Mandarin chicken pasta salad with tiny and sweet mandarin oranges and just the right amount of bow tie pasta, is a great spring salad full of flavor and textures. With a perfect delicious dressing and tiny slivers of almonds that bring an end crunch, you cannot go wrong with this salad at this years BBQ or potluck.
Perfect Potluck Salads to Feed a Crowd
I love salads year round.
While Caesar salads and loads of ranch dressing can be traditional, mixing up your meals with unique side dish options like Quinoa Black Bean Salad, Southwest Couscous salad or a sweet and creamy classic macaroni salad is just the ticket to an unforgettable BBQ, picnic, or holiday dish that makes everyone want your recipe.
No sense in making the same old tomatoes and lettuce salad when there is so much flavor out there.
I mean those are good, do not get me wrong, but when you combine fruit and veggies MAGIC happens!
This particular chicken and pasta salad recipe has sliced almonds for the finishing touch and the perfect amount of crispy crunch, but feel free to replace with peanuts or cashews, both which are high in flavor and texture and take nothing away from this perfect mandarin chicken salad dish.
Mandarin Chicken Pasta Salad
Skip Wendy’s salads and make your own Wendy’s copycat mandarin orange chicken pasta salad right from home, complete with left overs for tomorrow!
A little on the sweet side and a lot on the flavor side, this salad is perfect to feed a crowd or simply to spice up your boring old lunch plate.
Make sure you watch my video to see and listen to how I made this salad!
Measurements for this Recipe
Scroll to the bottom for a full (and also printable) recipe card of this post, including all measurements and instructions, so you can follow along in your kitchen without being on your phone.
Not everyone likes to read all the extra questions that go along with the recipe, so if that is you, just go to the bottom of the article.
If you do like to read through, I explained all extra recipe information in the post first and I encourage you to read to find out extra tips and tricks to make this recipe fool proof.
Here is what ingredients you need to gather to get started:
- cucumber, sliced
- red bell pepper
- red onion
- matchstick carrots
- shredded chicken breast
- mandarin oranges (reserve 1/4th cup juice)
- dry ginger
- rice vinegar
- vegetable oil
- dry onion soup mix
- minced garlic
- white sugar
- bowtie/farfalle pasta, cooked, drained and rinsed in cold water
- sliced almonds
Servings: This made about 10-11 cups of salad and is a fairly large salad.
Canned or Fresh Chicken for Salad?
NOTE: Please note that you can use canned chicken OR freshly made oven baked chicken in this mandarin chicken salad.
If you do go for a fresh route, bake up your chicken with a basted teriyaki sauce for a really great flavor addition! I used a 12.5 oz can of Swanson canned chicken, drained, which works fairly quickly for side salad or potluck dishes with less work when you are serving large party, picnics or BBQ.
If I am making this pasta salad for just my family as a dinner, I take the extra time to make fresh chicken.
Mandarin Orange Dressing
Learning how to make mandarin orange dressing is the key to this salad! The mandarin salad dressing recipe is below.
You use the actual juice from the oranges, so do not get trigger happy and dump it out before reading (or printing) the entire recipe.
I personally combine all the juice and flavors in a bowl and let set to prep the rest of the dish, but you could also add all these ingredients to a mason jar so if you have extra you can store easily.
- Drain mandarin oranges to measure 1/4 cup juice. Pour the juice into a small mixing bowl.
- Discard remaining juice from can of oranges (or save for a second set of dressing!)
- Set the actual oranges aside.
- In the smaller bowl with the orange juice, add ginger, vinegar, oil, onion soup mix, minced garlic and sugar.
- Mix well and let set for 30 minutes.
Easy Mandarin Salad with Bow Tie Pasta
Add all your sliced veggies – cucumber, bell pepper, onion, carrots, chicken and drained oranges to a mixing bowl. You can add almonds now if you plan on serving right away. If you are going to store, you may want to wait to put in almonds till closer to serving as the slivers can soak up some of the moisture and lose the crunch.
Mix all ingredients really well.
Stir in already pre boiled pasta.
Pour prepped orange dressing over pasta and mix well to evenly coat.
Serve your mandarin chicken pasta salad immediately or you can also refrigerate, covered, until ready to serve.
If you choose to put in fridge and store, make sure you mix again prior to serving as ingredients may have settled.
Additionally if you need or want some more color in your salad, you can add a bit of avocado or sliced green onions.
Mandarin Salad Printable Version
Personally I like to print my recipes for store ingredients and usage in the kitchen so I am not touching my phone while cooking.
You can print this recipe here:
Mandarin Chicken Pasta Salad
- 1/2 cucumber - sliced and quartered
- 1/2 red bell pepper - chopped
- 1/2 cup red onion - chopped
- 1/2 cup matchstick carrots
- 2 cups chopped or shredded chicken breast - cooked (see note on chicken below)
- 1 can - 29 oz, mandarin oranges (reserve 1/4th cup juice)
- 1 teaspoon dry ginger
- 1/3 cup rice vinegar
- 1/4 cup vegetable oil
- 1 package dry onion soup mix
- 1 teaspoon minced garlic
- 1 tablespoon white sugar
- 8 ounces bowtie/farfalle pasta - cooked, drained and rinsed in cold water
- 1/3 rd cup sliced almonds
- MAKE YOUR PASTA If you haven't done this yet, go ahead and prep your pasta by boiling, draining and rinsing with cold water to cool down.
- MAKE YOUR DRESSING: Drain mandarin oranges to measure 1/4 cup juice. Pour into a small mixing bowl. Discard remaining juice from can of oranges. Set oranges aside.
- In the smaller bowl with the orange juice, add ginger, vinegar, oil, onion soup mix, minced garlic and sugar. Mix well and let set for 30 minutes.
- ASSEMBLE YOUR SALAD Add the rest of your salad ingredients - cucumber, bell pepper, onion, carrots, chicken and drained oranges to a mixing bowl. Mix well.
- Stir in precooked and cooled bow tie pasta and stir well.
- ALMONDS: If you plan on serving your pasta immediately, you can add onions while mixing. If you are going to serve next day, its best to add almonds closer to serving time so they stay crunchy.
- Pour orange dressing over pasta and mix well to evenly coat.
- Serve immediately or refrigerate, covered, until ready to serve.