Italian Chicken Pasta Salad

This pasta salad is easy, ready in 20 minutes, and showcases some of my favorite (summer) ingredients.

However, I eat tomatoes, cucumbers, and basil year-round. Love them.

Italian Chicken Pasta Salad - Easy, ready in 20 minutes, and healthy! Bursting with fresh flavors from juicy tomatoes, cucumber, basil, parmesan, and tender chicken tossed in a tangy lemon vinaigrette!!

That’s my go-to trifecta for salads, but everything just tastes so much better in the summer. There’s flavor and texture galore in every bite of this dish.

Tender chicken, al dente pasta, juicy tomatoes, crunchy cucumbers, the peppery bite of basil, salty parmesan cheese, all perfumed with lemon juice, lemon zest, and Italian seasoning.

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Italian Chicken Pasta Salad - Easy, ready in 20 minutes, and healthy! Bursting with fresh flavors from juicy tomatoes, cucumber, basil, parmesan, and tender chicken tossed in a tangy lemon vinaigrette!!

It’s healthy, perfect for busy nights, and makes a big enough batch that you can have some planned leftovers for work or school lunches.

You can serve it warm or chilled and since there’s no mayo, it’s great for potlucks, picnics, and parties.

Italian Chicken Pasta Salad - Easy, ready in 20 minutes, and healthy! Bursting with fresh flavors from juicy tomatoes, cucumber, basil, parmesan, and tender chicken tossed in a tangy lemon vinaigrette!!

Print Recipe

Italian Chicken Pasta Salad

This pasta salad is easy, ready in 20 minutes, and showcases some of my favorite ingredients. There's flavor and texture galore in every bite of this dish. Tender chicken, al dente pasta, juicy tomatoes, crunchy cucumbers, the peppery bite of basil, salty parmesan cheese, all perfumed with lemon juice, lemon zest, and Italian seasoning. It’s healthy, perfect for busy nights, and makes a big enough batch that you can have planned leftovers for work or school lunches. You can serve it warm or chilled and since there's no mayo, it's great for potlucks, picnics, and parties.

Yield: serves 4 to 8

Prep Time: 5 minutes

Cook Time: 15 minutes

Total Time: 20 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 12 ounces rotini pasta, cooked according to package directions (I used tri-color rotini)
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil for sauce + 1 tablespoon for cooking chicken
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 1 tablespoon Italian seasoning
  • 2 teaspoons lemon zest
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt, or to taste
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper, or to taste
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper, optional and to taste
  • about 1 1/4 pounds boneless skinless chicken breasts, diced into bite-sized pieces and seasoned with salt and pepper
  • 1 cup Roma tomatoes, diced (cherry or grape tomatoes, sliced in half, or your favorite tomatoes may be substituted)
  • 1 cup fresh basil leaves (laid loosely in measuring cup), sliced thinly
  • 1 cup cucumber, peeled and diced
  • 1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese, or more if desired

Directions:

  1. Cook pasta according to package directions, drain, place in a large bowl, and set aside.
  2. To a medium bowl or large measuring cup, add 2 tablespoons olive oil, lemon juice (zest the lemon before juicing it), apple cider vinegar, honey, Italian seasoning, lemon lest, salt, pepper, and whisk to combine; set sauce aside.
  3. To a large skillet, add 1 tablespoon olive oil, add chicken and season with salt and pepper to taste, and cook over medium-high heat for about 5 minutes, flipping intermittently so all sides cook evenly. Cooking time will vary based on thickness of chicken breasts and sizes of pieces. Chicken should be about 90% cooked through.
  4. Add the sauce and allow it to bubble at a medium-fast boil for about 3 to 4 minutes, or until sauce has reduced some and chicken is cooked through. Stir sauce and flip chicken intermittently throughout. Add chicken and any cooking liquid to the pasta bowl.
  5. Add the tomatoes, basil, cucumber, cheese, and toss gently to combine. Taste and check for seasoning balance, making any necessary adjustments (more Italian seasoning, salt, pepper, pinch of cayenne, splash of lemon juice, etc.) before serving. Will keep airtight in the fridge for up to 5 days. Serve cold or reheat gently prior to serving if desired.
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26 comments

  1. We can always eat a good pasta salad around here–they’re good warm the first time around and even more flavorful eaten cold the next! I like the Italian twist on this one and it will be a great use for my basil.

    • Totally agree that salads like this get even more flavorful the next day when eaten cold! I have a ton of basil on hand right now too!

    • This was the perfect lunch–full of garden goodies and filling without being heavy. The flavor is bold too ( love the lemon and parmesan together)! I’m keeping up on pruning my basil regularly so it is really keeping me well supplied– I’m glad this recipe called for a generous amount.

    • This recipe kind of came about because I had SO much basil and accidentally over-bought tomatoes every time I went to the store for a few weeks :) Glad you liked it and love the bold flavors!

  2. Pasta salad is the best for those busy nights when you need some super easy peasy and delicious! I’m loving the Italian flavah, with that little cayenne heat! Pinned!

  3. Is there anything better than a great pasta salad in the summer? This one looks great!

    Paige
    http://thehappyflammily.com

  4. I could eat a whole bowl of pasta salad alone. It’s my favorite! I need to try this sooN!

  5. Everytime we go grocery shopping we get cucumbers, tomatoes and basil, I am not even kidding, I don’t care what season it is. we always have these 3 ingredients in our house, so good for quick side dish salads, and the basil is great almost in all main dishes! Love your colorful salad and the chicken addition!

  6. I love pasta salad it’s my go to meal idea all summer that and panzanella.  I just made southwestern chicken pasta salad last night with chicken, beans, salsa, jalapenos and cilantro…so good…as soon as that’s done this will be next on my rotation.

  7. Sending this one to my mom!  

    You have way more chicken recipes than I’d have guessed!

  8. This would disappear! And I’d probably be the one eating it all!!

  9. This would make a great no cook supper when we have leftover chicken! I’ve always made my pasta salad with bottled italian dressing, excited to try the seasoning mix instead to see if it makes a difference!

    • I’ve done your method too and this tastes less…greasy or oily to me than when I use storebought Italian dressing. Sometimes that’s gets a bit too thick/oily for me and this is more light and fresh than that. LMK what you think!

  10. My daughter has been growing basil this summer with awesome results. She is looking for ways to use it. We need to make this pasta salad! Pinned! 

  11. I would have loved it if someone brought this in where I was working before! I”m pretty sure they’d be my new favorite person!

  12. This looks like a great pasta salad! I love being able to bring pasta salads to get togethers, especially when they don’t have mayo. Mayo can just get a little funky after a while. Looks yummy!

  13. This looks delicious!  Question: when should I add the apple cider vinegar?  I don’t see it in the recipe directions.  Thanks!

  14. Simple recipe but looks very tasty! I have eaten this before on a Delectable Destinations culinary tour in Italy.

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