Chicken poppy seed pasta salad features the sweetness of grapes and a creamy poppy seed dressing. It is a perfect summer lunch.
This simple poppy seed pasta salad combines great textures and flavors to make a cool and tasty meal. Bring it as a side dish to potlucks or enjoy it as a simple meal when it is too hot out to want something heavy.
The idea for this pasta salad came to me from a comment on Facebook. We were discussing our favorite pasta salad mix-ins, and Sonja suggested grapes, celery, chicken, nuts, and poppy seed dressing.
That instantly caught my eye. The ingredients remind me a lot of chicken salad with grapes and pineapple, but without the pineapple.
Though, I suppose you could add pineapple to the pasta salad if you wanted to. In fact, that would probably be delicious.
I left the nuts out so that my husband and son would help me eat it. However, it would be great with slivered almonds or chopped pecans like Sonja suggested.
I added bacon instead to give another layer of flavor and texture. It was a nice bit of smoky salt that really was nice in the salad but is totally optional.
Of course, it was every bit as delicious as I had imagined. You should make a batch to see for yourself.
It makes a great simple lunch. You could pack it up for a picnic or bring it to a carry-in as well.
Tips and Tricks
For pasta salads, you want to cook your pasta to al dente. So either at the lower end of the suggested cook time on the box or even a minute less.
Drain the pasta and give it a quick rinse. That will wash off the extra starch and keep it from sticking together.
Move the pasta to a mixing bowl and add the dressing while it is still warm. It may look like too much, but some will soak in.
Cover and refrigerate until the pasta is cooled. Then, go ahead and stir in the remaining ingredients.
Give it a taste and adjust the seasonings to your liking. You may want a little bit more salt, pepper, or even a little sugar, depending on your taste preferences.
This salad keeps well, so you can make it ahead of time. Or do what I did and make it on Sunday and portion it out for lunches throughout the week.
It makes a great, easy brown bag lunch for work. There is something about a cool, refreshing meal on a hot summer day.
Poppy Seed Dressing
Feel free to pick up a bottle of creamy poppy seed dressing for this recipe. However, if you want to make your own, you can.
Below is the recipe for Portillo’s poppy seed dressing.
• 1/2 cup mayonnaise
• 1/4 cup milk
• 2 teaspoons poppy seeds
• 4 Tablespoons sugar
• 2 Tablespoons apple cider vinegar
Just whisk everything together in a small bowl or put it in a jar and shake it up. You can keep it in the fridge for lettuce salads or use it on this pasta salad.
More Great Pasta Salad Recipes
I am going through a bit of a pasta salad phase right now. I really do love bringing them for lunch at work, so here are a few more recipes I am loving right now.
Enchilada pasta salad is another great recipe that is hearty enough to be the whole meal. Make it with or without chicken, depending on your preferences.
Peach pasta salad with spinach is another great sweet and savory option. Make it without meat as a side, or add chicken, shrimp, or salmon to make it a meal.
For more inspiration, check out my collection of picnic salads. There is sure to be something there that you will love.
Chicken Poppy Seed Pasta Salad
- 12 oz. pasta
- 1 cup poppy seed dressing
- 3 ribs celery chopped
- 3 cups red seedless grapes halved
- ¼ cup crumbled bacon
- 2 cooked chicken breasts chopped
- Cook pasta al dente. Drain and rinse.12 oz. pasta
- Place pasta in large mixing bowl and add poppy seed dressing. Stir to coat. Cover and refrigerate until cooled.1 cup poppy seed dressing
- Add the remaining ingredients and stir to combine.3 ribs celery, 3 cups red seedless grapes, ¼ cup crumbled bacon, 2 cooked chicken breasts
- Cover and chill until ready to serve.