Poppy Seed Chicken Pasta Salad

Poppy Seed Chicken Pasta Salad is your new favorite easy recipe with tender chicken, flavorful onion and celery, dried cranberries, and crunchy almonds.

This easy Chicken and Pasta Salad is the perfect Side Dish for your next summer cookout. Serve it up with your favorite grilled recipes like Grilled Pork or Cilantro Lime Chicken and enjoy the ultimate barbecue with friends and family!

Poppy Seed Chicken Pasta Salad in serving bowl

Nothing says summer like classic Potato Salad or Macaroni Salad. These creamy side dishes are the ultimate filling and refreshing dishes to enjoy when the weather is hot. This Poppy Seed Chicken Pasta Salad is a slightly lighter alternative to those summer staples. 

While this salad is made without mayonnaise in the dressing, it’s still just as refreshing, comforting, and filling. The vinegar dressing is made flavorful with Dijon mustard and a few tablespoons of sugar for sweetness. The dressing is poured over equally delicious ingredients like celery, almonds, chicken, and dried cranberries. It’s a wonderful balance of savory and sweet, and sure to be a hit with the whole family!

Poppy Seed Chicken Pasta Salad collage

Though this makes a great side dish, the chicken makes Poppy Seed Chicken Pasta Salad filling enough it’s also perfect for a main dish on its own. Leftovers are great to keep in the fridge and enjoy for lunches. 

This salad is also so quick to toss together. As long as you have already cooked chicken breast the recipe comes together in minutes. It’s perfect to make with leftover Slow Cooker Chicken Breast. You do have to let it set in the fridge, but the hands-on time is minimal. Just make sure to prep it a little ahead of the other dishes, then you won’t have to think about the salad again until you’re enjoying eating it. 

Poppy Seed Chicken Pasta Salad in serving bowl



  • Prep: Start by preparing all your ingredients. Boil a pot of water and cook the rotini noodles until tender. While the pasta is cooking, take the chicken from the fridge and chop it into bite-sized pieces. Mince the onion, chop the celery, and the cranberries. 
  • Dressing: Once the salad ingredients are prepped you can make the dressing. Whisk together the vegetable oil, white vinegar, sugar, poppy seeds, Dijon mustard, salt, and pepper. 
  • Salad: Assemble the salad in a large serving bowl. Add the pasta, chicken, onion, celery, and cranberries. 
  • Set: Toss the salad with the dressing until well coated, then put it in the fridge to set for 2 hours. Garnish the Poppy Seed Chicken Pasta Salad with the almonds right before serving.
Poppy Seed Chicken Pasta Salad in serving bowl


  • Pasta: If you don’t have rotini noodles you can use any kind of short pasta variety in this chicken salad. Try macaroni, orzo, penne, or orecchiette.
  • Protein: You can replace the chicken in the recipe with cooked turkey, tuna, or pork. If you want a vegetarian salad use tofu or chickpeas for some extra filling ingredients. 
  • Add-ins: You can try different kinds of fruits or nuts in this Poppy Seed Pasta Salad. Try adding in some grapes or dried dates. You could also mix in pecans walnuts or cashews. 



  • Serve: Don’t leave Poppy Seed Chicken Pasta Salad at room temperature for more than 2 hours. 
  • Store: If you have any leftovers, you can store them in an airtight container in the fridge. They should stay good for 3-5 days.
  • Freeze: It’s best fresh, but this pasta salad can also last for up to a week in the freezer. Just make sure it’s sealed properly. Thaw it out in the fridge and mix it all together again before serving.  

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Poppy Seed Chicken Pasta Salad

Poppy Seed Chicken Pasta Salad is your new favorite easy recipe with tender chicken, flavorful onion and celery, dried cranberries, and crunchy almonds.
Yield 8 Servings
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 0 minutes
Total Time 2 hours 5 minutes
Course Salad
Cuisine American
Author Sabrina Snyder


Poppy Seed Dressing:

  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 1/4 cup white vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 tablespoon poppy seeds
  • 2 teaspoons dijon mustard
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon coarse ground black pepper

Pasta Salad:

  • 8 ounces rotini pasta , cooked and drained
  • 2 cups chicken breast , cooked and chopped
  • 1/4 red onion , minced
  • 2 stalks celery , chopped
  • 2/3 cup dried cranberries , chopped
  • 1/2 cup almonds , sliced


  • In a small bowl whisk together the vegetable oil, white vinegar, sugar, poppy seeds, dijon mustard, kosher salt and black pepper.
  • In a large bowl add the pasta, chicken, onion, celery, and cranberries.
  • Toss with the dressing then refrigerate for at least 2 hours.
  • Garnish with almonds just before serving.


Calories: 374kcal | Carbohydrates: 35g | Protein: 14g | Fat: 20g | Saturated Fat: 3g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 10g | Monounsaturated Fat: 6g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 24mg | Sodium: 214mg | Potassium: 311mg | Fiber: 3g | Sugar: 11g | Vitamin A: 58IU | Vitamin C: 1mg | Calcium: 55mg | Iron: 1mg
Keyword: Poppy Seed Chicken Pasta Salad
Poppy Seed Chicken Pasta Salad collage

About the Author: Sabrina Snyder

Sabrina is a professionally trained Private Chef of over 10 years with ServSafe Manager certification in food safety. She creates all the recipes here on Dinner, then Dessert, fueled in no small part by her love for bacon.

Sabrina Snyder is a professionally trained personal and private chef of over 10 years who is the creator and developer of all the recipes on Dinner, then Dessert.

She is also the author of the upcoming cookbook: Dinner, then Dessert – Satisfying Meals Using Only 3, 5 or 7 Ingredients which is being published by Harper Collins.

She started Dinner, then Dessert as a business in her office as a lunch service for her coworkers who admired her lunches before going to culinary school and becoming a full time personal chef and private chef.

As a personal chef Sabrina would cook for families one day a week and cook their entire week of dinners. All grocery shopping, cooking and cleaning was done along with instructions on reheating. As a private chef she cooked for private parties and cooked in family homes in the evenings for families on a nightly basis after working as a personal chef during the day.

Sabrina has been certified as a ServSafe Manager since 2007 and was a longstanding member of the USPCA Personal Chef Association including being on the board of the Washington DC Chapter of Chefs in the US Personal Chef Association when they won Chapter of the year.

As a member of the community of food website creators Sabrina Snyder has spoken at many conferences regarding her experiences as a food writer including the Indulge Food Conference, Everything Food Conference, Haven Food Conference and IACP Annual Food Professionals Conference.

Sabrina lives with her family in sunny California.

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  1. mélangez avec le pansement: qu’est ce que ca veut dire….. j’essaie de voir votre recette en anglais pour comprendre mais cela m’apparait toujours en francais. Merci