Pasta Salad With Chicken and Bacon

Chicken and bacon pasta salad

The Spruce

Prep: 20 mins
Cook: 10 mins
Total: 30 mins
Servings: 6 to 8 servings
Nutritional Guidelines (per serving)
314 Calories
21g Fat
13g Carbs
17g Protein
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Nutrition Facts
Servings: 6 to 8
Amount per serving
Calories 314
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 21g 27%
Saturated Fat 4g 21%
Cholesterol 50mg 17%
Sodium 435mg 19%
Total Carbohydrate 13g 5%
Dietary Fiber 1g 5%
Total Sugars 2g
Protein 17g
Vitamin C 12mg 59%
Calcium 24mg 2%
Iron 1mg 6%
Potassium 309mg 7%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
(Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)

This chicken pasta salad gets a burst of flavor from the smoky bacon, along with diced tomatoes, celery, and onion. The lightly seasoned mayonnaise and lemon juice dressing add moisture without covering the flavors of the vegetables and chicken.

Feel free to add some different ingredients or substitute for some. Diced ham would be a good replacement for the bacon, and leftover diced turkey may be used instead of chicken.

It's an excellent salad to serve for a summer luncheon, and it makes an excellent hot summer evening main dish. Make this tasty salad for your next family cookout, or take it along to a picnic, tailgating event, or potluck dinner.

Ingredients

  • 6 to 8 slices bacon, cut into 1-inch pieces

  • Kosher salt, to taste

  • 8 ounces mini pennepasta (or macaroni)

  • 2 cups cooked, diced chicken breast, about 2 to 3 chicken breasts

  • 1/2 cup finely chopped red onion

  • 2 medium plum tomatoes, seeded and diced

  • 2 stalks celery, diced

  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh parsley, more for garnish

  • 1/2 to 3/4 cup mayonnaise, to taste

  • 1/2 medium lemon, juiced

  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

  • Freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Steps to Make It

  1. Gather the ingredients.

    Ingredients for pasta salad with chicken and bacon
    The Spruce
  2. In a large skillet over medium heat, cook the bacon until almost crisp.

    Bacon in skillet
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  3. Transfer to paper towels to drain. 

    Transfer to paper towels
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  4. In a large saucepan, bring about 2 quarts of water with and 2 teaspoons of salt to a rapid boil over high heat. Add the pasta and continue cooking until firm.

    Pasta
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  5. Pour into a colander to drain thoroughly.

    Pour into a colander
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  6. In a large bowl, combine the cooked drained bacon, the diced chicken, red onion, tomatoes, celery, and parsley.

    Combine ingredients
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  7. Add the drained, warm or cooled pasta, and toss to blend the ingredients. 

    Add pasta
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  8. In a small bowl, combine 1/2 cup of the mayonnaise with the lemon juice and garlic powder.

    Combine mayo and lemon
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  9. Gently stir into the pasta and chicken salad mixture until blended. Add more mayonnaise, as needed, to taste.

    Stir until blended
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  10. Season with salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste. 

    Season with salt and pepper
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  11. Cover and refrigerate until serving time.

    Cover with wrap and refrigerate
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  12. Sprinkle with fresh chopped parsley just before serving.

Tips

  • For best flavor, make the salad several hours ahead of time or a day—no longer—in advance. Cover and refrigerate until serving time.
  • For convenience, use a rotisserie chicken or a package of refrigerated fully-cooked roasted chicken strips.
  • Hot or warm pasta will absorb the dressing more readily. If the pasta is warm, add about one-half to two-thirds of the dressing. Refrigerate the salad and the remaining dressing separately and toss just before serving.
  • Any leftovers, recover with plastic wrap and refrigerate. It will keep for one to two days.

Recipe Variations

  • Replace the chicken with diced cooked turkey or ham.
  • Replace the bacon with diced ham.
  • Use halved cherry tomatoes instead of diced tomatoes.
  • Add about 1/4 cup of shredded carrots to the salad along with the celery and onion.
  • Add about 1/4 cup of well-drained sliced ripe olives to the salad.

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