Italian Chicken Pasta Salad

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Whip up this effortless Italian Chicken Pasta Salad in under 30 minutes! Simply combine the ingredients in a bowl, toss, and enjoy. Ideal for a summer BBQ spread or a speedy dinner, with plenty of leftovers for a delicious lunch the following day!

Feel free to take inspiration from this Chicken Pasta Salad recipe—it’s incredibly versatile! Customize it to your liking by adding or omitting any ingredients you prefer. Want to cut back on carbs? Simply skip the pasta altogether for a delicious chicken salad that stands on its own!

Easy Italian Chicken Pasta Salad

Tomatoes, olives, and broccoli rank high among our favorite Mediterranean ingredients, renowned for their abundance of freshness, flavor, and texture. These culinary staples are always on hand in our kitchen, ready to elevate any dish with their vibrant presence.

  • Opt for a Rotisserie Chicken as a quick, tasty, and healthy alternative, ensuring to remove the skin for a lighter option.
  • Short on time to blanch fresh broccoli? Consider using frozen broccoli—simply microwave for a minute to achieve slight tenderness. Alternatively, raw broccoli is a convenient and nutritious addition.
  • Skip the pasta entirely to streamline prep and reduce carb intake.
Italian Chicken Pasta Salad in a white bowl with fresh basil garnish.

Top Pasta Choices for Italian Chicken Pasta Salad

  1. Rotini: With its spiral shape and ridges, rotini is an excellent choice for capturing and holding onto the flavors of the salad ingredients. Its sturdy structure makes it perfect for hearty pasta salads like our Italian Chicken Pasta Salad.

  2. Penne: Penne’s tube-like shape and ridges make it another great option for pasta salad. Its ample surface area allows it to absorb the dressing and other flavors, ensuring each bite is packed with deliciousness.

  3. Farfalle (Bowtie): Farfalle’s distinctive bowtie shape adds visual appeal to pasta salad while providing a satisfying texture. Its flat surface is perfect for catching small bits of chicken, vegetables, and dressing.

  4. Fusilli: Similar to rotini, fusilli’s spiral shape holds sauces and dressings well, making it a popular choice for pasta salads. Its corkscrew-like form adds an interesting twist to each bite.

  5. Orzo: Though technically not a pasta shape, orzo’s small size and rice-like appearance make it a unique addition to pasta salads. Its delicate texture adds a pleasant contrast to the other ingredients.

Choose from these top pasta choices to create a delicious and satisfying Italian Chicken Pasta Salad that’s sure to impress.

Italian Chicken Pasta Salad in a white bowl garnished with fresh basil.

The Advantage of Dried Herbs in Pasta Salads

sing dried herbs in pasta salads offers several benefits, especially when considering leftovers:

  1. Longevity: Dried herbs have a longer shelf life compared to fresh herbs, allowing pasta salads to maintain their flavor and aroma for an extended period, even after refrigeration.

  2. Consistent Flavor: Dried herbs provide a consistent flavor profile throughout the pasta salad, ensuring that each bite is seasoned evenly. This consistency enhances the overall taste experience.

  3. Convenience: Dried herbs are readily available year-round and can be easily stored in the pantry, making them a convenient option for adding flavor to pasta salads without the need for frequent shopping trips.

  4. Enhanced Flavors Over Time: As the pasta salad sits in the refrigerator, the dried herbs have time to rehydrate and release their flavors, enhancing the overall taste of the dish with each passing day.

  5. Prevention of Herb Bruising: Fresh herbs can bruise and wilt when chopped and added to pasta salads, especially if stored for a few days. By using dried herbs, you avoid this issue and ensure that the salad maintains its fresh appearance.

However, if you prefer the brightness of fresh herbs, it’s best to add them just before serving to preserve their optimal freshness and taste. This way, you can enjoy the vibrant flavors of the herbs without compromising the quality of the pasta salad.

Note: We’ve purposely left cucumbers out due to the fact they have a high water content. If you want to add cucumber, there are a few things you can do to help reduce the leaching of water.  

  1. Slice cucumbers in half lengthwise and scoop out the seeds, then slice into half moons.
  2. Put the sliced cucumbers in a large colander and toss with a heavy pinch of Kosher salt. Put the colander in the sink and let the cucumbers sit for 20 minutes, to let the water drain. Then pat dry with a paper towel.
  3. Add the cucumbers just prior to serving. 

Customizing Your Italian Chicken Pasta Salad

  • Vegetables: Add a variety of colorful vegetables such as bell peppers, cherry tomatoes, cucumbers, red onions, and avocado for added freshness and crunch.

  • Cheese: Incorporate your favorite cheese for extra flavor and creaminess. Options include shredded Parmesan, crumbled feta, diced mozzarella, or cubed cheddar.

  • Herbs: Enhance the flavor profile with a sprinkle of dried herbs such as Italian seasoning, basil, oregano, or parsley. Fresh herbs like basil or cilantro can also be added just before serving for a burst of freshness.

  • Nuts and Seeds: Add texture and nuttiness by tossing in toasted pine nuts, sliced almonds, or sunflower seeds.

  • Protein: Boost the protein content by including additional sources such as cooked bacon, diced ham, grilled shrimp, or canned chickpeas.

  • Dressing Variations: Experiment with different dressings to customize the flavor. Options include classic Italian dressing, creamy ranch, balsamic vinaigrette, or tangy barbecue sauce.

  • Fruits: Incorporate sweetness and juiciness with fruits like diced apples, grapes, or mandarin oranges. They add a refreshing contrast to the savory components of the salad.

  • Crunchy Additions: Add texture with crunchy elements such as crispy croutons, tortilla strips, or toasted breadcrumbs.

  • Pickled Ingredients: For a tangy twist, include pickled vegetables like pepperoncini, pickled onions, or banana peppers. They add a zesty kick to the salad.

  • Fresh Garnishes: Sprinkle with fresh garnishes like chopped green onions, chives, or fresh basil leaves before serving for a pop of color and flavor.

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Easy Italian Chicken Pasta Salad

Keeping Cool and Fresh: Storing Chicken Pasta Salad for Extended Enjoyment

Here’s how to store chicken pasta salad to maintain its freshness:

  1. Cooling: Allow the chicken pasta salad to cool to room temperature after preparation. Avoid leaving it out at room temperature for more than 2 hours to prevent bacterial growth.

  2. Transfer to Containers: Once cooled, transfer the chicken pasta salad to airtight containers for storage. Use containers that are suitable for both storing and transporting, such as glass or plastic containers with tight-fitting lids.

  3. Refrigeration: Store the chicken pasta salad in the refrigerator if you plan to consume it within a few days. Proper refrigeration helps to slow down the growth of bacteria and preserve the freshness of the salad. Chicken pasta salad can typically be stored in the refrigerator for up to 3-4 days.

  4. Mix Before Serving: Before serving, give the container a good stir to mix any separated ingredients back together. This ensures that the salad maintains its flavors and textures.

  5. Serve Cold: Chicken pasta salad is best served cold, so keep it refrigerated until ready to serve. Remove it from the refrigerator shortly before serving to maintain its freshness.

Shelf Life: When stored properly in the refrigerator, chicken pasta salad can last for 3-4 days. However, for the best taste and texture, it’s recommended to consume it within 2-3 days of preparation.

By following these storage guidelines, you can enjoy the delicious flavors of chicken pasta salad for several days, whether as a satisfying lunch option or a refreshing side dish for any meal.

How to Make Italian Chicken Pasta Salad

Italian Chicken Pasta Salad in a white bowl garnished with fresh basil.

Italian Chicken Pasta Salad

Easy Italian Chicken Pasta Salad, ready in less than 30 minutes! Toss the ingredients into a bowl, stir and eat. Perfect for a summer BBQ feast or a quick dinner with leftovers for lunch the next day!
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 0 minutes
Total Time: 30 minutes
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 0 minutes
Total Time: 30 minutes
Servings: 9 servings

Equipment

  • glass bowl

Ingredients

  • 8 ounces (227 grams) rotini pasta, sub pasta of your choice + cooked al dente
  • 2 Tablespoons (30 ml) extra virgin olive oil (EVOO), for drizzling over cooked pasta
  • 1 medium green bell pepper, scrubbed + small dice ¼ inch
  • ½ medium red bell pepper, scrubbed + small dice ¼ inch
  • ½ medium yellow bell pepper, scrubbed + small dice ¼ inch
  • ½ medium red onion, topped + peeled + small dice ¼ inch
  • 1 medium head broccoli, trimmed + cut into florets + blanched (raw or lightly steamed works too)
  • 3 cups shredded roasted chicken, sub shredded rotisserie chicken
  • 1 cup green olives, sub Kalamata or black olives
  • 1/2 cup (120 ml) Italian dressing, or to taste
  • 1 Tablespoon Italian herb blend, dried
  • ½ Tablespoon basil, dried
  • ½ Tablespoon oregano, dried
  • 2 small red ripe tomatoes, washed + cored + small dice 1/4 inch
  • 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese, shredded
  • Pink Himalayan Sea Salt or Kosher Sea Salt, to taste
  • Freshly cracked black pepper, to taste

Instructions

  • Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil, add the Rotini (or pasta of your choice) and cook until al dente, according to the package directions. Drain and rinse with cold water to stop the cooking process, transfer to a bowl and drizzle with the EVOO. Toss to coat and set aside.
  • Add the diced bell (green, red, yellow) peppers and diced red onion to a large glass bowl....
    Green, red, and yellow bell peppers being tossed with a diced red onion for chicken pasta salad.
  • Toss in the blanched or lightly steamed broccoli...
    Broccoli being tossed into chicken salad.
  • Next, add the shredded chicken, green olives, Italian dressing, Italian herb blend, basil, and oregano stir to combine...
    Italian chicken pasta salad being made.
  • Add the tomatoes, Parmesan cheese and pasta, stir gently to blend. Taste. Then season with salt and freshly cracked black pepper to adjust flavor as desired
    Chicken pasta salad ingredients being mixed.
  • Dish up, garnish with fresh basil and serve alongside dinner or as a meal itself
    Italian Chicken Pasta Salad in a white bowl garnished with fresh basil.

Notes

  • Prep time is approximate
  • Store in an airtight container up to 5 days in the refrigerator.
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!

Creative Recipe Inspiration

Indulge in the classic combination of crisp romaine lettuce and tangy blue cheese with our Romaine Blue Cheese Salad Wedge. Crisp, refreshing, and bursting with flavor, this salad is perfect as a starter or a light meal on its own.

Immerse yourself in the vibrant flavors of Italy with our Big Easy Italian Salad, a delightful fusion of antipasto and fresh salad goodness. Bursting with a medley of hearts of palm, marinated artichoke hearts, tangy cheeses, briny olives, and crisp lettuce, this salad is a feast for the senses.

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    Join the Conversation

    1. This pasta salad looks so good. I love the addition of the green olives in there.

      1. Thanks, Erika! Olives add a really nice bite 🙂

    2. That looks wonderful! I love using rotisserie chicken in recipes instead of cooking my own chicken. It’s quick and tastier that way. Lol

      1. Also, keeps the house cooler, Colleen! Thanks so much 🙂

    3. This looks like the kind of salad everyone hopes that somebody brought to a potluck, with all the great vegetables, pasta and chicken to boot! Interesting point about the dried herbs, too. Yum, yum.

      1. Thanks, Beth! So glad that you like the recipe 🙂

    4. This looks wonderful! I absolutely love pasta salad so I will definitely have to give this a try!

      1. Great, thanks so much for checking it out Morgan! 🙂

    5. Yum, I love pasta salad! This would be perfect to bring along to a BBQ this summer. I’m looking forward to trying it out!

      1. Definitely, a great BBQ pasta salad since you don’t have to worry about mayo spoilage, Nicole! Thanks so much for visiting 🙂

    6. Yum! I love pasta anyway and this looks like a wonderfully easy & healthy summer meal!

      1. Thanks so much, Karen!! 🙂

    7. Hi Angela! What a beautiful pasta salad. This is a “must make” and soon Thanks for sharing a great recipe.

      1. Thanks so much, Lea Ann, so glad that you like it! 🙂

    8. This looks like a keeper… and gorgeous pics by the way!

      1. Thanks so much, Simone! 🙂

    9. The chicken pasta salad looks so colorful and sounds delicious. WIll give this a try.

      1. Thanks so much, Lathiya! Be sure to tag us at @meangreenchef to share your results with us on Facebook or IG too! 🙂

    10. This looks super tasty. I grew up on a pasta salad just like this but we would swap out the veggies depending what’s available seasonally. One of my favorites! Can’t wait to try this one.

      1. Exactly, Elizabeth, you can easily swap out the veg that’s in season! Thanks so much for visiting, we hope you enjoy our recipe and make it your own! 🙂

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