Hunan Chicken is probably one of America’s favorite Chinese takeout menu items. Spicy chiles, garlic, and ginger come together to coat tender chicken in a mouth tingling sauce. I’ve taken my favorite takeout meal and recreated it in this Hunan Chicken Salad recipe that’s every bit as flavorful as the original but in salad form for summer eating. Just 4 net carbs per yummy serving!
For this recipe you’ll need: soy sauce (1 carb per tablespoon), rice wine or cider vinegar, chile sesame oil, sugar free pineapple syrup (I used Torani), garlic paste, ginger paste (or use fresh garlic and ginger and mash it yourself), cooked chicken breast, yellow Bell pepper, Bell pepper, asparagus, celery, raw broccoli, pecans, lime
I love spicy food AND I love Asian food so when you mention Hunan or Szechuan for dinner I am in!
I try to stay away from heating up the kitchen in the summer… and honestly it’s quickly becoming summer here in Texas. It’s not such a big deal now but in a month when the temperature is hitting in the triple digits all cooking will be done before the sun comes up!
One thing I really like to do is to either buy a huge package of frozen chicken breast at Costco OR to buy rotisserie chickens. Either will work in this recipe. If you buy the chicken breasts thaw out ALL of them and put them in the slow cooker (if you have a big one, of course). Add about 1/4 cups of chicken stock, a couple of stalks of celery, a sprinkle of salt, and cook on low for 10 hours.
TONS of cooked chicken breast for salads, casseroles, and whatever without heating the kitchen!
What Is Hunan Chicken?
Hunan Chicken is probably the most under-recognized dish in Chinese takeout history. It’s chicken and vegetables stir fried in a spicy, garlicky sauce. In this recipe I’ve adapted the sauce to be a dressing with similar flavors.
This Hunan Chicken salad is especially good. It’s got crunch from the vegetables and heat from the dressing. I like to let the cooked chicken marinate in the dressing for awhile before making my salad – it soaks up lot’s of flavor! It’s a huge salad and so I have it listed for 2 people but honestly it’s so good I can put down the whole thing by myself.
Which is fine because even pigging out on the entire salad I STILL come in under 10 carbs and 450 calories or so. I use chicken breast but you can use boneless thighs if you prefer.
What’s the Difference Between Hunan Chicken and Szechuan Chicken?
I am so glad you asked. Both are spicy. Both are Asian. The main difference is in the type of spiciness. Szechuan chicken uses spicy Szechuan peppers as well as chiles plus a bit more sweetness than you’ll find in Hunan. Hunan is straight spicy while Szechuan uses the sweetness to add a more complicated flavor.
What’s the Difference between Hunan Chicken and General Tso’s Chicken?
Once again the difference is minimal. The main thing is General Tso’s Chicken doesn’t include vegetables and it is battered and fried. It also tends to be WAY spicier than the other two.
Tips for Making Hunan Chicken Salad
It’s easy to make this low carb, main dish salad! If you love salads in the summer as much as I do this one will be on your A list for sure!
- You can make it ahead of time in a Mason jar if you want to. Add the dressing to the very bottom, then the chicken, then the vegetables, then the lettuce, and finally the pecans. Cover tightly and keep refrigerated.
- Vary the vegetables you use – just remember to keep them low carb and figure the new fiber and carb counts.
- Use whatever lettuce you like best.
- Baby spinach leaves are really good in this.
- Macadamia nuts, almonds, or other high fat nuts are a great substitute for the pecans.
- Use boneless chicken thighs instead of chicken breast.
- Use the peanut sauce as a dressing. Just thin it down a little before using.
- Add hot sauce to make it spicier without adding carbs. I use Louisiana Hot Sauce but there are others.
- Leftover steak, grilled pork, or grilled chicken would be awesome in this.
Items Used in This Recipe That You May Need
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This is the chile sesame oil that I use. It doesn’t take much! If you want to make it less spicy use half toasted sesame oil and half chile sesame oil.
You may also like one of these low carb Asian recipe adaptions-
Hunan Chicken Salad Recipe
I love this salad and I hope you will, too. Just remember, the longer you let the cooked chicken soak in the salad dressing the more flavor it will have. You can adjust the sweetness by adding a little more or a little less of the sugar free pineapple syrup. If you love this recipe please give it 5 stars in the comments and be sure to tag @marye_restlesschipotle!
Cooked chicken breast is marinated in a spicy Hunan sauce and then served over a bed of lettuce and fresh vegetables. 4 net carbs!
- 1 cup chicken breast , cooked and diced
- 1 cup lettuce shredded
- 1/2 cup broccoli florets , raw
- 1/4 cup asparagus , steamed
- 1 tablespoon Bell pepper , diced small
- 1 tablespoon Yellow Bell Pepper , diced small
- 1 stalk celery , sliced or diced
- 1 tablespoon pecans , toasted and coarsely chopped - may also use cashews, macadamias, almonds, etc
- 1/4 lime for garnish and squeezing over salad
- 1 tablespoon rice wine vinegar
- 1 tablespoon chile sesame oil
- 1 tablespoon pineapple syrup , sugar free - I use Torani
- 1/2 tablespoon soy sauce , low carb - mine has 1 carb per tablespoon
- 1/4 teaspoon garlic paste
- 1/4 teaspoon ginger paste
Add the vinegar, sesame oil, syrup, soy sauce, garlic paste, and ginger paste to a bowl.
Whisk until smooth then add a squeeze of lime.
Add the cooked chicken, cover and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes if possible.
Add the lettuce to a platter.
Top with the broccoli and other vegetables.
Add the chicken and pour any leftover dressing over the top.
Sprinkle with pecans and garnish with lime wedges.
grilled steak, pork, or other leftover meats work well in this dish.
If you liked this low carb salad recipe you may also like…
Click on the image to see the recipe. From left to right (all low carb): Spaghetti Salad, Southwest Chicken Salad, Southwestern Tuna Salad
Big Mac Salad Wholesome Yum – Just like that fast food burger!
Thai Chicken Salad – Low Carb Yum – Lots of Asian flavor here, too!