Creamy Chicken Pasta Salad

This Creamy Chicken Pasta Salad features a medley of chopped veggies, juicy chicken, and corkscrew pasta packed with flavor and covered in a sweet Italian dressing. The PERFECT dish to bring to a potluck, picnic, or a quick weeknight dinner for the family!

Pasta Salad is perfect as a light meal or side dish. For a few more tasty pasta salads check out Taco Pasta Salad, Caprese Pasta Salad, and Creamy Asparagus Pasta Salad is always a hit!

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overhead shot of a bowl of pasta salad with chicken

Why We Love Chicken Pasta Salad

We love pasta at our house. You can usually find some kind of pasta on our dinner plates at least once a week in some variety or another. I love that you could mix almost anything with pasta and it would be delicious.

It can be enjoyed as a main dish or sans the meat and serve as a side dish. This pasta salad is perfect for picnics, potlucks, parties, or everyday eating—-like lunch! Enjoy!

two bowls of pasta salad with tomatoes

What Goes In Creamy Chicken Pasta Salad

(full printable recipe at the end of this post)

Pasta salad is a great last-minute “throw it together” kind of dish because most of the ingredients are stocked kitchen staples. Here’s what you’ll need to make your own creamy chicken pasta salad. 

  • Rotini pasta – Spiraled pasta holds the sauce and toppings the best, but any medium-size pasta will work.
  • Sweet Italian dressing – choose whatever brand you prefer, or make your own dressing!
  • Mayonnaise – I love the olive oil mayo but any kind will work
  • Lemon juice – use fresh-squeezed for best flavor
  • Mustard – traditional yellow mustard 
  • Cucumber – A standard or English cucumber will work 
  • Tomatoes – Any tomatoes will work, but I like cherry tomatoes 
  • Cheddar cheese – shredded or cubed
  • Celery – chopped 
  • Black olives – sliced, not whole 
  • Green onions – also known as scallions
  • Cooked chicken – Rotisserie chicken works great here, as well as any other kind of leftover cooked or grilled chicken. You could also use turkey or any plant-based meat alternative of choice. Keep in mind you could leave the chicken out completely for more of a side dish salad
  • Salt and pepper – to add flavor 
  • Paprika – optional for extra flavor 
  • Parsley – optional for garnish 

ingredients needed for making pasta salad

How To Make Chicken Pasta Salad

Everyone should have at least one great pasta salad recipe in their back pocket to throw together any time they need a quick and easy side dish. Prepping this easy pasta salad with chicken comes together in no time.

Follow these simple instructions and see for yourself!

Cook: First, bring a large pot of water to a boil and heavily salt the water and stir in the pasta. Cook until just past al dente. Once fully cooked, rinse the pasta with cold water, and set aside.

Chop: While pasta is cooking, chop vegetables and shred chicken.

Mix: Using a large bowl combine the warm pasta with veggies, chicken, and dressing. Mix until well combined and serve room at room temperature or chilled.

big bowl of pasta salad with a serving spoon

Pasta Salad Tips

  • Don’t skimp on the salt: Cook your pasta in heavily salted water. Pasta for a cool pasta salad should be well-seasoned while it cooks, use 4 tablespoons of salt per 4 quarts of water. 
  • Cook just past al dente: Allow the pasta to cook a little beyond al dente so that the pasta stays soft when it cools. Let the pasta cook for an extra minute than what you normally would for al dente.
  • Run under cold water: Running the cooked pasta under cold water immediately after cooking will stop it from cooking any longer once you’ve removed it from the heat.
  • Dress warm pasta: The dressing will coat the pasta better if placed over warm pasta, rather than cold.

bowl of pasta salad with chicken and a red striped napkin

How Long will Creamy Chicken Pasta Salad Keep?

The best thing about any pasta salad recipe is that it is a great make-ahead recipe. If you’re a planner / over preparer like me then you’ll love being able to make this chicken pasta salad recipe a day or two in advance to keep in the refrigerator until you’re ready to serve. 

To Refrigerate: In order to properly preserve the freshness of your homemade chicken pasta salad, store it in an airtight container or cover the serving bowl with plastic wrap. Once sealed, place in the refrigerator for up to 3-4 days. 

Depending on what you put in the pasta salad, some ingredients may start to go bad faster than others, so just keep an eye out if you start to see any browning or spoiling of any ingredients when serving leftovers. 

To Freeze: Unfortunately, you can’t really freeze the prepared pasta salad as a whole. The various condiments will not freeze and thaw well when all combined. You can prep and freeze the cooked pasta, chopped vegetables, and meat. To do this you will mix together all the dry ingredients and store in an airtight container and place in the refrigerator for 1-2 months. 

Once ready to serve, let the pasta salad mixture thaw for several hours or overnight, and prep your sauce mixture, and mix into the dry ingredients. 

overhead shot of a bowl of pasta salad

More Easy Summer Side Dishes

Chinese Slaw – A delicious change from the classic slaw.

Grilled Corn and Zucchini Salad – A fresh summer side that pairs well with anything off the grill.

Bean Salad – Quick to make, packed with flavor, and travels well making it perfect for potlucks!

BLT Red Potato Salad – A simple crowd-pleasing side dish for any size gathering.

Like This Chicken Pasta Salad Recipe? Pin It!

bowl of pasta salad with chicken

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Originally posted in January 2013. UPDATED March 2021. We spiffed up this post with more info and better pictures! No changes to the original recipe.

big bowl of pasta salad with a serving spoon

Creamy Chicken Pasta Salad

Yield: 6-8 servings
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 25 minutes

This Creamy Chicken Pasta Salad can be enjoyed as a main dish or sans the meat and serve as a side dish. It's perfect for picnics, potlucks, parties, or everyday eating.

Ingredients

  • 1 pound rotini pasta
  • 1 cup sweet Italian dressing (I prefer Marzetti)
  • 1/2 cup real mayonnaise
  • 6 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons mustard
  • 2 cups cucumber, chopped
  • 1 cup grape tomatoes, halved
  • 1 cup cheddar cheese, shredded or cubed
  • 1/2 cup celery, chopped
  • 1 cup sliced black olives
  • 1 bunch green onions, sliced
  • 2 cups cooked chicken or turkey (shredded)
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • sprinkle with paprika, optional
  • parsley (optional garnish)

Instructions

  1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Heavily salt the water and stir in the pasta. Cook one minute past al dente. Rinse with cold water, and set aside.
  2. While pasta is cooking, chop vegetables and shred the chicken.
  3. In a large bowl, combine warm pasta with all other ingredients, stir until well combined.
  4. Serve room temperature or chilled.
Nutrition Information:
Yield: 8 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 446Total Fat: 29gSaturated Fat: 7gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 20gCholesterol: 67mgSodium: 727mgCarbohydrates: 26gFiber: 3gSugar: 5gProtein: 20g

Nutrition information is estimated based on the ingredients and cooking instructions as described in each recipe and is intended to be used for informational purposes only. Please note that nutrition details may vary based on methods of preparation, origin, and freshness of ingredients used.

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close up of pasta salad with chicken and veggies