Creamy Chicken Pasta Salad.

This simple pasta salad has the works! Bacon, crisp peppers, broccoli, feta cheese, grilled chicken, and tomatoes covered in a creamy buttermilk greek yogurt dressing. Easy, quick, and makes great leftovers.

Creamy Chicken Pasta Salad with Greek yogurt-- easy, quick, and makes great leftovers!

Hello hello! Welcome to my favorite “I don’t feel like actually cooking anything, so I’ll just put all leftovers into a bowl with pasta and broccoli” dinner.

Truth is, Kevin and I make this pasta salad on the regular in the summertime. Pasta + chicken + bacon + cheese + easy. There’s no way NOT to love it. And it all comes together with a tangy dressing that is impossible to pass up.

I don’t even really like pasta (I know, so weird), but I love this pasta salad. Maybe because there is more “stuff” in the salad than pasta. It is soooo good.

Creamy Chicken Pasta Creamy Chicken Pasta Salad with Greek yogurt-- easy, quick, and makes great leftovers!

Since it’s a little heavier and we are both watching what we eat before the wedding (besides dessert CLEARLY), I always serve this pasta salad with extra veggies on the side and then I mix it all together on the plate to make it look like it’s a bigger serving of pasta salad but it’s really just more vegetables. Did you even understand that run-on sentence?

Moving along.

I got this recipe idea from my mom. She makes a killer pasta salad in the summer with chicken, red and yellow peppers, tomatoes, cheddar cheese (sometimes pepperjack… yum) and pasta. But living with Kevin, I obviously have to add bacon. And I switch up the cheese because I’m a fool for salty feta. And I add broccoli. And and and… I use a little greek yogurt in the dressing instead of all mayo. Can’t even tell the difference, trust me.

Creamy Chicken Pasta Salad with Greek yogurt-- easy, quick, and makes great leftovers!

We almost always have leftover chicken in the fridge – shredded, grilled, diced, whatever. Just use whatever you have on hand. I like to cook a bunch of chicken on Sundays and use it to make Citrus Chicken Quinoa Salads and this pasta salad during the week.

If it’s a vegetable and you have it on hand, you should throw it into this pasta salad. I’ve tried just about anything, and it always works. Like artichokes, olives, shredded carrots, leftover cooked spinach, diced cucumbers, chickpeas, you get the idea. Use whatever shape pasta you and the family like the most. I love fusilloni the best because it holds onto so much of the creamy dressing, little bacon bits, and feta cheese crumbles inside all the spirals.

The dressing! What a cinch. Even though there is already so much to love in this pasta salad (the chicken, the bacon, the fresh veggies), the dressing truly makes the whole dish come together. It’s naturally low fat as well. The base is low fat Greek yogurt and low fat buttermilk. Add a little mayo, fresh parsley, a squeeze of lemon, a drop of white vinegar, garlic, salt, and pepper. Tangy, lush, perfection.

If you don’t have Greek yogurt, sour cream is your best bet. And unfortunately, I have no recommendations for any substitutions for the buttermilk. I’ve tried it with regular milk and the dressing is lacking. For the best results, just follow the dressing recipe as written.

Creamy Chicken Pasta Salad with Greek yogurt-- easy, quick, and makes great leftovers!

This creamy chicken pasta salad makes an easy dinner and if you have leftovers, an even easier lunch. Bring it along to a potluck and get ready to have everyone beg you for the recipe. That’s a lot to say about a pasta salad, I know!

But trust me. Once you taste the creamy buttermilk dressing with the crispy bacon crumbles and salty feta, then you know what I’m talking about.

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Creamy Chicken Pasta Salad

This simple pasta salad has the works! Bacon, crisp peppers, broccoli, feta cheese, grilled chicken, and tomatoes covered in a creamy buttermilk dressing. It's for those of you who like the "stuff" in pasta salads, more than the pasta itself! Simple, quick, and makes great leftovers.

Ingredients:

Creamy Greek Yogurt Buttermilk Dressing

  • 3/4 cup (180g) plain low fat Greek yogurt1
  • 1 cup (240ml) low fat buttermilk (no substitutions)1
  • 2 Tablespoons low fat or regular mayonnaise
  • 1 Tablespoon chopped fresh parsley
  • 1 roasted garlic clove, minced
  • 1 teaspoon white vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper

Pasta Salad

  • 1 pound dry pasta (we use fusilloni)
  • 2 boneless skinless chicken breasts, grilled/cooked and chopped
  • 1 pint cherry or grape tomatoes, halved
  • 2 cups (350g) small broccoli florets
  • 1 orange, green, yellow, or red bell pepper, chopped
  •  1/2 cup (76g) crumbled feta cheese
  • 3 strips crispy bacon, crumbled

Directions:

  1. Make the dressing first: Whisk all of the dressing ingredients together. Taste, and add more salt/pepper/garlic/whatever you feel it needs. I usually add more roasted garlic and parsley. Stick the dressing in the refrigerator as you prepare the rest.
  2. Make the pasta: Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the pasta and cook until al dente. Drain, then rinse with cold water to cool. Pour into a large bowl. Add the chicken, tomatoes, broccoli, and pepper. Pour 3/4 cup of the dressing over the pasta salad and gently toss to combine. Add a little more dressing if you'd like. Leftover dressing is great on salads - store in the fridge for up to 1 week.
  3. Add the feta cheese and bacon and stir up the pasta salad again. Season with additional salt and pepper as desired. Chill for at least 2 hours and up to 1 day before serving to allow the flavors to settle. This makes great leftovers! Cover tightly and store in the refrigerator for up to 1 week.
  4. Make ahead tip: Make the dressing a couple days in advance. Cover tightly and store in the refrigerator. You can make the entire pasta salad a day or two before serving as well.

 

Recipe Notes:

  1. For the dressing: if you don't have Greek yogurt, sour cream works! Buttermilk is key for flavor, trust me. I've tried it with regular milk and there's no comparison.

Get creative! Add your favorite veggies like chopped cucumber, squash, zucchini, artichokes, olives, shredded carrots, leftover cooked spinach, diced cucumbers, chickpeas, you get the idea.

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78 comments

  1. Yum! This looks amazing. Would you be able to use milk mixed with a tbsp of lemon juice as a substitute for buttermilk? I’m not sure if that is better utilized in baking. Btw, love how you’re incorporating more savory posts into this blog!

  2. Love summer for the pasta salads we can enjoy! And bacon is a must! 🙂 Gorgeous salad, Sally!

  3. Hi Sally-

    My 3 year old just saw this post as I pulled it up to read and she said, “Mmm. Can we have that for dinner?” It’s a win!

    Have you tried Kryssos Peppercorn Feta? (I get mine at Giant. It’s 4.99 for an 8oz wedge in the specialty cheese area near the deli. You know, just in case you’re looking for it. hahaha) It’s so yum and such a snappy peppery addition to the salty feta. I’ve been making these Greek-inspired wraps for lunch the past four days and I’ve been putting some on those each day. It was just the addition to kick it up a notch. If you haven’t tried it, do yourself a flavor and do so. (haha– flavor…I’m such a card. Or, um, nerd. Whichever!)

    • Hey Natalie! Nooooo I haven’t tried peppercorn feta yet! I shop at Giant too, so I will keep my eyes peeled for it.

  4. This looks sooo good!! I’m definitely going to have to try it! Question… Bell peppers give my husband and I heartburn something fierce… any substitute suggestions or just leave them out?

  5. This is a great recipe to use up those veggies in the fridge. I actually don’t really care for pasta too. I will eat it occasionally, but don’t really crave it! So more “stuff” sounds bomb! Greek yogurt is a fabulous substitute for so many things. No need to ever buy sour cream when Greek yogurt tastes the exact same! Will have to try soon! Also Sally, I’m on my 3rd week of running 100 miles in 30 days…so far I have been SO good at sticking with it! I have recruited some others as well 😉 I’m at 75 miles already and today’s my day off!

    • NICE!! So proud of you Kelly. What an awesome feeling. I will be 2 miles short. I don’t have anything left in me to do two more miles tonight. I’ll do an extra 2 miles next month!

  6. i just made this for supper tonight and i snuck a taste. YUM! i’m glad it made a lot so i can bring it to work for lunch.

  7. I have not yet had pasta salad this summer because no one else will eat it with me. But you know what? I’m gonna make this for JUST ME. I won’t have to share. #morebaconforme

  8. So much goodness piled into one bowl–swoon!

  9. I love pasta but am so often disappointed by pasta salads – but this one looks gorgeous and with that dressing it must be amazing! Next time I’m called on for a pasta salad I’ll be trying this 🙂

  10. I made this last night, a few hours after I read the recipe.
    My goodness, it is delightful. The creamy dressing is spectacular.
    As is all the ‘stuff’ in it.
    There are only three of us here, and this morning, when I was going to have a spoonful of it, it was gone.
    I will probably make another one in a few days. It’s 3-digits hot here.

  11. Looks festive and delish! Can’t wait to give it a try. I feel like the bacon is going to just put it over the top!

  12. What a great summer dinner recipe!

  13. I absolutely adore pasta salad in the summer! This is one awesome looking dish, Sally!!!

  14. This is my kind of dinner- so awesome!

  15. Oh Sally all those toppings make this pasta salad look absolutely amazing! It’s like when you throw toppings on a baked potato, only this is way better for me. 😀

  16. I need to make this asap!! Every bit of this pasta salad is calling my name. Pasta salads are my weakness during the summer! And that dressing… omg! Sounds amazing. Pinned!

  17. I love the unexpected addition of feta in this fresh and delicious looking salad! This is a must try for summer. PINNED!

  18. Do you think I could use regular milk if I added lemon juice to it (Kind of like how buttermilk is made for baking)?

  19. This looks so delicious. I’m always looking for new chicken recipes so I don’t get bored! This looks so delicious. I really love pasta, but sometimes find myself disappointed by pasta salads. However, this one looks beautiful and with that yummy dressing it must be amazing! Next time I want to make pasta salad for lunch or dinner I will definitely being trying this. Thanks for posting this! ☺

    • Thanks Brandy– and in regards to your other question- I use whatever natural, organic chicken brand is at the store where I am shopping at the time. But any boneless, skinless breasts of any brand will do.

  20. do you have any suggested sides for this meal?? I’m planning on making this for dinner in a few nights and having a hard time of thinking something that will pair well

    • Corn on the cob, a simple green salad, baked potato/sweet potato wedges– these are all sides I’ve served with the pasta salad before.

  21. Oh wow… I knew this was going to be good, but it was BEYOND good!!! Even without the feta I forgot to buy. Like a chicken-bacon-ranch sandwich in pasta form, only made better with all the veggies! 🙂

  22. For the mayonnaise in this recipe, does it require real mayonnaise or miracle whip?

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