Pasta Salad With Chicken and Bacon

Pasta Salad With Chicken and Bacon
Pasta Salad With Chicken and Bacon. Diana Rattray
  • 30 mins
  • Prep: 20 mins,
  • Cook: 10 mins
  • Yield: Serves 6 to 8
Ratings (37)

This chicken pasta salad gets a burst of flavor from the smoky bacon, along with diced tomatoes, celery, and onion. I used mini penne pasta in this recipe, but macaroni or similar pasta shapes would work as well. The lightly seasoned mayonnaise and lemon juice dressing adds 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. See the variations for more.

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

What You'll Need

  • 8 ounces mini penne pasta or macaroni
  • 6 to 8 slices bacon, diced and cooked until done but not quite crisp
  • 2 cups diced cooked chicken breast (about 2 to 3 chicken breast halves, cooked)
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped red onion
  • 2 plum tomatoes, seeds removed, diced
  • 2 ribs celery, diced
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley, plus more for garnish
  • 1/2 to 3/4 cup mayonnaise
  • juice of 1/2 lemon
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

How to Make It

  1. In a large skillet over medium heat, cook the diced bacon until almost crisp. Transfer to paper towels to drain. 
  2. 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 — following the package directions for time — until firm. Pour into a colander to drain thoroughly.
  3. Meanwhile, in a large bowl, combine the cooked drained bacon, the diced chicken, red onion, tomatoes, celery, and parsley. Add the drained warm or cooled pasta and toss to blend the ingredients. 
  1. In a small bowl combine 1/2 cup of the mayonnaise with the lemon juice and garlic powder. Gently stir into the pasta and chicken salad mixture until blended. Add more mayonnaise, as needed, to taste.
  2. Season with salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste. 
  3. Cover and refrigerate until serving time. Sprinkle with fresh chopped parsley just before serving.

Serves 6 to 8.

Expert 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.

Variations and Substitutions

  • 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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