Healthy Chinese Chicken Salad with Mandarin Oranges

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This healthy Chinese chicken salad starts with finely shredded Napa cabbage, then adds chicken, Mandarin oranges, scallions, sesame seeds and almonds. A sweet (but not too sweet) Asian dressing is drizzled on top for the perfect summer salad. 

With all the flavor of any other ramen chinese chicken salad, this salad is made with less sugar and no ramen noodles so it’s lower in carbs. The cabbage and almonds give it plenty of crunch!

Chinese chicken salad with mandarin oranges in a bowl.

What Makes This Chinese Chicken Salad Dressing Recipe Healthy?

I often hesitate ordering an oriental chicken salad in a restaurant, because they can really pack in hidden calories with the super sweet dressings! 

Even when you go homemade, many recipes for Chinese chicken salad with mandarin oranges use the ramen seasoning package and cheap ramen noodles. Those packets are loaded with chemicals, MSG and who-knows-what else. 

My mom made this healthy chicken salad for PTA functions in the 60’s, when it was considered “exotic.” The Chinese chicken salad dressing is quick and easy, and it’s made with simple ingredients. 

Close up of Chinese chicken salad in a bowl.

Mom’s original recipe used sugar, but I use Swerve for a low-glycemic version. If you are ok using real sugar, the original dressing recipe contains 3 tablespoons of granulated sugar which amounts to just a teaspoon per person.

I also use Mandarin oranges that are canned in their own juice rather than “syrup.”

How to Make Healthy Chinese Chicken Salad

This recipe for healthy Asian chicken salad is my “go-to” salad for baby and wedding showers and will make 8 luncheon portions. If you’re serving smaller portions as a side dish for a picnic or BBQ, it will serve double that.

Chinese chicken salad ingredients prepped and in small bowls.

Start by shredding or dicing 4 cups of cooked chicken (perfect for leftover rotisserie chicken!), slice 1 bunch of green onions on the diagonal, and drain two 11-ounce cans of Mandarin oranges. 

Shred one head of cabbage, or to save time, purchase two 10-ounce packages of pre-shredded cabbage.

Dressing ingredients in small bowls on a cutting board.

To make the dressing for Chinese chicken salad, you’ll need:

  • 1/3 cup rice wine vinegar
  • 2 Tablespoons Swerve (or 3T of regular sugar)
  • 2 Tablespoons sesame oil
  • 2 teaspoons fresh grated ginger
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/3 cup avocado or light olive oil

In a small saucepan over low heat, heat the oil, vinegar and sugars just until the sugar dissolves. Remove from the heat and whisk in the rest of the dressing ingredients. 

You can cool and refrigerate the dressing if you’re planning on finishing the salad later. 

Healthy Chinese chicken salad ingredients in a bowl before mixing.

When you are ready to assemble your Chinese chicken salad, just add all the ingredients to a large bowl and toss with the dressing. This is my favorite large bowl for big kitchen jobs! 

This salad will hold for at least one to two hours in the fridge without getting soggy.

Oriental Chicken Salad Variations

If you don’t want to make this salad with mandarin oranges and almonds, simply swap them out for fresh tangerines or diced mango, and cashews or peanuts for the almonds. 

I used to add crunchy noodles, but I find that the nuts and cabbage give it plenty of crunch! 

Bowl of Chinese chicken salad on bamboo placemat.

If I’m making this salad just for the family, I’ll add fresh chopped cilantro. If I’m making it for a big group, I omit it, since cilantro seems to have a small fan base.

With the weather starting to warm up, salad days are here again. I could eat a salad every day, and I usually do in the summer! 

I hope you enjoy this Asian chicken salad with mandarin oranges – and do try some of my other favorites such as Italian Panzanella, French Nicoise, and Greek Gyros Salad.

Chinese Chicken Salad, crisp cabbage, shredded chicken in a slightly sweet dressing with sliced almonds and mandarin

Chinese Chicken Salad

Crisp cabbage, shredded chicken and mandarin oranges in a slightly sweet dressing. *To save time you can buy bags of pre-shredded cabbage in the produce section.
5 from 49 votes
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes
Course Salad
Cuisine Retro 60’s American
Servings 8
Calories 388 kcal


  • 1/3 cup rice wine vinegar
  • 2 Tablespoons swerve (regular sugar may be substituted)
  • 2 Tablespoons sesame oil
  • 2 teaspoons fresh grated ginger
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/3 cup avocado or light olive oil
  • 4 cups cooked chicken breast either shredded, diced or chopped
  • 1 bunch of green onions slice thin on the diagonal
  • 2 11 ounce cans of Mandarin Oranges drained (or fresh oranges)
  • 1/4 cup toasted sesame seeds
  • 1 cup sliced or slivered almonds toasted
  • 1 head cabbage shredded. About 8-10 cups. (you may use pre-packaged cabbage as well. 2 10 ounce packages.)


  • Combine the first 7 ingredients, rice wine vinegar to vegetable oil, in a small sauce pan and heat over a low heat just until sugar is dissolved. Let cool and refrigerate.
  • For the salad, combine all ingredients in a large bowl and toss with dressing.



Serving: 1servingCalories: 388kcalCarbohydrates: 21gProtein: 27gFat: 24gSaturated Fat: 3gPolyunsaturated Fat: 6gMonounsaturated Fat: 14gTrans Fat: 0.003gCholesterol: 60mgSodium: 510mgPotassium: 577mgFiber: 6gSugar: 9gVitamin A: 456IUVitamin C: 54mgCalcium: 157mgIron: 3mg
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!
Bowls of healthy Chinese chicken salad with text overlay reading: Chinese Chicken Salad, gluten free and low carb.

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  1. 5 stars
    Oh my, this sounds and looks fantastic, I am playing around with lots of Asian flavours in my salads at the moment, this sounds like a great one to add to the mix.

  2. 5 stars
    I made this as written, only ommission was the mandarin oranges and it was fantastic! Thanks for a recipe I’ll use over and over!

  3. So you’re a teacher! I was wondering a while back why I haven’t seen you visit my blog for a long time, and this explains it! I can’t imagine being a teacher during this past mess. Bravo! And a great chicken salad!

  4. 5 stars
    Very fresh and delicious. Great meal prep salad for the week! Can’t wait to make again for a family gathering!

  5. 5 stars
    Since this receip was first posted, I’ve probably made it 2 dozen times. It’s a favorite of my husband’s and mine. LOVE it!

5 from 49 votes (43 ratings without comment)

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