This mandarin pasta spinach salad with teriyaki dressing is easy, quick, healthy, and tossed in the most addictive teriyaki vinaigrette dressing!
If you love pasta salad as much as I do, then you’ll want to make these other reader favorites: Mexican Street Corn Chicken Pasta Salad, Strawberry Avocado Chicken Pasta Salad, Greek Tortellini Pasta Salad, and Pesto Chicken Pasta Salad.
This salad is my newest obsession. I mean, I’ve made it 3 times in the past 5 days. You’re probably thinking that’s a bit much. But it’s true! I made it once for my husband and myself, then for a neighbor (and myself), and then for a huge family gathering on Sunday (where I was present). Every single time it completely disappeared and everyone raved about it. I’m sure it’s due mostly to the dressing, which is positively addictive and makes me want to cry tears of blissful, heavenly joy.
Why This Recipe Works
Teriyaki dressing — The combination of craisins + spinach + mandarin oranges + pine nuts + cilantro borders on magical. But the dressing! The dressing is stuff actual dreams are formed of.
The dressing easily doubles — I’ve actually doubled the pasta salad dressing and saved half to keep in the fridge for another salad. However, all day long I find myself looking for anything and everything to dip in this stuff. Pasta, chicken, pretzels, cucumbers, my finger…
Mandarian oranges — These little, tasty citrus wedges are an unexpected (but totally amazing) addition to this spinach salad. They offer a nod to Asian food, pair well with spinach (a little bitter, a little sweet), plus offer a soft texture to the chewy craisins and crunchy pine nuts. Don’t sleep on the oranges, is what I’m getting at.
Teriyaki sauce — The dressing simply wouldn’t work without teriyaki sauce. Salty, sweet, savory, it’s all the things in one lovely bottle.
Here’s How You Make It
- First, cook the bowtie pasta (or other smallish) according to the package’s directions, then drain and rinse in cold water. Set it aside.
- You can make the dressing while the pasta is boiling. Just add all of the dressing ingredients to a jar with a tight fitting lid or in a bowl (again with a lid if it has one). Either shake the dressing ingredients in the jar with the lid on or whisk in a bowl to combine. Let the dressing remain chill in the fridge.
- Now combine the pasta, spinach, nuts, oranges, raisins, and cilantro to a bowl and toss.
- Pour the chilled dressing over the pasta salad right before serving and give it a toss again to combine. Serve and enjoy!
What’s the Difference Between an Orange and a Mandarin?
Mandarins are a kind of orange. Mandarin is a broad term for smaller, sweeter orange fruit like clementines and tangerines. So tangerines are a kind of mandarin. They are easier to peel too, thanks to a thinner skin that’s more loosely attached to the fruit.
Ideas for Customizing this Recipe
- Add some bite and flavor to this spinach salad with some finely diced red onions or shallots. (I recommend shaking up finely diced shallots with the dressing.)
- Crumbled feta or goat cheese would make an amazing addition to this spinach salad.
- Instead of pine nuts, you could add slivered almonds or finely chopped pistachios.
- Any type of smaller pasta shape you have on hand is fine in this pasta salad. I just like the bowties because they add a fun, pretty shape. But rotini, fusilli, and penne would work great too.
- If you’d prefer a different dressing in this pasta salad, try my Orange Poppyseed Dressing (it’s amazing!).
- Instead of mandarins you could use thinly sliced apples, ripe pears, or even peaches.
Is Raw Spinach Healthy?
Do you love raw spinach? Then you’re in luck because not only is it delicious, but it’s also nutritious. Raw spinach contains tons of iron, vitamin C, niacin, potassium, folate, and riboflavin. Not to mention it’s a green, leafy veggie that has protein, fiber, and calcium too!
- The thicker the teriyaki sauce, the better the pasta salad dressing will be. My favorite brand is Kikkoman, but you can use whatever thicker brand you like.
- Unless you purchase your spinach already bagged and washed, I recommend rinsing the spinach leaves first. They can still have dirt/grit on it that doesn’t taste so great when you go to chew it. I simply soak my leaves in the sink/colander/salad spinner, then let the water drain through.
- If you prefer to use fresh mandarin oranges, it’s best to peel them and then try to remove as much of the pith as you can before slicking and adding to the pasta salad.
- For best results, do not dress the salad until just before you’re ready to eat it or the spinach will get too soggy. In fact, I wait to make the salad till just before we’re about to eat it or take it somewhere, then dress it. The dressing can be made a couple days ahead of time and stored in the fridge, though.
More Incredible Salad Recipes
- Strawberry Spinach Salad
- Greek Avocado Chicken Salad
- Pesto Chicken Pasta Salad
- Greek Tortellini Pasta Salad
- Best Teriyaki Sauce Recipe
Did you try this simple pasta salad recipe? GREAT! Please rate the recipe below!
Mandarin Pasta Spinach Salad with Teriyaki Dressing
- 8 ounces bowtie pasta noodles
- 4 cups spinach leaves
- ½ cup craisins
- ⅓ cup pine nuts - or cashews
- 1 4-ounce can mandarin oranges - drained
- ¼ cup cilantro leaves - roughly chopped
- ⅓ cup teriyaki sauce - (the thicker, the better!)
- ⅓ cup rice wine vinegar - (may sub apple cider vinegar)
- ½ teaspoon garlic powder
- ½ teaspoon onion powder - (if you have it)
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon black pepper
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- ½ cup oil - (such as vegetable oil, canola oil, olive oil)
- Cook pasta according to package instructions, drain and rinse with cold water. Set aside.
- While pasta is boiling, prepare the dressing. In a jar combine all dressing ingredients. Cover and shake to combine. Chill until ready to use.
- In a large bowl toss together pasta, spinach, raisins, nuts, mandarin oranges, and cilantro. Just before serving pour dressing over salad, toss, and serve.
This sounds delicious! I’m always looking for different kinds of salads to make to mix it up a bit.
And it’s SO easy – I made it 3 times this week, it’s quickly become a go-to!
I can only find rice vinegar @ my store NOT rice wine vinegar. Can you give me the brand and where you buy it? Thanks.
Hi Beverly, Rice Vinegar will work as well. 🙂
You can get it at any Asian supermarket, or online.
BTW UPDATE: I made this dressing…the recipe advises to use a thick teriyaki sauce, all I had was a thin one. But if you add corn starch or xanthan gum (about a Tbsp), shake well, and cook on the stove until it thickens, you’ll have the perfect sauce and the house will smell SO GOOD too!
Thank you! I used Fusia brand from Aldi…delicious and thick but when added to this recipe, not thick enough. Corn Starch helped.
Do you heat just terriaki & cornstarch to thickenor do you heat all of the dressing ingredients?
Rice vinegar and rice wine vinegar are one and the same.
Can’t get rid of those darn stars…
No, you can purchase rice wine vinegar in asian stores. However,Pale dry sherry or dry white wine make good substitutes for rice wine, while apple cider vinegar makes a nice replacement for rice vinegar.
Also, rice vinegar comes plain and flavored.
Pale dry sherry or dry white wine make good substitutes for rice wine, while apple cider vinegar makes a nice replacement for rice vinegar.
Rice wine vinegar and Rice vinegare ate two Different vinegars. Pale dry sherry or dry white wine make good substitutes for rice wine, while apple cider vinegar makes a nice replacement for rice vinegar.
I had apple cider vinegar on hand, it works perFectly!
Do you know the nutritional info… carbs, calories, sodium?
Hi Kathy- I recommend having you use My Fitness Pal. They have an awesome online tool where you can input any recipe URL into and it will generate the nutritional values for you!
This is absolutely the best salad I have EVER had!
Isn’t it addicting?! So glad you enjoyed it!!
Made this tonight and it was a-mmm-azing! I used sesame oil for the dressing…delish!
Question… will this keep overnight? Like a prepare ahead salad?
You can make it ahead. The spinach will wilt down if you add the dressing but if is still very yummy!
Thats pretty heavy flavoured oil
What could be used as a substitute for craisans? Suggestions?
I’ve used snipped dried apricots as a substitute for craisins. in a similar salad. You don’t get the pretty red color, but the taste is just as good.
try dried cherries in place of the craisins … Costco sells them
also added diced, cooked chicken .. so good!
yellow raisins…. first thing I thought of as I don’t like cranberries at all
I use syrawberries and raisins
Why not try just plain raisins or any dried, sweetened fruit?
I used a contain of mand oranges
I had a salad like this and had chow mein noodles on top! Was excellent!
chow mein moodles? what a great Idea
I have made this salad 6 times. Every time I make it, everyone wants the recipe. Thank you for a fresh, fresh, fresh, awesome salad!
That looks so yummy. I have never had a teriyaki dressing before so I’m looking forward to something new.
That dressing is honestly probably the best thing you will ever taste – so crazy good!!!
I just made this salad. My husband says, of all the salads I’ve made, this has to be his favorite. The dressing is to die for. I’m going to marinate chicken with it.
I agree about the dressing! So glad you both enjoyed this recipe!
Your salads are always so creative and GORGEOUS! I love that there’s teriyaki dressing, so unique!
Nicole you are so nice – thank you!!! This dressing, I’m totally hooked on it and want to put it on EVERYTHING.
This sounds super yummy! Have you ever added chicken to this salad? You could even bake some teriyaki chicken and throw it in for a main dish salad. I would love to give that a try!
I actually meant to put chicken in this salad!! I had it all planned out and then when I went to make it I realized I hadn’t thawed any chicken from the freezer – gah! so I made it without the chicken and it came out great but I’ve made it since WITH chicken and it was wonderful!!! Definitely perfect for a main dish!
Marinate a lb. of chicken breast in any brand bottled It. salad dressing for several hours. then cook chicken in a Geo. Forman grill. Slice or dice the chicken & add to the salad. Easy & so Good!
For the dressing ingredients, am I using store bought teriyaki salad dressing or just the typical teriyaki sauce? It said dressing so I’m making sure. Can’t wait to try this!
For the dressing, you use teriyaki sauce that you can find in the Asian aisle! I love the Kikkoman kind in a big bottle, it’s really thick and has sesame seeds in it – it’s my favorite!
Believe I HAD the stuff you’re talking about …I could see the sesame seeds in it but thought maybe that was the wrong stuff so got the Kikkoman teriyaki baste and glaze..it says can use in bbqing & as a dipping sauce and also has some seeds in it and is also thick. Hope I didn’t mess up my dressing …will let you know…
I bought stir fry sauce, im nervous as iTs for a party
How does it change the dressing if you use the “thinner” T sauce? Taste ? Does it ruin the salad?
I wouldn’t say it will “ruin” the salad but the dressing will not have the correct consistency! I highly suggest that you use a thicker teriyaki.