chicken broccoli pasta salad

Chicken Broccoli Pasta Salad is more than just a dish; it’s a delightful fusion that marries the wholesomeness of broccoli with the hearty texture of pasta, all complemented by the lean protein of chicken. This salad has traversed from being a simple family meal to becoming a staple at gatherings, potlucks, and health-conscious tables around the globe. Its origins, while not tied to a specific culture, reflect a universal love for balanced, nutritious meals that don’t compromise on taste.

The popularity of Chicken Broccoli Pasta Salad lies in its versatility. It can be tailored to fit any dietary preference, from gluten-free pasta options to vegan chicken substitutes. Its ease of preparation makes it a favorite among home cooks and professional chefs alike. For those interested in exploring the variety of pasta available, a visit to Wikipedia’s pasta page provides an extensive overview. Similarly, understanding the health benefits of broccoli can enhance the nutritional value of the dish, as detailed on WebMD’s broccoli benefits page.

This salad’s adaptability extends beyond its ingredients. Whether served as a cold salad on a summer day or enjoyed as a warm, comforting meal during colder months, it effortlessly fits into any meal plan. Its components, rich in vitamins, fiber, and protein, contribute to a balanced diet, making it an excellent choice for those looking to maintain or improve their health without sacrificing flavor.

Benefits of Chicken Broccoli Pasta Salad :

The Chicken Broccoli Pasta Salad is not just a feast for the taste buds but also a powerhouse of nutrition, offering a plethora of health benefits. This dish stands out for its balanced combination of ingredients, each bringing its unique set of nutrients to the table. The chicken provides a high-quality source of protein, essential for muscle repair and growth, while broccoli, a cruciferous vegetable, is lauded for its cancer-fighting properties and high vitamin C content, as highlighted in studies on PubMed.

Pasta, often unjustly maligned in diet culture, actually offers beneficial carbohydrates that fuel the body’s energy needs, especially when whole grain options are chosen. The inclusion of red bell peppers and red onions adds not only a splash of color but also boosts the salad’s vitamin A and antioxidant levels, supporting eye health and reducing inflammation. For those curious about incorporating more olives into their diets, their heart-healthy fats are a boon, as detailed by the American Heart Association.

Moreover, this salad’s versatility in catering to various dietary preferences makes it a universally appealing option. Gluten-free pasta can be substituted without compromising taste or texture, ensuring those with gluten sensitivities can still enjoy this dish. Vegetarians and vegans can replace the chicken with plant-based proteins like tofu or chickpeas, making it adaptable to a plant-based diet.

The convenience of this salad is another significant benefit. It can be prepared in advance, making it a perfect option for meal prepping or for those nights when cooking is not on the agenda. Its ability to be served cold means it can be a refreshing lunch option during the warmer months, providing a nutritious alternative to traditional fast food.

In summary, the Chicken Broccoli Pasta Salad is a testament to the idea that healthy eating does not have to be complicated or bland. It offers a nutritious, delicious, and adaptable option suitable for a wide range of dietary needs, making it a valuable addition to any meal plan.

Ingredients Breakdown :

The beauty of Chicken Broccoli Pasta Salad lies in its simplicity and the nutritional value of its components. Here’s a detailed breakdown of the ingredients, each chosen for their health benefits and flavor:

  • Pasta (2 cups cooked): The base of the salad, pasta can be chosen based on dietary preferences, including whole grain, gluten-free, or even legume-based varieties for added protein. Each type brings fiber and energy-providing carbohydrates.
  • Chicken Breast (1 cup cooked, chopped): A lean protein source, chicken breast contributes to muscle maintenance and repair. For a vegetarian alternative, tofu or tempeh can be used.
  • Broccoli Florets (1 cup, blanched): Broccoli is a nutrient powerhouse, offering vitamin C, vitamin K, fiber, and compounds linked to reduced cancer risk.
  • Red Bell Pepper (1/2 cup, diced): Adds sweetness and crunch, along with vitamin A and C, which support immune function and skin health.
  • Red Onion (1/4 cup, finely chopped): Known for its anti-inflammatory properties and ability to lower blood pressure and protect against blood clots.
  • Sun-dried Tomatoes (1/4 cup, chopped): Concentrated source of antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals.
  • Black Olives (1/4 cup, sliced): Rich in heart-healthy monounsaturated fats and antioxidants like oleuropein.
  • Mayonnaise (1/2 cup): For creaminess, though a low-fat or vegan version can be used to reduce calories or accommodate dietary restrictions.
  • Sour Cream (1/4 cup): Adds tanginess; Greek yogurt is a healthier alternative that also increases the protein content.
  • White Wine Vinegar (2 tablespoons): Provides a bright acidity that balances the flavors. Apple cider vinegar is a beneficial substitute with digestive health benefits.
  • Sugar (1 teaspoon): Just a touch to enhance the dressing’s flavor. Honey or maple syrup are natural alternatives.
  • Garlic (1 clove, minced): Offers antimicrobial properties and enhances taste.
  • Salt and Pepper (to taste): Essential seasonings that highlight the overall flavor profile.

This comprehensive ingredient list ensures that the Chicken Broccoli Pasta Salad is not only a treat to the palate but also a contribution to a balanced diet. Each component has been selected to offer a blend of textures, flavors, and health benefits, making this salad a versatile dish that can be customized to meet various nutritional needs and taste preferences.

Step-by-Step Cooking Guide :

Creating a Chicken Broccoli Pasta Salad is a straightforward process that yields delicious results. Follow these steps to assemble your salad:

  1. Prepare the Pasta: Cook 2 cups of pasta according to package instructions until al dente. Opt for whole grain, gluten-free, or legume-based pasta to suit dietary needs. Once cooked, rinse under cold water to stop the cooking process and set aside to cool.
  2. Cook the Chicken: Season 1 cup of chicken breast with salt and pepper, then grill or bake until fully cooked and juicy. Let it cool before chopping into bite-sized pieces. Vegetarian alternatives like tofu or tempeh can be marinated and cooked similarly.
  3. Blanch the Broccoli: Bring a pot of water to a boil, add 1 cup of broccoli florets, and cook for about 2 minutes until bright green and slightly tender. Immediately plunge into ice water to halt cooking, preserving its vibrant color and nutrients.
  4. Prepare the Vegetables: Dice 1/2 cup of red bell pepper and 1/4 cup of red onion. Chop 1/4 cup of sun-dried tomatoes and slice 1/4 cup of black olives.
  5. Whisk Together the Dressing: In a separate bowl, combine 1/2 cup mayonnaise, 1/4 cup sour cream (or Greek yogurt for a healthier option), 2 tablespoons of white wine vinegar, 1 teaspoon of sugar (or a natural sweetener), 1 minced garlic clove, and salt and pepper to taste. Whisk until smooth.
  6. Combine Salad Ingredients: In a large bowl, mix the cooled pasta, chopped chicken, blanched broccoli, diced red bell pepper, chopped red onion, sun-dried tomatoes, and sliced black olives.
  7. Add the Dressing: Pour the dressing over the salad ingredients. Toss until everything is evenly coated.
  8. Chill Before Serving: Refrigerate the salad for at least 1 hour before serving. This allows the flavors to meld together, enhancing the overall taste.
  9. Serve: Enjoy your Chicken Broccoli Pasta Salad as a refreshing main dish or a side. It’s perfect for picnics, potlucks, or a nutritious family dinner.

This step-by-step guide ensures that even novice cooks can successfully prepare a Chicken Broccoli Pasta Salad, combining healthful ingredients with robust flavors to create a dish that’s as nutritious as it is delicious.

Dressing Variations :

The dressing for Chicken Broccoli Pasta Salad can be customized to cater to various taste preferences and dietary requirements. Here are some alternative dressing ideas to keep the salad versatile and exciting:

  • Greek Yogurt and Herb Dressing: Combine 1/2 cup of Greek yogurt with 1 tablespoon of lemon juice, 1 minced garlic clove, 2 tablespoons of finely chopped fresh herbs (such as dill, parsley, or basil), salt, and pepper. This version is lighter and packed with probiotics.
  • Avocado Lime Dressing: Blend 1 ripe avocado, the juice of 1 lime, 1/4 cup of cilantro leaves, 1 minced garlic clove, 2 tablespoons of olive oil, and water as needed for consistency. Season with salt and pepper to taste. This creamy dressing adds healthy fats and a vibrant, tangy flavor.
  • Balsamic Vinaigrette: Whisk together 3 tablespoons of balsamic vinegar, 1/4 cup of olive oil, 1 teaspoon of honey, 1 minced garlic clove, salt, and pepper. This classic dressing offers a sweet and tangy profile that complements the salad ingredients beautifully.
  • Asian-Inspired Sesame Ginger Dressing: Mix 2 tablespoons of soy sauce, 1 tablespoon of sesame oil, 1 tablespoon of rice vinegar, 1 teaspoon of grated ginger, 1 teaspoon of honey, and a sprinkle of sesame seeds. This dressing gives the salad an Asian twist, adding depth with its umami and zesty flavors.

Each dressing variation not only enhances the Chicken Broccoli Pasta Salad with unique flavors but also offers additional health benefits, from the heart-healthy fats in avocado to the probiotics in Greek yogurt. Experimenting with these dressings can transform the salad into a new dish every time, keeping your meals exciting and nutritious.

Serving Suggestions :

The versatility of Chicken Broccoli Pasta Salad extends to the myriad ways it can be served. Whether you’re hosting a summer barbecue, packing a picnic, or simply looking for a refreshing meal, here are some serving suggestions to elevate this dish:

  • As a Main Course: Serve the salad as a hearty main dish, perfect for lunch or a light dinner. Pair it with crusty whole-grain bread or garlic toast to round out the meal.
  • Side Dish: It makes an excellent side for grilled meats or fish, providing a refreshing contrast to richer main courses.
  • In a Wrap: Spoon the salad into large lettuce leaves or whole wheat wraps for a portable, mess-free lunch option.
  • With a Grain Bowl: Layer the salad over a bed of quinoa, farro, or brown rice for an extra fiber boost and a satisfying, complete meal.
  • As a Stuffed Bell Pepper: Halve red or yellow bell peppers, remove the seeds, and fill them with the salad for a colorful, nutritious presentation.

Each serving suggestion not only adds variety to how the Chicken Broccoli Pasta Salad can be enjoyed but also enhances its nutritional profile, making it a flexible option for any meal plan. By incorporating these ideas, you can keep your meals interesting and ensure that this salad remains a staple in your culinary repertoire.

Storage and Leftover Ideas :

Proper storage and innovative use of leftovers can extend the enjoyment of your Chicken Broccoli Pasta Salad, making it a gift that keeps on giving. Here’s how to keep it fresh and exciting:

  • Storage Tips: Store the salad in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. If possible, keep the dressing separate and mix it in just before serving to prevent the pasta from becoming soggy.
  • Revitalize Leftovers: Refresh the salad by adding a splash of lemon juice or vinegar before serving. This can help to brighten the flavors and make the salad taste fresh again.
  • New Meal Ideas:
    • Salad Bowls: Combine leftovers with fresh greens like spinach or arugula for a new twist on your next meal.
    • Pasta Bake: Mix the salad with a little extra cheese and bake until bubbly for a warm pasta dish.
    • Omelet Filling: Stir chopped salad into eggs for a filling and nutritious omelet or frittata, perfect for breakfast or brunch.
  • Freezing: It’s best not to freeze the salad, as the texture of the vegetables and pasta can become undesirable upon thawing. Instead, focus on enjoying it fresh within the recommended storage period.

By following these storage tips and leftover ideas, you can maximize the lifespan of your Chicken Broccoli Pasta Salad and enjoy it in various delicious forms. This approach not only reduces food waste but also ensures that you have quick, nutritious options readily available.

Nutritional Information :

Understanding the nutritional profile of the Chicken Broccoli Pasta Salad can help you appreciate not just its taste but also its contribution to a balanced diet. Here’s a breakdown of the key nutrients this dish provides:

  • Protein: The chicken breast is a high-quality source of lean protein, essential for muscle repair and growth. Substitutes like tofu or chickpeas also offer a good protein punch for those following a plant-based diet.
  • Fiber: Ingredients such as whole grain pasta, broccoli, and red bell peppers contribute dietary fiber, which is vital for digestive health and can help in maintaining a healthy weight.
  • Vitamins and Minerals: This salad is rich in vitamins A, C, and K, thanks to the broccoli, red bell peppers, and leafy greens. These nutrients support immune function, skin health, and bone strength.
  • Healthy Fats: The olive oil in the dressing and the fats from the olives and avocado (if used in a dressing variation) provide monounsaturated fats, which are beneficial for heart health.
  • Antioxidants: Broccoli, red bell peppers, and sun-dried tomatoes are excellent sources of antioxidants, which protect the body from oxidative stress and inflammation.

Per serving (assuming 6 servings per recipe), the Chicken Broccoli Pasta Salad approximately contains:

  • Calories: 290 kcal
  • Protein: 18 g
  • Carbohydrates: 31 g (Dietary Fiber: 5 g, Sugars: 4 g)
  • Fat: 11 g (Saturated Fat: 2 g, Monounsaturated Fat: 5 g)
  • Cholesterol: 30 mg
  • Sodium: 200 mg
  • Vitamin A: 10% of the Daily Value (DV)
  • Vitamin C: 50% of the DV
  • Calcium: 4% of the DV
  • Iron: 8% of the DV

This nutritional breakdown showcases the salad’s balanced profile, making it a nutritious option that can fit into various dietary plans. Whether you’re looking for a meal that supports weight management, muscle building, or overall health, the Chicken Broccoli Pasta Salad is a delicious choice that serves up both flavor and nutrition.

FAQs :

To further enhance your experience with this dish, let’s address some common questions related to Chicken Broccoli Pasta Salad:

  • Can I make this salad ahead of time? Yes, you can prepare this salad 1-2 days in advance. Store the dressing separately and toss it with the salad just before serving to maintain the best texture and freshness.
  • What are some protein alternatives for vegetarians? Tofu, chickpeas, or lentils make excellent protein substitutes for chicken, aligning with vegetarian dietary preferences while still providing a satisfying and protein-rich meal.
  • How can I make this salad gluten-free? Opt for gluten-free pasta options available in most grocery stores. Ingredients like quinoa or rice pasta are great alternatives that don’t compromise the dish’s taste or texture.
  • Is there a low-carb option for this salad? For a lower-carb version, replace the pasta with spiralized vegetables, such as zucchini or cucumber noodles. This substitution offers a fresh, crunchy texture while significantly reducing the carbohydrate content.
  • Can I use store-bought dressing? While homemade dressing is recommended for the best flavor and health benefits, you can use store-bought dressing in a pinch. Look for options with minimal added sugars and preservatives.
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Chicken Broccoli Pasta Salad

  • Author: Easy Recipes


This Chicken Broccoli Pasta Salad recipe is a vibrant and nutritious dish that combines the hearty textures of pasta and chicken with the fresh crunch of broccoli and bell peppers, all tossed in a tangy and creamy dressing. Perfect for any occasion, from summer picnics to cozy winter meals, this salad is designed to be versatile, satisfying, and health-conscious. With options for gluten-free, vegetarian, and low-carb adaptations, it caters to a wide range of dietary preferences, ensuring everyone can enjoy its delightful flavors. Whether you’re looking for a fulfilling main course or a refreshing side dish, this salad promises to be a crowd-pleaser, offering a balanced combination of proteins, vegetables, and healthy fats.



For the Salad:

2 cups cooked pasta (rotini, penne, or bowtie)

1 cup cooked, chopped chicken breast

1 cup broccoli florets, blanched

1/2 cup red bell pepper, diced

1/4 cup red onion, finely chopped

1/4 cup sun-dried tomatoes, chopped

1/4 cup black olives, sliced

For the Dressing:

1/2 cup mayonnaise

1/4 cup sour cream

2 tablespoons white wine vinegar

1 teaspoon sugar

1 garlic clove, minced

Salt and pepper to taste


  1. Combine Salad Ingredients: In a large bowl, mix together the cooked pasta, chicken, broccoli, red bell pepper, red onion, sun-dried tomatoes, and black olives.
  2. Prepare the Dressing: In a separate bowl, whisk together mayonnaise, sour cream, white wine vinegar, sugar, minced garlic, and season with salt and pepper to taste.
  3. Mix Salad and Dressing: Pour the dressing over the salad ingredients and toss until everything is well coated.
  4. Chill: Refrigerate the salad for at least 1 hour before serving to allow the flavors to meld.


  • Make-Ahead Friendly: This salad can be prepared in advance, making it perfect for busy schedules. For the best texture, store the dressing separately and mix just before serving.
  • Customization: Feel free to swap out ingredients based on dietary needs or personal preference. The recipe is forgiving and encourages experimentation with different proteins, pasta types, and vegetables.
  • Dressing Variations: While the recipe provides a classic creamy dressing, exploring other dressing options like Greek yogurt and herb, avocado lime, or balsamic vinaigrette can add a new dimension to the salad.
  • Serving Suggestions: Serve chilled as a standalone meal or alongside your favorite grilled meats for a complete dining experience. It’s also great as a filling for wraps or stuffed peppers.
  • Storage: Refrigerate in an airtight container for up to 3 days. Avoid freezing, as it may affect the texture of the vegetables and pasta.
  • Nutritional Benefits: Rich in vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants, this salad is not only delicious but also contributes to a healthy diet. Adjustments can be made to accommodate calorie, carb, or fat intake based on individual nutritional goals.


  • Serving Size: 6 servings
  • Calories: 290 kcal per serving

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