BBQ Chicken Pasta Salad is one of those recipes that you’re going to make on repeat all summer long.
There are so many great flavors going on in this BBQ Chicken Pasta Salad, and you’re going to love them all! Use shell pasta or elbow pasta. Save the ditalini to make our Old Fashioned Macaroni Salad! I personally like the way that shell pasta grabs onto the variety of ingredients in this salad.
If you have a potluck coming up, bring this salad. If you have a barbecue in your backyard, make this salad. It will be a big time fave at your gathering. Everyone loves barbecue sauce, and it’s a delicious ingredient to add to a pasta salad! I know that if RecipeBoy were here, he’d be dipping this pasta salad in his Homemade Ranch Dressing, ha ha!
Everyday Dinners by Jessica Merchant
This recipe comes from the newest cookbook by Jessica Merchant: Everyday Dinners- real life recipes to set up your family for a week of success. We’ve followed Jessica and her recipes for many years on her How Sweet Eats food blog , and have always loved her unique twists on everyday things. She creates the most delicious recipes! This is a must-buy cookbook, for sure. It’s full of “new” dinner ideas, and will get you out of that “what should I make for dinner?” rut that we all tend to get into now and then.
Here are a few recipes we’ve bookmarked to make that are super family-friendly:
- tuscan cheese tortellini soup
- homemade ramen noodle cup
- mini white pizza bagels
- baked egg baguette
- not so sloppy turkey joes
- chicken and bacon ranch puff pastry pizza
- chicken romano meatballs
- grilled peach BBQ pork chops
- taco salad in a jar
- parmesan roasted broccoli
- best ever garlic bread
The complete recipe with all ingredient amounts and detailed instructions are included in the recipe card at the end of this post.
Ingredients needed for BBQ Chicken Pasta Salad:
- barbecue sauce (we like Sweet Baby Rays!)
- Greek yogurt
- elbow or shell pasta
- cooked chicken
- cheddar cheese
- grape tomatoes
- pickled onions (see below!)
How to make quick-pickled onions:
Put thinly sliced onions in a bowl or glass jar. The pickling mixture is a combination of warm water, sugar, salt and apple cider vinegar. Pour this mixture over the onions and let them sit for 30 minutes to an hour. Then you’ll have quick-pickled onions! You will be using 1/4 cup of the pickled onions for this BBQ Chicken Pasta Salad. The remaining onions can be used for other salads or to top burgers!
How to make BBQ Chicken Pasta Salad:
Small, cooked pasta is tossed in a simple dressing made of barbecue sauce, Greek yogurt, mayonnaise and honey. Then that wonderfully coated pasta is mixed with chicken, cheddar cheese, scallions, avocado, grape tomatoes, corn, bacon, cilantro and pickled red onions. It should be assembled and served on the same day. This BBQ Chicken Pasta Salad is saucy and creamy and so delicious.
Make ahead tip:
Prep all of the ingredients a day ahead, but store them separately (chopping the veggies and cooking the pasta, chicken and bacon). Prepare the dressing and chill that in the fridge too. Make the pickled onions and drain them. Put everything together on the day you want to serve the salad- preferably just before serving.
Leftovers are great too. The pasta will tend to soak up some of the dressing, so it won’t be quite as creamy as the day you made it. Thank you to Jessica and her beautiful, new Everyday Dinners cookbook for this fabulous BBQ Chicken Pasta Salad recipe. We’ll be making it again this summer, along with my Watermelon Strawberry Caprese Salad. I have family members who will go nuts for this one. And, of course, we hope you enjoy it too!
BBQ Chicken Pasta Salad
QUICK PICKLED ONIONS:
- ½ medium red onion, thinly sliced
- ¼ cup warm water
- ¾ tablespoon granulated white sugar
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt
- ⅔ cup apple cider vinegar
- ½ cup barbecue sauce
- ½ cup plain Greek yogurt
- 2 tablespoons mayonnaise
- 1 tablespoon honey
- 16 ounces elbow or shell pasta, cooked according to package instructions
- 1½ cups chopped, cooked chicken
- ⅔ cup cubed white cheddar cheese
- ⅓ cup sliced scallions
- 1 large avocado, cubed
- 1 cup chopped grape tomatoes
- 1 cup fresh, sweet corn kernels
- ¼ cup cooked and crumbled bacon
- ¼ cup quick pickled onions
- ½ cup chopped fresh cilantro
MAKE THE PICKLED ONIONS:
- Place the onion in a large cup or jar. In a small bowl, whisk together the warm water, sugar and salt until sugar and salt are dissolved. Whisk in the vinegar, Pour the vinegar mixture over the onion. Let sit at room temp for 30 min. to 1 hour. Drain, and use for recipes. You'll need ¼ cup of the pickled onions for this pasta salad recipe. Use the rest for other salads or to top burgers!
ASSEMBLE THE SALAD:
- In a small bowl, whisk together the barbecue sauce, yogurt, mayo and honey.
- In a large bowl, combine the pasta with the sauce. Add the chicken, cheese, scallions, avocado, tomatoes, corn, bacon and pickled onions.
- Toss the salad gently until combined. Sprinkle on fresh cilantro; toss again. Serve!
- Make ahead tip: Prep all ingredients a day or two ahead of time and store them separately in the fridge. Stir together your dressing, and cook the pasta, chicken and bacon. Grate the cheese. Chop the tomatoes. Combine everything in a bowl just before serving.
- Leftovers of this pasta salad are wonderful! It won't be quite as saucy or creamy as on the first day, but it will still taste great. Keep in the fridge for up to 3 days.