REVIEW: Wendy’s Asian Cashew Chicken Salad

Written by | April 1, 2014

Topics: 5 Rating, Fast Food, Wendy's

Wendy's Asian Cashew Chicken Salad

Ah, the fast food salad. Perfect for those on a diet and in a hurry and who aren’t very picky and are already at the restaurant with a group and don’t mind dropping some decent change on some lean meat and a handful of greens.

If you fall into that flower-like Venn diagram of compromise, it means you’ve probably made some questionable decisions in your life to get to this place (Or you’re just a mom with kids… which means you’ve definitely made some questionable decisions. Bam! Pow! Splat!). Anyway, Wendy’s wants your sad money, so they rolled out this new thing, the Asian Cashew Chicken Salad.

It’s topped with chicken, edamame, red bell peppers, cucumbers, cashews and *takes deep breath* Marzetti Simply Dressed Light Spicy Asian Chili Vinaigrette dressing *ends deep breath*. Woo whee. That dressing name is so long it looks like a Panic! at the Disco song title, or a Jaden Smith tweet. Plus, it comes in packets and you put it on yourself (Cardio for the day!). It has a light peanut-y balsamic flavor and an escalating spice that initially lets the rest of the ingredients breathe a bit.

The chicken is pretty good—standard grilled fast food chicken, salty and warm. The red bell peppers taste like red bell peppers. Cucumbers are cucumbers. The edamame has burnt spots, because it’s “fire roasted” but there is no roast flavor in them and they kind of sit there helping out a little bit, attempting to round out the taste. The various lettuce mix is fine, crunchy and cold. The pieces of cashew come in their own baggy, as to not get soggy.

Here is where things get difficult. A salad with so many “heavy” items as this one has the problem of construction. You dump your own dressing. You dump your own cashews. There are never enough cashews. Sometimes Wendy’s might slip you two packets of dressing. Sometimes one. Your mileage may vary. What if you put all the dressing in one corner of the salad? You’re screwed.

It’s tough to collect a bit of slippery soybean, lettuce, cashew and bell pepper in one bite on a plastic fork. When that happens, it’s a good salad. But that mostly does not happen. It would be a different story if all the ingredients were individually bright (they’re not), and if the dressing pulled all the components together into a unified front (it doesn’t). The dressing progressively gets spicier and the subtle peanut flavoring gets overpowered at a point, losing any semblance of depth. With all the fork dancing around the plate scooping up the toppings to make perfect bites, the second half of the meal is straight up spicy lettuce.

The Asian Cashew Chicken Salad is actually very low in calories, but also costs a pretty penny. You must be shelling out for that diet. Weird, some of the fattest people I know are Asian (E. Honda, Sammo Hung, Totoro). All in all, it’s not bad, but it’s not great either. But when the planets align and Hanukkah lands on Thanksgiving again, and we are put in a position of purchasing a fast food salad, it’s a solidly okay bet.

So this might be the best it gets as far as fast food salads go, Moms With Kids. Then one day your kids will be at Wendy’s 3000 ordering a Western Cashew Chicken Salad. (Ingredients are the same but Future China now owns the planet.) But maybe it doesn’t have to be this way. Break the cycle. Go with a Baconator and a side of chili next time. Enjoy your life. Love yourself.

(Nutrition Facts – Full Size – 380 calories, 120 calories from fat, 13 grams of fat, 2 grams of saturated fat, 90 milligrams of cholesterol, 970 milligrams of sodium, 1130 milligrams of potassium, 33 grams of carbohydrates, 18 grams of sugar, 6 grams of fiber, and 36 grams of protein.)

Item: Wendy’s Asian Cashew Chicken Salad
Purchased Price: $6.29
Size: Full size (half size available)
Purchased at: Wendy’s
Rating: 5 out of 10
Pros: Chicken is decent. When all components are in one bite, tastes pretty good.
Cons: Hard to get even distribution with ingredients. Back half of meal is just spice in mouth. Pretty expensive.






15 Comments For This Post I'd Love to Hear Yours!

  1. ML Bishop says:

    For even distribution on a fast food salad, pour the dressing over the salad greens, close the lid and shake like hell. Works every time.

    • MG says:

      I LOVE this salad – (other than the price). If you want to distribute the ingredients evenly, just put the lid back on after you’ve added the dressing and cashews and shake it up! YUMMY! :)
      I am on a diet and this is my favorite meal to get when I can fork out the extra cash because of the variety of textures and the spicy (but not too spicy) flavors…When I’m done I actually feel satisfied!

  2. Claire Moore says:

    Fast food salads taste like depression no matter how much dressing and bacon you cover them with.

  3. sylvia says:

    “(Or you’re just a mom with kids… which means you’ve definitely made some questionable decisions. Bam! Pow! Splat!)”

    What do you mean by this? That choosing to become a mom is a questionable decision or that mother’s are forced to make questionable decisions because they are mothers?

    Just curious.

  4. Adam says:

    +1 sylvia,

    There’s no more worthy occupation. I hope he didn’t imply it was the former.

    • sylvia says:

      I didn’t think you would Adam, but the comment just wasn’t 100% clear. I couldn’t imagine being a mother; its the most difficult job in the world. Every decision you make impacts your child somehow.

  5. Kat says:

    Ok about this review I’ve eaten this salad and it’s not the most amazing thing ever but it is good and worth the 6.90 or 4.75 depending on which size you get you get two dressing with a big one always and with the little one you always get one dressing and to any average person that is plenty and if you know how picky you are Ask for more!! Anyway I had to let my two cents in people have so many misconseptions about “so called fast food” it will never end people will never be satisfied with wat they get and if you’re not or have a little too much to say Eat at home ! Cook your own shit and then write a blog.

    • Kathy says:

      Cough, Cough! Choke, Choke!! Laughing out loud as I sit at my desk eating my pretty darned good Asian Cashew Chicken Salad I just bought at Wendy’s. I’m giving it an 8 on a scale from 1 to 10. Maybe I don’t have refined tastebuds? But it is fresh and full of flavor. I would definitely order it again and again.

  6. elaine says:

    You need to bring back the light spicy Asian chili dressing. The salad is not the same without it!

    • Anonymous says:

      I just had this salad for the first time and found out AFTER ordering and paying that the dressing had been discontinued. I asked for extra cashews and ate it without dressing. It was still REALLY good but I bet that peanut dressing really made the salad. Disappointing.

      • Linda Olson says:

        I got the same deal. I specifically said that I had tried to order the Asian Chicken Salad a couple weeks ago and they didn’t have the dressing. Are they selling the Asian Chicken Salad now? Yes! I order it and pay for it and discover they gave me RANCH dressing for it! You have to be kidding. I go to the counter and discover you have other dressing choices–Italian and Garlic!!!! That is NOT Asian! Don’t bait and switch! Illegal! Don’t sell that salad if you don’t have all the components.

  7. Jen says:

    This is the best salad that I’ve ever eaten, no kidding. And, I don’t work for Wendy’s or have any connection or interest in Wendy’s. I don’t like their hamburgers or chili. But this salad is so fresh and has so many elements and ingredients that I can eat it every day and still love it. I had the small salad last week, but today I bought the large size for just under $7. I chose pomegranate dressing. It’s incredibly good and I would recommend anyone to try it. The chicken is even moist and fresh tasting. what else can I say? I love this salad and kudos to Wendy’s for creating it.

  8. BIll says:

    I’ve had this salad twice now.

    I’ve been doing work around the house, so when I make my midday Lowe’s run, a fast food salad makes for a decent quick lunch that won’t weigh me down.

    My only complaint is that the Wendy’s workers aren’t used to vending items that come in multiple parts…salad, dressing, pack of nuts.

    The first time I ordered it I was not given any dressing or cashews. Having learned my lesson, the second time I checked the contents of my bag (at the drive thru) and had to ask for the cashews…but at least I got dressing this time.

    I’m not certain why this salad only rated a 5. I’d give it an 8 or a 9, mainly for the variety of ingredients in it. I’d give it a 10 but I don’t like low fat salad dressings.

    Wendy’s has always has some decent non-burger choices on their menu (chili, chicken caesar wrap). This one is a keeper.

  9. G says:

    Can you buy the dressing anywhere? I love this salad.

  10. Ken says:

    I have to agree with the consensus. I have had multiple helpings and I am not a salad eater. I generally go baconator and a chili, but you get burnt out and it has been damn hot out lately. I appreciate that Wendy’s always has good side offerings and this salad is no exception. By the way, in case the writer of the original review is unaware, the best way to get full coating of the dressing (which I get the full size so I always have been given two dressings) is to put the first in, cover it up and shuffle it all around. Uncover, put in cashews and second dressing, then repeat. I get a great coverage and it is the one thing that fast food salads offer. The convenience of being able to manually mix.



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