weekly lunch salads on instagram – @emilygdingmann – if you’re interested!)

I tried to simplify once by making sandwiches instead of salads, thinking that it would require less prep time, but then one week I found myself chopping up vegetables in teeny-tiny pieces, for a special veggie cream cheese for vegetarian sandwiches. I was wrong. So I’ve gone back to my standard lunch template: 2-3 salads (from scratch) + 1 frozen meal + 1 meal out. Depending on the week and depending on what’s going on, things can certainly shift, but it helps me to have a general framework week after week.

Asian Chicken Salad | anutritionisteats.com

A lot of my lunch salad inspiration has been coming from cookbooks and blogs lately, but this one came from a cafeteria. Our offices at work moved and they are now located in the middle of a really walkable neighborhood (Westwood!) with tons of lunch options, food trucks, delicious take-out AND a cafeteria on the lobby floor. The salads from the cafeteria are SUPER basic and nothing special, but after seeing a coworker have the “chicken special” eight days in a row, I decided to venture from the salad menu and try it out. The “chicken special” is a slight variation of the same thing every day: a thin chicken cutlet + sauce (and maybe a few frozen veggies) + white rice + a side salad. The salad leaves a lot to be desired, and the veggies were seriously lacking, but I loved the idea of this simple meal for lunch.

Asian Chicken Salad | anutritionisteats.com

So I ended up making my own, adding TONS of vegetables and turning it INTO a salad. It was delicious. Filling, super nutritious, and with the combo of chicken (protein), lots of vegetables, rice (fiber and whole grains) and peanut dressing (fat and flavor) it’s oh-so-satisfying.

It still requires some prep and work, but you could also take some shortcuts:

rice: use the microwavable bags/pouches
chicken: grab a rotisserie chicken (though grilling it is really easy)
vegetables: buy the lettuce, cabbage, and carrots already cleaned and cut

Asian Chicken Salad | anutritionisteats.com

I highly recommend it for lunch OR dinner.

And if you have any favorite lunch salads, please let me know! I’m looking for a new one every week…

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peanut chicken salad

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Less of a recipe, more of an outline! Size is based on what you need, but a good average is 1 cup cooked rice, 1 chicken thigh and a ton of vegetables. 🙂


  • 1/2 cup peanut butter
  • 3 Tbsp rice vinegar
  • 3 Tbsp low-sodium soy sauce
  • 1 Tbsp honey
  • 6 Tbsp water
  • sriracha, if desired
  • cooked brown rice
  • grilled chicken thighs
  • salad: lettuce, cabbage, carrots, cucumber, red pepper, green onion


  1. Combine peanut butter, vinegar, soy, honey and water in jar and shake until incorporated and smooth.
  2. Compile salads with vegetables, rice and chicken and drizzle with dressing.

Peanut Chicken Salad | anutritionisteats.com


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  1. sarah k @ the pajama chef

    love your outline for lunch eats! i have been SOOOO tired of eating leftovers for lunch. there’s currently a conference going on at work, and they had lunch leftovers offered up to those of us not attending. it was just sandwich fixings but it was SO good since it wasn’t leftovers. i need to revamp lunches. this is a great idea!

  2. Hyedi

    This is a really basic question, but how long do you grill your chicken thighs? And do you use a grill pan? Is having one necessary? I struggle with cooking chicken without it getting dry, etc.