This Mango Salad is a healthy, refreshing, delightful, tropical explosion in every forkful!
This Mango Salad will have you craving salad! It’s bursting with juicy, chili lime chicken, sweet mangos, juicy oranges, creamy avocados, crunchy bell peppers, cherry tomatoes, and buttery cashews all doused in sweet and tangy Honey Lime Vinaigrette. It’s a symphony of YUM you are going to want an encore of for lunch, dinner, entertaining and potlucks. This Mango Salad is easy to make and prep ahead friendly for a meal you can throw together in minutes when ready to serve. You can also customize the Mango Salad by using more or less of your favorite ingredients. Now prepare yourself for the Mango Salad of your dreams – your sweet, tangy, crunchy, creamy, refreshing, paradisaical dreams.
Mango Avocado Salad Recipe
This Mango Avocado Salad boasts so many of my favorite ingredients that somehow becomes exponentially more delicious than the sum of its parts. In short, I’m obsessed. First, there are the mangos – mother nature’s candy. They are sweet and juicy and my favorite fruit. I love mangos so much I have used them in sauces, stir fries, soups. salad dressings, dips, chimichurri, smoothies, acai bowls, and even desserts. So, now it’s time to feature them in Mango Salad!
The mangos are complimented by sweet clementine oranges, fresh, crunchy veggies and buttery cashews to create complex layers of textures and flavors that are so intoxicating you’ll come back for more and more…
But this Mango Salad isn’t just drool worthy sweet mangos and greens but is transformed into a meal-in-one with the addition of sensational chili lime chicken. The chicken has its very own post because it’s a readers’ favorite for EVERYTHING. It’s wonderfully juicy, tangy, smokey, as spicy as you want it and the ideal earthy, robust compliment to the sweet, refreshing mangos.
In addition to the YUM factor, I also love this Mango Salad because all of the ingredients, with the exception of the avocados, can be prepped ahead of time for an ideal meal-prep lunch or make ahead dinner AKA the best kind of dinner.
INGREDIENTS FOR MANGO SALAD
This Mango Salad is extremely versatile but here’s my favorite composition:
- Romaine lettuce. Mango Salad begins with a crunchy lettuce base. I prefer Romaine because it’s sturdy, cool and crunchy and holds up for an extended period of time without becoming soggy. You will want a large head of Romaine, otherwise you can use 3 smaller hearts. You can even use half Romaine and half iceberg for a lovely crunch.
- Spinach. With the crunchy base, I like to add some baby spinach for added flavor and a dimension of texture. You can, however, use all Romaine. In the Mango Salad photos and video, I used a baby spinach/arugula blend but I found the baby arugula to be too peppery and distracting from the flavor profile so I don’t recommend it.
- Mangos: only use ripe mangos so they will be delightfully sweet. You can use even more mangos than the two listed in this recipe.
- Clementine oranges: are seedless and super easy to peel. “Cuties” brand is an example of what you are looking for. Avoid tangerines as they are not seedless.
- Tomatoes: please use ripe cherry tomatoes for the best texture. Cherry tomatoes are inherently sweeter than grape tomatoes, so aim for cherry if you can. You can also use a few Roma tomatoes, but you will want to seed them first so they don’t make your Mango Salad soggy.
- Bell peppers: you can use a red, yellow or orange bell pepper – whatever you have on hand other than green which doesn’t add much additional flavor.
- Cucumber: adds a lovely crunch. I recommend an English cucumber because then you don’t have to peel it, but you are welcome to substitute with a peeled, slicing cucumber.
- Avocados: you can add sliced or chopped avocados for a satisfying creamy burst to complement the crunchy textures. If you’re anticipating leftovers, you may want to omit the avocados from the salad and use them as a topping so they don’t brown upon storage. Make sure you use ripe avocados but not overly ripe or they will turn to mush. To tell if an avocado is ripe, squeeze it gently. A ripe avocado should yield slightly to pressure but not feel overly soft. If your avocados ripen before you are ready to use them, they can be stored in the refrigerator which will dramatically slow down the ripening process.
- Red onion: I like the fresh pop of red onion but you may also use green onions. If you’re not a fan of raw red onions, then you can soak them in cold ice water for 10 minutes, drain, then dry to soften the flavor.
- Cilantro: chopped cilantro adds a fresh, zesty flair. You can use more or less to taste.
- Cashews: adds a buttery CRUNCH you will want in every bite! Take care to purchase, raw, unsalted cashews so your salad isn’t too salty. I like to toast my cashews before adding to the Mango Salad to enhance their flavor. To do this, add them to a skillet and toast over medium-high heat without any oil just until browned in spots, stirring occasionally.
There is a reason mangos are often served with chili and lime – the flavors are a match made in heaven – and this chili lime chicken is no exception. The robust, earthy, tangy flavors of the chicken compliment, enhance and balance the sweetness of the mangos.
The Chili Lime Chicken is made by coating it in a wet rub and letting the chicken rest for 30 minutes up 8 hours. The wet rub is a simple mixture of olive oil and all my favorite Mexican flair spices: chili powder, chipotle chili powder, cumin, smoked paprika, onion powder, garlic powder, salt, and pepper all brightened by fresh lime juice and lime zest.
I use chicken breasts for the Chili Lime chicken but you can absolutely use chicken thighs and adjust the cooking time accordingly. I chose chicken breasts because they are leaner but still emerge wonderfully juicy and tender due to the wet rub.
MANGO QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS
In order to make this Mango Salad, you will need to purchase and chop ripe mangos. I know many are intimidated by both of these tasks, in fact, nearly half of Americans not only don’t know how to cut a mango but are more confident in hosting a dinner party than they are cutting a mango! In light of this fear, I’ve written an entire post on How to Cut A Mango with detailed photos which you can reference to become a mango cutting pro.
In short, however, here is what you need to know to make this Mango Salad:
How to tell if a mango is ripe:
Make sure you use ripe mangos for their juicy, sweet freshness in this Mango Salad. To check for ripeness, focus on FEEL not color because every variety is a different color when ripe. For example, red doesn’t necessarily mean ripe. Squeeze gently to judge ripeness. A ripe mango will give slightly like a ripe avocado.
HOW TO RIPEN MANGOS
- Keep unripe mangos at room temperature. Mangos shouldn’t be refrigerated before they are ripe.
- Mangos will continue to ripen at room temperature, becoming sweeter and softer over several days.
- To speed up ripening, place mangos in a paper bag at room temperature, and store for approximately 2 days or until the mangos are ripe.
- Once ripe, mangos can be moved to the refrigerator to slow down ripening for several days.
How to cut mangos:
- Start by locating the stem. Make sure the step is on top. The long, flat seed runs from stem to nose. We want to cut around this pit.
- Once you locate the stem, make a vertical cut 1/4″ away from this midline then make the same cut on the other side.
- With the mango stabilized on a flat surface, make vertical slices without cutting through the skin. Slice the flesh the other direction without cutting through the skin to create a grid pattern.
- 6. Use a large spoon to detach the flesh from the skin and scoop out the cubes.
Mango Salad Dressing
This Mango Salad is complimented by tantalizing Honey Lime Vinaigrette. It’s bright, tangy, zippy, sassy and marries all the flavors and textures together. The dressing requires less than 5 minutes to make and can be made days ahead of time. You will need:
- Olive oil: use extra virgin olive oil for the best flavor.
- Lime juice: use fresh lime juice because we also will use the zest.
- Lime zest. use the zest from one lime which is about 1 1/2 teaspoons.
- Apple cider vinegar: enhances the lime juice with tanginess without the sourness.
- Honey: use 2-3 tablespoons. The actual amount will depend on personal taste, how tart your lime juice is, and how sweet your fruit is. For example, my mangos and oranges were super sweet, so I only used two tablespoons.
- Dijon mustard: adds a depth of tanginess.
- Seasonings: garlic powder, salt and pepper round out the flavor profile.
MANGO AVOCADO SALAD VARIATIONS
This Mango Salad is very flexible. You can use more or less of your favorite ingredients, omit ingredients, add ingredients, etc. as long as you maintain a balance of sweet, tangy, and crunchy. Some optional add-ins include:
- Pineapple: choose the pineapple with the largest eyes, this means the pineapple was allowed to ripen the longest on the branch. Look for a pineapple with flat eyes – meaning the spiky points are pressed against the pineapple instead of sticking out. Flat eyes mean the pineapple is sweeter.
- Apples: use a sweet apple like Fuji or Honeycrisp for sweeter or tart apples like Granny Smith to enhance the tanginess.
- Kiwis: take care your kiwis are ripe or else they will taste bitter. It is better to omit bitter kiwis than include them.
- Strawberries: choose strawberries that are dark red, firm and fully ripe.
- Jalapenos: are fabulous if you love SPICY, otherwise, you might want to serve them as an optional topping.
- Jicama: choose jicama that is firm with smooth skin that looks fresh and not shriveled, cracked or bruised. Smaller jicama will be sweeter.
- Nuts: although cashews are my FAV, they can be swapped for other nuts such as macadamia nuts, pecans, or sliced almonds.
- Coconut: is optional but it adds a wonderfully sweet tropical flavor.
HOW TO MAKE MANGO SALAD
This Mango Salad is simple to make but does require some chopping. The good news is you can prep your ingredients while your chicken is soaking in its chili lime marinade.
- Marinate chili lime chicken. Whisk together the wet rub ingredients then slather all over your chicken so it can both tenderize the chicken and infuse it with the rainbow of chili lime seasonings. Let the chicken marinate for 30 minutes up to 8 hours while you make the Mango Salad dressing and chop the salad ingredients.
- Make Dressing. The very first thing you’ll want to do after marinating the chicken is to make the Honey Lime Vinaigrette so it has time to chill. Simply add all of the ingredients to a bowl or jar and whisk until smooth.
- Chop Veggies. While the chicken is marinating, chop all of the veggies and fruit, except the avocados.
- Assemble. Add lettuce, fruit and veggies to a large salad bowl. You can either drizzle with dressing and toss OR if expecting leftovers, drizzle dressing over individual servings. Serve immediately.
TIPS FOR MANGO SALAD
- Customize ingredients. The Mango Salad ingredients and measurements are simply suggestions. You can use add/swap any ingredients for your favorite veggies and fruits.
- Use ripe ingredients. Your Mango Salad is only as good as your mangos! Choose ripe mangos for optimal sweetness. See the post for how to choose mangos. Also use sweet clementine oranges.
- Customize dressing. To that end, if your fruit is more tangy than sweet, you will want to add more honey to the dressing.
- Marinate Chicken. You can get away with marinating the chicken for as little as 30 minutes if it is pounded thin, but the longer you marinate the chicken, the more flavorful it will become.
- Don’t over marinate chicken. On the other hand, you don’t want to marinate the chicken longer than 8 hours because lime juice can actually constrict the protein fibers and make your chicken tough and chewy.
- Pound chicken to an even thickness. Pound the thickest part of the chicken so it’s even with the thinnest part to ensure the chicken cooks evenly. You don’t want one side to be cooked perfectly and the other side to be raw or overcooked/dry.
- Tenderize chicken. Pounding the chicken also tenderizes it as well. If you don’t have a meat mallet, you can use the side of a can.
- Let chicken rest. Let the Chili Lime Chicken rest for 5 minutes before slicing. This gives the juices time to redistribute throughout the chicken.
- Alternative proteins. The chicken marinade/wet rub would also be delicious on shrimp, salmon, pork or steak, so feel free to mix it up!
- Chill dressing. You’ll want to refrigerate your Mango Salad Dressing for at least 30 minutes, preferably longer, so the flavors deepen and meld. Cold dressing is also much more appetizing than lukewarm dressing.
- Prep ahead: You can make your chicken, chop all your veggies, make the dressing all ahead of time and store in air-tight containers in your refrigerator so all that’s left is to do is assemble and EAT! Detailed prep ahead instructions to follow.
HOW TO STORE & SERVE MANGO AVOCADO SALAD
- If not expecting leftovers: add all of the salad ingredients to a large salad bowl. You can toss everything together with the dressing or serve it on the side and let everyone dress their own salads.
- If expecting leftovers: toss all of the salad ingredients together in a large salad bowl except avocados. Serve avocados and dressing on the side. This will prevent the salad from getting as soggy when storing.
- Salad Bar. If you have picky eaters or want a fun entertaining idea, then consider a salad bar where everyone can pile on as much or as little of their favorite toppings. Everyone is a winner with a Mango Salad Bar!
PREP AHEAD MANGO SALAD
I love this Mango Salad because although there a few steps, you can prep almost everything in advance:
- Vegetables: can be chopped 24 hours in advance and stored in separate airtight containers in the refrigerator. I will add the vegetables to separate paper towels, fold up the paper towels around the contents and place in sandwich bags – this keeps excess moisture away from the veggies to keep them fresh.
- Fruit: the mangos can be chopped and stored in a single layer on a paper towel lined plate or container and tightly covered and stored in the refrigerator.
- Dressing: can be made three days in advance and stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator.
- Chicken: can be marinated 8 hours in advance and stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator. You can also cook the chicken completely ahead of time.
- Cashews: toast cashews in a skillet up to weeks ahead of time and store in an airtight container.
How to Store Mango Avocado Salad
If you plan on storing Mango Salad, do not toss with the dressing or the lettuce will become soggy and wilted. Instead, store the salad and dressing in a separate airtight containers. The avocados should also be removed from the salad (or better yet, add to individual servings) or else they will discolor and become mushy.
The Mango Salad without dressing will stay nice and fresh for about 2 to 3 days. The dressing will be good for 3 to 5 days.
WHAT DO YOU SERVE WITH MANGO SALAD?
Is MANGO SALAD HEALTHY?
Yes! This Mango Salad is bursting with fresh greens, lean protein and mangos. Mangos are a juicy superfruit that are guilt free good for you.
- One cup of mangos is just 100 calories, so it’s a satisfyingly sweet treat.
- One cup of mango provides 100% of the daily value for Vitamin C, which plays an important role in immune function.
- One cup of mango is a good source of Vitamin A, which is important for immune function and helps maintain healthy skin.
- Mangos contain over 20 different vitamins and minerals, helping to make them a superfood. One cup of mango is rich in folate, which helps maintain cardiovascular function.
- One cup of mango is a good source of fiber, which helps you feel full faster.
- Each serving of mango is fat free, sodium free and cholesterol free.
HELPFUL TOOLS TO MAKE MANGO AVOCADO SALAD
- Salad spinner: a must for every kitchen to not only clean lettuce but to dry it well. This salad spinner has a one handed operation with patented pump mechanism and brake button. You will love it for this Mango Salad and every salad!
- Zester/micro planer: cooking is made 100X easier when you have the right tools for the job! This zester is razor-sharp and makes grating everything a snap from limes, lemons, ginger,Parmesan, nutmeg and chocolate.
- Lemon and Lime Squeezer/Press: I use fresh lemon/lime juice all the time and this press makes prep so much easier! It’s is made with ultra-strong high quality 18/8 STAINLESS steel (not cheap aluminum) to last a lifetime without rusting or breaking. It also will deliver every last drop of juice from your citrus without ANY seeds! This more economical version also has great reviews (but isn’t made of stainless steel).
- Quality Knives: a chef’s knife will be your most used kitchen tool by far! Quality knives make prep time much quicker for this Mango Salad and are important for safety as well. If you’re concerned about moola, please remember that your best chef knives, depending on how hard you use them and how well you take care of them, can easily last 25 years or more. I love my Wusthofbut there are hundreds of less expensive knives with great reviews such as this one.
- Cutting Board: I use my big solid cutting board daily so it’s worth the investment. This extra-large cutting board allows you to prep all your veggies on one surface and the bamboo is easier on knives than plastic.
LOOKING FOR MORE CHICKEN SALAD RECIPES?
- Greek Chicken Salad with Tzatziki Dressing
- Caprese Chicken Salad with Creamy Balsamic Reduction Dressing
- Buffalo Chicken Salad with Blue Cheese Cilantro Ranch
- Chipotle BBQ Chicken Salad with Tomatillo Avocado Ranch
- Teriyaki Chicken Salad with Pineapple Sesame Dressing
- Cilantro Lime Chicken Taco Salad with Fiesta Catalina Dressing
- Garden Caesar Salad with Lemon Basil Chicken
- Chinese Chicken Salad with Sesame Ginger Dressing
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