Creamy Chicken Pasta Salad is the ultimate BBQ side. It’s made with tender chicken, easy pasta, and a flavorful lemon, relish, and mayo dressing.
This simple Side Dish combines two classics, Macaroni Salad and Chicken Salad. They’re already good separately, but putting the two together makes a filling and delicious recipe that you’re sure to be making all spring and summer long.
CREAMY CHICKEN PASTA SALAD
One of the best things about Summer has to be the cookouts. There’s nothing like serving up some hamburgers, Grilled Chicken, or BBQ Chicken Wings with good friends and plenty of sides. It’s the perfect way to spend a warm afternoon. Creamy Chicken Pasta Salad is a cool and refreshing dish to add to the menu that’s sure to be a hit with all your guests.
The cool, tender ingredients in Creamy Pasta Salad and the zesty dressing make it the perfect contrast to classic BBQ main dishes. It’s great to bring as a side to the next Summer Party you’re invited to, or throw together to go with a simple family dinner.
Creamy Chicken Pasta Salad also makes a great meal on its own. Adding the chicken brings some protein that macaroni salad doesn’t usually have and makes it a filling dish. It’s great to enjoy as a satisfying but hassle-free lunch.
Chicken Pasta Salad keeps fairly well in the fridge so if you have leftovers you can enjoy them as a lunch in the days to follow. Sometimes I make a big batch exactly for that. With the kids home for the summer, things get hectic and I don’t always have time to be making everyone lunch. It’s nice to have an easy dish to pull out of the fridge and serve up without extra work.
It’s an especially great dish to make the day after enjoying Slow Cooker Chicken Breasts for dinner. You can chop up the leftover chicken and toss it right in the salad.
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HOW TO MAKE CREAMY CHICKEN PASTA SALAD
- Prep: Start by getting your ingredients ready. Boil a pot of water and cook your elbow macaroni until it’s tender. While the pasta is cooking chop up the chicken breast and celery.
- Dressing: In a serving bowl mix together the mayonnaise, salt, pepper, lemon juice, and relish to make the mayo dressing.
- Salad: Add the cooked pasta, celery, and chicken to the bowl. Toss all the ingredients together until the salad is well coated in dressing.
- Set: Cover the Creamy Chicken Pasta Salad and put it in the fridge for at least 2 hours before serving. You never want to leave Chicken Pasta Salad out at room temperature for more than an hour or two at a time.
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VARIATIONS ON CREAMY CHICKEN PASTA SALAD
- Protein: You can easily replace the chicken in this recipe with cooked turkey, ham, or tuna. Or if you want to make a vegetarian pasta salad, mix in some chickpeas or tofu.
- Pasta: You can also easily exchange the pasta for whatever you have in your pantry. Instead of using elbow macaroni noodles try rotini, orzo, orecchiette, or any other shortcut pasta you have on hand.
- Flavor additions: To change up the flavor try experimenting with different ingredients in the dressing. You could add in some spices like oregano, basil, thyme, coriander, or chili powder. Another option is chopping up some veggies to toss in like green onions, bell peppers, cucumbers, or lettuce.
- Yogurt: To make a healthier dressing, you can exchange the mayonnaise for Greek yogurt. It will slightly alter the taste, but the other dressing flavors are strong enough to shine through, and it will keep a similar creamy texture to mayonnaise.
- Cheese: If you want to add some cheese shredded cheddar, Swiss, provolone, or Jack would taste great with this recipe.
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HOW TO STORE CREAMY CHICKEN PASTA SALAD
- Serve: To keep Creamy Chicken Pasta Salad from going bad, don’t leave it at room temperature for more than 2 hours.
- Store: Kept covered or in an airtight container, the Chicken Pasta Salad should stay good in the fridge for 3-5 days.
- Freeze: Unfortunately, the mayo dressing won’t freeze well. If you haven’t finished the Chicken Pasta Salad after 5 days, it’s better just o make a fresh batch.
Creamy Chicken Pasta Salad
- 2 cups mayonnaise
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/4 teaspoon coarse ground black pepper
- 2 tablespoons lemon juice
- 2 tablespoons relish , sweet or dill both work
- 1 pound elbow macaroni , cooked and drained
- 2 cups cooked chicken breast , chopped
- 4 stalks celery , chopped
- Mix mayonnaise, salt, pepper, lemon juice, and relish.
- Toss with pasta, celery, and chicken.
Refrigerate for at least 2 hours.