Poppy Seed Chicken Pasta Salad

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!

A bowl of poppyseed chicken pasta salad. A spoon rests in the bowl.

Why You’ll Love This Recipe

  • It’s made with minimal ingredients but filled with lots of flavor.
  • It’s quick and easy to put together, making it great for meal prep.
  • The chicken and Greek yogurt-based poppyseed dressing make this pasta salad higher in protein than most!
Ingredients measured out to make Poppyseed Chicken Pasta Salad: poppyseed dressing, bow-tie pasta, onion, grapes, chicken, celery and almonds.

Ingredients Needed

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:

  • bow tie pasta – I used regular, bow tie 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!
  • cooked chicken – You can shred or dice your cooked chicken, whichever you prefer. I like using rotisserie chicken for a shortcut here or use my foolproof method for slow cooker shredded chicken or instant pot shredded chicken.
  • red grapes – for a pop of color and burst of sweetness. Green grapes also work but I prefer red!
  • celery – adds a bit more color, freshness and of course, crunch.
  • yellow onion – for a mild oniony flavor that compliments the salad.
  • almonds – almonds provide that extra layer of salty, crunchy, nutty goodness. Buy raw almonds and roast them yourself or save a little time and buy pre-roasted almonds.
  • poppyseed dressing – a sweet and tangy dressing made with Greek yogurt, apple cider vinegar, avocado or olive oil, maple syrup, poppy seeds and sea salt.
Collage of six photos showing the steps to make Poppyseed Chicken Pasta Salad, from making the dressing, toasting the almonds, and then tossing all of the ingredients and dressing together in a bowl.

How to Make Poppy Seed Chicken Pasta Salad

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.

Bowl of poppyseed dressing with a whisk.

Healthier Poppyseed Dressing

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!

Poppyseed chicken pasta salad in a mixing bowl.

Substitutions & Notes

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.

A bowl containing poppyseed chicken pasta salad with a spoon.

How to Serve

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.

How to Store Leftovers

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.

An overhead view of a bowl with poppyseed chicken pasta salad and a spoon.

More Pasta Salad Recipes

Be sure to check out all of the pasta salad recipes as well as the full collection of salad recipes on EBF!

Poppy Seed Chicken Pasta Salad

5 from 9 votes
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.
A bowl of poppyseed chicken pasta salad. A spoon rests in the bowl.
Prep Time 25 minutes
Total Time 25 minutes
Servings 6

Ingredients

  • 8 oz bow tie pasta
  • 2 cups shredded or diced cooked chicken, about 1 lb cooked boneless chicken breasts
  • 1 ½ cups halved red grapes
  • 4 stalks celery, diced (about 1 cup)
  • ½ yellow onion, diced (about 1 cup)
  • 1 cup whole raw almonds

Poppy Seed Dressing

  • 1 cup plain Greek yogurt, I used whole milk
  • ¼ cup apple cider vinegar
  • ¼ cup avocado or olive oil
  • ¼ cup maple syrup
  • 4 teaspoons poppy seeds
  • 2 teaspoons sea salt

Instructions
 

  • Cook pasta according to the package instructions. Drain and rinse with cold water to cool.
  • Preheat oven to 350°F. Add almonds to a baking sheet and place in oven to toast. Stir almonds after 5 minutes. Allow to toast about 5 minutes longer or until the almonds are golden and fragrant. Remove from oven and allow almonds to cool then chop. Set aside.
    Toasted almonds on a sheet pan.
  • While pasta is cooking and almonds are roasting, make dressing by whisking together all ingredients in a small bowl. Refrigerate until ready to use.
    Poppyseed dressing in a mixing bow with a spoon.
  • In a large bowl, combine the pasta, chicken, grapes, celery, onion and chopped almonds.
    Ingredients for pasta salad in a bowl.
  • Pour the dressing over the pasta salad and gently toss to combine. Taste for and add more salt and pepper, if needed. Serve right away or refrigerate in a container with a lid for 1-2 hours or until ready to serve.
    Poppyseed dressing added to pasta salad ingredients mixed together in a bowl.

Notes

  • Red grapes: Feel free to swap for green grapes, dried cranberries or dried cherries. 
  • 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 store-bought roasted almonds. You can 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.

Nutrition

Serving: 1/6 recipe Calories: 534kcal Carbohydrates: 52g Protein: 24g Fat: 27g Saturated Fat: 4g Polyunsaturated Fat: 5g Monounsaturated Fat: 15g Cholesterol: 39mg Sodium: 845mg Potassium: 519mg Fiber: 5g Sugar: 18g
Course: Salad
Cuisine: American
Keyword: poppy seed chicken pasta salad

DID YOU MAKE THIS RECIPE?

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Recipe Rating




    10 comments
    1. Cindy B.
      July 11, 2022 AT 11:00 am

      5 stars
      What a great change to a “typical” pasta salad! The flavors just pop in your mouth! Dressing was so flavorful!

      1. Brittany Mullins
        July 11, 2022 AT 6:14 pm

        I am so happy that you enjoyed this recipe, Cindy! Thank you for your review + star rating, I so appreciate it!

    2. Hope
      July 9, 2022 AT 12:29 pm

      Sorry if I am missing it, but did you chop the almonds? The pics look like they are chopped but I didn’t read that you chopped them. Making this for work lunches this week! Thanks!

      1. Brittany Mullins
        July 11, 2022 AT 1:01 pm

        Hey Hope – responded to you on IG, but I updated the recipe. Thanks for catching this! Did you end up making this over the weekend? Would love to hear what you thought of it!

    3. Ashley Brennan
      July 7, 2022 AT 2:17 pm

      5 stars
      This is absolutely delish!! I made it without chicken as a side dish for a party. My husband who does not like pasta salad love it! I used gluten free spiral pasta from Trader Joe’s. Was great as left overs as well. Subbed cucumber for celery in mine bc I don’t care for celery.

      1. Brittany Mullins
        July 7, 2022 AT 7:14 pm

        Ahh yay!! That makes me so happy to hear, Ashley. I’m so glad this salad was a hit. Thanks for making it and for coming back to leave a review + star rating. I so appreciate it!

    4. Madelyn
      July 5, 2022 AT 2:20 pm

      5 stars
      This recipe is amazing! I made it exactly as is and it was easy, delicious , and healthy. This will be a staple in my house and would be a great dish to bring to a summer party!

      1. Brittany Mullins
        July 5, 2022 AT 3:51 pm

        Yay!! So happy to hear that you loved this recipe, Madelyn! Thanks for making it and for coming back to leave a review + comment. I so appreciate it!

    5. Jennifer
      July 3, 2022 AT 8:35 am

      5 stars
      Loved this recipe- it’s hard not to grab a couple spoonfuls when I open the fridge. I used rotisserie chicken to save some time and ended up saving about a 1/4 cup of the dressing for salad later in the week!

      1. Brittany Mullins
        July 4, 2022 AT 12:00 pm

        Thank you for leaving a comment and review, Jennifer! So glad you’re liking this recipe!

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