Mandarin Spinach Salad with Sugared Almonds

I got this easy recipe from a church friend, and I think it’s delicious, so of course I want to share it with you.

You should so throw together a bowl of it.

Like most salads, it’s quite customizable. You can use whatever greens you have a hankering for, you can use strawberries or some other fruit instead of the oranges, you could toast pecans instead of almonds…………….

You get the idea.

To make the dressing, simply combine all the ingredients in a jar.

And then shake them all together.

It would be good to choose a jar with a tight-fitting lid.

I changed the toasted almonds a bit from the original (which called for cooking almonds and sugar together until the sugar melted), only because I couldn’t seem to keep from burning them with that method.

Also, it took forever, that method did.

There’s nothing like standing over a pan for 15 minutes only to end up with burnt almonds.

So, I melt a tablespoon of butter in a skillet, add a cup of sliced almonds, toast them until they’re lightly browned, and then add a tablespoon of sugar.

Let the almonds cool on a plate because if you leave them in the pan, they may get a little too toasted from the residual pan heat.

In a salad bowl, combine the lettuce or spinach, mandarin oranges, and cranberries. Add the dressing and toss to coat. Sprinkle the almonds over the top, and you’re done.

If you don’t think you’ll eat all the salad in one sitting, you might want to pass the dressing at the table, because pre-dressed greens don’t keep very nicely at all.

If you’re like me and could eat about 5 bowls of this in a row, ignore that and dump all the dressing on.

Leftovers? What leftovers??

Mandarin Spinach Salad with Sugared Almonds

printable version

1 head of green leaf lettuce
1 head of red leaf lettuce
(or use any other greens you like, such as spinach)
1 large can of mandarin oranges, drained
1 red onion, thinly sliced (I don’t usually add this)
1 bag of dried cranberries
Sugared Almonds (see below)
Dressing (see below)

Combine lettuce, oranges, onion, and cranberries in a large bowl. Toss with dressing and sprinkle with almonds. Serve immediately.

Sugared Almonds
1 cup sliced almonds
1 tablespoon butter
1-2 tablespoons sugar, depending on how sweet you like your nuts)

Melt butter in a skillet over medium heat. Add almonds, and toast, stirring frequently, until almonds are light brown, about 5 minutes. Toss with sugar, and spread almonds on a plate to cool.


1/4 cup oil (olive, canola, etc)
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1/2 teaspoon salt
dash pepper
1 teaspoon dry parsley
2 tablespoons sugar
dash of Tabasco

Combine ingredients in a jar with a tight-fitting lid and shake until combined.

Today’s 365 post: Holding Sunshine

Joshua’s 365 post: Kablooie!


  1. Becky says

    So good! I make something very similar with a dressing of Balsamic, Maple Syrup, and Olive Oil. Yum. Sometimes I add blue cheese to the salad.

  2. Jo in RI says

    I got a similar recipe more than a decade ago (also from a church friend!). We use green onions instead of red and a homemade onion, poppy seed dressing that is so, so good. But we don’t usually add the cranberries when there are mandarins–usually in place of them. Same friend told me that a great way to make a salad is greens with a fruit, a nut, and a cheese. So we often do random combos–another favorite is spinach, nuts, red beets, and goat cheese. I guess red beets aren’t really a fruit, but they serve the same function in this context, I guess! It’s been a while since I’ve actually made this salad with the mandarins, so now I think I’ve been inspired!

  3. Therese Z says

    We have virtually the exact recipe and love it. I like to use red seedless grapes cut in half when strawberries are expensive, nasty or out of season. Grapes have such a long season that they are a great solution and tasty too.

  4. Theresa says

    Similar story here! I love this and have one that is more oriental in flavor – sesame oil, little bit of soy (very little), and the taste is summer in my mouth.

    PS 365 link is not working. Coming back with the ‘Gnarly dude’ error message.

    • Kristen says

      I just buy a bag of pre-sliced almonds…Aldi has them at certain times of year, and other grocers carry them year-round.

  5. says

    Pretty and Yummy! My variation would be in using no sugar and just toast the almonds (which brings out a very nice flavor), use fresh fruits and maybe a little honey in the dressing instead of sugar. Just wondering: Do your children eat this salad?

  6. Jeannie says

    Could you not use the Tabasco? I’m just learning how to make dressings instead of buying them. (Actually, I’m just learning to cook from scratch instead of using processed foods so I need all the help & tips I can get).
    This salad looks so yummy. I can’t wait to make it. It’s just me, so i probably wouldn’t use all the dressing at once. How long will the dressing last and how do you store it?
    I love your blog!

  7. Julie says

    Yummy, but ended up being a bit expensive first time around. Big bags of almonds and cranberries can be used to make multiple salads, though!

    • Kristen says

      So true…and they keep quite nicely as well.

      I always buy generic almonds and dried cranberries. Much cheaper and just as tasty.

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