Mandarin Chicken Salad
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.
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!
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.
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.
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!
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.
Mandarin Chicken Salad with 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
- 1 recipe 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.
- Preheat your oven to 425F and add the marinated chicken breasts to a baking dish. Bake for 20-25 minutes until cooked through.
- 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.
Originally published September 2014, but recently updated.
Loved it so fresh, and the mandarin it’s the key ingredient!!
I grilled the chicken, keeping it real juicy, pulsed in blender. I used canned light syrup mandarins (drained). This is an excellent salad!
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.
Thrilled to hear you enjoyed this chicken salad Sabrina!
Can you use an instant pot for the chicken?
You can, although I’m not sure what the cooking time would be.
This salad was wonderful and easy to make, and the chicken came out really tender. Thank you for another excellent meal Lisa.
Glad you enjoyed this chicken salad Danielle :)
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!
Glad you’ve found a winning chicken salad recipe Lisa! Excited to see what else you’re loving as you continue this meal plan :)
For the chicken breast, mine has been in the oven for 30 minutes and it’s not ready.
Could it be my oven?
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.
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.
Good luck with the Whole30 meal plan Marie! Can’t wait to see all the other recipes you make this month :)
the lemon vinaigrette is not whole 30 compliant. any suggestions?
As stated in the notes in the meal plan, omit the honey from the vinaigrette.
Used pine nuts instead of almonds. This salad is bomb thanks so much !!
Glad this turned out great with almonds!
Literally eating this right now – it’s refreshing, hydrating, and DELICIOUS. Thank you!
It really is the best summer salad :)
Have to say I am a huge fan of downshiftology.com! 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!
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.
Very disappointed, I hoped it would have some tang. I used all the right ingredients.
Hi Mona – not sure what you were expecting to have tang? These is a sweeter mandarin chicken salad with a bright lemon vinaigrette.
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.
Happy to hear everyone loved this chicken salad :)
That lemon vinaigrette is the best thing I’ve ever eaten! I think I might have to put that on everything! Thank you!
Glad you enjoyed the lemon vinaigrette Patty! It will work great with any salad really :)
This looks amazing, but I’m on keto, any thoughts on what I could replace the mandarins with for good flavor?
You could still make the salad as is without the mandarins, but it will be missing that punch of orange.
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
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.
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 ;-)
Glad everyone enjoyed this salad Babette! Definitely one to keep on hand for the summertime :)
This looks amazing and I’m so excited to give this a try! My family is going to love this salad!
Can’t wait for you to try this one Beth!
This is a perfect light summer salad. The addition of the lemon vinaigrette brings out so much flavor. Loved it..
Glad you enjoyed this mandarin chicken salad :)
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!
Perfect timing! This is a great way to make use of that chicken :)
One of my favorite ways to make chicken. Mandarins give so much flavor to the salad. Absolute yum!
They give a bright burst of sweetness!
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!
You’re going to love the flavors in this one Jessica!
What a delicious marinade for chicken! So good!
My husband and I enjoyed this healthy Mandarin Chicken Salad for dinner this evening. It was easy to prep and so delicious!
Such a light and sweet dressing; perfect for summer! This has easily become one of my new favorite vinaigrettes! Delicious!
What a simple and light salad, but packed with all of my favorite ingredients. Perfect for a summer meal in this heat!
The lemon vinaigrette added such a bright flavor to this salad! It was super easy to make and a perfect light summer dinner!