This Large-Batch Chicken Pasta Salad is just the quick and easy recipe that you need for family reunions, potlucks, backyard barbecues, and easy dinners! It serves 16 people and costs just $10.67 to make!
As a family we just returned from an amazing week long vacation at Lake Powell. Lake Powell is one of our favorite places on earth. The beauty, tranquility, vastness, and serenity of that lake is overwhelming. Among the fun family time, games, and water activities was a very important need, the food!
We split up the week and meals by family to share in the responsibility. That way each family only had to be in charge of a few meals throughout the entire week. It was wonderful! Amazing recipes including tin foil dinners, hamburgers and hotdogs, copycat Cafe Rio salads and the best chicken pasta salad ever were made and enjoyed! The food was (almost) worth the trip alone!
The chicken pasta salad was a great idea for the lake because it is cold and refreshing, which is what you crave out there in the heat on the water. This is the best chicken pasta salad recipe because you can make it ahead of time. It even tastes better the next day after it has been prepared as the flavors of the chicken and pasta, with the grapes and other ingredients really marinade together. Jess made the chicken pasta salad at home the day before leaving for the lake, threw it in some Tupperware containers, and it was the first meal we ate out on the boat. No preparation on vacation? How great is that?!
This recipe makes A TON of pasta salad! It’s great for large family gatherings, potlucks, and eating all week long for lunches. If you don’t want a ton of pasta salad on your hands, then simply cut the recipe in half.
How to Make Chicken Pasta Salad:
- First, cook the pasta and then drain it and let it cool.
- Next, drain the fruit and add it to the pasta.
- Then, mix in the remaining ingredients in a (very) large bowl. After all of the ingredients are mixed in, add in the dressing and stir until it is well combined.
- Lastly, cover it in an airtight container and let it chill overnight in the fridge. You are then ready to eat your chicken pasta salad!
How to get the kids involved with this recipe:
- Ages 2-3: Have them help you pull the grapes off the stems.
- Ages 4-5: Have them help you measure the ingredients and pour them in. Also, have them pour in the canned fruit.
- Ages 6-8: Have them cut the celery and shred the chicken. Then mix all of the ingredients together.
- Ages 9-11: Have them prepare the entire recipe while you stand by to supervise or be the sous chef. Remember to have them read the recipe twice before beginning the recipe.
- Ages 12: Have them prepare the recipe all on their own while you take a few minutes of relaxation for yourself!
Discover why we love getting the kids involved in the kitchen and more tips in our How to Get Kids Involved In Cooking article.
Can you make pasta salad a day ahead?
Absolutely! In fact, that’s why we think this is the best chicken salad recipe. We recommend you make it a day ahead to help all the flavors gel together. Then when you are ready to eat the next day it is all done and ready to go!
What to Serve for a complete meal:
Pick up some sweet Hawaiian rolls to serve with this pasta salad and you will have a complete meal! You could also get croissants and serve the Chicken Pasta Salad on the croissants for a yummy lunch sandwich. We have also served corn on the cob with this salad. The warm corn alongside the cool salad works really well together.
How long is this good for:
- Serve: Because of the chicken and dressing in this recipe, I do not recommend keeping this pasta salad at room temperature for longer than 2 hours.
- Store: It will keep, covered, for up to 3 days in the refrigerator.
- Freeze: Because there is mayonnaise in the coleslaw dressing, I do not recommend freezing this pasta salad. When mayo is frozen, as it thaws it becomes an oily mess, yuck!
What’s the best pasta for pasta salad?
When making chicken pasta salad you want to avoid long noodles like spaghetti. Stick to the short noodles that have lots of nooks and crannies such as rotini, spiral, farfalle, or penne. The small bite-size shape of the noodles makes them easy to eat and the nooks and crannies provide lots of places to trap the dressing and the chopped ingredients in the chicken pasta salad recipe.
How do you keep pasta salad from drying out?
You can take a few easy steps to keep your chicken pasta salad from drying out. After you have drained the noodles in a colander rinse them with cool water to stop the cooking and remove any excess starch. Next, toss the noodles with a little olive oil which keeps the noodles from sticking and prevents the noodles from soaking up the salad dressing.
How much will this Chicken Pasta Salad cost:
RECIPE COST: $10.67
PRICE PER SERVING: $0.67
To find out more on how we price our recipes, check out Budget Recipes Explained.
- 16 oz bowtie pasta – $0.69
- 16 oz rotini pasta – $0.69
- 2 cups red grapes – $1.00
- 8 oz can pineapple tidbits – $0.98
- 11 oz can Mandarine oranges – $1.44
- 2 cups shredded chicken – $2.08
- 1 cups diced celery – $0.18
- 1 cup craisins – $1.61
- 1 cup coleslaw dressing – $1.61
- 1/2 bunch green onions – $0.39
Large-Batch Chicken Pasta Salad
- 8 oz bowtie pasta
- 8 oz rotini pasta
- 1 cup red grapes
- 8 oz can pineapple tidbits drained
- 11 oz can Mandarine oranges drained
- 2 cups shredded chicken or (2) 12.5 oz cans chicken
- 1 cup diced celery
- 3 ozs craisins
- 1 cup coleslaw dressing
- ½ bunch green onions chopped
- First, cook pasta in two separate pots, and cook as per package directions. Drain the pasta and run it under cold water until cool.
- Next, add the pasta to a LARGE bowl. Add the pineapple, oranges, chicken, celery, craisins, and coleslaw dressing to the pasta. Mix until everything is distributed evenly and the pasta is coated in the dressing.
- Finally, chill the pasta salad overnight in the refrigerator.