Mandarin Chicken Pasta Salad is a tasty spin on a classic deli side! Pasta, chicken, mandarin oranges, and veggies with a tangy sesame orange vinaigrette.
MANDARIN CHICKEN PASTA SALAD
Is there a more classic picnic side dish than pasta salad? Whether you make it with Italian dressing or load it up with mayo for for a creamy Mac Salad, this deli favorite is a party must all year long! This Asian pasta salad brings a refreshing citrus twist to a traditional potluck side and is sure to be a crowdpleaser!
You’ll love how quickly this Mandarin Pasta Salad with Chicken comes together with simple ingredients you probably have in your pantry already. The special ingredient in this salad is Mandarin oranges, which are canned orange segments you can get in any grocery store. These sweet bite-sized kid favorite oranges make this salad is perfect for kid parties and you can enjoy leftovers for days, if there are any leftovers.
Mandarin Chicken Pasta Salad is a great, easy recipe for leftover Rotisserie Chicken or Grilled Chicken Breasts. You can serve Mandarin Chicken Pasta Salad as a light lunch with a cup of your favorite Soup. You can use leftover Baked Pork Chops instead of chicken, or make it without chicken for a Vegan Mandarin Pasta Salad.
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How to Make Mandarin Chicken Pasta Salad Ahead
Deli salads like this Mandarin Chicken Pasta Salad are great for making ahead because the flavors get better as they chill. Make Mandarin Pasta Salad ahead of time without the oranges and almonds and refrigerate up to 3 days. Garnish with oranges and almonds until serving. You can make the dressing, pasta, and chicken ahead and keep refrigerated separately until you are ready to make this pasta salad.
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VARIATIONS ON MANDARIN CHICKEN PASTA SALAD
- Meat: Instead of cubed chicken, you can add ground chicken, turkey, or pork to your Mandarin Chicken Pasta Salad. For a vegetarian pasta salad, use baked tofu and marinate it in the dressing for 30 minutes before adding.
- Pasta: Use any small pasta in place of the rotini pasta like penne, macaroni, or bowtie pasta. You could also use a long noodle like linguini, fettuccini, or thin spaghetti.
- Mandarin Oranges: Did you know you can replace canned mandarins with fresh clementines aka Lil’ Cuties or Halos? You could also use fresh tangerines too, or add other fresh fruit like sliced grapes!
- Veggies: Other fresh veggies you can add are chopped mushrooms, cherry tomatoes, baby spinach leaves, or broccoli florets. Try canned water chestnuts for crunch or roasted red bell peppers instead of fresh, crunchy peppers.
FAQs for Mandarin Pasta Salad with Chicken
- How much chicken is 2 cups cooked chicken? One pound boneless, skinless chicken breasts (2-3 breasts) is about 2 cups diced chicken. If you use bone-in chicken, you will need more since the bones count towards the overall weight.
- How do you cook chicken for pasta salad? Heat a large skillet over medium heat and add 1 tablespoon oil. Season chicken breasts and cook 8 minutes per side, until golden and cooked through. Rest for 10 minutes before chopping for salad.
- Can I double this pasta salad recipe? This is a great recipe to double or triple the servings for a crowd. Hover over the servings amount on the recipe card until a slider bar appears. Slide to adjust serving size and the ingredients will automatically adjust!
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HOW TO STORE MANDARIN CHICKEN PASTA SALAD
- Serve: Refrigerate at least an hour before serving your Mandarin Chicken Pasta Salad. You can keep this pasta salad at room temperature for up to 2 hours before it should be chilled.
- Store: Cover your Mandarin Chicken Pasta Salad with plastic wrap or store in an airtight container and refrigerate up to 3 days. If you make this pasta salad without chicken, you can keep it up to 5 days.
- Freeze: It’s not recommended to freeze Mandarin Pasta Salad, it’s much better fresh. Freezing pasta salad changes the texture of the dressing since the oil separates and you can’t whisk it back to normal.
- 1/3 cup rice vinegar
- 1/4 cup orange juice
- 1/4 cup vegetable oil
- 2 teaspoons toasted sesame oil
- 2 teaspoons sugar
- 1 teaspoon ground ginger
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1 teaspoon onion powder
- 8 ounces rotini pasta , cooked and drained
- 1 cup cucumber , peeled, seeded, and cubed
- 1 red bell pepper , diced
- 1/4 red onion , minced
- 1 medium carrot , shredded
- 2 cloves garlic , minced
- 2 cups chicken breast , cooked and diced
- 11 ounce can mandarin orange segments , drained
- ½ cup sliced almonds , toasted
- To make the dressing, whisk together rice vinegar, orange juice, vegetable oil, sesame oil, sugar, ground ginger, garlic powder and onion powder until smooth.
- In a large bowl add the pasta, cucumber, red bell pepper, onion, carrot, garlic and chicken.
- Toss well with the dressing until well coated.
- Refrigerate 1 hour before serving.
- Garnish with mandarin oranges and sliced almonds.