Caramelized Onion & Chicken Pasta Salad Recipe is one of the best damn pasta salads I’ve ever had! It’s perfect to bring to a summer bash or barbecue!
Growing up I used to think potato salad and pasta salad were gross. My only exposure to was to the premade, from the deli or refrigerated section of the store salads. They ruined me for years. Then, a few years ago, I tried my sister Renee’s potato salad and it was a revelation! So creamy and delicious! Nothing like the creepy store versions I remembered. If potato salad was this good, maybe pasta salad was too!
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Since then, I’ve ventured out into the world of pasta salads. It’s been delicious, and this recipe is no exception! I’m kind of obsessed with caramelized onions and this salad is full of them. I also wanted some protein in this salad…enter chicken and cheese. But what really brings this easy pasta salad recipe together is the Homemade Italian Dressing. This pasta salad is barbecue ready and since there’s no mayo it can sit out and not die. I’m notorious for picking the cheese out of pasta salads so that’s not an issue at our house. I could eat this salad all day long. I hope you enjoy it as much as I do!
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Chicken Pasta Salad with Italian Dressing
- 4 strips bacon
- 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
- 2 large yellow onions peeled and thinly sliced
- 12 ounces tri-color rotini pasta or your favorite bite sized pasta
- 1 pound cooked chicken breast cut into bite-size pieces or shredded
- 8 ounces Monterrey jack cheese cut into small cubes
- 1/2 cup roasted red peppers chopped
- 1/2 cup Italian Dressing
- Place a large skillet over medium-high heat. Cook the bacon until crispy, flipping once or twice, about 8 minutes. Remove to a paper towel-lined plate to drain. Once cooled, crumble into small pieces.
- Add the butter to the same skillet with any leftover bacon grease. Then, add the onion slices and cook until the onions begin to brown, about 5 to 8 minutes.
- Reduce the heat to medium and continue to cook for another 15 to 20 minutes until the onions have caramelized and are soft and golden brown.
- While the onions are cooking, bring a large pot of water to a boil and season the water generously with salt.
- Add the rotini to the water and cook according to package directions until al dente. Drain the pasta and immediately run under cold water to stop the cooking and cool it down.
- Pour the pasta into a large mixing bowl. Add the bacon, caramelized onions, chicken, cheese, and roasted red peppers. Toss to combine.
- Pour the dressing over the ingredients in the bowl. Gently mix until everything is well coated.
- Cover the bowl and refrigerate until ready to serve (up to 6 hours ahead of time). You could serve this pasta salad as soon as everything is mixed if you don't mind things being warm.