Mandarin orange chicken is one of the most popular dishes in Chinese cuisine.
It brings in marinated breaded chicken, as well as a sweet and sour sauce based on orange juice.
The recipe is relatively simple to prepare and makes a good choice for your family, but also to impress your guests.
It has an intense chicken flavor, as well as tangy and sweet aromas – a few spices as well.
While you can have it by itself, it may feel a bit dull – despite having its own sauce.
Not sure what to serve with mandarin orange chicken? Here are a few useful suggestions.
Why Consider Serving Side Dishes with Mandarin Orange Chicken?
If you think about it, the sweet and sour sauce makes a good choice for the mandarin orange chicken, but it’s just not enough.
No one out there will consider the sauce a side dish, so you must spice things up.
You can keep it plain and simple and throw in some salad or perhaps some classic French fries.
Sure, such things work for a quick meal, but how about making a good impression?
Furthermore, despite the sweet and sour sauce, the dish feels a bit salty when eaten alone – hence the necessity of pairing it with something else.
What to Serve with Mandarin Orange Chicken? 7 BEST Side Dishes
As long as you like the combo, you can use anything for a side dish.
However, this guide is more useful to those who feel clueless.
1 – Plain Steamed White Rice
White rice is classic in multiple Asian cuisines.
It is often served in different types of meals, so it is not uncommon to have it with mandarin orange chicken.
There are a few rules, though. First of all, you need to steam it.
No steamer? No problem – boil it and make sure it is thoroughly drained before being served.
While it might be tempting to enhance it with all sorts of things, keep it simple.
The sweet and sour sauce is more than enough for your mandarin orange chicken, so leave the rice as it is.
2 – Crunchy Raw Vegetable Salad
There are no rules whatsoever when it comes to salads.
However, the mandarin orange chicken is a bit soft and covered in sauce, meaning you want a light salad – keep it crunchy and avoid dressings.
The salad is a great choice if you want to lose a bit of weight and reduce the calorie intake.
Some of the best veggies to throw in include lettuce, cucumbers, onions, or cabbage.
Apples are also accepted.
Slightly sweet ingredients – like apples – will work wonders with the mandarin orange sauce, adding a more refreshing experience.
3 – Creamy Noodles
Just like plain white rice, noodles represent another great choice in the Asian culture.
Stay away from flavored noodles – instead, opt for the plain variety.
It’s just as important to go for noodles made from rice flour.
You basically bring in the same rice experience, but in a different form.
Noodles are versatile and can be cooked in a wide variety of ways.
No matter which option you choose, avoid too much oil because it will not go well with the chicken – too greasy overall.
4 – Stir Fry Vegetables
Stir fry vegetables represent a classic side dish that you’re already familiar with.
They go anywhere, anytime – the mandarin orange chicken makes no exception either.
Stir fry veggies bring lots of flavors, yet it depends on what you use in the mix.
Stick to classics if you’re out of ideas – buy a stir fry veggie mix or chop carrots, mushrooms, broccoli, baby corn, and bell peppers.
Stir frying vegetables is super-fast, hence the popularity of this side dish – plus, veggies can retain their flavors and crunchy texture.
5 – Grilled Creamy Potatoes
Can you ever go wrong with potatoes and cheese? Exactly.
This is one of the best dishes for your mandarin orange chicken, and you don’t even need to spend too much time on it.
Get some small potatoes, chop them into three or four pieces and spray them with olive oil.
Keep them on a hot grill for 20 minutes, but turn them halfway through.
The cheese goes on top, but only after they’re done.
There are more types of cheese you can use, but avoid cheddar or edam.
Stick to mozzarella for a creamier texture.
6 – Chorizo and Sweet Potatoes
This side dish aims to find a middle path between the Spanish and Chinese cuisines – definitely intriguing, but pleasantly surprising.
Get a few sweet potatoes and a small sausage.
Slice the potatoes and put them on a tray – throw some sweet pepper and olive oil on top.
Cut the sausage too, but not all the way to the end.
Bake the whole mix for half an hour.
The sweet potato will work wonders with the sweet and sour sauce, while the chicken taste will resonate with the sausage.
What you’re doing is basically enhancing all the flavors in your recipe.
7 – Sautéed Korean Cucumber
If you find the mandarin orange chicken to be a little too much, the sautéed Korean cucumber side dish will reduce some of potential nausea associated with the sauce and oils.
You need a couple of cucumbers, some fine sea salt, roasted sesame seeds, sesame oil, and rice bran oil for this side dish.
Cooking oil can also be used, but usually a tablespoon only.
Slice the cucumbers and mix everything else in a small bowl.
Put one slice on top of the other in a cute mix, but ensure they are taken through the oily mix first.
Consistency is key here.
Bottom line, there are plenty of options when not sure what to serve with mandarin orange chicken.
Obviously, the best side dish is the one suitable for your taste and preferences.
You can keep things a bit heavy and slightly oily, but you can also go in two different directions – salty or sweet.
Moreover, you can find healthy dishes that will reduce the carb intake, as well as dishes that focus on nothing but the taste and flavor.