Loaded with tender grilled chicken, crunchy celery, whole grain pasta and a flavor packed dressing, this really is the Best Creamy Chicken Pasta Salad I’ve ever made! It is perfect for brunch, lunch, a picnic or potluck!
A few years ago, a group of coworkers started The Lunch Bunch. Each day, one person brought lunch for the entire group. So, as a Lunch Buncher, you only had to make lunch once every two weeks, but you had lunch waiting for you every single day. There were crock pot meals, a do-it-yourself baked potato bar, deli sandwiches and sides, delicious baked casseroles and more! It was a great way to save money, chat and laugh and find some great new recipes. This pasta salad recipe is based on a Lunch Bunch recipe and with picnic and potluck season right around the corner, I thought now was the perfect time to share this yummy pasta salad recipe with you!
The Best Creamy Chicken Pasta Salad
I tweaked this pasta salad recipe a little for my personal tastes: I grilled the chicken, used whole grain pasta, added garlic and lemon to the dressing and omitted the raw green onions. (I just can’t do raw onions! But feel free to add them if you like them.)
The dressing is really what brings this whole dish together. It starts with mayonnaise and sour cream, so the base is definitely creamy. Then, it is packed with flavorful ranch seasoning, lots of dried dill, lemon juice to brighten it up, garlic for that familiar tang and finished with salt and pepper.
One of the secrets to this chicken pasta salad is to make the dressing ahead of time. It allows the dried spices to bloom a bit in the creamy dressing and helps develop the flavor. But if you are in a pinch, just go ahead and mix it up and stir everything together … trust me, it will still be delicious!
Another tip? I let the pasta cool completely before mixing this pasta salad up so it doesn’t ‘drink’ up so much of the dressing. I love the chewy, slightly dense texture of whole grain pasta and that the dressing gets all hung up in the spiral twists of the rotini, but you can use your favorite type of pasta for this recipe.
Since all of the ingredients in this in this recipe can be made, chopped and prepped ahead of time, that makes it really easy to stir it together just before serving.
The Best Creamy Chicken Pasta Salad
- One 16 oz. box of whole grain rotini pasta cooked, drained and cooled
- 2 lbs. grilled chicken chopped into bite sized pieces
- 1 cup diced celery
- 1 1/2 cups mayonnaise
- 1 1/2 cups sour cream
- 1/2 cup milk
- One packet of ranch dressing/dip seasoning mix
- 2 tablespoons dried dill
- 1 teaspoon minced garlic smashed into a paste (or 1/8 teaspoon garlic powder)
- Juice of 1/2 lemon
- Salt & pepper to taste
Prepare the Dressing
Mix all ingredients together and refrigerate the dressing overnight or at least a few 3 hours.
Make the Pasta Salad
In a large bowl, stir together the pasta, chicken, celery and prepared dressing.
Garnish with fresh dill or chopped parsley if desired and serve.
Recipe NotesRefrigerate any leftovers. If necessary, add a bit more mayonnaise to leftovers as the pasta will absorb some of the dressing as it waits in the fridge.
Honestly, this is one of the those recipes that you can really make your own. Substitute canned tuna, canned chicken or pull the meat from a rotisserie chicken if you don’t have time to grill chicken. Add back in those green onions if you like a little bite. Make this Creamy Chicken Pasta Salad even heartier and toss in cheese cubes or some toasted almonds. You really can’t go wrong!
With the addition of the grilled chicken, this is a hearty pasta salad recipe, so it makes a great lunch or brunch item. It would also be delicious to pack up in mason jars for a picnic or to add to any potluck spread, too.
Serving tip: Since the dressing is dairy based, it is important to keep the pasta salad cool. Chill the serving bowl before filling it with the Creamy Chicken Pasta Salad and fill a slightly larger bowl with ice to nestle the bowl in to keep the pasta salad cool.
Well, now I need to make another batch of this!
Here are a few more of my favorite salad recipes!