Pasta Salad With Chicken and Bacon

Chicken and bacon pasta salad

The Spruce

  • Total: 30 mins
  • Prep: 20 mins
  • Cook: 10 mins
  • Yield: Serves 6 to 8
Nutritional Guidelines (per serving)
695 Calories
40g Fat
25g Carbs
54g Protein
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Nutrition Facts
Servings: Serves 6 to 8
Amount per serving
Calories 695
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 40g 52%
Saturated Fat 10g 48%
Cholesterol 166mg 55%
Sodium 308mg 13%
Total Carbohydrate 25g 9%
Dietary Fiber 2g 7%
Protein 54g
Calcium 51mg 4%
*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 (sliced)
  • 8 ounces mini penne pasta (or macaroni)
  • 2 cups chicken breast (about 2 to 3 chicken breast halves, cooked and diced)
  • 1/2 cup red onion (finely chopped)
  • 2 plum tomatoes (seeds removed, diced)
  • 2 ribs celery (diced)
  • 2 tablespoons fresh parsley (chopped, plus more for garnish)
  • 1/2 to 3/4 cup mayonnaise
  • 1/2 lemon (juiced)
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • Salt (to taste)
  • Freshly ground black pepper (to taste)

Steps to Make It

  1. Gather the ingredients.

    Ingredients for pasta salad with chicken and bacon
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  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
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  10. Season with salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste. 

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

    Cover with wrap
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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.


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.