Chicken Pasta Salad packed with grilled chicken, veggies, and a herb dressing is all your need for the summer picnic, potluck, or backyard BBQ dinner. It is always a crowd favorite salad recipe. I suggest preparing a large batch because it disappears fast.
A hearty chicken pasta salad is probably the best way to use all the leftover roasted or rotisserie chicken, vegetables, greens, and cold cut meats sitting in the fridge.
This pasta salad requires minimal effort and is a perfect, fulfilling dish for a large crowd. Hence, making it an all-time favorite potluck salad.
The next day, pack the leftovers for the lunchbox or enjoy it for a quiet summer lunch with homemade focaccia bread and a glass of wine.
Pasta: Pick bite-size pasta for making the salad. I prefer elbow macaroni, fusilli, farfalle, penne, or small shell pasta.
Chicken – From the grilled chicken or rotisserie chicken to leftover barbecue chicken or stir fry chicken, you can use any of these to make this chicken pasta salad. If none of these are available, follow my method to grill chicken for the salad quickly. I add diced chicken salami as well in the salad.
Vegetables – When it comes to salad, please don’t restrict yourself to one or two vegetables. Step ahead and add colorful, seasonal vegetables and greens to this chicken pasta salad. I prefer a mix of bell peppers, cucumber, onion, tomato, and olives.
Herbs – Nothing like a bunch of fresh herbs in the salad. Herbs like Italian basil, parsley, or cilantro taste great in a pasta salad.
Cheese – Fresh mozzarella, bocconcini, goat cheese, feta, or parmesan are my top five kinds of cheese for a pasta salad.
The Herb Dressing
The USP of this chicken pasta salad is the refreshing herb dressing similar to the Instagram famous Green Goddess dressing. The taste and flavor in the salad come from this herb dressing.
This salad dressing is effortless to make, and gluten-free. It requires only a blender, and you have the most unique, multi-purpose herb dressing.
Ingredients you need for the green dressing:
- Lemon Juice
- Salt & Pepper
- Green Chili
- Extra Virgin Olive Oil
All you have to do is blend all the ingredients for the dressing. And it is ready!
How To Grill Chicken
If you do not have leftover grilled chicken, follow these steps to marinate and grill chicken for the salad.
- Take two boneless chicken breasts or thighs. Clean, wash and pat dry them.
- Use a meat pounder to pound them to an even thickness. This ensures quick and uniformly cooked chicken breast.
- Next, marinate chicken breast with olive oil, crushed garlic, fresh thyme, salt, pepper, and chili flakes. Rub the herbs and spices all over the chicken breast. Keep in the fridge until ready to grill. I do this on Sunday night. And the marinated chicken is good to use throughout the week.
- For grilling, bring the marinated chicken to room temperature. Heat a pan over a high flame. Do not put any oil. Place the chicken breast on the hot pan. Reduce the heat to medium. Cook chicken for approximately 5 minutes on both sides.
- Transfer grilled chicken to a wooden platter. Let it rest for 3 – 5 minutes. Cut into pieces.
FAQ Related To Chicken Pasta Salad
You can assemble the pasta salad 1 – 2 hours before serving and refrigerate it in an airtight container. However, make sure not to leave pasta salad at room temperature more than 2 – 3 hours after adding dressing, especially in hot tropical regions.
Sadly no. This pasta salad is not freezer friendly. The herb dressing, grilled chicken, cheese, and fresh vegetables lose their texture ad taste once frozen. Therefore, it is best consumed within 1 – 2 hours of assembling or, if refrigerated, the next day.
Yes, you can. Start with boiling pasta as per packet instructions. Always go for al-dente pasta when it comes to salads. Nobody likes overcooked pasta in a salad. Rinse boiled pasta with cold water. Store in the refrigerator for 2 – 3 days.
Pasta salad keeps for 2 to 3 days in the refrigerator. Salads with oil-based dressing retain quality better than those mayo/cream-based ones. If your salad includes meat/seafood or leafy greens, it is best to eat it in the next few days.
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Chicken Pasta Salad Recipe
Ingredients For Salad:
- 2 Cup dry fusilli pasta
- 1 Cup grilled chicken, boneless and diced (see recipe notes)
- 1 Cup chopped onion
- ½ Cup cherry tomato, cut into halves
- 1 Cup diced cucumber
- ¼ Cup sliced black olives
- ½ Cup diced chicken salami
- ¼ Cup diced red bell pepper
- ¼ Cup diced yellow bell pepper
Ingredients For Herb Dressing:
- ½ Cup flat parsley
- ¼ Cup fresh mint leaves
- 4 garlic cloves
- 1 jalapeno or green chili, deseeded
- ¼ Cup walnuts
- 2 tablespoon plain mayonnaise
- ¼ Cup extra virgin olive oil
- 1 teaspoon White Wine Vinegar
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 2 tablespoon lemon juice
Ingredients For Garnish:
- 1 tablespoon roughly chopped parsley
- ¼ Cup grated parmesan cheese
- Boil fusilli pasta in salted water al dente as per packet instructions. Once cooked, drain and transfer in a colander. Rinse with cold water. Set aside.
- Chop vegetables, salami, and other ingredients for the salad. Keep in the fridge until required.
- Dice the grilled chicken into bite size pieces for the salad (refer recipe notes for grilling chicken from scratch).
- Combine all the ingredients for dressing in a blender or mixer. Blend to get a smooth herb dressing. Taste and adjust seasoning accordingly.
- Combine boiled pasta, vegetables, salami, chicken, and other ingredients in a salad mixing bowl. Pour herb dressing over the salad. Mix the salad gently to coat evenly with the dressing.
- Refrigerate at least 1 hour before serving. Garnish with chopped parsley and cheese.
- Boiling Pasta: Boil 6 cups of water with salt. Add dry pasta and cook till pasta is al dente. Once done, transfer to a colander. Rinse with cold water. Let it sit in the colander until required or store it in the refrigerator.
- Grilling Chicken: Take boneless chicken breasts or thighs. Clean, wash and pat dry them. Using a meat pounder, pound them to an even thickness. Marinate chicken breast with olive oil, crushed garlic, fresh thyme, salt, pepper, and chili flakes. Rub the herbs and spices all over the chicken breast. Keep in the fridge until ready to grill. For grilling, bring the marinated chicken to room temperature. Heat a pan over a high flame. Do not put any oil. Place the chicken breast on the hot pan. Reduce the heat to medium. Cook chicken for approximately 5 minutes on both sides.
- Herb Dressing: You can use a combination of different herbs like basil, parsley, coriander, or dill to make this dressing.
- Storing Salad: This salad is not freezer friendly. Store it in the refrigerator for 1 – 2 days.
Rajathraj Rao says
Thanks for sharing this. Awesome pics.