We believe this chicken pasta salad recipe is one of the best cold salad recipes to make for either large gatherings or regular light meals.
This salad is full of flavor, texture, and color. You will get tender pasta, hearty chicken, juicy cherry tomatoes, and crispy bell peppers, all wrapped in an irresistible tasty dressing.
Chicken Pasta Salad Ingredients
The combination of chicken, pasta, and the veggie mix in this chicken pasta salad is heaven. While chicken and pasta take the main stage, cherry tomatoes and red bell pepper add incredible fresh flavors and crispness to the salad.
With this chicken pasta salad recipe, we go for rotini as this pasta shape looks exceptionally good in macaroni salad recipes. You can easily chop rotini into bite-sized pieces, making it more convenient to toss with other ingredients.
Of course, please feel free to use your favorite pasta shape if you believe it makes the salad more appealing. Other pasta shapes that are suitable for this salad are: bow ties, large shells, penne, rigatoni, farfelle, maccheroni, conchiglie, etc.
For this chicken pasta salad recipe, we use diced chicken breast to add a lean protein source to the salad while still keeping the fat low.
This salad also gives you a chance to make the best use of leftover rotisserie in your fridge. So don’t fret yourself over which cut of chicken to use— as long as it’s convenient for you.
Is Chicken Pasta Salad Healthy?
For a protein salad that’s loaded with lean chicken breast, fresh greens, and a mix of fresh herbs and seasonings, we believe the answer is yes. The dressing is also light and herby as there’s no mayo or ranch included.
However, it’s important to note that if you will possibly need consultancy from a health expert when adding it to any specific diet.
This chicken pasta salad provides 243 calories per serving.
Chicken Pasta Salad Dressing
In this chicken pasta salad recipe, we made the dressing only from a few ingredients: olive oil, red wine vinegar, Italian seasoning, garlic, mustard, and honey.
Apart from that, of course, it is allowed to add mayo or sour cream to the dressing and make it cream-based. Making this salad dressing with mayo or sour cream will make it remarkably richer and creamier.
How to Make Chicken Pasta Salad
Cook the pasta: Cook the pasta in a pot of boiling water for 10 minutes. Drain and rinse with cold water.
Coat: Add the chicken to a large bowl with garlic powder, salt, and ground black pepper. Toss to coat evenly.
Sear the chicken: On a skillet, heat 1/2 tablespoon of olive oil over low-medium heat. Sear the chicken for 10 minutes until golden. Allow it to cool down and cut into large dices.
Make the dressing: In a mixing bowl, whisk together 1 tablespoon of olive oil, red wine vinegar, Italian seasoning, garlic, mustard, and honey.
Toss with the dressing: Add chicken, arugula, cherry tomatoes, red onion, and red bell pepper to the pasta bowl. Pour over the dressing and toss to combine.
Serve: Sprinkle Parmesan cheese and serve.
What Goes With Chicken Pasta Salad?
Aside of chicken, pasta, and a hearty veggie mix of cherry tomatoes, red onion, and red bell pepper, here are other options for added fruit and nut that might as well meet your needs.
Peas can add a chewy texture and a nutty flavor, while also adding another source of protein and nutrients to this salad.
In place of peas, you can also consider cashews or chopped pecans as they can also lend a wonderful crispness and earthy flavor to the bowl. You can chop whole pecans yourself or buy pre-chopped pecans to save time.
The grapes add a fresh sweetness and rounds out the flavors for this chicken pasta salad.
Usually, the red grapes are slightly sweeter and add a vibrant color to the salad bowl. However, please rest assured that you can use any variety of grapes, depending on what you have at home or what you can buy in the store.
How Long Does Chicken Pasta Salad Last?
Sealed in an airtight container, chicken pasta salad can last in the refrigerator for 2-3 days.
Although leftovers are still safe to eat, they may not retain the best flavor and texture. The longer the salad stays in the refrigerator, the drier it will become.
Therefore, the best way to enjoy chicken pasta salad is to always complete it within a few hours after cooking. Consider adding some dressing to the salad bowl before reheating to make it moist.
Can You Freeze Chicken Pasta Salad?
Yes, you can. If stored in the same way as when refrigerated, chicken pasta salad can freeze well for 2-3 weeks.
Take it out of the freezer the day before serving, and when ready to serve, let it thaw overnight in the refrigerator and microwave later when you’re ready to enjoy.
Many ingredients in chicken macaroni salad are difficult to freeze. Frozen vegetables after thawing can easily make the entire salad soggy and slimy.
Cream-based dressing can become watery after defrosting as the mayo or sour cream is easily separated. Therefore, if you need to make it in advance, please plan accordingly.
How to Make Chicken Pasta Salad
- 6 oz skinless boneless chicken breast
- 4.25 oz rotini pasta dry
- 1 tsp garlic powder
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 1/4 tsp ground black pepper
- 3/2 tbsp olive oil divided
- 2 tbsp red wine vinegar
- 1 tsp Italian seasoning
- 1 tsp garlic minced
- 2 tsp traditional Dijon mustard
- 1/2 tbsp honey
- 1 oz arugula
- 3 oz cherry tomatoes quartered
- 1/2 oz red onion julienned
- 2 oz red bell pepper julienned
- 1/4 oz Parmesan cheese
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- Cook the pasta in a pot of boiling water for 10 minutes. Drain and rinse with cold water.
- Add the chicken to a large bowl with garlic powder, salt, and ground black pepper. Toss to coat evenly.
- On a skillet, heat 1/2 tablespoon of olive oil over low-medium heat. Sear the chicken for 10 minutes until it's cooked through and golden. Allow it to cool down and cut into large dices.
- Make the dressing: In a mixing bowl, whisk together 1 tablespoon of olive oil, red wine vinegar, Italian seasoning, garlic, mustard, and honey.
- Add chicken, cherry tomatoes, red onion, and red bell pepper to the pasta bowl. Pour over the dressing and toss to combine.
- Arrange a bed of arugula on a large and shallow plate. Place the mixture of chicken and pasta on top.
- Sprinkle Parmesan cheese. Serve warm or chill if preferred.
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