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This protein-packed Crunchy Grilled Sesame Chicken Salad recipe is easy, healthy, delicious, and easy to make. It’s loaded with tender and juicy grilled chicken thighs marinated in a savoury sesame sauce that doubles as a sweet and sour glaze. Served over a big bed of crunchy Napa cabbage, carrots, cucumber, orange segments, snow peas, fresh herbs, and so much more, tossed in some irresistibly delicious Side Dish Creamy Sesame dressing. It’s gluten-free, Paleo, Whole30 compatible and perfect for any day of the week. Enjoy it on its own or serve with a side of steamed jasmine rice if desired.

Crunchy Grilled Sesame Chicken Salad Primal Gourmet

Ingredients You Need for the Grilled Chicken

  • Chicken Thighs: I like using boneless and skinless chicken thighs here. They’re affordable, juicy, flavourful and forgiving to cook. You can substitute chicken breast or even your favourite steak if preferred.
  • Coconut Aminos: This naturally gluten-free soy sauce substitute will help give the chicken a beautiful colour on the grill. Coconut aminos are much less salty and sweeter than soy sauce, which is why I also like to add a small amount of salt to the marinade.
  • Avocado oil: Using a neutral, high-heat oil like avocado oil will help prevent the chicken from sticking to the grill and give the glaze a beautiful sheen.
  • Rice Vinegar: To balance out some of the sweetness from the honey and coconut aminos, as well as help tenderize the chicken as it marinades.
  • Toasted Sesame Oil: For the best flavour, look for a 100% toasted sesame oil with no additives.
  • Honey: This is optional and can be omitted to keep the recipe Whole30, but adding a small amount of honey to the marinade will add some sweetness as well as help the chicken to caramelize on the grill.
  • Garlic: As always, measure this ingredient with your heart and don’t let anyone tell you there’s such a thing as too much.
  • Ginger: Fresh ginger root will add a delicious depth of flavour to the chicken.
  • Chile Flakes: For a bit of spice, try adding some dry chile flakes to the marinade. You can also substitute your favourite sliced chiles.
Marinated and Grilled Sesame Chicken Thighs on the Traeger Grill Primal Gourmet

Ingredients You Need for the Crunchy Salad

  • Side Dish Creamy Sesame Dressing: The real star of this salad is the Side Dish Creamy Sesame Dressing. It’s insanely delicious, gluten-free, Paleo, made with clean, healthy ingredients and is Whole30 Approved. Use it to dress salads, toss with noodles or as a dipping sauce for grilled meats. You can order online or use their store locator to find it nearest you. It also just launched into select Whole Foods locations!
  • Napa Cabbage: Napa cabbage is crunchy, juicy, and tender, making it the perfect salad base for this Sesame Chicken Salad.
  • Radicchio: For a contrast of colour and slight bitterness, try adding in some thinly sliced radicchio. I also love the fact that radicchio are much smaller than other varieties of cabbage so you don’t have to worry about anything going to waste.
  • Carrot: Julienned carrots add colour, sweetness, crunch and lots of nutrition to this salad.
  • Cucumber: Cooling and refreshing cucumber are the perfect addition to this grilled sesame chicken salad. I like to use English cucumbers because they have a thin and edible skin, and their large size makes them easy to julienne.
  • Green Onions: Thinly sliced green onions add a mild bite to the salad.
  • Snow Peas: Just be sure to trim the ends and peel off the thin string that runs along the edge of each snow pea.
  • Bean sprouts: I love adding crunchy and juicy bean sprouts to salads. They’re unexpected and add a delicious texture with very little calories.
  • Cilantro: If you’re not a fan of cilantro you can omit it or substitute fresh basil instead. Bonus points if you can find Thai basil or lemon basil.
  • Mint: Even just a few sprigs of mint will absolutely transform the flavour of this sesame chicken salad by giving it a fresh, cooling flavour.
  • Orange Segments: Segments of orange add a delicious flavour and juiciness to the salad.
  • Cashews: I always buy unsalted cashews and toast them fresh when needed. Sometimes I place them in a dry skillet and cook them over medium-low heat until golden. Other times, I place them on a sheet pan and roast them in a 325F oven until golden. The oven takes more time but the nuts toast more evenly that way.
Crunchy Grilled Sesame Chicken Salad with Side Dish Creamy Sesame Dressing

Can You Make the Salad Ahead of Time?

If you plan on making this Crunchy Grilled Sesame Chicken Salad ahead of time, I recommend assembling all of the ingredients together and then tossing it with the dressing when ready to serve. This way, the cabbage and other ingredients will hold their crunchy texture.

Store the salad in a sealed, air-tight container to preserve it for up to 1 week in the fridge.

Crunchy Grilled Sesame Chicken Salad Primal Gourmet

Specialty Equipment You’ll Need

This recipe can be prepared in a variety of ways without any special equipment. However, there are a few gadgets that will help cut down time on prep and ensure great results everytime.

  • Salad Spinner: The single best salad-making gadget you could ever hope for. This thing will make sure your cabbage and greens are bone dry every single time. I personally love this OXO model.
  • Julienne Peeler: You can absolutely julienne the vegetables with a sharp knife or you can cut down on time and effort with a special julienne peeler.
  • Traeger Grill: You can’t beat the wood-fired flavour of grilled chicken on the Traeger. I currently use the Timberline XL, but have owned many models over the years. If you’re new to Traegers or considering a purchase, read my article on Buying A Traeger frist.
  • ModiFire Sear Grate: If you own a Traeger and have been missing those beautiful grill marks that come with direct-heat cooking, then I highly recommend buying a ModiFire Sear Grate.
  • Basting Brush: You can use a spoon to glaze the chicken on the grill, but for a more even result use a basting brush. I recommend a silicon bristled brush because it’s heat-safe, easy to clean and won’t potentially leave strands of material in your food.
  • Microplane: Using a rasp grater (AKA zester), like this Microplane model is ideal for finely grating things like ginger and garlic so that they better incorporate into the glaze in this recipe.
Sweet and Sour Sesame Glaze for Grilled Chicken

Substitution Ideas

  • Protein: I like chicken thighs here because they’re juicy, flavourful and forgiving to cook. However, you can substitute chicken breast for a leaner and lower-calorie option. If you’re in the mood for red meat, you can substitute beef flank steak, top sirloin, Denver steak or skirt steak.
  • Vegetables: I personally really like the flavour and textural combination of the vegetables listed in this recipe. However, you can also experiment with other combinations. You can use regular cabbage, purple cabbage, bok choy, red bell pepper, jicama, sugar snap peas, or even some fried taro root.
  • Nuts: I like cashews here, but you can substitute slivered almonds as well.
  • Crunchy Bits: If you’re living your Food Freedom and want to add an extra textural element, try topping this Sesame Chicken Salad with some crushed tortilla chips, fried wonton strips or fried egg noodles.
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Crunchy Grilled Sesame Chicken Salad

This protein-packed Crunchy Grilled Sesame Chicken Salad recipe is healthy, delicious, and super easy to make.
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 12 minutes
Marinating Time: 4 hours
Total Time: 4 hours 32 minutes
Servings: 4 servings


For the Grilled Chicken:

  • 1.5 pounds boneless and skinless chicken thighs
  • ¼ cup coconut aminos
  • 2 tablespoons avocado oil
  • 2 tablespoons rice vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil
  • 1 tablespoon honey, optional
  • 3 garlic cloves, finely grated
  • 1 teaspoon finely grated fresh ginger
  • ¼ teaspoon dried chile flakes
  • ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
  • ¼ teaspoon freshly-cracked black pepper
  • ¼ cup water

For the Sesame Salad:

  • ½ napa cabbage, thinly sliced
  • ½ radicchio, thinly sliced
  • 1 carrot, julienned
  • ½ English cucumber, julienned
  • 2 green onions, thinly sliced
  • 1 cup snow peas
  • ¼ cup bean sprouts
  • ¼ cup fresh cilantro, finely chopped
  • 10 fresh mint leaves, finely chopped
  • 1 orange, segmented
  • 1/3 cup Side Dish Creamy Sesame dressing, plus extra to taste
  • ¼ cup toasted, unsalted cashews


For the Grilled Chicken:

  • In a bowl, combine the chicken, coconut aminos, avocado oil, rice vinegar, sesame oil, honey, garlic, ginger, chile flakes, salt and pepper. Toss to combine, cover and refrigerate 4 hours to overnight.
  • Preheat your Traeger Grill to 500F (if using the ModiFire Sear Grate, preheat the grill to 475F). If using a gas or charcoal grill, preheat to medium-high direct heat.
  • Place the chicken onto the grill and cook until grill marks form, around 6 minutes. Meanwhile, pour the reserved marinade into a saucepan along with ¼ cup water and set over medium-high heat. Cook, stirring regularly, until the liquid has reduced in volume by at least ½ and it can coat the back of a spoon, around 6 minutes.
  • Flip the chicken, brush it with the glaze, and cook the other side until grill marks form and the thickest parts of the thighs register 165F. Transfer the chicken to a carving board and let it rest 5 minutes before slicing.
  • To serve, arrange a bed of the salad onto individual serving plates. Top with the grilled chicken and brush with more of the glaze.

For the Sesame Salad:

  • In a bowl, combine the cabbage, radicchio, carrot, cucumber, green onion, snow peas, bean sprouts, cilantro, mint, orange segments and Side Dish Creamy Sesame dressing. Toss well to combine, top with the cashews, and serve with the grilled chicken.


Calories: 463kcal, Carbohydrates: 23g, Protein: 37g, Fat: 25g, Saturated Fat: 4g, Polyunsaturated Fat: 8g, Monounsaturated Fat: 11g, Trans Fat: 0.03g, Cholesterol: 162mg, Sodium: 821mg, Potassium: 985mg, Fiber: 4g, Sugar: 13g, Vitamin A: 3604IU, Vitamin C: 68mg, Calcium: 158mg, Iron: 3mg

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

Tried this recipe? Leave a comment below!

About the Author

Hi, i’m Ronny! In 2013, after a lifetime of struggling with my weight and body issues, I rehabilitated my relationship with food, lost over 40 pounds and completely changed my life.

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