This super easy Chicken Macaroni Salad is the perfect BBQ side dish. It’s a delicious crowd favorite!
Chicken Macaroni Salad
I love the flavor in this dish from all of the fresh veggies, the light and creamy dill salad dressing, and the seasoned shredded chicken. The combination is just full of so much flavor. It’s definitely a great side dish to bring to a potluck or BBQ!
For this macaroni salad, you’ll need to make your own seasoning blend with paprika, dried dill, garlic powder, onion powder, salt, and black pepper. You’ll also need chicken, olive oil, elbow macaroni, red bell pepper, celery, red onion, green onions, dill pickles, garlic, and fresh parsley.
Should You Rinse The Pasta?
You should definitely rinse macaroni salad pasta. You need to fully cool the pasta down before mixing it with the other salad ingredients. The easiest way to do that is by running it under cold water while it’s in a colander.
Using cold macaroni noodles keeps the diced vegetables crisp and fresh, and also stops the noodles from soaking up the dressing too quickly.
How To Make Chicken Macaroni Salad
Start by making the spice blend, then use half of the seasoning blend to season the chicken. Saute the seasoned chicken, and then shred it.
Mix the cooked pasta with the vegetables and shredded chicken, then stir in the pasta salad dressing and the remaining seasoning blend. See the recipe card below for the full instructions, including ingredient amounts, cooking times, and helpful tips, etc.
What Type Of Chicken Should I Use?
I used boneless skinless chicken breasts because I think they take on the flavor of the spice blend the best. If you prefer chicken thighs you could also use those. I would recommend using air chilled chicken though – after it’s been cooked it’s juicier and has a better texture.
This would be a great recipe to use leftover rotisserie chicken in, too! Just saute the shredded rotisserie chicken with the oil and spice blend to flavor it.
What’s The Difference Between Pasta Salad And Macaroni Salad?
Pasta salad is made with a vinaigrette dressing that has a base of vinegar and oil. Macaroni salad is creamier, a little sweeter, and it’s typically made with a mayonnaise based dressing.
How Long Does It Last?
Macaroni salad should last for about 3 to 5 days in the refrigerator in an airtight container. Because this recipe uses a mayonnaise dressing, it should not be left out for more than 2 hours.
What Do You Eat It With?
Macaroni salad is commonly served as a BBQ side dish, so you’ll normally see it served with things like burgers, hot dogs, fried chicken, grilled chicken, potato salad, fruit salad, corn on the cob, ribs, and kabobs.
Some popular additions to this salad are peas, hard boiled eggs, ham, bacon, cheese, green bell peppers, and Dijon mustard.
There are a couple simple swaps you can make if you’d like. Try using sweet pickle relish instead of dill pickles if you like a sweeter flavor. You could also try swapping white wine vinegar for the apple cider vinegar if you like a lighter flavor.
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If you like this recipe, be sure to check out our entire side dish recipe section! Some reader favorite sides that would be perfect BBQ side dishes are:
- Carrot Salad
- Loaded Baked Potato Salad
- Broccoli Cranberry Salad
- Cilantro Lime Coleslaw
- Tropical Fruit Salad
- 2 teaspoons paprika
- 2 teaspoons dried dill
- 1 1/2 teaspoons garlic powder
- 1 1/2 teaspoons onion powder
- 1 teaspoon fine sea salt
- 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
Chicken and Salad:
- 1 pound boneless skinless chicken breast (about 2 large breasts)
- 2 Tablespoons olive oil
- 400 grams uncooked elbow pasta (about 4 cups)
- 1 medium red bell pepper (diced)
- 2 celery stalks (thinly sliced)
- 1 small red onion (diced)
- 2 green onions (chopped)
- 3 medium dill pickles (diced)
- 1 medium clove garlic (minced)
- 2 Tablespoons finely chopped fresh parsley (optional, for garnish)
- 1 1/2 cups mayonnaise
- 1/2 cup sour cream
- 2 Tablespoons granulated sugar
- 2 Tablespoons apple cider vinegar
- In a small bowl, mix the paprika, dried dill, garlic powder, onion powder, salt, and pepper together. Divide the spice blend in half, so that you have 1 1/2 Tablespoons for the chicken, and 1 1/2 Tablespoons for the dressing.
Chicken and Pasta:
- In a medium bowl, combine 1 1/2 Tablespoons of the seasoning blend with the olive oil.
- Carefully butterfly the chicken breasts all the way through, so you have 4 even filets. Add the chicken to the bowl and coat it evenly in the oil and spice blend.
- Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat and cook the chicken until golden brown, about 3 minutes per side. Or until the internal temperature reads 165 F on an instant read meat thermometer.
- Remove the chicken from the pan and let it rest for about 5 minutes to cool down.
- Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.
- Add pasta to the boiling water and cook until it’s just slightly more than al dente. Drain the pasta through a colander in the sink, then run cold water over the pasta until it has totally cooled down. Drain any remaining water from the colander.
- In a stand mixer with the paddle attachment, add the chicken to the bowl and mix on a low speed for about 30 seconds or until the chicken is shredded to your preference. This can also be done using a hand mixer and a large bowl, or by hand with two forks.
Dressing and Salad:
- In a medium bowl, add the mayonnaise, sour cream, sugar, apple cider vinegar, and the remaining 1 1/2 Tablespoons of the seasoning blend. Mix to combine.
- To a large mixing bowl, add the bell pepper, celery, red onion, green onion, dill pickles, garlic, pasta, and the shredded chicken.
- Pour the dressing over top of salad and toss until fully combined. *(See notes before adding the dressing if you’re planning to serve this more than 30 minutes after assembly.)
- Allow to rest for 30 minutes before serving. Taste, then add any additional salt and pepper to taste (optional). Garnish with fresh parsley just before serving.
*Pasta salad likes to soak up the dressing. If you’re going to serve this more than 30 minutes after assembly, wait to dress the salad and add the dressing 30 minutes before serving. If you’re planning to serve some today and keep the leftovers, reserve about 1/3 of the dressing to freshen up the dressing before serving on the later days.
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 498Total Fat: 31.6gCarbohydrates: 36gNet Carbohydrates: 33.8gFiber: 2.2gSugar: 5.1gProtein: 16.6g
Nutrition information isn’t always accurate.
If you’re looking for a delicious crowd pleasing side dish, try making this super easy chicken macaroni salad!