Italian Chicken Pasta Salad

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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!

Italian Chicken Pasta Salad in white bowl

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

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
  • Cucumber
  • Grated Parmesan 
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!!

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:

  1. Cook the pasta until al dente.
  2. 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.
  3. Cook the chicken in a skillet, seasoning simply with salt and pepper.
  4. 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! 
  5. 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. 
  6. Add the tomatoes, cucumber, basil, pasta, and Parmesan to the bowl and toss to combine.
  7. 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.

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!

Chicken Pasta Salad FAQs

What’s the Best Pasta for Italian Chicken 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 cold chicken pasta salad recipe. 

How to Store chicken Pasta Salad

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. 

Can the Italian Dressing for the Pasta salad be made with dried herbs?

No! You can’t substitute dried herbs in this recipe — the fresh basil really makes the flavors pop! 

Can Italian dressing pasta salad be made vegetarian?

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. 

Should chicken pasta salad be served warm or cold?

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.

Do I Have to make homemade Italian dressing for the pasta salad?

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.

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!

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:

Potluck recipes and side dishes that go well with pasta salad include:

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4.46 from 95 votes

Italian Chicken Pasta Salad

By Averie Sunshine
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!
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 20 minutes
Servings: 8 servings
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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
  • ½ teaspoon salt, or to taste
  • ½ teaspoon pepper, or to taste
  • ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper, optional and to taste
  • 1 ¼ 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
  • ½ cup grated parmesan cheese, or more if desired

Instructions 

  • 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.

Notes

  • *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.

Nutrition

Serving: 1, Calories: 558kcal, Carbohydrates: 44g, Protein: 55g, Fat: 17g, Saturated Fat: 5g, Polyunsaturated Fat: 11g, Cholesterol: 134mg, Sodium: 1634mg, Fiber: 4g, Sugar: 13g

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

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Please note: I have only made the recipe as written, and cannot give advice or predict what will happen if you change something. If you have a question regarding changing, altering, or making substitutions to the recipe, please check out the FAQ page for more info.

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Comments

  1. 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.

    1. 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.

      1. 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 :)

  2. 5 stars
    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!

  3. 5 stars
    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!

    1. 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!

  4. 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?

    1. It’s chicken but yes you could put croutons in knowing they will likely get soggy fairly quickly.

  5. 5 stars
    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.

  6. 5 stars
    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.

  7. 5 stars
    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.

  8. 5 stars
    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!)!

    1. 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.