Chicken Macaroni Salad! A delicious cross between a creamy pasta salad and a chicken salad. Super easy to throw together and a great way to use up leftover chicken. Perfect for lunch or a quick weeknight dinner and great for summer BBQs and picnics as well!
What Is Chicken Macaroni Salad?
Chicken macaroni salad is a type of creamy pasta salad. Just imagine if a chicken salad and a macaroni salad got together and had a delicious love child. This recipe would be the result! Loaded with chicken, lots of veggies and macaroni that all gets tossed together in a creamy and super yummy dressing. It’s so good!
Why You’ll Love It
Obviously it’s delicious but here are some other reasons why you will love this macaroni chicken salad recipe…
- Easy to make: Super easy to throw together especially if you are using store bought rotisserie chicken or leftover cooked chicken.
- Perfect for meal prep: Keeps well in the fridge for a few days.
- Kid friendly: Most kids tend to like creamy pasta salads like this one. It’s also a great lunch box idea.
- Great use for leftover chicken: It’s a fantastic way to use up leftover cooked chicken! Or meal plan to cook up some extra chicken for dinner one night so that you can make this salad the next day.
- Customizable: This recipe is basically a template so play with it! Check out the “Possible Variations” section for some ideas.
- Versatile and perfect any time of year: Perfect for lunch or a quick and easy weeknight dinner any time of year. Also makes a great dish for a summer BBQ, potluck or picnic.
Ingredients You’ll Need
Here’s what you’ll need to make this delicious pasta salad…
- Macaroni: Or your favorite short cut pasta instead.
- Chicken: Shredded or chopped cooked chicken. It can be grilled, roasted, poached, leftover from the night before or a store bought rotisserie chicken.
- Veggies: A variety of vegetables to add color, texture and taste. I like the combo of diced celery and red bell pepper, grated carrot, corn, chopped onion and fresh chives and parsley. The herbs are optional and any of the veggies can be substituted for whatever you like.
- Dressing: A creamy dressing made from mayo, sour cream, Dijon mustard, apple cider vinegar, seasoned with chicken bouillon powder, salt and pepper. I highly recommend using this delicious homemade bouillon powder – it adds incredible flavor to this dressing.
Detailed ingredient list and directions located in the recipe card below.
How To Make Chicken Macaroni Salad
Ready to make some? It’s so easy to put together! Simply…
- Cook the macaroni: Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and cook the macaroni according to package directions. Drain and immediately rinse under cold water until the pasta is cooled. Drain well and set aside.
- Chop up the chicken and veggies: Shred or chop up the cooked chicken and cut up all the veggies.
- Make the dressing: In a small mixing bowl, whisk together the dressing ingredients until smooth.
- Combine: Time to toss it all together now! Eat immediately or refrigerate for at least an hour first to help the flavors meld together.
Storage + Make Ahead Tips
How long does chicken macaroni salad last?
It will keep in the fridge for up to 3-4 days stored in an airtight container. Don’t leave it out at room temperature for more than 2 hours.
Can it be made ahead?
This is a fantastic make ahead salad! It actually tastes even better if it has had at least an hour of chill time in the fridge. This helps the flavors meld together.
If you are making it more than a few hours ahead of time, you can also leave some of the dressing aside (or make some extra) to mix through before serving.
Is it meal prep friendly?
Definitely! Since it keeps well in the fridge, this is a fantastic salad for meal prep. You can portion it out in individual meal prep containers or store it in one large container. It is also great for lunch boxes!
This recipe is basically a template for a macaroni salad with chicken. Play with it to suit your tastes or what you have on hand. This is a fun salad to play with and customize. Here are a few ideas…
- Use a different pasta shape: Instead of macaroni, you can use any short cut pasta you like (e.g. rotini, farfalle, orecchiette, cavatappi, etc.)
- Use different veggies and herbs: Swap out the veggies and herbs for whatever you like or have around.
- Add in some fun stuff: Add fun ingredients like bacon, cheese, roasted red peppers, pickles, chopped hard boiled eggs, olives or something sweet like grapes or chopped apples.
- Make it gluten free: Simply use gluten free pasta
- Make it dairy free: Swap the sour cream for additional mayo.
- Replace chicken: Replace the chicken with tuna for a yummy tuna macaroni salad. Or make it vegetarian by replacing the chicken with chickpeas.
- Make it tangier: Adjust the vinegar to taste if you prefer it tangier.
This salad can be served on its own as a lunch or light dinner. Also delicious served alongside BBQ, with roasted meats, or as part of a picnic or potluck spread.
Yes! Not only does it cool it off quickly but it also washes away the extra starch so it doesn’t stick together.
Definitely! You can replace the macaroni with any short cut pasta you like.
It’s not suitable for freezing.
There could be a few reasons for this. You might have undercooked your pasta which allows it to continue to absorb dressing. Or perhaps it is not being stored in an airtight container in the fridge. It will naturally absorb some dressing if it is stored in the fridge for a longer period of time. In this case, you could also make some additional dressing to mix through before serving if you like it extra creamy.
This chicken macaroni salad is a delicious cross between a creamy pasta salad and a chicken salad. Super easy to throw together and a great way to use up leftover chicken! This recipe is basically a template so play with it and have fun! (you can find some ideas in the “Possible Variations” section of the post).
For the salad:
- 1 pound uncooked macaroni (454 g)
- 3 cups shredded or chopped cooked chicken (approx. 2 large chicken breasts)
- 1/2 cup grated carrots
- 1 red bell pepper, finely diced
- 2 celery stalks, finely diced
- 1 cup corn kernels
- 1/2 cup finely chopped sweet onion or sliced green onions
- Optional: 1/4 cup chopped fresh herbs (e.g. chives and parsley)
For the dressing:
- Cook macaroni: Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and cook the macaroni according to package directions. Drain and immediately rinse under cold water until the pasta is cooled. Drain well and set aside.
- Make dressing: In a small mixing bowl, whisk together the dressing ingredients until smooth.
- Combine: Place the cooked and cooled macaroni in a large mixing bowl along with the remaining salad ingredients. Pour over the dressing and toss to combine. Adjust seasonings to taste and serve immediately or refrigerate for at least an hour first to help the flavors meld together.
- Chicken: Any type of cooked chicken works (roasted, poached, grilled, etc.). This salad is a fantastic way to use up leftover cooked chicken (or plan on cooking up extra for this reason!). As a shortcut, you can also just purchase a rotisserie chicken.
- Bouillon powder: I like to use this delicious homemade bouillon powder. It’s a staple in my spice drawer and adds amazing flavor to this salad.
- Macaroni: You can swap the macaroni out for any short cut pasta you like (e.g. farfalle, orecchiette, cavatappi, rotini, etc.)
- Storage: Keeps in the fridge for up to 3-4 days stored in an airtight container. Don’t leave it out at room temperature for more than 2 hours.
Keywords: chicken macaroni salad, macaroni salad with chicken, chicken pasta salad
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