Grilled Chicken Pasta Salad with Balsamic Dressing

This Grilled Chicken Pasta Salad with Balsamic Dressing is perfect for quick weeknight dinners as well as picnics and potlucks. And boy is it packed with flavor! The marinated grilled chicken adds a nice smokiness that blends perfectly with the fresh, earthy herbs and vegetables while the balsamic dressing adds just the right amount of tang. This salad is easy to meal prep and ideal for stretching to accommodate a crowd.

Chicken Pasta Salad in bowl with red flowers and blue handled servers.

Summertime means grilling a lot of our meals. We grill everything from Fish Tacos to London Broil , pork to chicken. Just look at all the grilling recipes that we never get tired of. Grilling is not only a healthier way to cook (and I get to hand the duty off to my husband 🙂 ) but it makes clean-up a whole lot easier too. And it’s so delicious, so what’s not to like?

Chicken Pasta Salad ingredients on wooden cutting board.

This chicken pasta salad has got to be one of my all-time favorites. It’s simple to put together especially when you plan ahead. Meal prep is easy and can save time when you grill extra chicken for another meal later in the week. Think xxx and xxx. And since summer is the time when my garden is in full swing, I get to use my fresh basil, tomatoes, and peppers too.

Pasta Saladin white bowl beside red placemat.

Variations for pasta salad

This is one meal that you can easily make to your family’s taste.

  • Change out the chicken for shrimp, fish, pork or go vegetarian with tofu.
  • Opt for fresh greens, arugula or romaine in place of spinach.
  • Add more vegetables such as green beans, corn, carrots or asparagus
  • Different herbs will bring different flavors. Try Italian seasoning, oregano or thyme.
  • Of course, if you’re a cheese lover like me, add a few sprinkles of Parmesan or feta to the mix.

Frequently asked questions

How long will this last?

It will keep 2-3 days in the refrigerator. After that time you may find the pasta getting soggy.

Can I freeze leftovers?

I would advise against freezing as the pasta will tend to get mushy when thawing out.

How can I make this gluten free?

That’s an easy one! Just exchange the regular pasta for your favorite gluten free brand.

Directions

Preparing ingredients for salad steps 1-4.

  1. Plan ahead for this step so you have enough time to marinate the chicken. I like to put mine in the marinade in the morning so it’s all ready to go when dinner time rolls around.
  2. While you’re marinating the chicken, mix the tomatoes and basil together and store in refrigerator. That’s 2 steps out of the way making dinner quicker and easier.
  3. Preheat the grill. Take the chicken out of the marinade and discard marinade. Place the chicken and the peppers on the grill and cook until done.
  4. Place on a cutting board and chop the chicken and dice peppers.

Steps for mixing salad 5-10.

  1. Cook the pasta according to package directions. Add olive oil. By the way, you can also prep the pasta ahead of time too. To store, toss with the oil and cheese then place in refrigerator until ready to use.
  2. Sprinkle pasta with cheese.
  3. Toss well.
  4. In a large bowl, place pasta, tomatoes and basil, peppers and chicken.
  5. Drizzle your favorite balsamic dressing over everything. You won’t believe the difference that the balsamic vinegar brings to this grilled chicken pasta salad. In fact, when using it on other grilled vegetables, it brings out their flavor and a hint of sweetness. It does the same with this dish by sweetening the peppers and tenderizing the chicken.
  6. Add spinach, toss, then dig in.

Closeup of spoonful of pasta salad over white salad bowl.

I love to bring this salad along for picnics and when asked to potlucks. It’s easy to carry and easily stretches two chicken breasts to accommodate a crowd. If you want rave reviews from your family or at your next get-together, you’ve just got to try this recipe. Go ahead, take a bite and savor the bright summer flavors. Enjoy!

More easy salads 

Chicken Salad with Grapes and Walnuts – is easy to make salad that can be on the table in 15 minutes. Toss rotisserie chicken with crunchy walnuts & celery, sweeten with grapes & add a touch of light mayo. A deliciously light salad for  a quick lunch or dinner.

Chicken Salad Bowl – think noodle bowl meets healthy salad for a perfect  lunch or light dinner. Toss rice noodles with chicken, oranges and vegetables then finish with a ginger soy dressing. 

Healthy Quinoa Salad – has all the Mediterranean flavors you love and is both gluten free and vegetarian.

Love quick & easy recipes? Follow me on Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest & Twitter for all the latest recipe inspiration! Plus join my  email list here and receive our free e-book.

 

Overhead of tossed chicken salad in white bowl with turquoise server set.

Grilled Chicken Pasta Salad with Balsamic Dressing

The perfect salad for light summertime eating as well as for your next BBQ. The grilled chicken, basil & vegetables combine with the balsamic dressing to bring a smoky flavor with a bit of earthiness to this easy to make chicken pasta salad.
5 from 2 votes
Print Rate
Course: Salad
Cuisine: American
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 16 minutes
Total Time: 46 minutes
Servings: 8 servings
Calories: 493kcal
Author: Linda Warren

Ingredients

  • 1 lb. boneless chicken breasts
  • 1 1/2 cups of your favorite Balsamic Vinaigrette divided
  • 1/2 cup fresh basil, chopped
  • 3 plum tomatoes, chopped
  • 3/4 cup combination of yellow, red & green bell peppers cut in quarters
  • 10 ounces penne pasta (gluten-free or quinoa pasta is great for those on a GF diet)
  • 1/2 Tablespoon olive oil
  • 3/4 cup Parmesan or Pecorino Romano cheese, shredded
  • 2 cups firmly packed fresh spinach, chopped
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

Instructions

  • Place chicken in a resealable bag with 1 cup of balsamic vinaigrette. Shake to cover chicken then marinate in refrigerator for at least 2 hours.
  • While chicken is marinating, chop tomatoes and basil and put in resealable bag together and place in refrigerator for at least 30 minutes.
  • Remove chicken from marinade, discarding marinade, then grill chicken for 6 minutes on each side until cooked through. At the same time, place pepper quarters on the grill & cook 2 minutes per side.
  • Remove all from grill. Chop chicken & dice peppers.
  • While chicken is grilling, cook pasta according to package directions; drain.
  • Transfer pasta to a large bowl and drizzle with 1/2 tablespoon olive oil and ¾ cup cheese. Let cool 10 minutes or prepare earlier in the day and refrigerate until ready to use.
  • Toss together pasta, chicken, spinach, tomato basil mixture, peppers and remaining balsamic dressing. Salt and pepper to taste. Cover and chill at least 30 minutes before serving.

Notes

Total time does not include the 2 hours of marinating time.
Variations
This is one meal that you can easily make to your family’s taste.
  • Change out the chicken for shrimp, fish, pork or go vegetarian with tofu.
  • Opt for fresh greens, arugula or romaine in place of spinach.
  • Add more vegetables such as green beans, corn, carrots or asparagus
  • Different herbs will bring different flavors. Try Italian seasoning, oregano or thyme.
  • Of course, if you’re a cheese lover like me, add a few sprinkles of Parmesan or feta to the mix.

Nutrition

Calories: 493kcal | Carbohydrates: 30g | Protein: 20g | Fat: 32g | Saturated Fat: 7g | Cholesterol: 42mg | Sodium: 195mg | Potassium: 343mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 2g | Vitamin A: 1125IU | Vitamin C: 31.2mg | Calcium: 139mg | Iron: 1.3mg

This post has been updated with better instructions and photos. It was first published on August 31, 2014.

Grilled Chicken Pasta Salad with Balsamic Dressing
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