This is a big batch Chicken Pasta Salad with plenty of creamy dressing, lightened up using a combination of sour cream and mayonnaise so it’s not excessively oil. Make it today, enjoy it for days!
After a no-mayo version? Use a creamy Yogurt Dressing instead.
About this Chicken Pasta Salad
This is an old-school Chicken Pasta Salad that comes with a creamy mayonnaise-based dressing, and lots of add-ins. Carrot, celery, capsicum (bell peppers), green onion, BACON, cheese and even avocado, if you so choose.
What I really like is that it’s nice and “moist”. That is, plenty of dressing, but you won’t feel weighed down after scoffing down a big bowl of this because the dressing is made with a 50/50 combination of both mayonnaise and sour cream.
It makes such a difference – all the creaminess, far less oil!
What goes in the Chicken Pasta Salad Creamy Dressing
Here’s what you need for the lightened-up-but-still-creamy dressing:
- Mayonnaise – Use whole egg mayonnaise, for the best flavour. It’s smoother and richer-tasting than non whole-egg mayonnaise. My favourite brands are Hellman’s and S&W. If you don’t have whole-egg mayonnaise, cut down on the cider vinegar slightly, otherwise the dressing is a bit vinegary (in my opinion);
- Sour cream – As noted above, it’s used to cut down on the mayonnaise but still leave you with a lovely creamy dressing;
- Dijon mustard and garlic powder – Flavourings. Everybody knows I’m a Dijon mustard tragic!;
- Cider vinegar – For the tang; and
- Sugar – Just a touch, for balance and because that’s the old-school way!
What goes in my Chicken Pasta Salad
And here’s what I put in this pasta salad:
- Chicken – Buy it cooked or poach your own. Then shred or finely chop into sort of baton shapes – see below for photo. It melds better with the pasta and eats more easily than having chunky cubes;
- Macaroni (also called elbow pasta) – The original pasta salad shape. But really, you can use any short pasta you want: penne, ziti, bow ties, spirals etc;
- Green onion – For freshness and nice bits of green colour;
- Carrot and celery – Standard creamy pasta salad vegetable add-ins;
- Capsicum/bell pepper – For lovely, crunchy little specks of red throughout;
- Avocado – Optional. I chose “yes”, but they were sadly far too firm to use. So they aren’t in the finished dish photos, or recipe video for that matter;
- Shredded cheese – Because I always have and always will; and
- Bacon – For great little pops of salty goodness. Ham also works really well (bonus: no need to cook it).
How to make Creamy Chicken Pasta Salad
It’s really nice and simple:
- Pasta – Cook pasta in salted water. Do not skip the salt in the water, it really makes a difference with pasta salads;
- Dressing – Mix it up, and set aside for 10 minutes or so, to let the flavours come together;
- Cook bacon until golden and crisp, then drain on paper towels;
- Toss – Toss everything together really well. Devour!
No-mayonnaise creamy dressing option
Also, I would be remiss not to mention some terrific no-mayo creamy dressing options! Whether you’ve got mayo-haters in your life (I seem to have a bizarre number of these) or simply as a lower fat alternative, try a Creamy Yogurt Dressing instead. Use either the Yogurt Ranch or Yogurt Potato Salad Dressing, both are terrific for pasta salad.
Serve at room temperature
This is a really great summer staple. It can do duty as a big batch picnic dish that is at home at every BBQ spread, as a handy quick meal, a dinner side or work lunch.
My one big tip is to serve it at room temperature. There are few things in life that are better fridge cold (perhaps beer), and cold pasta salad is not one of them. The pasta is firm, the dressing is a bit pasty and you just can’t taste the flavours as well.
So take it out of the fridge at least 30 minutes before you plan to serve it to take the fridge chill out of it.
Enjoy! – Nagi x
Watch how to make it
Chicken Pasta Salad with Creamy Dressing
- 500g / 1 lb macaroni / elbow pasta (or other pasta of choice)
- 1 tbsp salt (to cook pasta)
- 3 cups cooked chicken , shredded or finely chopped (Note 1)
- 150g / 5 oz bacon , chopped
- 2 celery stalks , finely sliced
- 1 red capsicum / bell pepper , finely diced
- 2 green onions , finely sliced
- 2 carrots (medium), shredded using standard box grater
- 2 cups shredded cheese (cheddar, tasty, Colby)
- 2 avocados (small/medium), cut into bite size pieces (optional)
- 1 cup mayonnaise , whole egg best (Hellmann’s, Best Foods, S&W or other whole egg mayonnaise)
- 1 cup sour cream , full fat (low fat ok too)
- 3 tbsp cider vinegar
- 1 tbsp Dijon mustard
- 4 tsp sugar
- 1 1/2 tsp garlic powder
- 2 tsp salt
- 1 tsp pepper
- Cook pasta: Bring a large pot of water to the boil. Add salt, then cook pasta per packet directions. Drain well, let cool.
- Dressing: Mix Dressing ingredients in a bowl. Set aside 10 minutes+.
- Cook bacon: Place bacon in a cold non-stick skillet (Note X). Turn stove on to medium high, then cook bacon until golden. Drain on paper towels.
- Toss! Place cooked pasta in a large bowl along with all the Pasta Salad ingredients, reserving some bacon for garnish. Pour over Dressing, then toss well.
- Set aside for 20 minutes. Transfer to serving bowl, sprinkle with remaining bacon. Serve!
- Storage: Keeps for 3 – 4 days in the fridge. Best to bring to room temp before serving!
Life of Dozer
Hi food catching chest hair back in action – chicken from today’s shoot.
Look at him, licking his licks in anticipation of a treat, completely oblivious to the snack tangled up in his chest hairs! 😂