Coconut-Lime Chicken and Cabbage Salad


A spicy, tangy peanut butter and coconut milk dressing pulls this crunchy fresh salad together.

Thai Crunch Chicken Salad

Victor Protasio / Food Styling by Margaret Monroe Dickey / Prop Styling by Christine Keely

Active Time:
40 mins
Total Time:
1 hrs 40 mins
4 to 6 servings

This vibrant salad is filled with layers of texture and flavor from a mix of crunchy green cabbage, fresh herbs, and juicy grilled chicken that’s been marinated in a coconut milk and lime juice marinade. The chile- and ginger-laced coconut-peanut dressing unites all the components.


  • 1 cup well-shaken and stirred coconut milk, divided

  • 4 1/2 tablespoons fresh lime juice (from 3 to 4 limes), divided 

  • 2 tablespoons grated palm sugar (see Note) or light brown sugar

  • 1 tablespoon plus 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt, divided, plus more to taste

  • 1 tablespoon grated, peeled fresh ginger (from 1 [1 1/2-inch] piece fresh ginger), divided 

  • 2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs (about 6 thighs), excess fat trimmed 

  • 3 tablespoons creamy peanut butter

  • 1 1/2 tablespoons sambal oelek (such as Huy Fong) (see Note)

  • 8 cups shredded green cabbage (from 1 [3-pound] head cabbage)

  • 1 cup matchstick-cut carrots

  • 1 cup chopped mixed fresh tender herbs (such as cilantro and basil), plus more for garnish

  • 1 cup coarsely chopped salted dry roasted peanuts

  • 1/2 cup toasted unsweetened coconut flakes

  • lime wedges, for serving


  1. Whisk together 1/2 cup coconut milk, 2 tablespoons lime juice, palm sugar, 1 tablespoon salt, and 2 teaspoons ginger in a small bowl until sugar dissolves. Transfer marinade to a large ziplock plastic bag. Add chicken, and seal bag, pressing out all air. Massage bag to evenly coat chicken with marinade. Refrigerate at least 1 hour or up to 5 hours.

  2. Preheat grill to medium-high (400°F to 450°F). Meanwhile, whisk together peanut butter, sambal oelek, remaining 1/2 cup coconut milk, remaining 2 1/2 tablespoons lime juice, remaining 3/4 teaspoon salt, and remaining 1 teaspoon ginger in a large bowl until blended and smooth. Reserve 1/3 cup dressing for drizzling.

  3. Remove chicken from marinade; discard marinade. Place chicken on well-oiled grates; grill, covered, until a thermometer inserted in thickest portion of thighs registers 165°F, 3 to 4 minutes per side. (Alternatively, chicken can be cooked indoors on the stovetop using a grill pan.) Remove from heat; let rest 5 minutes. Slice chicken crosswise into 1/2- to 3/4-inch-thick slices.

  4. Add cabbage, carrots, herbs, peanuts, and toasted coconut to dressing in large bowl; toss until well coated. Season with salt to taste. Transfer cabbage mixture to a large platter; top with sliced chicken and drizzle evenly with reserved dressing. Garnish salad with herbs, and serve with lime wedges.


Palm sugar, made from the sap of palm trees, adds a mild caramel flavor. Look for it at specialty grocery stores or online at Sambal oelek, an Indonesian chile condiment, is available at most grocery stores.

Suggested pairing

Stephanie Vu, wine director at Kata Robata in Houston, who provided the inspiration for this recipe, recommends pairing it with a glass of 2019 Teutonic Wine Company Rosé. “I love this wine, and we carry it on our menu at Kata Robata," Vu says. "It’s the perfect crowd-pleasing wine that I’d drink year-round if there was enough of it. It has rich and bright fruit flavors like fresh berries, citrus, flowers, and eucalyptus. The crisp and balanced acidity helps with the spiciness of the salad dressing.”

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