This Chicken Pasta Salad is always a hit at picnics and potlucks. The unusual collection of ingredients magically come together to create an amazing lunch dish!
Now that my kids have headed back to school, the lazy days of summer are behind us. Every afternoon we have a hectic schedule of homework, dinner, a sport, packing lunches for the next day, then our bedtime rituals.
Knowing that we were going to be hitting the ground running as soon as the kids got home from their first day of school, I made a crockpot chicken dinner to take some of the stress out of the busy dinner hour. Since I had some great chicken stock left over, I decided to make my favorite chicken pasta salad recipe that we could easily divide up between the six of us for lunches the next day.
How to Make Chicken Pasta Salad
I like to use the Wacky Mac bowtie pasta because the kids like the fun shape and colors and I like the healthy ingredients (the pasta gets its interesting colors from tomatoes, beets, and spinach). Nutritionally, it has more protein and less sodium than Barilla’s veggie farfalle (aka bowtie pasta).
If you want another option, go with Barilla Plus farfalle. It has slightly more sodium and fat than Wacky Mac, but fewer carbs, more protein, more dietary fiber and a teeny bit of calcium. This is a good choice if you have a child that is skeptical of anything that is green (like my younger son).
By the way, I’m not being paid by either company to promote these products, they just happen to be the ones my family likes best. By all means, if you have a favorite brand stick with it. The small variations in pasta won’t affect the flavor of this dish.
Aside from the pasta, you’ll also need:
- Chicken breasts
- Bowtie pasta
- Red bell pepper
- Greek yogurt or sour cream
- Orange juice
- Garlic powder
I just love the rainbow of colors!
First, you need to boil the chicken breasts in chicken stock. You can also use a rotisserie chicken to save time.
In a separate pot, boil the pasta.
While the chicken and pasta are cooking, dice the onions, celery and red bell pepper. Also, wash the grapes and shred the carrots.
When the chicken and noodles are done, drain them separately. Put the pasta in a bowl and toss it with just a little bit of olive oil to keep it from sticking together.
Let the chicken cool slightly and then dice it. Next, season the chicken with salt, pepper, and garlic powder.
The chicken absorbs more of the flavor from the seasonings than the other ingredients so you get the most flavor mileage if you keep the chicken separate for this step.
After that, add the chicken and all of the vegetables and grapes to the pasta bowl.
Mix everything together.
Finally, it’s time to finish off the dish with the sauce.
Combine the mayonnaise, Greek yogurt (or sour cream), and orange juice in a bowl, making sure to stir well.
Then, add the sauce to the pasta mixture.
Stir it in until all the pieces were coated.
You will notice that the recipe doesn’t make a lot of sauce. That’s intentional.
My kids don’t care for mayonnaise so I use just enough sauce to keep the salad from being dry.
You can serve this right away, but I prefer the flavor after it’s sat for a while. I like to make it a day before I plan to serve or eat it to make sure it’s extra flavorful.
The sweetness of the grapes and orange juice and the fun shape and color of the pasta helps make this dish appealing to my kids. The healthy ingredients and delicious combination of sweet and savory flavors make this a favorite for me and my husband.
I hope your family enjoys this Chicken Pasta Salad as much as we do.
Chicken Pasta Salad Recipe
Here’s the printable recipe card for this Chicken Pasta Salad. Enjoy!
- 1 lb boneless skinless chicken breasts
- 1 pkg Wacky Mac Veggie Bows or Barilla Plus Farfalle pasta
- 1 T garlic powder
- 2 tsp black pepper
- 1 tsp salt
- 2 stalks of celery diced
- 1 medium onion diced
- 1 red bell pepper diced
- 2 carrots shredded
- 2 cups red seedless grapes
- 1/3 cup mayonnaise
- 1/3 cup non-fat plain Greek yogurt or sour cream
- 2 T orange juice
Boil chicken in 2 cups chicken broth plus 3 cups water for 15-20 minutes or until cooked through. Prepare pasta according to package directions.
Season chicken with garlic powder, salt and pepper.
Combine pasta, seasoned chicken, celery, onion, bell pepper, carrots, and grapes in large bowl. Mix well.
In a small bowl, combine mayonnaise, yogurt or sour cream, and lemon juice. Mix well.
Fold mayonnaise sauce into pasta mixture, stirring well to coat all the ingredients with sauce.
For best results, refrigerate at least one hour and up to 24 hours before serving.