Asian Wonton Salad

CATEGORIES: Asian and Thai, Salads, Sara

Last year around this time we did a whole month of healthy recipes since it seemed like everyone was working on those new year’s resolutions trying to sweat Christmas off their butts. I kind of thought we’d do that again but plans changed (at least for me) when at 4 months pregnant I found I don’t want healthy food for an entire month. What I want changes daily, and today it happens to be this beauty. But hey, it is a salad and it does have vegetables in it (and maybe some deep fried wontons...) so it counts, right?

This is seriously the best Asian salad. It’s the salad that you take to work potlucks and church parties and baby showers and people want to be your friend just because you made it. The recipe comes from two wonderful ladies I know, Gisela and Helen. They are both amazing cooks and used to cater together. Helen is a dear friend who happens to be the mother of my other dear friend Melanie. Mel and I grew up together and although now we’re practically sisters, we were at one point bitter enemies. But that’s another story for another day! I spent a lot of time at her house growing up and nearly every time I walked through the door I would find her sweet Dad in his chair in the family room and her smiling Mom in the kitchen with an apron on. I was always just as excited to go see what Helen was cooking as I was to find Melanie and get on with whatever teenage shenanigans we had planned. Helen is the kind of person where if you attend an event where she’s brought food you don’t even care what it is, you just know you want at least two servings of it. She’s catered professionally and taught me a lot of what I know about catering and cooking in general. I adore Helen and I adore everything that comes out of her kitchen, so I hope she doesn’t mind me sharing this recipe with all of you.

I’m also going to try something different today and walk through the recipe in pictures first and then give the specifics at the end. I think that will be easier for those of you copying and pasting recipes, and it will also make it easier to find the printable parts using our PrintFriendly button.

First is the Sweet Sesame Dressing, which I might be able to drink with a straw…

The dressing is easy as can be, and of course you can make it ahead of time. I actually think it’s better if you can make it a little bit ahead. All you need to do is dump everything into a jar at once and shake shake shake.

When it’s all combined it has a really pretty caramel color and it tastes like heeeaven.  Although looking at this, I think I might have taken pictures before adding the soy sauce!

Now for the wontons, the crowning jewel of this salad. You can find wonton wrappers in the produce department of just about any grocery store. They come in packs like this and are almost always against the wall near the packaged salads, or by the bins of Asian vegetables.

There will be egg roll wrappers as well, which are larger. The wonton wrappers are little squares only about 2″ x 2″. Use a pizza cutter to cut the squares into 3 strips. I usually use about half of the package, but if I’m making the salad for a big group, or anyone other than my family, I load it even more and use the whole thing! Seriously, the wontons with that dressing…I’m drooling just thinking about it.

I usually avoid recipes all together when they involve frying, but this really isn’t that much work. And if you even dare try to skip the wontons I will shun you forever. You only need a little bit of oil (like less than and inch) in the pan and the wontons cook up in just a few seconds. One tip though: If you’re making this for a party in your home, make the wontons ahead of time. 1, because it will save you lots of time, and 2, you don’t want your house smelling like a fast food restaurant when people come over and even the smallest bit of hot oil will do that. You can even make them a day ahead with the dressing. Just keep the wontons in an airtight container at room temp and the dressing in the fridge.

When the wontons are cooked, set them on paper towels to dry. Mmm…look at those golden crispy pieces of perfection. Take one and go dip it in the dressing you probably already made.

For the salad you’ll need to chop some cucumber and red onion, and just toss the little tomatoes right in there. (Helen always put in tomato, onion, and olives, but I don’t like olives and I love cucumbers so that’s my little alteration)

Combine it all with the dressing (don’t pour all of the dressing in at once. Start with some and add more if you need it) and you have the best Asian Salad ever. The wontons will kind of absorb the dressing, but they stay crispy and it’s the most amazing combination.

See this giant bowl that has a whole head of lettuce in it? Ya, I ate almost the entire plate myself.





  1. Wow, I love a good Asian salad so I am just drooling over this one! Except I have one problem….I am allergic to seasame seeds. I know, what a random and weird allergy. It sucks, but that's beside the point… My question is there any other oils that make a decent substitude for seasame oil? I know, I know, seasame oil is like the secret ingredient, but if you have any suggestions I would appreciate it. Thanks so much! And I also wanted to say that I just recently found your blog and I. LOVE. IT! So many incredible recipes, so thank you for sharing!

  2. I love, love, love this salad!!! And every time I've ever taken it to a party, people freak out at its awesomeness.

    P.S. My verification word is "fatso." Nice for a food blog, right?

  3. Sounds delish! I think I would add some chicken too. Maybe marinate it in the dressing, then grill? Think that would work?

  4. I was so looking forward to a month of new healthy meal ideas come January, but completely understand the 4 months pregnant situation as well. Great to have a new party food 🙂

  5. Oh my goodness; how amazing does this look? I'm a huge fan of sesame oil and seeds; that dressing looks so divine, I would use it for cooking rice, noodles…everything! I'm printing it out right now. Thanks for sharing. xx

  6. I cannot wait to try this but I do have a question… that rice vinegar… it says seasoned on the bottle. Is that something special? Cause I have plain ole rice wine vinegar… can I use that???

    We are eating much lighter this week. Ron actually stopped eating for two solid days because he declared himself overly full (I don't care how full I get… I cannot ever see myself fasting for two solid days). I think the holiday eating was just too much for him… so this salad is right up his alley this week!

  7. Oh, good question Lolly. I actually meant to mention that and didn't. Rice vinegar comes in regular and "seasoned". For this recipe it really doesn't matter which one you use so grab whatever is in your pantry. I usually keep both on hand and it's great with either.

  8. Oh my! I can hardly contain myself! I absolutely love a good Asian salad and now I can make this deliciousness at home… Mmmm! My tummy is rumbling just thinking about it. P.S. I'm two months preggers and this couldn't have been posted at a better time! 🙂 Thanks!

  9. You can bake the wontons if you don't want to fry them. Spray a cookie sheet with cooking oil, lay the wontons down, and spray them too. Bake at 400 until they're golden brown. I'm not going to lie. They are NOT as good as frying them, but if you are resolving to be better, it's a good option. 🙂

  10. Yes, true Morgan. I've baked wontons before for other things, but for this salad I sooo would go with the frying. It makes a huge difference. Plus, the lettuce cancels out the oil, right?? 😉

  11. Kara, a sesame seed allergy? That stinks! You could totally leave out the *seeds* out without a problem, but honestly there's no good substitute for sesame oil. At least not without missing a major flavor component. I wish I had better advice!

    Kate- fatso…haha, I love it.

  12. Is it my pregnancy hormones that made me tear up reading that, or is it just because I adore those same memories. Thanks Sara… my mom will definitely appreciate your sweet words. Two thumbs up to this recipe! Its best! Adding cashews is also another delightful addition if you are at all craving nuts in it (or a candied walnut/pecan would be tasty too!) LOVE YOU!

  13. I can't wait to try this and I really wanted to thank you for putting the instructions at the end. It was so much easier to print off.

  14. New follower to your yummy blog !! cant wait to go take a peek around your blog and the dressing looks great i will try it ! thanks for sharing 🙂

  15. HOw did I not know that you are pregnant!! CONGRATULATIONS! I am as excited for your baby as I am for this recipe, (I remember Mel making it and being in HEAVEN)and that is a BIG deal!

  16. As Helen's "other" daughter I had the pleasure of eating this salad on many occasions. It is still one of my all time favorites and every time I make it I get the same reaction Sara mentioned! People just love it and they want to eat it up and then go home and make some more! Seeing the jar of dressing made me smile – I remember the large jars of it the amazing women of Wee Three Chef's would make for their catering events! Good memories Sara! You're a rockstar!

  17. This looks delicious! How do you cook your chicken for this salad? I'm never quite sure how to cook it for salads. Thanks.

  18. Anne- it depends on the salad. Sometimes I marinate the chicken in some of the dressing and grill it. I love grilled chicken in salads- but a lot of the time I just make things easy and bake it in the oven. I just sprinkle chicken breasts with salt, pepper, onion, and garlic, and bake at 350 for 20-30 minutes depending on the size. It turns out juicy and flavorful (as long as you don't overbake it!). One thing I don't recommend is boiling the chicken. I know a lot of people do this, but the chicken turns out kind of rubbery and without flavor, so I would definitely opt for oven roasting.

  19. Thank you Sara, I think I will bake the chicken. I'm going to make it tomorrow and it looks so good I can't wait!

  20. A trick I was taught to making chicken for these type of salads is to cut a chicken breast into half or thin them out with a mallet. You can also use stir fry chicken pieces. Dip in soy sauce and shake off any excess. Fry lightly in a non-stick frypan with some non-stick spray in it – no oil or margarine needed. Cook for several minutes on both sides and remove. I usually use the chicken the next day and not only is it delicious and moist but it doesnt really taste like soy sauce – although in these types of salads that's not a bad thing.

  21. We just ate this salad tonight for dinner. Put a little chicken on top and it was a complete and filling meal. SO delicious!! I believe my husband said the dressing was "impressive." Thanks for yet another great recipe!

  22. Yum! Tried this tonight and loved it. Definitely a bit time intensive but would be easy to prep ahead of time and throw together at dinner. Thanks for helping me find a way to REALLY enjoy my veggies 🙂

  23. This salad is almost the same as the chinese chop salad at Noodles & co. which I absolutely love. I am so happy that I can make it at home! Some of the things they put on theirs are bean sprouts, julienned red bell peppers, napa cabbage, and carrots. I made this for dinner tonight and couldn't stop eating! Thanks!

  24. So I just made this salad for the first time. My husband and I both thought the dressing was a little bland and lacking flavor. I'm taking a huge salad to a party tomorrow night. Any suggestions on how to doctor up the dressing and add some more flavor???

  25. That surprises me Julie because I think this dressing is FULL of flavor! People usually say that's the beat part. My only suggestion would be to add more of the ingredients already in there (garlic, sesame oil, etc)

  26. I made this for a party and it was great. I agree with the previous post about the dressing needing to have a bolder flavor. I did make it a day ahead hoping the flavors would marry. I don't like to drench my salad so I'd rather use a little and have a bolder taste. Any ideas? Maybe emulsify the dressing in the food processor?

  27. Thanks for the recipe! Just made this salad and it was AWESOME! My husband and I both LOVED the dressing! For sure will be making again.

  28. Is it wrong that I’ve eaten 3 salads because my slightly adapted version of this dressing is SO delicious? Well, if it is, I don’t want to be right. Delicious post!

  29. This is exactly what I’m looking for, but there will be a lot of hungry guys at the party and I’m wondering if you’ve ever topped it with steak instead of chicken? Thanks!

  30. I think those who are saying that the dressing is bland are just getting the oil off the top after it’s separated. If it’s mixed really well, it’s super flavorful!

  31. For the sesame seed/oil allergy sufferers: Although I make this recipe with toasted sesame oil, you could try substituting hazelnut oil (once open, keep in refrigerator snce it will go rancid quickly). I don’t think walnut oil would work as well as the filbert/hazelnut oil — buy it in the tiniest bottle you can find since it is expensive and a little goes a long way in taste just like sesame oil. You could even sprinkle the salad with toasted chopped hazelnuts, but it would not taste as much like an “Asian salad” any more.

  32. Question–I just made this asian salad and my dressing turned out dark brown instead of caramel color that you show. I then noticed that the recipe calls for soy sauce, but in your picture it didn’t look like you used soy sauce. Are we supposed to use soy or not? Thanks for all the great recipes!

    1. This post is from two years ago so I don’t remember, but it looks like I may have photographed it before adding the soy sauce! Lol But yes, soy goes in- just 2 tablespoons.

  33. My dear friend surprised me with this tonight. It was so delicious that I had a hard time stopping my consumption! the cashews really are a fabulous addition. You know, it always seems when a friend makes something delish and I ask where they obtained the recipe, the response is unfailingly ‘Our Best Bites’! From one Mormon Mom to two others. Well done my sistas!

  34. I just made this today for a potluck dinner and it was a huge hit. Loved it! Thanks so much. I also made your chocolate/berry trifle this weekend for a birthday party and the chocolate drizzle strawberries and cream pie for FHE. All 3 recipes were a hit. You ladies are making me look really good to all my friends!

  35. I have been making this salad, or another version of it, for years. When the wontons are done frying, sprinkle with sugar. I use a big huge ziplock bag if I’m making a huge salad. I also marinated the chicken after I cook it, in the dressing . My version doesn’t use tomatoes or cucumbers, just green onions. I love this dressing more than the other version.
    Also, if you are taking it to a bbq or party, do not dress it with chicken and won
    tons or it gets soggy. So I pack my huge bowl of lettuce and green.onions,
    A ziploc bag of won tons, and a ziplock of chicken and dressing. Mix it right before serving.

  36. I love the chopped salad at Portillo’s in Chicago and I thought this sounded like it would be a great chopped salad so I chopped the lettuce and veggies small, chopped up some chicken tenders, and added some ditalini pasta to made it a little more filling, then tossed it with the dressing and served the wontons on top of each serving. It was amazing and everyone loved it. Thank you so much for posting this!

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