This Chicken Pasta Salad is the perfect thing for a quick dinner or to share at a picnic. Chicken, veggies, and homemade dressing make this pasta recipe absolutely delicious.
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The Best Chicken Pasta Salad
This Chicken Pasta Salad is the perfect warm-weather dish. Served cold, it’s made with al dente rotini pasta, grilled chicken breast, and an assortment of vegetables. The dressing is homemade and just so flavorful. This dish comes together quickly and easily, which makes it ideal for weeknight dinners, an easy lunch option, or for outdoor picnics. You can also add or substitute vegetables and proteins with whatever you have on hand since this recipe is so versatile. You’ll love it!
What you’ll need
- Pasta- I used tri-color rotini pasta
- Chicken- Boneless and skinless chicken breasts
- Seasonings- Olive oil, Italian seasoning, Salt and Pepper
- Vegetables- Cherry tomatoes, Cucumber, Red onion, and Avocado
- For the dressing- Olive oil, Apple cider vinegar, Honey, Water, Lemon juice, Italian spices, and Salt
Pro Tip: If only have frozen chicken, you can totally cook frozen chicken breast in an Instant Pot. It cooks in a fraction of the time!
How to Make Chicken Pasta Salad
- Chop and season the chicken. Slice the chicken breasts into thin cutlets and season both sides with Italian seasoning, and then salt and pepper to taste.
- Cook the chicken. Heat a large pan over medium-high heat and add the olive oil. Then cook the chicken on both sides until cooked through. You can check with a meat thermometer to make sure it has reached 165 degrees Fahrenheit at the thickest part of the meat.
- Let it rest. Once cooked, let the chicken sit for about 5-10 minutes, covered. Then cut it up into bite-sized pieces.
- Cook the pasta. Now cook the rotini according to the package directions. When it’s done, drain it and rinse with cold water to keep it from overcooking.
- Chop up the vegetables. Then slice up the cherry tomatoes, cucumber, and onion. Cut the avocado into small cubes. Place the cooked pasta, chicken, and vegetables into a large bowl.
- Make the dressing. In a large measuring cup, add the olive oil, vinegar, honey, lemon juice, water, Italian spices, and salt. Whisk together.
- Dress the salad. Pour the dressing onto the chicken pasta salad and toss to combine. Serve chilled.
Tips for making the perfect pasta salad
- Don’t overcook the pasta- Make sure to cook the pasta al dente, and then rinse it with cold water after draining. This is important to stop the cooking process so the pasta doesn’t become mushy and broken when tossed with the other ingredients.
- Fully cook the chicken- To ensure the chicken is fully cooked, the best thing to do is insert a meat thermometer into the thickest part of the meat. It should read at least 145 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Keep everything about the same size- When chopping the chicken and vegetables, try to keep them all about the same size so the salad is uniform. That way, when you take a bite, you aren’t getting a big mouthful of any one ingredient, but a little of everything.
- Try some variations with your favorites- This is a very versatile salad, so you can add different vegetables, like asparagus, peppers, and olives, cheese, or other proteins, like fish, shrimp, or tofu, to make it perfect for you.
What to Serve with this
This Chicken Pasta Salad can be eaten just as it is for any meal. But if you want to pair it with another dish, here are a few suggestions:
- Sandwiches- This is a great side dish for sandwiches, like this Classic BLT Sandwich or Slow Cooker Beef Brisket Sandwich.
- Grilled meats- If you’re bringing this to a barbecue or picnic, it’ll pair nicely with steaks, burgers, hot dogs, and ribs. You could even serve it with a Cast Iron Ribeye Steak or BBQ Air Fryer Chicken Legs.
- Bread- If Chicken Pasta Salad is the main course, consider serving a side of buttered Focaccia Bread or Garlic Cheese Bread.
- Vegetables- Another great side to serve with this cold pasta would be vegetables, like these Roasted Air Fryer Vegetables, Bacon Wrapped Asparagus (Oven Baked), and Crispy Air Fryer Brussels Sprouts.
How to Store Chicken Pasta Salad
Store any leftover Chicken Pasta Salad in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. Just give it a stir and serve when you are ready.
Can I make it ahead of time?
Yes, you can! This pasta salad actually tastes even better the second day because the pasta and chicken absorb more of the dressing and flavor. However, you can’t make it more than 2-3 days ahead because the vegetables will start to become mushy. The dressing can be made about a week in advance and then added to the freshly prepared pasta, veggies, and chicken though.
More great salad recipes to enjoy!
- Tri Color Pasta Salad Recipe (VIDEO)
- Greek Chicken Pasta Salad
- BLT Pasta Salad
- Pesto Pasta Salad (VIDEO)
- Tuna Pasta Salad
Full Recipe Instructions
Chicken Pasta Salad
For the salad
Cook and chop up the chicken
- Start off by slicing 1 pound of boneless skinless chicken into thin cutlets. Then season both sides of the chicken with 1 teaspoon is Italian seasoning, and about 1 teaspoon salt or to taste along with 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper.
- Heat a large pan to medium-high heat and add 2 tablespoons of olive oil in. Then cook the chicken on both sides. Make sure your chicken is cooked through. The best way to check chicken doneness is by inserting a meat thermometer into the thickest part of the meat. It should read at least 145 degrees Fahrenheit.
Cook pasta and chop up veggies
- In the meantime, cook 1 pound of tri-color rotini according to the package.
- Then drain the pasta and rinse with cold water to stop it from overcooking.
- Once the chicken is filled cooked, let it sit for about 5-10 minutes covered. Then cut up the chicken into bite-size pieces.
- Now slice up 1 cup cherry tomatoes, 1 cup English cucumber, 1/2 cup red onion. Then cut 1 avocado into small cubes.
- Place the cooked pasta and cut up vegetables and chicken into a large bowl.
Make the dressing and mix it into the salad
- Use a whisk to combine the dressing ingredients together, then pour over the pasta salad. Toss to combine a serve chilled.