Italian Chicken Pasta Salad — This Italian Chicken Pasta Salad is easy, ready in 20 minutes, and showcases some of my favorite summer ingredients. It’s perfect for summer potlucks and BBQs, or as a no-fuss family dinner!
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Italian Dressing Pasta Salad … with Chicken!
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 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 Ingredients
To make this chicken pasta salad with Italian dressing, you’ll need the following ingredients:
- Rotini pasta
- Olive oil
- Lemon juice and zest
- Apple cider vinegar
- Italian seasoning
- Cayenne pepper
- Chicken breasts
- Roma tomatoes
- Fresh basil
- Grated Parmesan
How to Make Italian Pasta Salad with Chicken
You need just 20 minutes from start to finish to make this cold pasta salad with chicken and Italian dressing. Here’s an overview of the recipe steps:
- Cook the pasta until al dente.
- While the pasta is cooking, whisk together the Italian dressing for the chicken pasta salad (olive oil, lemon juice, apple cider vinegar, honey, Italian seasoning, lemon zest, salt and pepper). Set the dressing to the side.
- Cook the chicken in a skillet, seasoning simply with salt and pepper.
- When the chicken is almost done, pour in the Italian dressing you just made and let it bubble away until slightly thickened. Make sure to flip the chicken throughout this process!
- Once the chicken is fully cooked, dice it into small cubes and add it to a large mixing bowl, along with any drippings left in the skillet.
- Add the tomatoes, cucumber, basil, pasta, and Parmesan to the bowl and toss to combine.
- Give the Italian chicken pasta salad a taste to see if it needs any additional seasoning (salt, pepper, Italian seasoning, etc).
How Long to Cook Pasta for Pasta Salad?
It’s important that you don’t cook the rotini past al dente. The pasta will soak up the dressing as it sits in the fridge, and if you over cook it you run the risk of making soggy pasta salad.
Look at the instructions on the box of pasta and cook it for 1 to 2 minutes LESS than the time specified.
Chicken Pasta Salad FAQs
I love a classic rotini pasta salad, but any sturdy pasta will work! I’d steer clear of spaghetti and long pastas like that. Rotini, bow tie, and macaroni are all good choices for this cold chicken pasta salad recipe.
This Italian dressing pasta salad with chicken keeps in the fridge for up to five days if stored in an air-tight container. This can be enjoyed as a cold pasta salad straight from the fridge, or you can warm it up just before serving the leftovers. You may need to toss the homemade pasta salad leftovers to redistribute the juices, too.
No! You can’t substitute dried herbs in this recipe — the fresh basil really makes the flavors pop!
If you’d like to make this Italian pasta salad vegetarian, you can use chickpeas instead of chicken. To be honest, I haven’t tried this myself. But I imagine this cold Italian pasta salad would still turn out delicious that way.
If I’m serving this Italian pasta salad with chicken as a main dish, I enjoy it more warm. If I’m serving it as a side dish or am bringing it to a potluck, I serve it cold. If serving it cold, I recommend letting the pasta salad sit on your counter for 10 minutes, then tossing it to redistribute the dressing before digging in.
Nope! I think the homemade dressing in this recipe is spectacular and it’s so easy to make, but if you don’t have the time or ingredients you may use your favorite store-bought dressing instead.
What to Serve with Chicken Pasta Salad
This Italian dressing chicken pasta salad can be eaten as a main dish or served alongside other potluck favorites.
Main dishes that go well with chicken pasta salad include:
- Slow Cooker Cherry Cola Pulled Pork
- Pork Belly Burnt Ends
- Grilled Steak Kebabs
- Homemade Sloppy Joes
- Black Bean Burgers
Potluck recipes and side dishes that go well with pasta salad include:
- Dr. Pepper Baked Beans
- Vanilla Pudding Fruit Salad
- Waldorf Salad
- Ambrosia Salad
- Balsamic Watermelon and Cucumber Salad
- Grilled Mixed Veggies
- Broccoli Salad
Pin This Recipe
- 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
- 1 1/4 pounds boneless skinless chicken breasts, diced into bite-sized pieces and seasoned with salt and pepper
- 1 cup Roma tomatoes, diced*
- 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
- Cook pasta according to package directions, drain, place in a large bowl, and set aside.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- *Cherry or grape tomatoes, sliced in half, or your favorite tomatoes may be substituted.
- Will keep airtight in the fridge for up to 5 days. Serve cold or reheat gently prior to serving if desired.
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 558Total Fat: 17gSaturated Fat: 5gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 11gCholesterol: 134mgSodium: 1634mgCarbohydrates: 44gFiber: 4gSugar: 13gProtein: 55g
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