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Asian Sesame Chicken Salad
Friday, 2006 February 10 - 1:37 am
I MUST figure out this recipe.

Lately I've been obsessed with figuring out the recipe for the Asian Sesame Chicken Salad at Panera Bread. Most of it is straightforward. But it's the dressing that's the main thing, and that's what I can't figure out. It's sweet and tangy and DANG, is it good.

Panera Bread publishes a recipe book, and they provide this recipe for the dressing:

1/4 C. rice wine vinegar
1/4 C. toasted sesame oil
2 T. soy sauce
1 tsp. toasted sesame seeds
1 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes
3/4 C. canola oil

I can tell you right now: this is NOTHING like what they serve in the restaurants. What's more, it tastes TERRIBLE.

So I looked at the official ingredient list:

Reduced sugar sesame vinaigrette dressing: water, distilled vinegar, high fructose corn syrup, canola oil, maltodextrin, sesame oil, salt, xanthan gum, spices, dehydrated onion, sucralose, potassium sorbate, calcium disodium EDTA.

Maltodextrin is kind of like corn starch. Xanthan gum acts kind of like a thickener and an emulsifier, but it also has the property of making liquids easy to pour. Sucralose is what's in Splenda. Potassium sorbate is a preservative that prevents mold. Calcium disodium EDTA is a flavor preservative.

So I've started experimenting with these ingredients:

Distilled vinegar
Karo light corn syrup
Canola oil
Corn starch
Sesame oil
Onion powder

I've found a few things so far:

1. Sesame oil is strong. There's no more than a few drops of sesame oil per serving of dressing.
2. I've had to add a lot of sugar and corn syrup to match the sweetness level of Panera's dressing.
3. Panera's dressing has a fruity tart-sweet taste to it that I'm having trouble matching. I'm wondering if perhaps I need to use apple cider vinegar instead of ordinary distilled vinegar. (Rice vinegar, by the way, doesn't seem to have the right flavor.)
4. There's not a lot of oil in the dressing.

I think I'm getting close, but I'm missing some key factor. I've tried a bit of lemon juice to add that fruity tartness, but it doesn't give exactly the right flavor.

Any suggestions?
Permalink  89 Comment   Bookmark and Share
Posted by Ken in: food


Comment #1 from e (Guest)
2006 Feb 10 - 2:03 pm : #
you need to add more asians.
Comment #2 from Ken (realkato)
2006 Feb 10 - 2:29 pm : #
AH, that's the ticket.
Comment #3 from Sweatpantsmom (Guest)
2006 Feb 10 - 2:50 pm : #
You should substitute mirin for some of the sugar. Also, you should add some finely minced ginger (fresh.)

I became similarly obsessed with a salad I had on a trip up north last month, and re-created their dressing. It was the ginger that did the trick. Also try some minced shallots.

God do I sound like a food nerd or what?
Comment #4 from Noelle (Guest)
2006 Feb 10 - 3:23 pm : #
If you get desperate let me know, I have a close friend who is a professionally trained chef and he's married to a Thai woman. We can always ask him.
Comment #5 from Andrea (Guest)
2006 Mar 7 - 2:50 pm : #
Have you figured out the recipe?
Comment #6 from Ken (realkato)
2006 Mar 13 - 4:24 pm : #
Nope. My many attempts all ended in failure. I ended up with something that didn't taste bad, but it definitely wasn't the same flavor. In Panera's dressing, it seems like there's something tart other than the vinegar, and something sweet other than sugar and corn syrup. I thought it might be some sort of fruit juice, but that's not on the ingredient list, and nothing I've tried so far has worked (including mirin, Marsha, or the addition of more Asians, E.)

Anyone else got any ideas?
Comment #7 from mary (Guest)
2006 Jun 24 - 4:01 pm : #
Online references have been made to lime juice. Did you try that? (I'm off to the kitchen to try cooking cornstarch and water as a base for the flavorings)
Comment #8 from Ken (realkato)
2006 Jun 26 - 11:27 am : #
I tried lemon juice, but lime juice is an interesting theory. Where did you see that?

I've seen several recommendations for Trader Joe's lemon ginger sesame dressing. I don't have a Trader Joe's near me, so I can't try it right now. And I also hear that Kraft makes something similar, though I don't know what that is.
Comment #9 from Melissa (Guest)
2006 Aug 6 - 6:27 pm : #
Hello! I love Panera's Asian dressing too. I can not perfect it but found a dressing that taste VERY good and has a nice kick like Panera's dressing.
Try " Chelton House " Organic Sesame Ginger dressing. You can purchase at Hannafords supermarkets. I put 2 tbl spoons in a clean salad bowl and added 1 packet of Splenda , then mixed .It is fabulous!! You MUST add the Splenda or it taste terrible ! I then added about 6 packets to the bottle. I may even add a little lime juice . The color of this dressing is much darker than Panera's and has a thicker consistency but I do HIGHLY suggest you try this. It is good stuff!
Comment #10 from Charity (Guest)
2006 Aug 14 - 4:15 pm : #
Wow, you guys. Y'all are awesome. I absolutely adore that dressing and I've tried everything in the stores. Nothing seems to match up... That sucks. I'm definitely gonna try all of your tips. Thanks a bunch!
Comment #11 from NKSk8r (Guest)
2006 Sep 12 - 3:33 pm : #
Hi everyone, I absolutely love Panera's Asian dressing too! I have found in my research that the dressing is NOT where that fruity, sweet, tart flavor is!! It is in the fresh cut CILANTRO that they add to the salad romaine greens!!! Just this weekend while visiting Panera Bread I asked for a "to go" Asian Sesame Chicken salad and they give you the dressing in a to-go container rather than saturate your salad. As I checked my bag I thought they gave me the wrong dressing because it didn't taste the same when I dipped my finger in it. When I asked the girl behind the counter about the dressing, she informed me that it was the CILANTRO in the salad that complimented the dressing to give it "that taste" that none of us could put our finger on. Well, guess where I went for lunch today?! YEP! Panera to indulge in this awesome salad. I ate "in" today and low and behold, they forgot to add the CILANTRO to my salad, so when I tasted it, it didn't taste like my beloved favorite salad!!! I asked for some CILANTRO, added it to my salad, tossed it and tasted and THERE IT WAS! The fruity, sweet of the Cilantro combined with the vinegar (tart) was scrumptious!!! Hope this helps!!!
Comment #12 from Stacey (Guest)
2006 Oct 29 - 8:11 pm : #
Anyone figured this out yet? I really want the recipe!
Comment #13 from Renee (Guest)
2006 Dec 17 - 1:44 pm : #
And I've tried all of the "Asian Sesame" Salads in the store and they are all dark in color. I have yet to find one that is the same color as Panera's dressing....wonder what that is about??? It's almost I'm wondering if soy sauce is really supposed to be in there. All of the others dressings in the stores also have ginger in it and Panera's doesn't have the ginger kick. This is still a mystery. I'm going to try something over the holidays, and I'll be sure to let you all know if I'm successful. Til then....Renee'
Comment #14 from Ken (realkato)
2006 Dec 18 - 9:51 am : #
Renee, I agree; there's definitely no soy in it, and if there's ginger, it's a very tiny amount.
Comment #15 from kim (Guest)
2007 Mar 8 - 3:49 pm : #
Hi Ken,
I hope you are still out there. I'm obsessed with this one also. Ok, the following info is from my "Food Lover's Companion" one of the greatest foodie references.
Distilled vinegar is not apple cider vinegar. DV is made from grain alcohol and is very tart, which is right for the recipe. I wonder if ingredients would have to say RV because it might have different allergy issues.
There are two types of Sesame Oil "light in color and flavor and has a deliciously nutty flavor." When I tried it, I used regular not realizing that there is two types.
Comment #16 from Claire (Guest)
2007 Mar 25 - 6:32 pm : #
Ok my daughter just came back from Panera's with a whole asian salad (I note the salad has Raw Sesame seeds and sliced almonds, here in Boston anyway, I saw no Cilantro in evidence.) I was about to comment on your questions without tasting it to add that you might need to try a dark rice vinegar (mine is "Chinkiang") which approaches a Balasamic vinergar flavour...not as the only vinegar but in addition to. But instead I went and tasted the dressing in its little container and Whap! I was hit with the cloying "flavour" of SPLENDA! I nearly barfed! Which by the way merely shows this stuff needs its salad friends to go with it. As a big fan of Hidden Valley and discovering the secret was MSG I can relate. But boy was it too sweet!
Comment #17 from Kristin (Guest)
2007 May 20 - 7:32 pm : #
I've never gotten as far as going to my kitchen to try and figure out exactly what is in it, but I HAVE wondered. I think that the most mystifying thing is that it's just about clear. Yes, sesame oil is strong, and so a couple drops of that isn't going to change the color much. As far as that tangy sweetness goes.. what about a combo of lemon and lime juices? It doesn't taste distinctly like one or the other to me. I'm thinking that beyond that, the secret must lie in the spices.. And again, the dressing is just about clear, so in my mind it must be a dry spice that just about dissolves in liquid. Onion powder, of course. I also wondered about ginger. What about coriander???

I'm getting hungry just thinking about it...
Comment #18 from Kristin (Guest)
2007 May 20 - 7:40 pm : #
Or what about honey??
Comment #19 from Claire (Guest)
2007 May 26 - 4:31 pm : #
Actually I just recreated their broccoli/cheddar soup and found most online recipes to just be copy and pastes of the same (wrong) version. To do it correctly I used Panera's nutrition info, and in a further nod to said data include it here for the salad. Kristin had some good guesses!
ngredients: Romaine lettuce, citrus herb chicken breast (boneless, skinless chicken breasts, water, orange peel, potassium lactate, salt, spice, rice starch, turbinado sugar, lemon peel, lemon juice powder, mustard flour, citric acid), reduced sugar sesame vinaigrette dressing (water, distilled vinegar, high fructose corn syrup, canola oil, maltodextrin, sesame oil, salt, xanthan gum, spices, dehydrated onion, sucralose, potassium sorbate, calcium disodium EDTA), wonton strips (wheat flour [niacin, thiamine mononitrate, riboflavin, folic acid], vegetable oil [soybean and/or cottonseed], eggs, salt, water), almonds, cilantro, sesame seeds.
Comment #20 from Josh (Guest)
2007 Aug 21 - 7:34 pm : #
ahhhhhhhhh i came here a year too late!

i have been ridiculously addicted to this salad all summer! i crave that sweet/tart dressing all day long. i've tried bottled dressings (kraft and kens) and both taste disgusting.

after googling, i found this:

but it has soy sauce in it (which doesn't match up with panera's clearish color)

i would sell my soul for the recipe, or even for panera to sell bottles of it!
Comment #21 from Carole (Guest)
2007 Sep 11 - 5:35 pm : #
I found this recipe printed on an NBC affiliate the bottom it said the recipe was presented by "Panrea Bread", and this must have been on some sort of cooking show. So I would think this is the "real" recipe. Here's the link:

And in case that link is gone, I copied this from the page:

Asian Sesame Chicken Salad
2 Wonton wrappers
Canola oil, for frying
2 tablespoons sliced almonds
4 cups romaine lettuce, torn into bite-sized pieces, loosely packed
1 tablespoon fresh cilantro, chopped
3 ounces boneless, skinless chicken breast, grilled and sliced thinly on a bias
1/4 cup Panera Bread Asian Sesame Dressing (recipe follows)
1 tablespoon sesame seeds

Asian Sesame Dressing:
1/4 cup rice wine vinegar
1/4 cup toasted sesame oil
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 teaspoon toasted sesame seeds
1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
3/4 cup canola or vegetable oil
Preheat, the oven to 350 degrees F. To prepare wonton strips, cut wonton wrappers into ¬ľ-inch strips. In a deep skillet, pour canola oil to a depth of 2 to 3 inches. Heat Oil to 365 degrees F. Carefully drop wonton slices into hot oil and fry for about 30 seconds, or until crisp and golden. Remove with slotted spoon and drain on paper towel.

Arrange almonds in a single layer on a sheet pan. Toast in the oven for 5 minutes, toss nuts, then toast for an additional 5 minutes, or until golden. Remove from pan to cool.

To make the asian sesame dressing, combine all ingredients except canola oil in a medium mixing bowl with a wire whisk. Once ingredients are combined, slowly pour in the oil while whisking to form an emulsion.

To make the salad, toss the lettuce, cilantro, wonton strips, chicken and dressing in a large mixing bowl until combined. Place the mixture on a serving plate. Sprinkle with sesame seeds and almonds and serve.

Date: 6/7/2006
Presented By: Panera Bread
Comment #22 from Carole (Guest)
2007 Sep 11 - 5:41 pm : #
I haven't tried the above recipe yet, but I don't see any source of sweetness in the recipe. I agree with everyone that the salad has a definitely sweet tang to it. Looking at the reference above which lists ingredients, I'd say it's the extra ingredients of High fructose corn syrup, also the sucralose (splenda, which I bet was added in the liquid form) which added some of the sweetness. But the mystery probably continues....restaurants never want to release the "secrets" of their recipes, not entirely at least. They want you to keep coming back in....which I do because I LOVE this salad.
Comment #23 from jennifer (Guest)
2007 Oct 23 - 12:28 pm : #'s so funny that I went searching for ideas for this exact thing. I crave this salad every day of my life and I'm sick of buying it since it seems so simple. Carry on, fellow Asian Sesame Chicken Salad friends!! I'll be checking for improvements. We WILL figure this out.
Comment #24 from jennifer (Guest)
2007 Oct 23 - 2:35 pm : #
Okay...I'm getting really close to this.
Definitely forget the soy sauce...we know that's not in there at Panera. Who are they kidding with their fake recipe!!??
I am not a strict play with it.
Here's what I did, modify as you see fit.
about a half tsp sesame oil
about 1/2-1 tsp peanut oil
(we need to figure out which one of these or both...I used both, can't take it out once it's in there...)
maybe 1/4 c. canola oil
some vinegar...I used both rice wine vinegar which is a little milder than the reg. vinegar, plus white wine vinegar. Stay away from plain cheap vinegar, get it in a bottle...maybe totalled 3T??
2 or so packets splenda, or you could use corn syrup as mentioned, maybe 1T??
I added about 1/4 cup or slightly less of mandarin orange juice from the can, just to see what would happen
Now, here are the keys:
lime juice, maybe 1/2 of a lime
Cilantro chopped up and soaked in there for a while. YUM
YUM YUM. Then I strained it out, and my dressing was clear-ish and looked like theirs.
Don't put in too much oil to start, can add later. We don't want it too heavy with oil.
See what you think.
Comment #25 from Josh (Guest)
2007 Nov 16 - 12:22 am : #
thanks jennifer! hopefully i can try that recipe soon!

i neeeeed this dressing :< i also crave it every single dayyyy. it's so ridiculous that i'm spending 7$ for a salad that barely even fills me up.

goodluck everyone on the great panera dressing search!
Comment #26 from David (Guest)
2008 Jan 6 - 10:10 pm : #
I like the salad dressing at Panera's as well and I think what needs to happen is: 1. Use mirin (sweet Japanese rice vinegar) not standard rice vinegar. Mirin has a higher sugar content, i.e. 40 - 50% which is why when you have authentic Japanese sushi, the rice is slightly sweet because they use mirin instead of standard vinegar, i.e. Heinz. The mirin has a higher sugar content which eliminates the need for sugar or sugar substitute.

2. you need to use a light sesame oil (not dark) and pour it in last to taste. Sesame oil is like a finishing oil so it should be used sparingly.

Good luck!
Comment #27 from Kim (Guest)
2008 Jan 13 - 1:08 pm : #
FYI- Panera will sell you the dressing if you ask. I'm going to pick some up today because I love it just as much as all of you!
Comment #28 from lauren (Guest)
2008 Feb 12 - 6:47 pm : #
My mom and i love the salad so much. We sneak to Panera without telling the rest of the family just to have some. My mom just sent them an email urging them to bottle and sell the dressing. Maybe if we all do that they will do it. Please go to their website!
Comment #29 from W Neal (Guest)
2008 Feb 22 - 2:23 pm : #
Okay, this recipe comes from me, a Panera store manager. I am glad to hear that you all love the dressing. We make it in small batches every morning.

1/2 cup of Original Rice wine vinegar

1/4 sesame oil (not the toasted one)

4 tbsp of sugar.

Boil vinegar and sugar til sugar disolves. Let it cool. COMPLETELY~ This allows it to gel a little.

Then using a hand blender, whisks won't work, slowly pour in the sesame oil. That's it! That's all there is too it.

W Neal
Comment #30 from sharnette (Guest)
2008 Jun 30 - 5:56 pm : #
For W Neal,

Okay, I followed your recipe exactly (well sorta, I bought rice vinegar instead of rice wine vinegar by mistake) but everything else I did to a tee. Once I added the sesame oil, the dressing turned like a brownish color but the dressing at Panera Bread is clear. What's the deal with that. Plus, mine came out tart but not as sweet. I used 1/4 cup of sesame oil, was that correct (since your recipe didn't specify the measurement for sesame oil)?
Comment #31 from Beth (Guest)
2009 Feb 25 - 2:12 pm : #
I have figured out the recipe... I know this blog is from some time ago. If anyone wants it or cares about it anymore, please post!
Comment #32 from Ken (realkato)
2009 Feb 25 - 6:39 pm : #
Beth, judging from how many hits this post still gets, I'd say there's a good deal of interest in the recipe. Would you mind sharing your version?
Comment #33 from Jackie (Guest)
2009 Mar 31 - 4:36 pm : #
Comment #34 from Sara (Guest)
2009 Apr 7 - 9:59 pm : #
Beth...please post the recipe! Ken, if you found one that works, will you post it or refer to one of the recipes above? Thanks!
Comment #35 from Rebecca McCann (Guest)
2009 Apr 19 - 8:11 pm : #
beth! can you post the recipe?! i've been looking FOREVER and have found NOTHING like the panera recipe! :[
Comment #36 from Janet (Guest)
2009 Apr 22 - 11:30 am : #
Beth, PLEASE post your recipe soon!
Comment #37 from Mary (Guest)
2009 Apr 27 - 4:00 pm : #
I see the focus is mainly on the dressing...but does any one know how they prepare the chicken?

It's seasoned and as tender as sushi. How do they prepare white meat chicken to keep it this tender and what seasoning to they use?

Comment #38 from kieswer (Guest)
2009 Jun 14 - 6:52 pm : #
W Neal: that's the recipe! Thank you!
Comment #39 from Angela (Guest)
2009 Jun 28 - 1:29 pm : #
Beth...if you still check this blog, please include the salad dressing recipe. I'm so sick of going to Panera and begging for extra dressing.

Comment #40 from Erica (Guest)
2009 Jul 9 - 4:39 pm : #
I don't believe there was a Beth who knew the recipe. You tease!!
Comment #41 from Erin (Guest)
2009 Jul 28 - 6:45 am : #
Had this salad yesterday and decided paying nearly $8 for this is ridiculous. I made the dressing Panera posts online and it's terrible (way too oily). I think we all knew it wasn't the recipe they use, but it's not even a good recipe. Yuck! I was googling for the recipe while i ate it and and thinking about it and I'm convinced there is a lot of sugar in it.
Comment #42 from Erin (Guest)
2009 Jul 28 - 6:51 am : #
To the people trying "neil's" recipe: There IS A difference between rice vinegar and rice wine vinegar. In fact, I made the recipe Panera posts online (the wrong one) with rice vinegar. It calls for rice wine vinegar, so maybe if I had used the latter, it would have tasted better.

Anyhow, the color: there is light and dark sesame oil. Clearly Panera uses the light kind (if it is in fact in the recipe). I'm not sure if there is a flavor difference, but there might be...

I'm convinced Neil is right on about the sugar. 4 T is a lot, but it's a sweet (due to the sugar) and tarty (vinegar) recipe.
Comment #43 from M.E. (Guest)
2009 Aug 6 - 6:18 am : #
For what it's worth, I have also tried several other "Asian" dressings. The dressing I have found that I think is closest to Panera's is the one that is sold with the Fresh Express Asian salad kit.
Comment #44 from InterstedPerson (Guest)
2009 Aug 8 - 4:31 pm : #
Happy to see I am not the only one with the relatively harmless addiction to
this salad dressing...and not the $8. price or the chicken...
BETH if you are there, please help.
I am trying again to re-create this, and only can add that the lime juice
and sugar seem to have a little of the right edge. Also DROPS only of
hot oil. And it seems as though it needs a heavy hand with salt. I use the modified shoyu, so tht may be part of that.
Comment #45 from nikkole (Guest)
2009 Aug 20 - 8:11 pm : #
I think that the recipe from the Panera store manager is the closest...everything else online is some other BS recipe... because there is no way there is soy sauce in that dressing... you have to find UNtoasted sesame oil and use some sort of splenda/sugar mix because it is a reduced sugar dressing and I think that the sweetness comes from the splenda... I too am an Panera Sesame Asian salad junkie...
Comment #46 from Kellie (Guest)
2009 Aug 29 - 9:12 pm : #
Ok, I'll join in....I love this salad too! After way too many visits to Panera for it, being a frustrated chef by hobby, I decided to begin searching for the receipe. I would still go to Panera for it, but would also like to enjoy it at home.

Any new clues?

Comment #47 from Sarah G (Guest)
2009 Sep 11 - 2:47 pm : #
Okay, I saw this post dated 2006 and I am so happy to see it's still going because I too would love the REAL recipe. I hope Beth is real!!!!! C'mon Beth, don't let us down now!
Comment #48 from Terrence (Guest)
2010 Jan 7 - 4:01 pm : #
Believe it or not, my uncle is a VP at Panera. I'm sure he could find it.

I'll check..........
Comment #49 from Cindy (Guest)
2010 Jan 10 - 10:00 pm : #
#1. I can't believe this comment site has been around almost four years now, since Feb. 2006! I'm glad I came across it.

#2. I've lost a ton of weight by doing exercise and eating this salad daily for at least the past 3-4 months, and I love it bc it keeps me from gaining it back. Like most of you here, I crave it daily! I was going to attempt recreating it at home, bc I eat it so often it can get costly, but after reading all the postings regarding the dressings from the Panera Bread book I think I'll save the money. However, I do plan to recreate W NEIL's dressing recipe it sounds like it could be the winner. I'll be doing that tomorrow, so I'll keep ya all posted.

#3. Dear Terrance.... if in deed your uncle is a VP at Panera Bread, please forward this link to him and recommend that he submits a request to sell this dressing at all Panera Bread stores. California Pizza sells in a to-go container their famour "Caesar Salad Dressing" and "Cheese" too separately, and if you notice both the salad is still on the menu and California Pizza is still in biz! Please tell your uncle that many folks out here would purchase this dressing and to please liste to their customers.

LASTLY.... Dear Panera Bread Company, please sell your Sesame Chicken Salad dressing! We don't really care for a pretty-packaging container, we only care about the tasty dressing! Look forward to seeing it available for sale at all Paneral Bread stores soon:)
Comment #50 from Cindy (Guest)
2010 Jan 10 - 10:11 pm : #
Oh yes, one more thing I forgot to mention in my previous post....
I've personally read each post on this site and it's safe to say in my opinion that we can all agree that all the other dressing brands available in our supermarkets... taste nothing like we hoped! not even close!!

That being said, even if we do not have the rest of salad ingridients taste exactly like it (ie.. chicken, almost, etc) we already know the salad contains all the following:
chicken cooked plain, sliced thin, chilled,
sesame seeds stuck to the chilled chicken
romaine lettuces
freshly cut cilantro
sliced almonds (if you bake at home 5min each side, it brings out the flavor)
or buy pre-packaged already baked sliced almonds

If Panera Bread decides to sell the dressing seperately in a to-go container... their dressing will taste a lot better & closer to their original salad than any other brand of dressing we can all get from our local supermarkets!!!


Comment #51 from cathie (Guest)
2010 Jan 24 - 10:23 am : #
Try grated orange rind to give it , its fruity flavor. Never tasted Paneros version I am trying to duplicate Renees Asian Sesame vingegarette and until I added the orange rind it did not taste right.
Comment #52 from diana (Guest)
2010 Jan 26 - 1:17 pm : #
Wow! I too am addicted to this salad! I can't get enough of it. I am constantly making salad dressing at home to try to come up with something I like, but nothing tastes as good as this one! Neil, thanks for the recipe - I'll try it this week!
Comment #53 from Karen (kabar1957)
2010 Jan 26 - 4:10 pm : #
I am so addicted to this salad. It is definitely the Cilantro that makes the dressing. No replication of this is possible without it. I just had it last night. Oh my gosh!!!!!!!!!!
Comment #54 from Boerne ATA (Guest)
2010 Feb 1 - 1:08 pm : #
Had many varieties of sesame dressing recipes that I've experimented.
This is the one I trust the most. However, in making large batches of this, it will not work.

2 Tbs Sugar
2 Tbs Sesame Oil
6-8 Tbs Vinegar (depending on how tart you want, use Rice Vinegar for sweeter results)
1/4 C Vegetable oil
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper (use freshly grounded)
Mix/Shake very very well (I pour everything into an old wishbone ready mix bottle)

Salad (some items can be Optional)
- fried wontons wrappers (sliced into strips) or fried rice noodles
- steamed chicken breast with bones, upon being cooked, meat is pulled from bone and is shredded OR grilled chicken breast (mild seasoning)
- green onions
- cilantro
- butter, green, red leaf or romaine lettuce
- sliced almonds
- toasted sesame seeds

Comment #55 from Jason (Guest)
2010 Feb 1 - 9:29 pm : #
I have no clue how they make the dressing, but i wish i did!! I used to work at panera, and i will say this.. I've noticed on multiple sites people talking about the chicken. There is nothing special about the chicken. They use the same chicken in everything and its just plain grilled chicken. I know because i remember having to individually bag chicken so there would be similar portions in all the salads.... Also, they used to sell the dressing.. they don't anymore because they used to leave it out and people used to steal it .. or at least that's how it is in Jersey.
Comment #56 from jungabunga (Guest)
2010 Feb 3 - 1:05 pm : #
only had this salad a few times and it's yummy, must find recipe!!! Will experiment this weekend
Comment #57 from BethG (Guest)
2010 Feb 22 - 8:09 am : #
Thanks to Neal from Comment #29. I tried his dressing recipe, and that was it exactly!!! Thanks so much Neal. Now I can have this salad whenever I want without leaving the house.
Comment #58 from Jane (Guest)
2010 Feb 23 - 7:52 pm : #
Ditto on the comment #29, it's pretty much an exact recipe.

Couple things; make sure the sesame oil is light colored, like they said. I got unrefined sesame oil (refined is less flavorful and for frying).

After checking around, there is no difference between rice wine vinegar and rice vinegar. Different terms for the same thing. Vinegar is made from wine. Also make sure the only ingredients are vinegar and water. No added sugar, salt, seasoning, anything. The point is to sweeten it yourself to get that particular taste.

Thanks! I ate a whole bag of salad!
Comment #59 from AmandaM (Guest)
2010 Mar 25 - 11:07 am : #
AHHH I am offically not a crazy person! I go on rants at random street corners on how much I hate that I have to buy individual salads to get that tangy tart chinese dressing. Everything in the stores doens't work for me- I feel like this is a recovery post for chinese dressing addicts. I will try Neil's recipe soon.

My favorite salad is the Chinese Chicken from Trader Joe's that only gives you about an ounce for $4.99 with sometimes wilted lettuce. I have literally bought the whole salad and thrown away everything and made a fresh one just to use the dressing. Man, it felt good to get that off my chest.
Comment #60 from Nicole (Guest)
2010 Apr 13 - 3:20 pm : #
I am so addicted to this salad and was excited to find the "official" recipe. It was so gross and over oily, I was disappointed. But now I am charged up again and going to try Neal's recipe. Thanks Neal.
Comment #61 from Eve (Guest)
2010 Apr 16 - 1:31 pm : #
Hi everyone, I love the panera salad!! I'm also addicted to it. I had the half size right now but I will be going back for a full size so I can have for dinner. I will be trying out some of your recipes but I wanted to suggest you try a salad from the cheesecake factory. The closes one to my house in 2 hours away and I drive any chance I get to have it. That just tells you how delicious it is. It's the cashew chicken salad. It's the best!!! If there's one close to u, you have to try it!!
Comment #62 from ali (Guest)
2010 Apr 16 - 2:17 pm : #
Love the salad. Glad to find out I'm not alone. I'll be attempting to make the dressing tonight
Comment #63 from Cathy (Guest)
2010 May 2 - 12:26 pm : #
I am a general manager for Panera Bread, and have been with the company since 2001. We do not make the dressing in small batches every morning, although I got a good laugh from that comment. Our dressing is created and supplied to us. I too, have tried to re-create the recipe to no avail. So here's what I do...I buy it from the my store. Although we no longer sell our retail bottled dressings, we will gladly sell it in 8 oz. containers, to any customer who requests it. I happily carry it home, create my own salad and enjoy. No stress involved.
Comment #64 from Ken (realkato)
2010 May 2 - 1:33 pm : #
Thanks Cathy; I did not believe the guy who said he made the dressing in the store; clearly, the ingredient list shows that it's made in a factory, not from scratch. Do you know if it's a general policy for stores to sell the dressing in 8 oz. containers, or is that specific to each location?
Comment #65 from Candy (Guest)
2010 May 8 - 6:32 pm : #
I also followed W Neal #29's recipe. I bought "Asian Gourmet" brand Plain Rice Vinegar and "Asian Gourmet" brand regular (dark colored) Sesame Oil (not toasted) but used 1/2 the amount of sesame oil #29 recommended. I think that amount is all a matter of your own preference. 1/8 cup of sesame oil is all I needed plus I noticed it really did not have a dark color to it even using the dark colored oil. I did however try to buy it @ Panera today and they do not offer it for sale anymore. I live in Michigan.
Comment #66 from Eve (Guest)
2010 May 19 - 7:53 pm : #
I just called the panera in gilroy ca, and the store manager Paul said there's no way to buy the dressing. He said they are not allowed to sell it to customers. This sucks because Gilroy is 30 minutes away. So I can only eat it once in a great while:(
Comment #67 from Mellannie (Guest)
2010 May 22 - 9:33 am : #
I just bought the dressing at SuperTarget. I found it by the bagged salad. It's Panera brand Asian Sesame. It was about $4.50. It is exactly what you get at Panera. We made the salad and it was like we had gotten it at Panera's, but much cheaper. Hope this helps all those wanting to have it at home.
Comment #68 from Ken (realkato)
2010 May 23 - 5:55 pm : #
Ok, folks... I can verify what Mellannie says about SuperTarget: they do indeed have Panera branded Asian sesame dressing, in the bag salad section. I'm going to try it soon, and I'll let you know how it tastes. That still doesn't give us a recipe, but at least that might give us a way to enjoy the salad home. Stay tuned, and thanks to Mellannie!
Comment #69 from Ken (realkato)
2010 May 30 - 2:33 pm : #
There's more information on the bottled dressing at SuperTarget at this link:
Comment #70 from liz (Guest)
2010 Jul 15 - 11:25 pm : #
I don't want to go to buy bottles of this dressing at Supertarget - I want to make it myself. Because not only will it be much cheaper, it won't contain HFCS, potassium sorbate, calcium disodium EDTA, etc.

So how does comment #29's recipe taste? Close? (And lol at "We make it every morning" haha)
Comment #71 from Crystal (Guest)
2010 Jul 20 - 4:49 pm : #
I hate that I'm so late to the Asian Sesame dressing party, but I love this dressing so much, that I just e-mailed Panera, asking them to just bottle it up and sell it at their restaurants. In the meantime, I'm going to try the recipe from comment #54.
Comment #72 from Carol H (Guest)
2010 Jul 31 - 7:26 pm : #
I think the secret is cider vinegar which i added to the mirin that had been warmed to melt the sugar. i added a dash of lemon juice and zest and vinaigrette but I think it's the cider vinegar that gives it its zest.
Comment #73 from Dating Auckland (Guest)
2010 Aug 7 - 7:09 am : #
Try " Chelton House " Organic Sesame Ginger dressing. You can purchase at Hannafords supermarkets. I put 2 tbl spoons in a clean salad bowl and added 1 packet of Splenda , then mixed .It is fabulous!! You MUST add the Splenda or it taste terrible ! I then added about 6 packets to the bottle. I may even add a little lime juice . The color of this dressing is much darker than Panera's and has a thicker consistency but I do HIGHLY suggest you try this. It is good stuff!
Comment #74 from Beth (Guest)
2010 Aug 9 - 9:39 pm : #
Does anyone know if the bottled dressing is still at Super Target? Or anywhere else? We don't have Super Targets in Oregon, so I'm trying to rope some Facebook friends into picking some up for me!
Comment #75 from online tutoring statistics (Guest)
2010 Sep 15 - 7:04 am : #
Does anyone know if the bottled dressing is still at Super Target? Or anywhere else? We don't have Super Targets in Oregon, so I'm trying to rope some Facebook friends into picking some up for me!
Comment #76 from jenlovesjay (Guest)
2010 Sep 29 - 3:46 pm : #
Comment# 54 recipe is the closest:

2 Tbs Sugar
2 Tbs Sesame Oil
6-8 Tbs Vinegar (depending on how tart you want, use Rice Vinegar for sweeter results)
1/4 C Vegetable oil
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper (use freshly grounded)
Mix/Shake very very well (I pour everything into an old wishbone ready mix bottle)

Comment #77 from Chicken Salad (Guest)
2010 Oct 19 - 3:39 pm : #
I like chicken salad and i will make it soon.
Comment #78 from candice (Guest)
2010 Nov 3 - 5:45 pm : #
Don't know if anoIyne else has said this before me...but I also loveeee the panera asian salad..and the closest thing I've ever found to the taste of the dressing is Kens light asian sesame with ginger and soy dressing...u can find it at any supermarket. Made by kens steakhouse..its sooooo delicious.
Comment #79 from Connie Tumm (Guest)
2010 Nov 5 - 10:13 pm : #
I am having a get together tomorrow - and I have been searching Asian dressings for days - and finally pulled mine together and I have to say - it is as yummy as the one on the salad at Panera - which is one of our family favorites.
Here is the recipe:

1 cup oil
1/2 cup Orange Muscat Champagne Vinegar (from Trader Joe's - amazing stuff!)
2 T. sugar
1 packet seasoning mix from Oriental Ramen noodles
1 t. sesame oil
2 t. smooth peanut butter
if you don't have fresh cilantro - dried would work - but you definitely need some cilantro!

I only had the dark sesame oil so my dressing isn't as light as the panera one - and I am pretty sure they don't have peanut butter in theirs - but the orange muscat champagne vinegar is the key ingredient and this produce an orange colored dressing similar to Paneras.

You will also need some good won ton strips - I buy Fresh gourmet which you find near the bagged salad etc. (Krogers or Meijers) and they are really good won ton strips.

Chicken - I love the thinkly sliced chicken that panera uses and have just recently found something that I think is pretty close - Oscar Meyer Carving Board Chicken. It is found by the deli meat - and it is really nice chicken. I also really like this salad with rotisserie chicken.

Comment #80 from Chicken Salad (Guest)
2010 Nov 23 - 4:14 pm : #
@Connie Tumm, I have already tried this recipe before.
Comment #81 from MEE_KU (Guest)
2010 Dec 8 - 5:19 pm : #

Super Target does carry this dressing. I live in Overland Park, Kansas and it was located in the produce section. Don't waste your time looking for it in the salad dressing area because it is not located there.

Save your time and money. Just buy the dressing; it's only $3.99!

Comment #82 from JenJen (Guest)
2010 Dec 15 - 4:59 pm : #
There is no cilantro IN the dressing. It's tossed in with the salad. I asked for an extra side of the dressing, took it home and put in the fridge to see if there was a separation (thinking that I could easier dissect it).... but it never separated. I wish someone would figure this out.
Comment #83 from Gail (Guest)
2011 Jan 31 - 8:16 pm : #
OK, if you're still searching for the recipe, this is DEFINITELY it (and it's SO SIMPLE to make.) I just made it, and it tastes exactly like the Panera Bread Asian Sesame dressing for the chicken salad that we all love.
(The following recipe is for appx. 1 serving, so be mindful of the proportions if making a larger, party-sized salad...oh, and there's definitely NO SOY SAUCE in this dressing)

1/4 cup seasoned rice vinegar (which also contains sugar and salt)
2 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons toasted sesame oil (I got the La Tourangelle brand, a light-colored sesame oil found at Vons out here in SoCal)
dash of salt to taste
dash of black pepper to taste
optional ingredients: 1 finely minced clove of garlic, red pepper flakes

Heat vinegar and sugar in small saucepan until dissolved. Pour into a bowl and let cool completely.
(I finely minced one clove of garlic and cooked it in the pan I just cooked the vinegar/sugar mixture in with a tiny bit of oil (veg or canola) Take care not to burn the garlic - you just want it softened, taking away the raw taste)

When your vinegar/sugar mixture is cool, slowly add the sesame oil, whisking vigorously (someone mentioned using a hand blender - not necessary for such a small amount - the whisk will do just fine.)

Add a dash of salt and black pepper to taste. Stir in the garlic and optional red pepper flakes.

Cover with plastic wrap, put in fridge to get nice and chilled for your chicken salad......this is SO DELICIOUS.
Comment #84 from Kathy (Guest)
2011 Feb 9 - 8:33 pm : #
Does anyone know if Target is still carrying the Panera asian sesame salad dressing discussed in comment 67-69?
Comment #85 from marlene braun (Guest)
2011 Feb 11 - 10:39 am : #
add a tsp of peanut butter and a touch of splenda or brown sugar. Not kidding.
Comment #86 from Wendy (Guest)
2011 Jun 7 - 2:49 pm : #
Yes Karen Comment #84 - I just purchased the Panera Asian Sesame dressing at the Super Target for lack of a better word. YAHOO!! I see MANY salads at home on the horizon!!
Comment #87 from Meg (Guest)
2011 Jun 18 - 7:58 pm : #
I just found this dressing at a REGULAR Target! Our target recently expanded their grocery section and sure enough! They have it. I picked up 2 bottles. It was in the refrigerated section next to bagged salads.
Comment #88 from Dorothy Becker (Guest)
2011 Jul 26 - 8:53 pm : #
Absolutely gross, I can't believe they have sucralose in their dressing, I will never eat it again!!! So disappointed!
Comment #89 from Kena (Guest)
2011 Aug 21 - 10:36 am : #
Target sells them. I picked a bottle up the other day and recreated the salad yum!! I too was obsessed with trying to recreate and it was just getting too cumbersome. For $4.50 just buy it if you have a superstore near you... Worth it!!

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