Mandarin Orange Chicken Salad
Published Jul 21, 2023
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This crunchy mandarin orange chicken salad is loaded with fresh veggies, shredded chicken, orange slices and almonds all tossed in a zesty orange sesame ginger dressing!
I’m so excited to finally be sharing this mandarin orange chicken salad recipe with you today!
The inspiration for this recipe came from my love of various Chinese Chicken Salads that I’ve had at different restaurants over the years. In true EBF fashion, I wanted to create a version that I could easily make at home.
And let me tell ya, this salad is definitely worthy of being on a restaurant menu! It’s packed with crunchy veggies, tender shredded chicken, sweet oranges and a delicious orange ginger dressing. It’s seriously SO good! I can’t wait for you to try it.
Why You’ll Love This Recipe
- It has all the components of good meal-sized salad… protein, smart carbs, healthy fats, lots of veggies and satisfaction factor!
- It’s jam-packed with flavor and has lots of different textures.
- The orange ginger dressing definitely takes this salad to the next level. It’s chef’s kiss!
- This salad stores well, making it perfect for meal prep. Hello easy lunches all week!
- It’s easy to make with simple, everyday ingredients.
- cabbage – we’re using both red cabbage and napa cabbage for the base of this salad. Napa cabbage (also known as Chinese cabbage) has a lighter flavor and is more tender, while red cabbage adds a pop of color and a slightly more robust flavor. You can also use green cabbage if that’s all you can find.
- matchstick carrots – add vibrant color and a nice crunch. Matchstick carrots are readily available in most grocery stores, but if you can’t find them, you can easily thinly slice large carrots instead.
- red bell pepper – adds some sweetness and more crunch! Feel free to use any color bell pepper.
- green onions – add a nice, mild oniony kick. If you don’t have green onions feel free to use yellow onion, red onion or scallions.
- chicken – the main source of protein in this salad! Feel free to follow my recipe for slow cooker shredded chicken or for a short cut use shredded rotisserie chicken!
- mandarin oranges – these little gems are what make this salad special. Juicy, sweet, and bursting with citrusy goodness, they add a refreshing touch to this salad. If you can’t find mandarin oranges, clementines will work as a substitute.
- almonds – the perfect crunch factor! Many Chinese chicken salads feature wonton strips or crispy rice noodles, but I decided to go with chopped nuts for my crunch factor. I like using roasted and salted almonds for added flavor but feel free to use raw almonds if you prefer.
- orange ginger dressing – the real star of the show! Made with orange juice, honey, rice vinegar, tamari, sesame oil, garlic and ginger this dressing has the perfect balance of savory and sweet and pairs perfectly with this salad.
How to Make
Make dressing: Combine all the dressing ingredients in a blender and blend until combined and smooth. Set aside.
Combine salad ingredients: In a large bowl, add your cabbage, carrots, bell pepper, shredded chicken and green onions. Toss to combine.
Add dressing: Pour your prepared orange ginger dressing over the salad. Toss again so that every bit of the salad gets coated in the dressing.
Serve: Add in the mandarin orange slices and sliced almonds. Gently toss the salad once more, being careful not to break the delicate orange slices. Serve immediately or store in the fridge for later!
Orange Ginger Dressing
The orange ginger dressing is the star of this salad, IMO! It has sweetness from the orange juice and honey, nuttiness from the sesame oil, a touch of tang from the rice vinegar and some saltiness from the tamari. Trust me, you’re not going to want to skip this dressing! It definitely elevates every bite of this salad, perfectly balancing the sweet and savory elements.
Here are some substitutions that you can make to the dressing, depending on the ingredients you have on hand:
- tamari – both soy sauce and coconut aminos are great substitutes for tamari. Just a note, that if you use low-sodium tamari or soy sauce you might want to add a pinch of salt to the dressing!
- orange juice – for a shortcut you can use bottled orange juice.
- honey – I like the flavor honey adds to this dressing, but if you don’t have any on hand maple syrup will work as a substitute.
- rice vinegar – if you don’t have rice vinegar on hand you can use apple cider vinegar, red wine vinegar, white vinegar or lemon juice.
- sesame oil – don’t have sesame oil? Use olive oil or avocado oil instead!
Substitutions & Notes
- Cabbage: If you can’t find Napa or red cabbage, regular green cabbage will work just fine. Romaine lettuce will also work as a substitute, but it won’t hold up as well as cabbage.
- Veggies: Have different veggies on hand? Use what you have! I could see celery or sliced snap peas being delicious in this salad.
- Mandarin oranges: If you can’t find mandarin oranges, you can use clementines or any other orange! In a pinch, you can also use canned mandarin oranges. Just make sure they’re in juice, not syrup!
- Almonds: Not a fan of almonds or have a nut allergy? Feel free to swap them with cashews, peanuts or sunflower seeds.
- Need to make this salad vegetarian? You can omit the chicken for a vegetarian salad and add in some chickpeas, tempeh, or tofu for added protein.
- Want some more crunch? Try adding chow mein noodles or ramen noodles for more crunch and texture.
How to Store
This salad stores super well, making it great for meal prep!
To make it in advance: If you’re making this as a meal prep salad I recommend adding some dressing to the full batch but saving some to add just before serving as well. The cabbage doesn’t get soggy but you lose a little flavor from the dressing as it sits so I like to add a drizzle when I serve it.
To store leftovers: Store any leftovers in an airtight container for 3-4 days in the refrigerator.
More Meal-Sized Salads to Try
- Blackened Chicken Cobb Salad
- Blueberry Corn Chicken Salad
- Grilled Chicken Salad
- Cheeseburger Salad
- BBQ Chicken Salad
- Blackened Tempeh Salad
- Crunchy Asian Chopped Salad
- Grilled Chicken Salad
- Grilled Chicken Caesar Salad
- Thai Curry Chicken Salad
- Mediterranean Salmon Salad
Mandarin Orange Chicken Salad
- 4 cups napa cabbage, or green cabbage, shredded
- 2 cups red cabbage, shredded
- 1 cup matchstick carrots
- 1 red bell pepper, thinly sliced
- ⅓ cup green onions or scallions
- 2 cups shredded chicken breast
- 2 mandarin oranges, or clementines
- ½ cup roasted and salted almonds, chopped
- sesame seeds, for topping, optional
Orange Ginger Dressing
- ¼ cup freshly squeezed orange juice, juice from about 1 ½ mandarin oranges
- ¼ cup honey
- 3 Tablespoons rice vinegar
- 3 Tablespoons tamari
- 2 garlic cloves, roughly chopped
- 2 inch knob fresh ginger, roughly chopped
- ½ cup sesame oil
- Add all dressing ingredients to a blender and blend until smooth. Set aside.
- Toss cabbage, carrots, carrots, bell pepper, green onions and shredded chicken in a large bowl.
- Pour dressing over salad and toss to combine.
- Add mandarin orange slices and chopped almonds to salad and gently toss again. Top with sesame seeds, if desired.
- Serve immediately or transfer to a glass container and store in the fridge for up to 4 days.
Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.