This old fashioned recipe for Asian Cabbage Salad with ramen is packed with the good stuff—cabbage, carrots, green onions, toasted ramen noodles, sunflower seeds, and almonds for lots of crunch!
Asian Cabbage Salad with Ramen Noodles is a vintage recipe that’s perfect for potlucks or gatherings. It has a variety of tastes and textures, and it’s easy to make ahead to enjoy hours (or even days) later.
I’ve found it in a number of church cookbooks, where it goes my names “Oriental Salad” (an outdated term), “Napa Cabbage Salad”, or “Ramen Noodle Salad”.
The salad dates back to the 1960s, where it became popular at a restaurant called Madame Wu’s in California. The restaurant closed in 1998, but the flavors of its famous salad live on.
I particularly love this cabbage salad recipe because lettuce salads can get…boring.
This one has a base of cabbage, green onions, and carrots, and it’s topped with an Asian dressing AND a crispy mix of toasted ramen noodles, sunflower seeds, and almonds. The huge variety of textures and flavors is anything but boring.
It’s easy to make ahead, too!
Thanks to the cabbage base, the salad can easily sit out for a few hours at room temperature while still remaining crunchy, making it ideal for a potluck or buffet (this old fashioned 7 Layer Salad is good for potlucks, too!).
Top tip: use coleslaw mix!
Don’t want to chop cabbage?
You can substitute two (14 oz) bags of coleslaw mix in place of the cabbage and carrots.
If you do chop the cabbage yourself, you can also save time by purchasing pre-shredded carrots.
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- Top tip: use coleslaw mix!
- Salad ingredients
- Asian dressing ingredients
- How to make Asian cabbage salad
- How to make a crunchy ramen topping
- Dressing for cabbage salad
- Asian Cabbage Salad: Frequently Asked Questions
- Make ahead instructions
- What to serve with Asian Cabbage Salad
- 📖 Recipe
- More side dish salads
- 💬 Reviews
- A head of cabbage makes the base of the salad. I used Napa cabbage, but you can use green cabbage, savoy cabbage, or even red cabbage. Two bags of coleslaw mix can also be substituted.
- Carrots and green onions lend flavor and color.
- You’ll need two packages of ramen noodles—just the noodles though—you can discard the seasoning packet or save it for another use.
- The ramen noodles get sautéed in butter along with the almonds, sesame seeds, and sunflower seeds. This topping combo is so addicting!
Asian dressing ingredients
The dress is a simple one:
- vegetable oil
- soy sauce
- vinegar (white vinegar or apple cider vinegar)
- salt (not pictured, but necessary to make all the salad flavors really pop!)
How to make Asian cabbage salad
The salad comes together really easily if you pre-chop all of the ingredients. It can also be made ahead by pre-chopping up to 2 days in advance!
Chop the cabbage thinly (if you’re unsure how to do that, here’s a tutorial on how to chop cabbage).
Then finely chop the green onions. You can use the white parts, light green parts, and dark green parts for this salad—no waste!
Shred the carrots if they’re not already shredded. I bought pre-shredded carrots to save time.
Place all of the shredded cabbage, shredded carrots, and chopped green onions into a large bowl (I love these nesting bowls from Williams Sonoma), and toss together gently.
How to make a crunchy ramen topping
Melt the butter in a large skillet over medium heat. While the butter is heating, crush the ramen noodles with your hands.
Add the sesame seeds, sunflower seeds, and broken up ramen noodles to the butter. Cook, stirringly occasionally, until the mixture is light golden brown.
Some pieces may turn brown quicker than others, and that’s ok! Make sure you are stirring every so often to evenly distribute the ingredients, and take it off the heat when most of the pieces are toasted.
Transfer the mixture to a bowl and allow to cool completely.
Dressing for cabbage salad
Place the oil, vinegar, sugar, soy sauce, and salt in a jar with a tight-fitting lid. A mason jar works well for this. Shake until the ingredients are combined.
To serve, add the ramen mixture to the cabbage mixture, and pour the dressing over the top. Toss to combine, and serve.
Asian Cabbage Salad: Frequently Asked Questions
Yes! Substitute two (14 ounce) packages of coleslaw mix in place of the cabbage and carrots.
Definitely! If you or any of your guests has a nut allergy, you can leave out the nuts altogether. Or, you can substitute chopped peanuts in place of the almonds.
To make a dairy-free version of this salad, substitute olive oil or vegetable oil in place of the butter. All of the other ingredients should be dairy-free, but as always, check the packaging of any store-bought items such as the ramen noodles.
Make ahead instructions
To make this Asian slaw ahead of time, you can make each individual component (the veggie mix, the ramen topping, and the dressing) up to two days in advance.
Keep the veggie mix and the dressing covered in the refrigerator, and keep the ramen topping in an airtight container at room temperature.
When you’re ready to serve the salad, toss all of them together in a large bowl.
Once the salad is tossed together, it will keep at room temperature for about 4 hours. After that, place it in the refrigerator.
The cabbage will wilt a little after some time in the refrigerator, but it’s still really delicious on day 2 or 3.
- Use your favorite cabbage for this salad: Napa, green, savory, or red cabbage.
- Substitute chopped pecans for the almonds.
- You can reduce the sugar in the dressing by half, if you’d like.
- Add meat to make this a main dish salad (chicken, shrimp, pork, etc.).
- Substitute pepitas (shelled pumpkin seeds) for the sunflower seeds.
- Add a cup of steamed shelled edamame.
What to serve with Asian Cabbage Salad
Asian Cabbage Salad is a great side dish for a picnic, cookout, or potluck. Or you can turn it into a main dish for dinner! Here are a few ideas for what to serve with this crunchy cabbage salad:
- Add grilled chicken or shrimp to turn it into a main dish.
- Serve with pork chops (like these Honey Soy Pork Chops).
- Serve alongside roast chicken or pork tenderloin.
- Pair it with burgers or brats for a cookout.
I love that it stays crunchy even as it sits, unlike lettuce salads that wilt quickly. The cabbage really does stand up well to sitting over time!
When I make it, I serve it with Honey Soy Pork Chops. I make the pork chops every few weeks in the summer when it’s grilling season—the whole family loves it.
Have you tried this recipe? Please leave a ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ rating and/or comment below!
Asian Cabbage Salad
For the salad:
- 1 head Napa cabbage, thinly sliced (or substitute cole slaw mix)
- 1 bunch green onions, finely chopped
- 1 cup shredded carrots
- 4 tablespoons butter
- 2 tablespoons sesame seeds
- ½ cup sunflower seeds
- 1 cup sliced or slivered almonds
- 2 packages ramen noodles, broken up (discard seasoning packets)
For the dressing:
- ½ cup sugar
- ¼ cup white vinegar
- ¾ cup vegetable oil
- 2 tablespoons soy sauce
- ½ teaspoon salt
- In a large bowl, toss together the sliced cabbage, chopped green onions, and shredded carrots.
- In a large skillet, melt the butter. Add the sesame seeds, sunflower seeds, almonds, and broken up ramen noodles (the noodles only—discard the seasoning packet or save for another use). Cook, stirring frequently, until the sunflower seeds and sesame seeds are medium brown. Remove from the heat and let cool.
- In a jar with a tight fitting lid, combine the sugar, vinegar, vegetable oil, soy sauce, and salt. Put the lid on and shake to combine.
- When you’re ready to serve the salad, pour the ramen noodle mixture into the cabbage mixture and toss gently to combine. Pour the dressing over everything and toss again to combine. Serve immediately.