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close up of creamy pasta salad with chicken and cherry tomatoes.

Chicken Pasta Salad (with Creamy Greek Yogurt Dressing)

  • Author: Sally
  • Prep Time: 30 minutes
  • Cook Time: 10 minutes
  • Total Time: 40 minutes
  • Yield: serves 12
  • Category: Dinner
  • Method: Cooking
  • Cuisine: American

Description

This simple pasta salad has the works! Bacon, crisp peppers, broccoli, feta cheese, chicken, and tomatoes covered in a creamy, tangy buttermilk Greek yogurt 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

Buttermilk Herb Greek Yogurt Dressing

  • 3/4 cup (180g) plain nonfat or low-fat Greek yogurt
  • 1/4 cup (60g) mayonnaise
  • 1 cup (240ml) buttermilk (I usually use low-fat)
  • 2 Tablespoons (30ml) olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons lemon juice
  • 2 teaspoons apple cider vinegar (or white wine vinegar)
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 2 Tablespoons chopped fresh parsley (or 1 teaspoon dried)
  • 2 teaspoons chopped fresh dill (or 1/2 teaspoon dried)
  • 1 teaspoon granulated sugar
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Pasta Salad

  • 1 pound (454g) dry pasta (such as rotini or fusilloni)
  • 2 cups (about 300g) chopped or shredded cooked chicken
  • 2 cups (300g) halved cherry tomatoes
  • 1 cup (65g) small broccoli florets (or chopped cucumber)
  • 1 cup (150g) cooked corn
  • 1 red bell pepper, chopped (about 160g)
  • 3/4 cup (100g) crumbled feta cheese
  • 6 strips cooked bacon, chopped (about 1/2 cup)


Instructions

  1. Make the dressing first, so it’s ready to go. Whisk all of the dressing ingredients together, and keep at room temperature or cover and refrigerate until ready to use. Can be made and refrigerated for up to 2 days before using.
  2. Have the chicken and all of your vegetables chopped, measured, and ready for step 4, because you don’t want the pasta to cool for too long. 
  3. Cook the pasta: Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. (I usually use 1 teaspoon salt.) Add the pasta and cook until just past al dente. See pasta package for specific instructions. Drain the pasta, and let it cool for just 3–5 minutes.
  4. Pour pasta into a large bowl. Add the chicken, tomatoes, broccoli, corn, and pepper. Pour most of the dressing over the pasta salad (reserve about 1/3 cup (80ml) to use in step 7) and gently toss to combine.
  5. Stir in the feta cheese and bacon. Taste. Season with additional salt, pepper, and herbs if desired.
  6. You can serve the pasta salad right away, but it tastes even better if you cover and refrigerate it for at least 1 hour and up to 1 day. If refrigerating for longer than a few hours, let it sit on the counter for 20–30 minutes before serving, to help loosen up the cold, firm pasta.
  7. Whenever you’re ready to serve it, stir in the reserved dressing.
  8. Cover leftovers tightly and store in the refrigerator for up to 1 week.

Notes

  1. Make Ahead Instructions: Make the dressing up to 2 days in advance. See step 1. You can make the entire pasta salad up to 1 day in advance. See steps 6 and 7.
  2. Special Tools (affiliate links): Glass Mixing Bowls | Whisk
  3. Buttermilk: Buttermilk is key for flavor. If you don’t have any, use whole or low-fat milk and add 1 extra teaspoon of lemon juice to the dressing. Nondairy milk works in a pinch, but the flavor is lacking. Add the extra teaspoon of lemon juice if using nondairy, and add more herbs to taste.
  4. Mayonnaise: Don’t leave out the mayonnaise! You can’t taste it that much, but it does add a little flavor. If you decide to replace it with more yogurt, the dressing tastes extra tangy.
  5. Different add-ins: Feel free to swap out any of the vegetables for other favorites such as cucumber, artichokes, green beans, olives, shredded carrots, or chickpeas.
  6. Can I leave out the chicken? Yes, you can skip the chicken and add more vegetables, or replace with cooked chopped ham or sausage.
  7. Updated version: I originally published this recipe in 2014! It needed a little makeover, as the dressing lacked flavor. To fix it, I doubled the mayonnaise, lemon juice, and vinegar, added some sugar to balance out the flavor, and added dill. It’s extraordinary now, and yields a bit more so the pasta salad is even more flavorful.

Keywords: chicken pasta salad