Sunday, May 28, 2023


Wild rice salad with chicken and mangoes—an easy, make-ahead meal for RVers

Welcome to week three of our RV Culinary Improv Challenge. Each week I take three random ingredients readers submitted and turn them into a delicious recipe that’s small-space cooking friendly. If you have suggestions for future columns, please submit them here or in the form below.

I have to send a big “Thank you!” to Val C., who suggested this week’s challenge ingredients. That’s because the rice salad recipe I created from them is SO GOOD it’s now in my regular rotation!

Val challenged me to come up with a recipe using:

Ingredients for Rice Salad with Chicken and Mangoes

  • Cooked chicken breast
  • Mango
  • Brown and wild rice mix

As always, I assume you have a reasonably well-stocked RV pantry of staple ingredients.

There are a LOT of big pluses to the rice salad with chicken and mangoes recipe I created from Val’s ingredients:

  • It’s super easy to throw together.
  • It can be made in advance and keeps well in the fridge for about three days.
  • It packs well for picnics, hikes, and fishing time, or is a perfect travel day meal.
  • It’s a nutritious and delicious full meal in a bowl.
  • It’s a terrific colorful addition to any potluck dinner.
  • You can change the basic recipe in an infinite number of ways, as shown below, so that you can make this dish with what’s on hand in your RV’s fridge and RV pantry.

Rice salad serving variations

  • Prefer sandwiches? Use a large tortilla or flatbread and turn this salad into a wrap filling.
  • Use the salad to fill endive leaves for a colorful appetizer.
  • This is not a typical pantry ingredient in the U.S., but if you are SERIOUS about Mexican food you might have it—I like to serve this salad with a generous splash of Chamoy, a mild sour hot sauce made from chiles and dried fruits. Mexicans often put it on fresh mango and it goes equally well here, but it will give everything a red color.

Rice salad with chicken and mango optional substitutions

There is a substitution and variation for every ingredient in this recipe. That means that creative cooks can use the recipe with the ingredients they already have on hand.

Not to mention with so many different salad ingredients, you can easily skip one and still have a delicious dish.

No extra trips to the store!

Wild and brown rice blend: While Val specified a wild and brown rice blend, I am currently in Baja Mexico, and could not get that easily. I did find a white and wild rice blend that I mixed some brown rice into. It worked well. But my point is, almost any variety of cooked rice, even leftovers from the last Chinese dinner, will work. You could also substitute cooked couscous or quinoa for the rice.

Chicken: Any kind of diced cooked poultry will work in this recipe. You can make it vegan by substituting diced firm grilled tofu. Or you can leave the extra protein out altogether and still have a delicious protein-rich salad thanks to the beans.

Red pepper: Substitute green bell pepper or even mild chile peppers or open a can of diced green chiles. You can also use roasted red peppers from a jar or can.

Red onion: Substitute minced green onion, or finely diced white or yellow onion.

Cilantro: Don’t like cilantro? Leave it out or consider fresh Italian parsley instead.

Mango: Mango not in season? No problem. Substitute diced, peeled apple. For a sweeter, more tropical variation on rice salad, substitute diced pineapple or papaya.

Healthy cooking for two: The perfect cookbook for 2023
This healthy-eating cookbook has 175 simple and delicious recipes for two. It’s the perfect way to get healthy without sacrificing flavor. It also shows you how to shop for and plan out meals with tips on how to budget at the grocery store. Teriyaki salmon, anyone? Or how about jerk pork with mango salsa? Yuuuumy! Learn more or order.

Black beans: Red beans also work well, as do small white beans (although these are not as colorful). Most cooked beans could be used. Or leave them out entirely.

Lime juice: The lime juice in this recipe provides a necessary acidic element to the dressing. You could also use lemon juice, orange juice, or apple cider vinegar.

Habanero sauce: This is optional if you want your rice salad to have a little heat. If not, leave it out. You could use other types of hot sauces, too, but habanero and mangos are a favorite of mine.

Olive oil: I like the flavor best with olive oil, but you could use any number of other oils such as avocado, grapeseed, or vegetable oils.

Extras: Diced avocado is nice but only if you will be eating the salad at that time as avocado never looks good the next day, or even a few hours later. Diced jalapeño or serrano chiles are nice too, if you like things spicy!

Wild and brown rice salad with chicken and mango recipe

Makes 8 cups of rice salad

1 1/2 cups cooked rice
1 cup cooked diced chicken
3/4 cup diced red bell pepper
3/4 cup diced red onion
1/2 cup loosely packed minced cilantro
1 1/2 cups diced fresh mango
1 1/4 cup cooked black beans (15-ounce can)
1/4 cup lime juice
1/2 teaspoon habanero sauce, optional
1/3 cup olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste

In a large bowl, mix together cooked cold rice, diced chicken, bell pepper, onion, cilantro, mango, and black beans and stir to mix. Sprinkle lime juice over and mix well. Add olive oil and mix well again. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Chill until serving time.

Previously in Cheri’s improv RV recipe challenge:


Cheri Sicard
Cheri Sicard
Cheri Sicard is the author 8 published books on topics as diverse as US Citizenship to Cannabis Cooking. Cheri grew up in a circus family and has been RVing on and off her entire life.


4.4 5 votes
Article Rating
Subscribe to comments
Notify of

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
1 month ago

Cheri you are wonderful with these ingredients!
How about a Complimentary Beverage with your Recipes Morning Brunch and Dinner with these ingredients:
Your choice of Liquor and
Add spices to have savory filling Beverage. We are in our RV, Cheers!

3 fruits (banana, tomato and pineapple)

Marilyn M
1 month ago

I live in San Felipe Baja and after Semana Santa is over will hit up the Calimax or La Vaquita to find Chamoy. Thanks for the tip.

Cheri Sicard
1 month ago
Reply to  Marilyn M

I have become obsessed with Chamoy lately! I live (part time) on the Ensenada side.

Cindy P
1 month ago

Thanks, I am always looking for recipes that can be made in advance for the first night, especially after a long drive!

Cheri Sicard
1 month ago
Reply to  Cindy P

Thank you. This one was SOOOOO good. it turned out even better than I thought it would be.

Last edited 1 month ago by Cheri Sicard

Sign up for the

RVtravel Newsletter

Sign up and receive 3 FREE RV Checklists: Set-Up, Take-Down and Packing List.