This Chicken Pasta Salad features a ton of fresh ingredients, such as peaches, spinach, and tomatoes. The vinaigrette-based dressing is made completely from scratch, without any mayonnaise or other creamy ingredients. This salad comes together in just 30 minutes and is made a little bit healthier with the addition of fresh veggies and fruit! Enjoy it year-round, bring it to picnics, cookouts, and barbecues!
Chicken pasta salad
What I love about this recipe is that it’s a healthier take on what we usually mean by a chicken pasta salad. There is no mayo involved and no creamy salad dressing. But, there are lots of fresh fruit and vegetables! It’s a perfect salad to make in the Summer and year-round. Because it’s packed with protein (chicken), you can serve it as a weeknight dinner for your family or as a beautiful side dish when entertaining guests. Made in just 30 minutes, here is the perfect chicken pasta salad:
- In this recipe, I sear the skinless boneless chicken thighs in olive oil and Italian seasoning.
- I toss the pasta in a homemade vinaigrette-style dressing made with olive oil, Balsamic vinegar, mustard, fresh lemon juice, and just a touch of honey.
- I combine the pasta with fresh fruit and vegetables: yellow peaches (you can use canned ones, too), cherry tomatoes, and spinach.
- And, don’t forget small Mozzarella cheese balls (also known as “pearls”)!
A Summer staple
It’s a wonderful recipe to make in the Summer. Make a double batch and bring it to picnics, potlucks, backyard parties, barbecues, and other Summer gatherings. Or, make it when it’s too hot outside – this peach chicken pasta salad is super light and refreshing. It comes together quickly (in just 30 minutes!) and can be your lunch, snack, side dish, or even dinner!
Why you’ll love this recipe
- It’s super easy to make, especially if you use leftover cooked chicken or cooked rotisserie chicken.
- It’s a flexible and easily adjustable recipe perfect for any occasion. Adjust the seasoning, and change or add the ingredients (fruits, veggies) for your preference.
- Because it is, after all, a chicken salad – you can serve it as a simple weeknight dinner year-round. If you can’t find fresh peaches, use canned or frozen ones.
- Chicken. I pan-seared skinless and boneless chicken thighs, then sliced them thinly. To make this recipe even more simple, use leftover cooked chicken or pre-cooked rotisserie chicken.
- Pasta. I used spiral pasta called fusilli. You can also use rotini, farfalle (bow-tie pasta), penne, rigatone.
- Peaches. It’s best to use fresh yellow peaches. I prefer to buy peaches that are somewhat firm in texture – not rock solid, but also not too soft.
- Spinach is a leafy green vegetable high in fiber and is a great source of many vitamins and minerals, including Vitamin A, Vitamin C, Iron, Calcium, Magnesium, and Potassium. Use this delicious and healthy veggie in chicken pasta salad.
- The Prosciutto adds a wonderful salty flavor. I crisped it up in the preheated oven at 350 F for about 10 minutes.
Honey-mustard vinaigrette-style dressing
I love making my own salad dressings – they taste so fresh and you know exactly what goes into them. This chicken pasta salad pairs well with a vinaigrette-style dressing that I made with pantry staples. It was super easy to make.
- I combined olive oil, balsamic vinegar, lemon juice freshly squeezed, Dijon mustard, honey, and Italian seasoning in a mason jar
- Then, I whisked everything well with the fork until emulsified.
- You can also close the mason jar with the lid and shake it vigorously instead.
The Directions – How to make chicken pasta salad
- First, cook pasta according to package instructions. Drain it when it’s cooked through. Proceed with the rest of the recipe while the pasta is cooking.
- Crisp up the prosciutto in the preheated oven at 350 F on a parchment paper-lined baking sheet for about 10 minutes.
- Next, cook skinless boneless chicken thighs (seasoned with Italian seasoning, chili powder, salt, and pepper) in olive oil until cooked through. Remove from heat and slice cooked chicken thinly. Or, you can use pre-cooked chicken or rotisserie chicken.
- While the pasta is cooking, make the salad dressing by combining the olive oil, balsamic vinegar, Dijon mustard, Italian seasoning, and freshly squeezed lemon juice (from half a lemon) in a mason jar and whisking until emulsified.
- Finally, you will combine cooked and drained pasta with the salad dressing in the same pot where you cooked the pasta and mix everything well. Then, add in the remaining salad ingredients: sliced yellow peaches, cherry or grape tomatoes, spinach, Mozzarella cheese balls (pearls), and crispy Prosciutto.
- For a final touch, garnish the peach chicken pasta salad with chopped chives or green onions!
Recipe tips and recommendations
- Serve it warm or at room temperature. Who likes cold chicken? This chicken peach pasta salad tastes the best when it’s a bit warmed up.
- Peaches. Take advantage of the Summer’s produce and use fresh yellow peaches when in season. During other times of the year, you can use frozen peaches (thawed) or canned peaches (drained really well of all juices or syrup).
- Use leftover chicken. This is a great recipe to use the leftover cooked chicken breast or rotisserie chicken.
- Use different greens, such as arugula, garden greens, or lettuce.
- Swap out the prosciutto for chopped cooked bacon.
- Cook pasta al dente. To cook pasta al dente means to cook the pasta so that it’s soft yet firm at the core of the noodle. It should feel firm to the bite, hard under your teeth, while being soft yet not mushy. This kind of texture works the best with the peach pasta salad.
- Make it gluten-free by using brown rice pasta, lentil pasta, chickpea pasta, or any other gluten-free choices.
- Add nuts for crunch and texture. Toasted pine nuts, pecans, almonds, and walnuts will work well.
- Use a different kind of cheese. My favorites include feta, parmesan, goat cheese, and Cotija cheese.
How to store it
- This chicken pasta salad keeps well refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 3 days.
- For best results, add spinach only when ready to serve.
How to make it ahead
- Make ahead the salad dressing. Keep it in a clean glass jar (such as a mason jar) with a lid. Refrigerate for up to a week.
- To make the salad ahead, combine sliced peaches, cherry or grape tomatoes, cooked pasta, sliced cooked chicken, crispy prosciutto (skip adding spinach), and salad dressing and mix well. Even if you keep the salad refrigerated, the salad dressing will absorb into the pasta and it will taste even better the next day!
- Add spinach last – right before serving. Otherwise, it will wilt too much.
Other pasta salads you might like
Chicken Pasta Salad with Spinach and Peaches
This Chicken Pasta Salad features a ton of fresh ingredients, such as peaches, spinach, and tomatoes. The vinaigrette-based dressing is made completely from scratch, without any mayonnaise. This recipe comes together in 30 minutes and is made a little bit healthier with the addition of fresh veggies and fruit! Enjoy it year-round, bring it to picnics, cookouts, and barbecues!
Ingredients you need to cook
- 3 oz Prosciutto
- 8 oz fusilli spiral pasta or use rotini, farfalle (bow-tie), penne, or rigatoni
- 1 lb chicken thighs skinless, boneless
- 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
- ½ teaspoon chili powder
- salt and black pepper to taste
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- ½ cup extra virgin olive oil
- ⅓ cup balsamic vinegar
- 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
- 1 tablespoon Italian seasoning
- ½ whole lemon – juice freshly squeezed
- 2 tablespoons honey
Fresh Salad Ingredients
- 2 yellow peaches medium size
- 5 oz red cherry tomatoes or grape tomatoes
- 5 oz yellow cherry tomatoes or grape tomatoes
- 8 oz fresh Mozzarella cheese (pearls – small balls)
- 5 oz spinach fresh
- chives or green onions, chopped, for garnish
Preheat the oven to 350 F. Spread Prosciutto in a single layer on a parchment paper-lined baking sheet.
Toast for about 10 minutes or more until crispy. Remove from oven.
Proceed with the rest of the recipe, while the oven is getting preheated and while you crisp up the prosciutto.
Bring a large pot of water to boil. Add pasta and cook pasta al dente according to the package instructions.
Proceed with the rest of the recipe while the pasta is cooking.
When the pasta is done, drain. Keep the drained pasta in the same pot where you cooked it.
Generously season the chicken thighs with Italian seasoning, chili powder, salt, and freshly ground black pepper.
Heat an empty cast-iron skillet over medium heat for 2 minutes. This allows the cast-iron skillet to heat through. Add 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Add chicken thighs. Cook the chicken on medium heat for 5 minutes on one side, without moving it.
Flip the chicken thighs over, reduce heat to low-medium, and cook for about 5 more minutes or longer on the other side, undisturbed, until it’s cooked through. The meat thermometer should register 165°F (74°C) in the thickest part of the chicken. Remove from heat.
Slice chicken thinly.
Wash, core, and slice yellow peaches into wedges.
Slice each cherry (or grape) tomato in half.
In a pot where you cooked the pasta, combine warm, cooked, and drained pasta together with the salad dressing. Mix well.
Add sliced peaches, cherry tomatoes, Mozzarella cheese, spinach, and crispy Prosciutto. Toss to combine.
Note: If you like your pasta salad a bit warm, reheat gently and briefly without adding spinach first. Add spinach off heat to the salad right before serving.
When serving, top each individual portion with thinly sliced cooked chicken and chopped chives (or green onions).
The nutritional information on this website is only an estimate and is provided for convenience and as a courtesy only. The accuracy of the nutritional information for any recipe on this site is not guaranteed. It should not be used as a substitute for a professional nutritionist’s advice.