Mandarin Chicken Salad


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This Mandarin chicken salad ups the ante of what a chicken salad can be. It’s piled high with sweet mandarins, shredded chicken, avocado, crunchy toppings, and tossed with a zingy lemon vinaigrette. 

A large bowl of mandarin chicken salad.

You’ve probably gathered by now that I have a thing for chicken salads. From my ultimate chicken salad (it’s a reader favorite for a reason) to my southwest chicken salad (Tex Mex flavor on point), there’s nothing more satisfying than taking a bite of fresh greens, crisp veggies, and juicy chicken.

But when it’s mandarin season and you see those bags of Cuties at the market, you must make this mandarin chicken salad! It’s got plenty of protein to fill you up, yet it’s light enough to not weigh you down, and because the ingredient list is super simple you can easily throw it together. My kind of salad.

Plus, you can’t deny how gorgeous this salad looks with its shades of green and orange – it’s a stunner on the dinner table!

Ingredients for mandarin chicken salad on a table.

What’s In This Mandarin Chicken Salad?

Honestly, it’s just a mix of run-of-the-mill supermarket staples. Nothing fancy. But it’s how they all come together that’s important! 

  • Boneless Skinless Chicken Breasts: I’ll walk you through my baked chicken recipe that guarantees perfectly juicy chicken every time! 
  • Spinach: I’m a spinach lover when it comes to salads, but you could swap in your favorite leafy greens. 
  • Mandarins: They’re easy to peel, and naturally sweet! If you can’t find mandarins you could also dice up some larger oranges. 
  • Avocado: For that creamy texture and healthy fat.
  • Cucumber: I’m using an English cucumber as it has softer skin, but a regular garden cucumber works as well.
  • Green Onion: Such a simple way to add a fresh, crisp texture.  
  • Slivered Almonds: I’m using them raw, but you could also lightly toast them.
  • Lemon Vinaigrette: This tangy, lemony dressing works beautifully with the citrus in the salad. 

Find the printable recipe with measurements below.

Baking chicken in a baking dish then tossing mandarin chicken salad ingredients in a bowl.

How To Make A Mandarin Chicken Salad?

  • Marinate the chicken. Mix the vinaigrette ingredients together in a small bowl. Add the chicken breasts to a large bowl, pour ¾ of the dressing on top, and let it marinate for a few hours or overnight. 
  • Bake the chicken. Preheat your oven to 425F then add the marinated chicken breasts to a baking dish. Bake for about 20-25 minutes.  
  • Shred the chicken. I love to make shredded chicken using my stand mixer (so fast and easy!), but you can also do it with two forks on a chopping board. 
  • Toss it all together. Now that you have everything prepped, toss all of the ingredients together in a large mixing bowl, and drizzle the remaining vinaigrette on top! 

Pro Tip #1: To make this salad even easier, you can marinate and bake the chicken the day before. Then, all you need to do is chop up some veggies and toss everything together on the day you’re serving. 

Mandarin chicken salad in a bowl.

Ways To Meal Prep And Store

Because of the leafy spinach greens in this salad it’s best eaten fresh, but if you do have leftovers…

  • For storing leftovers: Store them in a sealed container in the fridge for 1-2 days. After that, the salad will start to get a bit soggy from the vinaigrette. 
  • For meal prepping: You can prep the shredded chicken and sliced cucumbers in their own containers, then pull from these to throw your salad together the day of (with the rest of the ingredients). The chicken will keep for about 3-4 days in the fridge. 

Pro Tip #2: You can always double the marinade and bake a few extra chicken breasts while you’re at it, then reserve those for additional meals throughout the week!

Mandarin chicken salad in a bowl with serving spoons.

More Easy, Hearty Salads

In the mood for a hefty dinner salad? These options are loaded with tasty and nutritious ingredients! And if you just need some salad inspiration, check out my roundup of the best salad recipes.

If you make this Mandarin chicken salad, let me know how it turned out! I’d love to hear what you think in the comments below.

A large white bowl of mandarin chicken salad.

Mandarin Chicken Salad with Lemon Vinaigrette

5 from 25 votes
Prep: 10 minutes
Cook: 15 minutes
Marinating Time: 30 minutes
Total: 55 minutes
Servings: 4
Author: Lisa Bryan


This Mandarin chicken salad ups the ante of what a chicken salad can be. It’s piled high with sweet mandarins, shredded chicken, avocado, crunchy toppings, and tossed with a zingy lemon vinaigrette. 


  • 2 chicken breasts, boneless and skinless
  • 5 cups spinach
  • 4 mandarins, peeled and separated
  • 1 avocado, ripe and diced
  • 1 cucumber, sliced
  • 2 green onions, chopped
  • 1/4 cup slivered almonds
  • sprinkle of black and white sesame seeds

Lemon Vinaigrette:


  • Mix the vinaigrette ingredients together and pour 3/4 of it into a container, along with the chicken to marinate. Ideally, you should marinate the chicken for a few hours, but 30 minutes is fine as well.
    Marinating chicken for mandarin chicken salad
  • Preheat your oven to 425F and add the marinated chicken breasts to a baking dish. Bake for 20-25 minutes until cooked through.
    Baking chicken for mandarin chicken salad
  • Shred the chicken using either a fork or a stand mixer. Then in a large mixing bowl, toss all the ingredients together. Drizzle the remaining lemon vinaigrette on top.
    A bowl of mandarin chicken salad next to serving spoons.


Calories: 315kcal | Carbohydrates: 21g | Protein: 29g | Fat: 14g | Saturated Fat: 2g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 72mg | Sodium: 169mg | Potassium: 1183mg | Fiber: 7g | Sugar: 11g | Vitamin A: 4337IU | Vitamin C: 44mg | Calcium: 114mg | Iron: 2mg
Course: Salad
Cuisine: American
Keyword: Chicken Salad, Mandarin Chicken Salad
Did you make this recipe?Mention @downshiftology or tag #downshiftology!

Originally published September 2014, but recently updated.

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About the author

Lisa Bryan

Lisa is a bestselling cookbook author, recipe developer, and YouTuber (with over 2.5 million subscribers) living in sunny Southern California. She started Downshiftology in 2014, and is passionate about making healthy food with fresh, simple and seasonal ingredients.

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Recipe Rating


  1. I grilled the chicken, keeping it real juicy, pulsed in blender. I used canned light syrup mandarins (drained). This is an excellent salad!5 stars

  2. I’m always looking for new salad recipes using spinach. This one did not disappoint! It was so refreshing and the dressing was amazing. With the addition of the chicken this has become a new family meal that is a keeper! Thanks for this.5 stars

  3. This salad was wonderful and easy to make, and the chicken came out really tender. Thank you for another excellent meal Lisa. 5 stars

  4. We made this tonight during week one of your 2022 Whole 30 Menu Plan. This was the only recipe I was not looking forward to, because I’ve made something very similar in the past that was just “okay”. (Didn’t have the lemon vinaigrette, sesame seeds, or almonds, but everything else.) I was so wrong about this recipe! This tasted AMAZING! It is my new favorite salad. The lemon vinaigrette is being added to our dressing rotation! We are using it next week for an extra side with the Salmon Cakes….your recipe for watermelon cucumber salad. Thank you so much for the Whole 30 Menu Plans and Grocery Lists!5 stars

    1. Glad you’ve found a winning chicken salad recipe Lisa! Excited to see what else you’re loving as you continue this meal plan :)

  5. Hi Lisa,
    For the chicken breast, mine has been in the oven for 30 minutes and it’s not ready.
    Could it be my oven?
    Thank you,
    Amanda5 stars

    1. Hi Amanda – it may be that your oven is cooking a bit low. I’d recommend buying an oven thermometer and double checking the temperature of your oven.

  6. Hello,

    I’m following you from Turkey :)

    I just received your Whole 30 Meal Plan that I started to follow today. The Mandarin Chicken Salad was excellent ! Let’s see how the other days will go…
    I am sure that all your recepies will be excellent because they usually are :)) Thank you for sharing all your recepies and good spirits with us.5 stars

    1. Good luck with the Whole30 meal plan Marie! Can’t wait to see all the other recipes you make this month :)

  7. Have to say I am a huge fan of! I made a variation of this salad with chicken thighs, fetta cheese, apricots, wilted kale subbed in and I am making it for a party this weekend. The citrus dressing is vibrant and plays very well with the chicken, almonds and fruit! Spring in the Midwest is exciting as weather warms up and you can entertain outdoors. Highly recommend this recipe!5 stars

    1. Happy to hear you’ve been enjoying all my recipes so far Andrew, including this Mandarin chicken salad! Can’t wait for all your guests to try this.

    1. Hi Mona – not sure what you were expecting to have tang? These is a sweeter mandarin chicken salad with a bright lemon vinaigrette.

  8. Hi Lisa, fantastic salad. I used oranges instead of mandarines, since those where out of stock at the store. But this worked very well!! Love all your salads. Your ultimate chicken salad is an absolute favourite in my house. 5 stars

  9. That lemon vinaigrette is the best thing I’ve ever eaten! I think I might have to put that on everything! Thank you!5 stars

  10. This looks amazing, but I’m on keto, any thoughts on what I could replace the mandarins with for good flavor?

    1. You could still make the salad as is without the mandarins, but it will be missing that punch of orange.

  11. So glad to have found your site. Each recipe I have made is perfect. I am new to cooking and the videos really help. What would you suggest as a mandarin sub for when they are not in season?
    Thank you so much for your knowledge and effort

    1. You could still make the salad as is without the oranges. But it would be missing that punch of orange. Otherwise, you could try adding other fruits that are in season such as peaches, blueberries, or strawberries.

  12. This was a super big hit in my household! So delicious with the different flavors and textures. Since I had shredded chicken in de freezer (yeah for meal prep), the salad was ready in 10 minutes. This will one be on repeat ;-)5 stars

    1. Glad everyone enjoyed this salad Babette! Definitely one to keep on hand for the summertime :)

  13. This looks amazing and I’m so excited to give this a try! My family is going to love this salad! 5 stars

  14. This is a perfect light summer salad. The addition of the lemon vinaigrette brings out so much flavor. Loved it..5 stars

  15. I’ve got plenty of chicken in my kitchen right now, and I need to make something with it. Well, let’s just say that this chicken salad is PERFECT for what I’ve been thinking of!5 stars

  16. One of my favorite ways to make chicken. Mandarins give so much flavor to the salad. Absolute yum!5 stars

  17. I eat salads almost every day in the summer so I’m always looking for new ideas. This one looks awesome and I can’t wait to try it!5 stars

  18. My husband and I enjoyed this healthy Mandarin Chicken Salad for dinner this evening. It was easy to prep and so delicious!5 stars

  19. Such a light and sweet dressing; perfect for summer! This has easily become one of my new favorite vinaigrettes! Delicious! 5 stars

  20. What a simple and light salad, but packed with all of my favorite ingredients. Perfect for a summer meal in this heat!5 stars

  21. The lemon vinaigrette added such a bright flavor to this salad! It was super easy to make and a perfect light summer dinner!5 stars