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.

Recipe Rating




Comments

  1. 5 stars
    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.

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

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

  4. 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!

  5. 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!

  6. 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! 

  7. 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!

    1. 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!

  8. 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.

  9. 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!

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

  11. 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!

  12. 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.

    1. 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!

    2. 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.

      1. 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!