Mandarin Orange Salad

5 from 2 votes

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This mandarin orange salad is crunchy and fresh with kale, cabbage and carrots. Using a coleslaw mix for part of the lettuce saves prep time. The salad also has pistachios, dates and scallions and is tossed in a white wine vinaigrette with a little ground cumin to bring all the salad ingredients together.

Mandarin orange salad in a large bowl.

Why You’ll Love This Recipe

This salad is all about texture, flavor and contrast. You have bites that are crunchy with cabbage, kale and nuts with soft fruit segments. Then there moments that are both savory and sweet. Everything works beautifully together.

There’s a built in shortcut. Besides kale, the base of the salad is shredded cabbage and carrots that you don’t have to chop. You can just buy a coleslaw mix, which is typically a combination of Napa cabbage, red cabbage and green cabbage along with julienned carrots.

Mandarins are citrus that’s easy to peel. There’s a reason why they are marketed as a great snacks for kids. Since they have such a thin peel, it’s easy to do this by hand. With oranges and grapefruit, you have to take your knife to slice off the peel and pith and then cut out the individual segments. Mandarins make prep simple.

The Ingredients

Ingredients including mandarin oranges, kale, coleslaw mix, pistachios, scallions, dates, spices, garlic, oil and vinegar.

This is what you need:

  • Mandarin oranges: As mentioned, this smaller citrus variety has more delicate skin than navel oranges. That’s why you can just peel them with your hands. A knife is not necessary. Peel off any loose bits of white pith.
  • Kale: For this salad, I like to use curly green kale. It’s a little less intense than lacinato kale, but you can go ahead and make this substitute if that’s what you have in your kitchen.
  • Coleslaw mix is easy to find in a refrigerated case with the bagged lettuces in the produce department. They are generally a mix of cabbage and carrots.
  • Scallions add mild green onion flavor. I think of them as somewhere between an onion and fresh herbs.
  • Pistachios, shelled, are my first choice for nuts in this salad. Either raw or roasted are fine. You can substitute with chopped almonds or walnuts.
  • Dates add their molasses, caramel sweetness. For dried fruit in salads, they are much more subtle than say dried cranberries, which are a stronger accent.
  • Parsley: For chopped fresh herbs, I sprinkle in parsley. You can also use a mix including minced chives and cilantro.
  • White wine vinaigrette: With garlic, mustard, salt, pepper, vinegar and oil, this is a straightforward vinaigrette. I also include cumin and red pepper flakes to give it more personality that goes with the rest of the ingredients in the salad. You can substitute with apple cider vinegar. There is no citrus in the dressing because all the kale and cabbage will end up brushing with mandarin orange juice from the fruit when you toss the salad.

How to Make This Mandarin Orange Salad

1. Combine the salad ingredients in a large bowl. That includes kale, coleslaw mix, oranges, scallions, pistachios, dates and parsley.

2. Make the vinaigrette. Whisk together the garlic, mustard, cumin, red pepper flakes, salt, pepper, vinegar and oil in a small bowl.

Salad ingredients assembled on a bowl. Vinaigrette whisked together in another bowl.

3. Drizzle the vinaigrette into the salad. Toss everything around, so the kale and cabbage are well dressed. If you want, you can even use your hands to do this.

Salad tossed together in a bowl.


This is a great entree salad or a side salad. If you want to add a protein, shredded roasted or rotisserie chicken, shrimp or salmon would all be great. To keep the salad vegan, but add something else to it, go with diced avocados. I love salads for side dishes, and the brightness of the mandarins are nice when you serve them with bigger meals.

Leftovers & Storage

One of the best parts of this salad recipe is that cabbage and kale are better than other lettuces for saving leftovers. Unlike salads with delicate leafy greens, you can store leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge up to 3 days. They will soften more the longer you keep them. If you are planning to save some of the salad to eat at another time, try not to toss that portion in vinaigrette, which you should keep in a separate jar.

Kale salad with mandarin oranges and kale on a plate.

Recipe Tips

Don’t use canned mandarins. It can be tempting to pop open a couple cans of mandarins for another shortcut, but please peel fresh ones. Canned fruit is packed in a sugary syrup, so they will be too sweet for the salad.

If you’re not in the mood to do any chopping, you can use a bagged mix for the kale too. This salad will still turn out great if the entire base is the cabbage and carrots of a coleslaw mix. This would also be a good option for everyone out there who doesn’t like kale.

This salad works best with kale and cabbage. Don’t substitute with tender greens like, baby spinach arugula or a spring mix. And with romaine lettuce, you will be missing out on the flavor contrasts that make this salad special.

You can make the vinaigrette up to 3 days in advance. Let it sit out at room temperature for 15 minutes before you use it. This will give the oil a chance to turn to liquid again if it hardens from the cold temperature in the refrigerator.

Recipe FAQs

Can you substitute with another type of citrus?

Yes, you can use navel, blood, cara cara or another type of orange or even grapefruit. You will need to slice the peel and pith off with a knife and then cut out the segments. I go into detail on how to supreme citrus in another post. 

Is it ok to add cheese?

Yes. My recommendations would be crumbled feta or goat cheese for their salty flavor and creamy consistency.

More Citrus Salad Recipes

Citrus Salad with Olives & Pomegranate Seeds
Roasted Beet Salad with Oranges & Pears
Beet Orange Kale Salad
Orange Olive Salad

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Mandarin Orange Salad

5 from 2 votes
By Paige Adams
Prep: 10 minutes
Cook: 0 minutes
Total: 10 minutes
Servings: 4
This fresh mandarin orange salad is crunchy with kale, cabbage and carrots. It also has pistachios and dates tossed in white wine vinaigrette.


For salad

  • 3 cups chopped curly green kale leaves
  • 2 cups coleslaw mix
  • 4 mandarin oranges, peeled and segmented
  • 3 scallions, thinly sliced
  • 1/4 cup chopped pistachios
  • 4 pitted dates, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons chopped parsley

For vinaigrette

  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1 tablespoon whole grain mustard
  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin
  • Pinch of red pepper flakes
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil


  • In a large bowl, combine the kale, coleslaw mix, oranges, scallions, pistachios, dates and parsley.
  • In a small bowl, whisk together the garlic, mustard, cumin, red pepper flakes, salt, pepper, vinegar and oil.
  • Drizzle the vinaigrette into the salad, tossing to combine.


You can use coleslaw mix for the kale too, if you don’t like kale or if you want to minimize chopping.
Instead of pistachios, you can use chopped almonds or walnuts.
If you want, you can add crumbled feta or goat cheese.
You can make the dressing up to 3 days in advance. Let it sit out at room temperature for 15 minutes before tossing it with the salad.
You can keep the salad up to 3 days in an airtight container in the refrigerator. If you are planning to save some of the salad, do not toss all of it in the vinaigrette. The kale and cabbage will soften the longer you store it.


Calories: 239kcal | Carbohydrates: 25g | Protein: 5g | Fat: 15g | Saturated Fat: 2g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 3g | Monounsaturated Fat: 10g | Sodium: 226mg | Potassium: 558mg | Fiber: 6g | Sugar: 16g | Vitamin A: 5939IU | Vitamin C: 88mg | Calcium: 202mg | Iron: 2mg

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

Additional Info

Course: Salad
Cuisine: Mediterranean
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Hi, I'm Paige.

Welcome to Last Ingredient where you will find simple seasonal recipes with plenty of fruits and vegetables, all for the home cook.

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