Easy Frugal Cooking | Mandarin Chicken Salad

by Kristen on July 28, 2010 · 8 comments

in Main Dishes, Recipes, Vegetables

I know…it’s Wednesday. But I’ve been busy sanding, painting, and priming, which means there’s not been a lot of time for baking. I do have a super delicious recipe for Cinnamon Crisps that I desperately want to share with you (well, mostly I want an excuse to make them again because they were so delectable), but that will have to wait until next week.

So, for now I’m going to share a recipe for a simple, light main dish salad that we enjoy in the summertime. It’s similar to the chicken salad served at Wendy’s, and I found the recipe online a number of years ago (I’d give credit but I did a search this morning and came up with nothing).

It’s not that hard to come up with the salad part of this…lettuce, grilled chicken, mandarin oranges, and chow mein noodles aren’t rocket science. But until I found this recipe, I couldn’t figure out how to make a yummy Asian dressing to pour on top of the salad.

I considered trying to figure it out myself, but I’m glad I didn’t go that route, because I’d never have thought to combine this many different ingredients.

The dressing is really easy to make if you own a blender (though I suppose you could do this by hand as well.). Basically, you just combine everything except the oil in a blender.

Then with the blender running, you slowly add the oil, which turns the mixture into a slightly thickened, honey-colored dressing.


The dressing keeps in the refrigerator for a remarkably long time, which is good because I find that the dressing recipe makes way more than we need for one meal’s worth of salads. So, I just keep in in a jar in the fridge and use it instead of bottled salad dressing, or I sometimes halve the dressing recipe.

Since this makes a fairly light meal, I like to serve it with a good bread, like Pull-Apart Garlic Bread or Glazed Honey Pan Rolls. Really, though, any number of breads from the Yeast Bread category would be tasty alongside (ok, maybe not the overnight cinnamon rolls!).

Mandarin Chicken Salad-serves 4
Printable Mandarin Chicken Salad Recipe

1/2 cup corn syrup (you could try subbing honey if corn syrup freaks you out. This isn’t high fructose corn syrup, though, and only a small amount makes it onto the salad anyways)
3 tbsp. white distilled vinegar
2 tbsp. pineapple juice
4 tsp. granulated sugar
1 tbsp. light brown sugar
1 tbsp. rice wine vinegar
1 tbsp. soy sauce
1 tsp. sesame oil
1/4 tsp. ground mustard
1/4 tsp. ground ginger
1/8 tsp. salt
1/8 tsp. paprika
dash garlic powder
dash ground black pepper
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1/2 tsp. sesame seeds (I don’t usually add these)

4 chicken breast fillets
1 large head iceberg lettuce, chopped
4 cups red leaf lettuce, chopped (I just use green leaf lettuce)
1 1/3 cups canned mandarin orange wedges
1 cup rice noodles
1 cup roasted sliced almonds (I forgot to add these to the pictured salad!)

Prepare dressing by combining all dressing ingredients except vegetable oil and sesame seeds in a blender on high speed. Slowly add oil to mixture (to create an emulsion). Add sesame seeds and blend for 2-3 seconds. Pour dressing into a covered container (I like to use a small Mason jar) and refrigerate.

Rub each chicken breast fillet with oil, then lightly salt and pepper each piece. Grill on medium/high heat until done. Chill chicken breasts in refrigerator until cold.

In 4 large salad bowls, layer lettuce, chicken, orange wedges, rice noodles, and almonds. Serve with prepared dressing.

Today’s 365 post: Sneak Peek

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{ 8 comments… read them below or add one }

1 WilliamB July 28, 2010 at 8:18 am

The corn syrup serves to help the dressing stick to the food. If I were to make this, I’d experiment with using less of it, rather than subbing honey.


2 Kristen July 28, 2010 at 8:39 am

Hmm…so honey doesn’t function the same way?

We typically use only a small amount of dressing on our salads, and since this isn’t high fructose corn syrup, I’m not super worried about it. At least, not worried enough to experiment, obviously. lol


3 Beth July 28, 2010 at 11:40 am

A dressing recipe that I use occasionally calls for the syrup left from canned mandarin oranges. It would be thinner, but might work as a substitute for the corn syrup.


4 Erin July 28, 2010 at 11:52 am

That dressing sounds great. I’m so tired of ranch! I think I might even have some corn syrup in the pantry. If not, I’ll try the honey (which I know I have) and let you know if it turns out.


5 Maria in Chicago July 28, 2010 at 2:04 pm

Why do you switch from calling the noodles chow mein to rice? I suppose chow mein noodles (stir-fried noodles/crispy noodles) could be rice noodles, but the opposite is not always true.

When I think rice noodles, this is what comes to mind:


6 Favor July 28, 2010 at 3:13 pm

Yum! I appreciate your recipes! Guess I’ll need to get the ground mustard after all. I usually just substitute real mustard {cheap!!} for it…


7 Linda July 28, 2010 at 8:43 pm

I’ve been making my own version of Wendy’s Asian Chicken Salad for a couple of years like you said aint rocket science but the dressing that is another story. I’m glad to have a recipe because I’ve been buying comertian Asian Dressing. Thank you!


8 Kathy July 30, 2010 at 1:38 pm

I tried this recipe last night and we loved it. It reminded us of the
salad you can get at Applebee’s. Delicous!!!!!


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