Poppy seed chicken pasta salad makes for the perfect summer side or easy dinner with bowtie pasta, chicken, sweet grapes and crunchy almonds all in a creamy poppy seed dressing.
I’m just going to come out and say that you are going to want to keep this poppy seed chicken pasta salad stocked in your fridge all summer long!
It’s perfect for meal prep and makes for a great lunch or light dinner throughout the week. It’s also an amazing make-ahead side dish to bring to all your summer cookouts.
And don’t even get me started on the super simple, tangy yet sweet poppyseed dressing… it’s chef’s kiss!
This healthy chicken pasta salad requires only 6 simple ingredients, plus the dressing. And the recipe makes a lot so it’s great for meal prep and serving a crowd! Here’s what you need:
Cook pasta: Prepare according to the package instructions. I typically like to cook my pasta al dente so it doesn’t get too soft. Once your pasta is cooked, rinse it with cold water and drain well. This cools it and stops it from cooking any longer than it needs to.
Roast almonds: Place whole almonds in a preheated oven for 10 minutes, stirring halfway through. Let cool then chop up. If you want to skip this step, purchase already-roasted almonds at your local grocery store and chop them before adding to the salad.
Prepare dressing: While pasta is cooking and almonds are roasting, make dressing by whisking together all ingredients in a small bowl. Refrigerate until ready to use.
Put it all together: In a large bowl, combine the pasta, chicken, grapes, celery, onion and almonds. Pour on the dressing and gently toss to combine. Taste and add more salt and pepper, if desired.
Serve: Serve right away or refrigerate in a sealed storage container for 1-2 hours, or until ready to serve.
If you’ve ever looked at the label for store-bought poppyseed dressing, 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.
My version is made with minimal, whole-food ingredients!
It’s light, while still being creamy and is made with a base of Greek yogurt instead of mayonnaise so you get a boost of added protein!
Other than the poppy seeds (which you may need to add to your shopping list), you likely have the rest of the ingredients in your pantry and fridge so this is the perfect recipe to keep on hand!
Red grapes: You could also use green grapes in this recipe, but they tend to be less sweet and aren’t as colorful. If you are a fan of more tart than sweet, you could also sub-dried tart cherries or dried cranberries.
Yellow onion: Allergic or not a fan of yellow onion? Feel free to skip it. The yellow onion provides a mild background flavor. If you want more onion flavor, try red onion instead. Green onions would also be a wonderful substitute.
Almonds: Want to put this salad together even faster? Skip the roasting and purchase pre-roasted almonds at the store. Feel free to use salted or unsalted roasted almonds. If you use salted almonds, you may want to reduce the amount of salt you use in the dressing. You can also swap for a different nut like pecans or walnuts if you don’t like almonds or have an allergy.
With a combo of chicken, sweet grapes, crunchy almonds and tender pasta, this chicken pasta salad stands on its own for an easy, breezy lunch or dinner. It’s also perfect to bring along to any summer picnic, potluck or cookout.
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 for 3-4 days in the refrigerator.