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!
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!
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.
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HOW TO MAKE EASY POPPY SEED CHICKEN PASTA SALAD
- 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.
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VARIATIONS ON POPPY SEED CHICKEN PASTA SALAD
- 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.
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HOW TO STORE POPPY SEED CHICKEN PASTA SALAD
- 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.
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
- 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.