Chicken Fajita Pasta Salad
Published Jul 11, 2023, Updated Jul 24, 2023
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This chicken fajita pasta salad is packed with flavorful sautéed veggies, fresh tomatoes and shredded chicken all tossed in a cilantro lime dressing. Perfect for meal prep or as a side for summer parties.
I shared this chicken fajita pasta salad recipe on Instagram last month and it was such a hit, I knew I needed to get it up on the blog ASAP!
This recipe has all the flavors of chicken fajitas, just in pasta salad form. And let me tell ya, it doesn’t skimp on flavor! It’s seriously so good. I can’t wait for you to try it!
Why You’ll Love This Recipe
- Packed with flavor: The combination of taco seasoning and a cilantro lime dressing ensures that every bite is packed with incredible flavors.
- Quick and easy: This salad comes together in a matter of minutes once your pasta is cooked, especially if you’re using rotisserie chicken.
- Perfect for gatherings: This pasta salad is a crowd-pleaser, making it an ideal side dish for summer potlucks, BBQs or picnics. It’s also a great addition to a Cinco De Mayo party!
- Great for meal prep: This salad stores well in the fridge, making it a great recipe to meal prep for quick lunches or dinners throughout the week.
- Balanced meal: With protein from the chicken, carbs from the pasta and a variety of veggies, this is a well-rounded meal that’s satisfying and nutritious.
- pasta – I used regular penne pasta for this salad. While I do love legume-based pasta, I wasn’t sure how it would hold up in this salad so I haven’t experimented with it yet. If you decide to try it let me know how it goes in the comment section!
- olive oil – for sautéing the veggies.
- peppers – an essential ingredient for fajitas! I used a combination of red and yellow bell peppers and poblano peppers, but you can use all bell peppers and whatever color peppers you have on hand.
- red onion – another must for fajitas! Red onion adds a punchy and somewhat sweet flavor without overwhelming the dish. Feel free to use a yellow onion if that’s what you have on hand.
- taco seasoning – I used my homemade taco seasoning to season this salad, which combines cumin, chili powder, paprika, garlic powder, onion powder, oregano, red pepper flakes, sea salt and black pepper together. For a shortcut use your favorite store-bought seasoning instead. My favorite store-bought brand is the Siete taco seasoning. It’s made with simple ingredients and lightly sweetened with date powder.
- cherry tomatoes – these little gems are quartered for a sweet and juicy addition. They provide a burst of freshness to this salad.
- chicken – the main source of protein and what makes this salad more filling. I like using rotisserie chicken for a shortcut here or if you have chicken breasts on hand use my foolproof method for slow cooker shredded chicken or instant pot shredded chicken.
- fresh cilantro – I love adding fresh herbs to my dishes and fresh cilantro pairs perfectly with the rest of the ingredients!
- cilantro lime dressing – the star of the show, IMO! This flavorful dressing ties all the ingredients together with its tangy and vibrant flavors. It’s a perfect combination of herbs and citrus that takes this salad to the next level.
- salt and pepper – use these to taste, for seasoning.
How to Make
Cook pasta: Cook the pasta according to the package instructions. Drain and set aside.
Sauté veggies: In a large skillet, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the bell peppers, poblano pepper and onion to the skillet. Sauté, stirring occasionally, until veggies are tender and slightly caramelized, about 7-10 minutes. Add taco seasoning and stir until well combined and all the veggies are coated in the seasoning. Remove from the heat and let cool.
Make dressing: While the veggies are cooling make the dressing by blending together olive oil, lime juice, cilantro, garlic, maple syrup, sea salt, ground pepper and coriander until smooth and creamy. Set aside.
Combine: In a large bowl, combine the cooked pasta, fajita veggies, cherry tomatoes and shredded rotisserie chicken. Pour the dressing over everything and toss to combine.
Serve: Taste and adjust the seasoning with salt and pepper if needed and sprinkle chopped fresh cilantro on top. Serve the pasta salad immediately or refrigerate for later use.
Cilantro Lime Dressing
If you’ve ever looked at the label on store-bought dressings, you’ll know that most brands include a ton of added sugar, cheap oil(s) like canola or vegetable oil and loads of preservatives to make it shelf-stable.
That’s why I typically prefer to make homemade salad dressings like the cilantro lime dressing in this recipe. It’s naturally sweetened and made with minimal, whole-food ingredients!
It’s light and tangy and pairs perfectly with the rest of the ingredients in this pasta salad. And you probably already have most (if not all) of the ingredients in your kitchen right now.
Substitutions & Notes
Pasta: Any short pasta will work well in this recipe. Feel free to substitute the penne with fusilli, bow tie, rigatoni or even macaroni. Experimenting with different shapes can be fun and might bring a new texture to the dish.
Gluten-free: As I mentioned above, I haven’t tested this recipe with gluten-free pasta so I’m not sure how it will hold up. That said, feel free to experiment with brown rice pasta or legume pasta if you want. My favorite gluten-free pasta options are this Banza rotini chickpea pasta and Barilla chickpea rotini pasta.
Vegan: If you want to make this pasta salad vegan-friendly, swap the shredded chicken with black beans or chickpeas.
Dressing: For a shortcut use a store-bought dressing, just be mindful of the ingredients as many store-bought dressings are loaded with unnecessary sugars and ingredients. This Primal Kitchen Cilantro Lime Dressing seems like a good store-bought option.
Additional mix-ins/toppings: Feel free to customize this salad and add additional toppings or mix-ins if you want. Some ideas: sour cream (or Greek yogurt), fresh avocado slices, a drizzle of salsa, shredded cheese, green onion, etc.
What to Serve with Chicken Fajita Pasta Salad
If you’re making this chicken fajita pasta salad for a potluck or Cinco De Mayo party here are some ideas on what else you could serve with this salad:
- Mexican Street Corn Salad – an EBF fan fave that would pair nicely with this salad.
- Guacamole – can’t go wrong with a bowl of homemade guacamole served with tortilla chips. For a healthier alternative, try my healthy guacamole made with frozen peas!
- Easy Black Bean Dip – another great dip option to serve with tortilla chips.
- Creamy Vegan Queso – if you’re looking for a healthier queso dip, try this vegan version. It’s so good!
- Healthy 7-Layer Dip – my go-to dip for Cinco De Mayo and summer parties. It’s basically a combo of Tex-Mex dips and sauces, layered into one epic dip that’s perfect for sharing.
- Skinny Margarita or Skinny Paloma – what’s a party without beverages!
How to Store
This salad stores really well in the fridge making it a great make-ahead salad for meal prep!
To make it in advance: You can prep the salad the night before and let it chill in the fridge until serving. Just like most pasta salads, it gets better as it sits!
To store leftovers: Store any leftovers in an airtight container in the refrigerator for 4-5 days.
More Pasta Salads to Try
- Healthy Pasta Salad
- Vegan Pesto Pasta Salad
- Greek Pasta Salad
- Lemon Orzo Salad
- Pesto Spaghetti Squash Salad
- Caprese Pasta Salad
- Poppy Seed Chicken Pasta Salad
- Tuna, Broccoli and Kale Caesar Pasta Salad
More Mexican-Inspired Recipes
- Healthy Chicken Enchiladas
- Mexican Street Corn Salad
- Ground Turkey Tacos
- Cauliflower Tacos
- Turkey Taco Meal Prep Bowl
- Chicken Fajita Bowls
- Chicken Burrito Bowl
- Healthy Taco Salad
- Vegan Burrito Bowl
Chicken Fajita Pasta Salad
- 8 ounces pasta, fusilli or penne
- 1-2 Tablespoon olive oil
- 1 red bell pepper, sliced and cut in half
- 1 yellow bell pepper, sliced and cut in half
- 1 poblano pepper, sliced and cut in half
- ½ red onion, thinly sliced and cut in half
- 3 Tablespoons taco seasoning
- 1 cup cherry tomatoes, quartered
- 2 cups shredded, or chopped rotisserie chicken
- ¼ cup chopped fresh cilantro
- 1 batch cilantro lime dressing
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Cook the pasta according to the package instructions. Drain and set aside.
- In a large skillet, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the bell peppers, poblano pepper, onion to a skillet. Saute, stirring occasionally, until they are tender and slightly caramelized, about 7-10 minutes.
- Add taco seasoning and stir until well combined and all the veggies are coated in the seasoning. Remove from the heat and let cool.
- While veggies are cooling make dressing and set aside.
- In a large mixing bowl, combine the cooked pasta, fajita veggies, cherry tomatoes and shredded rotisserie chicken.
- Pour dressing over and toss everything together until well combined.
- Taste and adjust the seasoning with salt and pepper if needed and sprinkle chopped fresh cilantro on top. Serve the pasta salad immediately or refrigerate for later use.
Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.