Juicy mandarin oranges add a whole other dimension to your green salad! Toss in some crunchy pecans and a spicy homemade vinaigrette dressing and Mandarin Salad is ready to serve as a side dish. Add your favorite protein to make it a meal!
Today’s salad is the perfect side dish to our family favorite meatloaf. Or whip up some baked pork chops and serve this salad on the side.
Family Favorite Salad Recipe
Do you have any “signature” family dishes? Not the fancy ones you make at holidays or the ones that have been passed down from generation to generation, but the ones you make almost weekly without fail.
The ones that are such as staple of your family meals that you can’t even remember when they first showed up on your dinner table.
This Mandarin Salad is one of mine. We eat this with our dinner so often that I can make it on autopilot. I love it on its own or as a bed for grilled chicken or salmon.
Every member of my family LOVES this salad–even the ones who aren’t usually veggie lovers! Sometimes we make it with almonds, sometimes we make it with Candied Cinnamon Pecans to mix it up. It’s delicious every which way!
Fresh, healthy and anything but boring, I know you’ll love our family favorite Mandarin Salad recipe too!
Make it a meal and whip up our mandarin chicken pasta instead!
- Mandarin oranges – You need canned mandarins for this salad. Drain the juices well first. (Buy extra oranges to make our easy mandarin orange pretzel bars for dessert)!
- Nuts – Plain salted pecans are delicious as are candied pecans and almonds. Substitute cashews for a tasty twist. Use our guide on how to toast pecans.
- Tabasco sauce – Cholula or your other favorite hot sauce is a perfect substitute. I love the kick it adds to the zesty vinaigrette dressing.
First, if using plain pecans or almonds, toast them on the stove top with a little bit of sugar.
Whisk together the dressing ingredients and place them in the fridge to chill while you assemble the salad, or make it in advance.
Chop up lettuce and add to a bowl with green onions, celery, and mandarin oranges. Add the nuts and toss to combine.
I prefer to drizzle the dressing on the mandarin salad just before serving!
Tips & Tricks
- Make it a meal: This salad makes a great foundation for a light lunch or dinner. Add grilled salmon, shredded chicken or tofu for a nourishing and filling meal.
- Need less spice? Reduce the amount of tabasco sauce to your liking. My family loves the heat in the dressing but it tastes good with just a couple of drops of hot sauce too.
- Make the dressing first. The flavors have time to mingle and combine while you get everything else ready for the salad. You can even make it a few hours ahead of time to make meal time easier.
- Change it up. Hate green onions? Feel free to swap them out for red or white onion. Want to add some cucumber? Go for it. This salad is delicious made with spinach or other leafy greens as well.
For best results, assemble the salad shortly before serving. You can chop the vegetables and toast the nuts ahead of time and store in separate containers to make this in advance. When you’re ready, toss together, add dressing and enjoy!
I don’t find this salad dressing overwhelmingly spicy at all. If you’re sensitive to heat, start with two drops of Tabasco and add more to taste. If you can’t get enough spice, go ahead and add as much hot sauce to the vinaigrette as you like!
I don’t recommend using fresh fruit here. The juices from the canned mandarin oranges add the pop of flavor that makes this salad so delicious.
You most likely turned the heat too high. The sugar will burn quickly, so I keep the stove set at medium at the highest. Keep a close eye on the nuts as they cook. You want them toasted but not too brown.
Looking for an exciting salad that’s easy enough to make every day? This family favorite Mandarin Salad recipe might just become a staple for your family too!