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!
The Best Italian Pasta Salad
I eat tomatoes, cucumbers, and basil year-round. Love them. 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.
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.
What’s in Italian Chicken Pasta Salad?
To make this tri color pasta salad with Italian dressing, you’ll need:
- 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 Chicken Pasta Salad
To make this rotini pasta salad, you’ll first need to cook the pasta until al dente. While the pasta is cooking, whisk together the pasta salad sauce ingredients (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 sauce 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 tri color pasta salad a taste to see if it needs any additional seasoning (salt, pepper, Italian seasoning, etc).
What’s the Best Pasta for Pasta Salad?
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 Italian chicken pasta salad recipe.
How to Store Pasta Salad
This Italian chicken pasta salad 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.
Tips for Making Italian 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.
Also, fresh basil is key to this recipe. 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.
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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!
- 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
More Pasta Salad Recipes:
ALL OF MY EASY PASTA SALAD RECIPES!
Easy Italian Chicken Pasta Salad – EASY, ready in 30 minutes, perfect for a hassle-free family meal, and makes a big batch so you can have planned leftovers!! A super FLEXIBLE recipe based on what vegetables you have on hand!!
Skinny Pasta Salad with Italian Dressing — EASY, ready in 30 minutes, feeds a crowd, and is on the SKINNY side!! Juicy chicken, fresh veggies, and the pasta are tossed in a light and tangy homemade Italian lemon vinaigrette!!
Chinese Chicken Pasta Salad – Big juicy chicken chunks and texture galore from the rainbow of crispy veggies! Fast, easy, fresh and healthy! Great for picnics, potlucks, and easy dinners!
The pasta, in one part of the recipe you say cook the pasta a dente, and in another area you say DON’T cook it al dente, which is it? ”
Easy Italian Chicken Pasta Salad
How to Make Italian Chicken Pasta Salad
To make this rotini pasta salad, you’ll first need to cook the pasta until al dente.
Tips for Making Italian Pasta Salad
It’s important that you don’t cook the rotini past al dente.
The key word in the last sentence is PAST al dente. Don’t cook it *past* al dente or it’ll be too mushy is my suggestion. Cook it how you desire of course.
Duh! Thanks Averie, thanks for pointing that out! I can’t tell you how many times I read it over. Can’t wait to make it! Ally :)
Made this for a lazy tuesday night supper and it did not disappoint! I made a few taste adjustements – I used only 1 tablespoon of apple cider vinegar and omitted the tomato and cucumber. I’m not a fan of raw tomatoes so I instead roasted a red pepper and chopped that up into the salad. It was delicious. And I love the dressing, there’s not too much – just enough – and it’s not greasy at all!
Thanks for the 5 star review and glad that the dressing was great, enough but not too much and not greasy, which I feel is all key for pasta salads as well!
Looks DELICIOUS! I can’t wait to try this recipe. I have one question for you. It looks like Croutons are in the salad. Is that what I see? If not, CAN they be put in?
It’s chicken but yes you could put croutons in knowing they will likely get soggy fairly quickly.
Really good pasta salad. Love the colored rotini noodles. Put 1/4 teaspoon of cayenne pepper in it. Tasted great. Followed your recipe to a tee. Will diffently make again.
Thanks for the 5 star review and glad you will definitely make it again!
This was really good! Followed the recipe exactly and both myself and my husband were surprised at how refreshing and tasty this was!I did use cherry tomatoes though, they were on sale.
Thanks for the 5 star review and glad you both enjoyed the recipe!
I asked my girlfriend what she wanted for dinner, and she said she thought a cold dish would be great. So I started my Google search and very quickly came across this recipe. This was amazing! Very simple to make, and extremely flavorful and refreshing. We’ll be having this again!Curious though – the images show the salad with red and orange bell peppers, though the recipe doesn’t call for them. I added them in anyway (because I love peppers) and I feel like they were a very solid addition. Not just to the taste, but to the beautiful look, as well!Lastly – I also cheated a bit. I forgot to thaw some chicken, but we had a package of pre-cooked chicken strips from Costco in the fridge. So I just pulled those out, boiled the sauce first, and then added the chicken once it came to a medium boil. Came out perfectly! So just a little tip for anyone who might either be forgetful like me, or just a bit lazy (also me!)!
Thanks for the 5 star review and glad you loved this! I think what you may be seeing is the side/edge of a tomato that’s on the more orange side rather than red making it appear like an orange pepper. This salad is such a flexible recipe that really you can add almost any kind of veggies you want and will be fine.
Thanks for the simple and tasty pasta salad. I made it last night. It was so easy to make the marinade and it really was good. Thanks for creating something so easy and good.
Thanks for the 5 star review and glad you enjoyed this!
Simple recipe but looks very tasty! I have eaten this before on a Delectable Destinations culinary tour in Italy.
This looks delicious! Question: when should I add the apple cider vinegar? I don’t see it in the recipe directions. Thanks!
Good catch – I had omitted it from the directions but it’s there now in step 2. Enjoy!
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!
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!
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!
That’s great about your daughter’s green thumb! And thanks for pinning!
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!
So summery, I love it!!
This would disappear! And I’d probably be the one eating it all!!
LOL well it’s healthy though, right :)
Sending this one to my mom!
You have way more chicken recipes than I’d have guessed!
Dude they’re multiplying, I know :)
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.
Your southwestern flavors sound awesome! If you try this one after that’s done, LMK how it goes!
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!
We have the same shopping cart then b/c I always get those items too! :)
I could eat a whole bowl of pasta salad alone. It’s my favorite! I need to try this sooN!
Is there anything better than a great pasta salad in the summer? This one looks great!
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!
Thanks for pinning!
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!