Mandarin Orange Chicken Pasta Salad
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Mandarin Chicken Pasta Salad — EASY, ready in 30 minutes, and packed with Asian-inspired flavors!! Juicy sesame chicken, pasta, and lots of healthy vegetables! PERFECT for potlucks, picnics, parties, and planned leftovers!!
Asian-Inspired Mandarin Pasta Salad Recipe
If you’re looking for a pasta salad that everyone will love, look no further than this easy mandarin chicken pasta salad that’s easy, ready in 30 minutes, and makes enough to feed a crowd.
There’s tender chicken that’s been cooked in sesame and olive oils, red bell peppers, carrots, cucumbers, fresh spinach, and of course mandarin oranges and al dente bowtie pasta.
There’s an easy, whisk-together vinaigrette comprised of dry onion soup mix, rice vinegar, sesame and olive oils, ginger, mandarin orange juice, and ginger. The vinaigrette is packed with Asian-inspired flavor from the sesame, ginger, and mandarin orange juice.
You need something with plenty of flavor to ensure that a pound of pasta, a pound of chicken, and so many vegetables are flavorful and satisfying and this vinaigrette delivers.
Every bite is a mix of flavors and textures including crunchy, juicy, tender, fresh, and cooked. My favorite kind of food — a little bit of everything in every bite!
Mandarin Chicken Pasta Salad Ingredients
To make the pasta salad vinaigrette, you’ll need:
- Dry onion soup mix packet
- Rice vinegar
- Sesame oil
- Olive oil
- Mandarin orange juice (from a can of oranges)
- Granulated sugar
- Ground ginger
- Salt and pepper
And for the actual Asian chicken pasta salad, you’ll need:
- Bowtie pasta
- Chicken breasts
- Sesame oil
- Olive oil
- Red bell pepper
- Shredded carrots
- Canned mandarin oranges
- Fresh spinach
How to Make Mandarin Chicken Pasta Salad
This mandarin pasta salad takes just 30 minutes to prepare and can be enjoyed now or later! Here’s how the pasta salad recipe is made:
- Make the vinaigrette: Simply whisk the dressing ingredients together in a large bowl.
- Cook the pasta: Follow the instructions on the packaging. Cook just until al dente.
- Cook the chicken: This will only take about 5 minutes in an oiled skillet.
- Assemble the salad: Toss everything together with the vinaigrette. Be sure to include the cooking juices from the skillet — that’s free flavor you don’t want to miss out on!
Can This Pasta Salad Be Made in Advance?
Absolutely! This salad makes a ton and can feed a crowd. I like to think of the four P’s: potlucks, picnics, parties, and planned leftovers.
Since there’s no mayo, it’s great for potlucks, picnics, and parties.
The leftovers keep really well and if you’re looking for easy lunches or no-brainer dinners for the week, this is perfect.
Can the Recipe Be Halved?
Of course! If you don’t need as much, you can always halve the recipe.
Tips for the Best Asian Chicken Pasta Salad
Feel free to mix-and-match with the vegetables you incorporate since this is a very easily adaptable pasta salad.
Try red or green onions, broccoli, cauliflower, other colors of bell peppers, tomatoes, zucchini, shelled edamame, peas, sugar snap peas, or whatever you have on hand and enjoy.
I used bowtie pasta but rotini, ziti, or your favorite small pasta shapes may be substituted.
You can serve the mandarin spinach pasta salad warm and fresh right away, or chill it and serve it later.
- 1-ounce package dry onion soup mix
- 2 to 3 tablespoons rice vinegar
- 2 tablespoons sesame oil
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- juice from one 10.5-ounce can mandarin oranges (add oranges to a separate very large bowl)
- 2 to 3 teaspoons granulated sugar
- 2 teaspoons ground ginger, or to taste
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt, or to taste
- 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, or to taste
- pinch cayenne pepper, optional
- 16 ounces bowtie pasta, cooked according to package directions
- 1 to 1.25 pounds boneless skinless chicken breast, diced into bite-sized pieces, seasoned with salt and pepper
- 2 tablespoons sesame oil
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 red bell pepper, diced small
- 1 cup shredded carrots
- 1/2 English cucumber, diced small
- one 10.5-ounce can mandarin oranges, drained and juice discarded
- 4 to 6 cups fresh baby spinach (about 6 ounces)
- To a medium bowl, add all ingredients, whisk to combine; set aside.
Note – You are only adding the juice from one can of mandarins to the vinaigrette. Add the mandarins to a separate very large bowl.
- Cook pasta according to package directions, drain, and add it to the bowl with the mandarins.
- While the pasta is cooking, to a large skillet add the sesame oil, olive oil, chicken, season with salt and pepper, and cook over medium-high heat for about 5 minutes, or until chicken is cooked through; stir and flip intermittently to ensure even cooking.
- Add chicken and all cooking juices to the bowl with the mandarins and pasta.
- Add the peppers, carrots, cucumbers, additional one can of mandarins (drain juice and discard), spinach, add the vinaigrette, stir and toss to combine and coat evenly.
- Taste the salad and make any additional flavor adjustments such as more salt, pepper, sugar, vinegar, cayenne (doesn’t make it hot but adds flavor), etc. and either serve immediately or chill before serving.
Tip – Because of the large volume of this salad, you may want to add half the spinach to start with to your mixing bowl, and as things get mixed and the spinach wilts a bit, add the remaining spinach and continue mixing.
Storage: Salad will keep airtight in the fridge for up to 5 days, noting the vegetables will release their natural juices as time passes.
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Amount Per Serving: Calories: 457Total Fat: 17gSaturated Fat: 3gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 13gCholesterol: 60mgSodium: 1165mgCarbohydrates: 47gFiber: 6gSugar: 20gProtein: 29g
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