Panera Asian Sesame Salad

Your favorite Panera Bread salad, made in the comfort of your own home. This copy cat Panera Asian Sesame Salad is full of flavor, easy to make, and perfect for any occasion!

It’s All about that Asian Sesame Dressing

Asian inspired romaine salad topped with sliced chicken and wonton strips.

Don’t get me wrong—this entire salad is Delicious with a capital D. But it was the dressing that captured my taste buds the first time I tried Panera’s Asian Sesame Chicken Salad. After just a few bites, I knew this was a salad I wanted to recreate at home.

Here’s why I love dressing so much:

  • It’s sweet. Honey and rice vinegar are a match worthy of a rom-com. I use it in lots of my favorite Asian recipes, including Honey Soy Salmon and Honey Garlic Shrimp Foil Packets.
  • It’s savory. Soy sauce balances the sweetness in a way that’s just *chef’s kiss.*
  • It’s simple. All you have to do is add a few ingredients to a glass jar, shake until combined, and you’re good to go!

I find myself craving this light, tangy, refreshing salad on hot summer days. I like to prep a big batch of the ingredients on the weekend, then enjoy this craveably crunchy, sweet, and salty Asian Sesame Chicken Salad all week long.

Key Ingredients for Asian Sesame Chicken Salad

Let’s dive into the rest of the ingredients!

Ingredients for Asian sesame salad in bowls on a white background.
  • Chicken breasts or tenders – You can use almost any kind of leftover grilled or cooked chicken in this recipe, with seasonings as simple as salt and pepper. I whipped up a very quick 3 ingredient marinade you can use to amp up the flavor, or, if you really want to go all out, use our very popular Asian Chicken Marinade.
  • Rice vinegar, honey, and soy sauce – Look for seasoned rice vinegar. I also prefer low sodium soy sauce, but any kind works.
  • Romaine hearts – This is the base of our salad. You could really use any kind of lettuce or greens, but romaine hearts taste most similar to the Panera Bread salad.
  • Almonds and sesame seeds – I used toasted sliced almonds and toasted sesame seeds to achieve the perfect Panera copycat.
  • Cilantro– If you want to take your salads to the next level, add fresh herbs. It makes every bite pop!
  • Wonton strips – All. The. Crunch. ‘Nuff said.

How to Make Panera Asian Salad

  1. Make the marinade (optional). In a bowl, whisk together the soy sauce, brown sugar, and rice vinegar. Add the marinade to the chicken, either in a ziplock bag or in a shallow container. Cover and refrigerate for at least two hours.
  2. Make the dressing. In a glass jar with a tight fitting lid, add the oil, vinegar, honey, sesame oil, soy sauce, and ginger, if using. Cover tightly then shake until the ingredients are well combined. Season to taste with salt.
  3. Make the chicken. Remove the chicken from the marinade and discard the excess. Heat a pan over medium heat and coat with oil. Add the chicken and cook, undisturbed, 4-5 minutes a side or until the chicken is well browned and registers at least 165 degrees with a meat thermometer. Remove from heat, and chop into bite sized pieces or strips.
  4. Make the salad. In a bowl, toss together the chopped romaine, sliced almonds, wonton strips, and chicken. Serve with the dressing.

FAQs

Can I make Panera Asian Sesame Salad gluten free?

For a gluten free Asian sesame salad, sub tamari for soy sauce and omit the wonton strips.

Can I make Panera Asian Sesame Salad ahead of time?

The chicken can be made and refrigerated up to 2 days in advance.

The dressing can be made ahead of time and stored in the fridge until needed. Run it under hot water for 30 seconds and shake vigorously to reincorporate. It will keep for about 2 weeks.

If you’re meal prepping this or packing it in a lunch, layer the ingredients in your container with the dressing at the bottom, followed by the chicken, lettuce, a folded paper towel, then the wonton strips and sesame seeds at the top. This keeps everything nice and crisp and crunchy!

Panera asian sesame salad shown in a white bowl.

Can I use rotisserie chicken/grilled chicken/chicken thighs?

Yes, yes, and yes! Leftover rotisserie chicken is great in this salad, and cuts your prep time in half.

Really, any kind of chicken you have on hand can work here. My recipe uses chicken tenderloins, but boneless skinless breasts or thighs also work great.

Do I have to marinate the chicken?

Nope! If you don’t have time to marinate, just season the chicken generously with salt and pepper on both sides and pop it straight into your skillet or on the grill!

Can I add other veggies or toppings?

Of course! I love adding cucumbers and/or carrot ribbons to this. Mandarin oranges are also really great in Asian Sesame Salad.

If you’re making this vegetarian, add edamame for some protein!

Asian sesame dressing being drizzled from a small pitcher onto a bowl of Asian chicken salad.

What to Serve with Asian Sesame Chicken Salad

It’s soup and salad time! Pair this Panera Asian Sesame Salad with my Italian Sausage Tortellini Soup, Fresh Tomato Soup, Green Pea Soup, Broccoli Cheddar Soup, or 30 Minute Chicken Noodle Soup.

If you’re more of a You Pick Two Salad and Sandwich person, try pairing this with a Caprese Panini, Portobello Mushroom Sandwich, Turkey Avocado Sandwich, or The Best Veggie Sandwich with Cream Cheese.

More Salads You Might Like

That Good Salad earned its name! This family favorite pops up at almost every holiday and cookout. 

If you love a good copy cat recipe, you won’t want to miss my take on these salads: the Big Mac Salad, Copy Cat Northstar Salad, and the 1905 Salad.

For a filling dinner salad, try my Doritos Taco Salad, Chicken Apple Bacon Kale Salad, or Ground Beef Taco Salad with Cilantro Lime Vinaigrette

Asian inspired romaine salad topped with sliced chicken and wonton strips.

Asian Sesame Chicken Salad

Yield: 4
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 40 minutes

This copy cat Panera Asian Sesame Salad includes juicy chicken, toasty sliced almonds, and crunchy wonton strips all tossed in a tangy sweet Asian sesame dressing. It's a super versatile salad you can make gluten free or vegetarian to suit your needs.

Ingredients

For the chicken marinade (optional):

  • 1 lb chicken breasts or tenders
  • ¼ cup soy sauce
  • 1 Tablespoon brown sugar
  • 2 Tablespoons seasoned rice vinegar
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • Oil, for cooking

For the dressing:

  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • ⅓ cup seasoned rice vinegar
  • 2 Tablespoons honey
  • 3 Tablespoons sesame oil
  • 2 teaspoons soy sauce
  • ½ teaspoon grated ginger (optional)
  • Pinch salt, or to taste

For the salad:

  • ¾ cup toasted sliced almonds
  • 1 cup wonton strips
  • 2 romaine hearts, chopped
  • Toasted sesame seeds
  • Finely chopped cilantro

Instructions

  1. Make the marinade (optional). In a bowl, whisk together the soy sauce, brown sugar, and rice vinegar. Add the marinade to the chicken, either in a ziplock bag or in a shallow container. Cover and refrigerate for at least two hours.
  2. Make the dressing. In a glass jar with a tight fitting lid, add the oil, vinegar, honey, sesame oil, soy sauce, and ginger, if using. Cover tightly then shake until the ingredients are well combined. Season to taste with salt.
  3. Make the chicken. Remove the chicken from the marinade and discard the excess. Heat a pan over medium heat and coat with oil. Add the chicken and cook, undisturbed, 4-5 minutes a side or until the chicken is well browned and registers at least 165 degrees with a meat thermometer. Remove from heat, and chop into bite sized pieces or strips.
  4. Make the salad. In a bowl, toss together the chopped romaine, sliced almonds, wonton strips, sesame seeds, cilantro, and chicken. Toss with the dressing and serve.

Notes

If you aren't marinating the chicken, simply season both sides with salt and pepper and cook in an oiled pan.

For a gluten free version, sub tamari for soy sauce and omit the wonton strips.

See the post above for make ahead instructions and variations.

Did you make this recipe?

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9 Comments

  1. This looks delicious Courtney, thanks for sharing! I especially like the picnic part, my husband and I need to do more of that. 🙂 I just shared a similar recipe on my blog, Tomato Boots, it’s fun comparing our take on the dish. Take a look and let me know what you think! http://bit.ly/1pG45UX

  2. Great recipe! I remember I had a super yummy beef salad at a Thai restaurant and the idea is quite similar to this one. Just pinned to save it and will definitely try this out. Thanks for sharing 🙂

  3. I love hearing about your maple tree memory, that’s sweet. It’s so true. food memories can be pretty strong, especially for food obsessed freaks like us.

  4. What a great salad, my favorite kind with all the toppings. We are loving the weather right now too, great idea to have a picnic!

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