Panera’s Thai chicken salad with edamame, roasted peppers, cashews, and peanut chili vinaigrette. It’s one of best salads at Panera and now you can make it at home!
It serves absolutely amazing with a side of Broccoli Potato Soup for a light lunch or even dinner.
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Panera Spicy Thai Chicken Salad
I love a good salad. For as long as I can remember, salad has always been my go to for lunch and sometimes even dinner. I mean you can’t go wrong with a bowl of crispy lettuce, fresh veggies, and homemade vinaigrette.
These days when I’m out, Panera’s Thai Chicken Salad with Thai chili vinaigrette and spicy peanut sauce is my absolute favorite salad. It’s loaded with yummy things like edamame, roasted peppers, cilantro, and cashews. It’s spicy, crunchy, and just delicious all around.
I recreated the recipe and put my own spin on it to make at home whenever a craving strikes. The best part is that it’s an incredibly easy salad recipe. It makes an amazing lunch with a bowl of soup, sandwich or I double up the portions and serve it for dinner.
Panera Thai Salad Ingredients
This salad is all about the Thai chili vinaigrette! It’s a super flavorful vinaigrette that pulls all the ingredients together. If you want less spicy, definitely cut back on red pepper flakes. See my notes in the recipe card.
You’ll need: peanut butter, red pepper flakes, honey, soy sauce, rice wine vinegar, sesame oil, lime juice, ginger, and garlic.
The rest of the salad ingredients are simple!
- Chicken – rotisserie chicken works great! Or make your own. See easy how to below.
- Romaine lettuce – about 1-2 heads or 6 cups chopped
- Edamame – frozen and shelled
- Roasted red peppers – jarred from the store (no need to make your own)
- Roasted cashews
- Variations or add ins: basil, mint, cucumbers, peanuts, mango
Easy Chicken Breast for Salads
If you’re skipping rotisserie chicken and making your own chicken for the salad, here’s my go-to recipe. It’s a foolproof recipe that relies on bone-in, skin-on, chicken breast.
Why bones and skin? Because it protects the chicken from drying out in the oven. So the chicken breast is always juicy, moist, and tender. Here’s how I do it:
- Prep: lightly pat dry the chicken breast with few sheets of paper towels.
- Season: drizzle with olive oil and rub all over to coat. Season thoroughly with salt and pepper all over.
- Cook: roast in a 425 F oven for 45ish minutes or until cooked through. Cooking time will depend on the size of the chicken breast. I would start checking for doneness around 35-40 minutes.
- Chop: cool slightly and then pull the chicken off the bones. Chicken should easily separate from the bones. Discard the skin and either shred the chicken with your hands or dice into bite-size pieces.
How to Make Panera Thai Salad
There are only a few steps to making this Thai salad. You can prep ahead by making the vinaigrette and keeping it refrigerated until ready to serve. Same with the rest of the salad: prep all the veggies, chicken, and keep separate until ready to serve.
- Step 1: Cook carrots and edamame in little oil over medium-high heat until lightly charred and smoky. I love a cast-iron skillet for this step.
- Step 2: While the veggies are cooking, make the Thai chili vinaigrette by whisking all of the ingredients together. Don’t forget to season with salt and pepper.
- Step 3: In a large salad bowl, combine the rest of the salad ingredients, including the carrots and edamame with the vinaigrette. Toss around to combine. Taste for salt before serving.
So what about the leftovers? Or maybe you want to prep this salad ahead of time to enjoy throughout the week? Well, salad is best served right away after it’s been tossed with the vinaigrette. I mean if you make it for lunch and have leftovers for dinner – it should be okay too.
Ideally, you want to store leftover salad, chicken, and vinaigrette separate, otherwise, it will turn soggy. You can, however, make the vinaigrette ahead of time and keep refrigerated for a few days.
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Panera’s Thai chicken salad with edamame, roasted peppers, cashews, cilantro and peanut chili vinaigrette. It’s one of best salads to order at Panera and now you can make it at home!
- 2 small carrots, chopped, 1 cup
- 1 cup frozen shelled edamame
- 6 cups chopped romaine lettuce
- 8 oz. cooked chicken, diced, 1 1/2 cups
- 1/2 cup chopped roasted red peppers
- 1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro
- 1/3 cup roasted cashews, roughly chopped
- Olive oil
- 2 tsp. creamy peanut butter
- 1/2 tsp. red pepper flakes
- 1 Tbsp. honey
- 2 Tbsp. low-sodium soy sauce
- 2 Tbsp. water
- 2 tsp. rice vinegar
- 1/4 tsp. sesame oil
- 1/2 tsp. fresh lime juice
- 1 tsp. minced ginger
- 1 garlic clove, minced
- Kosher salt and fresh black pepper
- Cook carrots and edamame in little olive oil over medium-high heat until slightly charred, about 5-8 minutes. Set aside to cool.
- In a large salad bowl, combine lettuce, chicken, roasted carrots, edamame, roasted peppers, cilantro, and cashews with the vinaigrette. Toss until fully coated. Taste for salt and pepper before serving.
- Whisk all ingredients together and season with salt and pepper to taste.
- Chicken: pulled rotisserie chicken works great. You can also make your own chicken at home: simply pat dry two bone-in, skin on, chicken breasts, and rub with olive oil all over. Season thoroughly with salt and pepper. Roast 425 F for 45 minutes or until cooked through. Cool and pull the chicken meat off the bones. Either shred or dice the meat.
- Spiciness: salad definitely has a spicy kick to it. If you want less spicy, use 1/4 teaspoon of red pepper flakes.
- Variations/Add Ins: basil or mint would be a great addition to the cilantro. Also cucumbers for added crunch and mango for sweetness. Don’t like cashews? Swap them out for peanuts.
- Servings: this recipe makes 2 big meal salads or 4 smaller salads to enjoy with a cup of soup or a sandwich.
- Leftovers/Make Ahead: after the salad been tossed with the vinaigrette, it’s best served right away. For best results, keep the leftover salad and vinaigrette separate until ready to serve. You can also make the vinaigrette ahead of time and keep refrigerated.
Keywords: copy cat, panera salad, chicken, spicy,
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Originally published August 2014, updated August 2019 with new photos and rewritten post.