Five-Spice Chicken Asian Salad with Chili Lime Dressing (Trader Joe’s copycat)

Fresh, colorful, clean, whole, healthy, crunchy, pleasantly spicy and delicious are words to describe this fabulous salad I first ate at Trader Joe’s.  You know all about their abundant selection of fresh salads; my perfect lunch choice.  So how about making it myself?  I quickly found the list of ingredients here and began the process of recreating this amazing salad.  It’s as nutritious as it comes with all the anti-oxidant loaded vegetables and protein-packed chicken piled on top of vitamin C-rich cabbage served with a light hot and sweet Chili Lime Dressing.  This is serious good taste!

First of all, let’s talk about Five Spice.  It’s an Asian spice which you’ll most likely find in the Asian section of your grocery store.  It’s a combination of multiple spices representing our five traditional taste senses: sweet, sour, bitter, salty and umami (savory or meaty).  I originally thought the “Five” had to do with the number of spices (which probably works too), but I’ve been corrected.  The traditional spices in Five Spice are:  cinnamon, anise, fennel, sichuan pepper and cloves.  I’ve also seen licorice, turmeric, nutmeg and/or ginger added in some brands.  To my tastes buds, I don’t taste much salt so that’s why you see soy sauce added to the marinade.  I really like this marinade.

The dressing was a little tricky to figure out, but after multiple combinations I think I’ve found just the right amounts of rice vinegar, oil, lime juice, agave nectar, chili garlic sauce, salt and pepper.  Just the right amount of sweet and hot.  You’re going to love it!

You might feel like you’re emptying your refrigerator as you’re putting this salad together.  It’s cooked rice noodles (optional if you’re trying to cut the grain carbs), angel hair coleslaw (bagged of course and my personal favorite) topped with diced red bell pepper, cucumbers and red onion, grated carrot, chopped cilantro and mint.  Don’t leave out the mint; it’s a subtle flavor that really makes this dish come alive like a breath of fresh air.  Layer the grilled chicken and chopped peanuts for the finish.  It’s like eating all the colors of the rainbow.  I like serving it deconstructed like you see in the photos but feel free to toss it all together with the dressing just before serving or let your guests do that part.  No matter how you serve it, this salad will be forever on the minds of whomever is blessed to eat it.  Enjoy!

Five-Spice Chicken Asian Salad with Chili Lime Dressing (Trader Joe’s copycat)

Prep Time: 30 minutes

Cook Time: 15 minutes

Total Time: 45 minutes

Yield: 6-8 servings

  • Five-Spice Chicken Asian Salad with Chili Lime Dressing
  • Chicken
  • 2 Tbsp reduced-sodium soy sauce
  • 2 Tbsp sesame oil
  • 2 tsp Chinese Five Spice powder
  • 1 tsp brown sugar
  • ½ tsp garlic powder
  • 4 boned, skinned chicken breast halves (about a pound)
  • Salad
  • 3 ounces dried rice stick noodles, soaked in boiling water for 10 minutes, then drained and rinsed in cold water
  • 4 cups chopped cabbage (I prefer Angel Hair coleslaw in the bag)
  • 1/2 cup diced, peeled and seeded cucumber
  • 1/2 cup diced red bell pepper
  • 1/2 cup shredded carrots
  • 1/4 cup diced red onion
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh mint leaves
  • 1/4 cup chopped peanuts
  • Chili Lime Dressing
  • 1/4 cup seasoned rice vinegar
  • 2 Tbsp canola or sunflower oil
  • 2 Tbsp lime juice
  • 1 Tbsp chili garlic sauce
  • 1 Tbsp agave nectar
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • 1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
  1. For the chicken: Combine soy sauce, oil, Five Spice powder, Splenda, garlic powder in a large zip-lock plastic bag. Add the chicken to the bag and seal. Gently squeeze the bag to distribute the marinade evenly over the chicken. Let marinade for 30 minutes to an hour. If you want to marinate longer than an hour place in the refrigerator.
  2. Heat grill to medium-high heat. Place marinated chicken onto grill and discard the marinade. Grill chicken for about 7 to 8 minutes per side or until done and juices no longer run pink. Set aside to cool before slicing. When cool slice against the grain into thin slices.
  3. For the Salad: Arrange cooked, drained and rinsed rice noodles on serving platter. Arrange all the remaining salad ingredients, except peanuts, over the noodles. Toss to combine or leave deconstructed on serving platter. Arrange chicken slices over top.
  4. For the Dressing: Combine all the Chili Lime Dressing ingredients in a small jar. Cover and shake until well blended. Pour over salad. Top with peanuts and serve.


Per serving (1/8): 183 calories, 7 grams fat, 15 grams carbohydrate, 15 grams protein



    • Karen says:

      I use Sun Luck which I find at WinCo, a regional grocery store chain here in the west. Simply Organic Five Spice powder is found at Walmart.

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