Chipotle Chicken Pasta Salad has a kick of heat for a potluck recipe that can’t be beat! An easy make-ahead recipe – the longer it sits, the better it gets!
Summer is made for potlucks and cookouts. Or at least for us it is. My favorite thing about a great potluck is trying all the different recipes everyone brings. Having a little of everything is my favorite way to eat. It’s why I love party appetizers and so much. My summer staple though is pasta salad. It’s so easy to make a large batch to share. The flavor possibilities are endless too! Today, though, it’s all about my current obsession – Chipotle Chicken Pasta Salad. I toss pasta shells with chicken, veggies, cheese, and a spicy, creamy dressing for an out of this world dish that’s so good you’ll find yourself at the fridge stealing bites at all hours.
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The first time I made this chipotle chicken pasta salad recipe was for my little sister’s high school graduation party. I took it along with some dark chocolate brownies, to my mom’s and added everything to the buffet line. My aunt fell in love with this pasta salad as much as I did. It’s all about the spicy dressing, crunchy bell peppers, and corn paired with cheese and avocado to mellow out the kick to your mouth. I may be tooting my own horn here, but I think it’s hands down the best chicken pasta salad recipe I’ve had.
How to Make Chipotle Chicken Pasta Salad
Cook pasta according to package directions in a large pot of boiling water seasoned with salt until al dente. Drain and rinse with cold water to stop the cooking. (Toss pasta in 1 tablespoon olive oil to prevent sticking if not assembling salad right away.)
Add pasta to a large bowl. Pour dressing over pasta and stir to combine.
Add cooked, seasoned chicken, corn, bell pepper, cheese, and green onion to the bowl. Mix to combine and coat in dressing.
Cover with plastic wrap and chill in the fridge for at least an hour before serving.
Chipotle Chicken Pasta Salad Dressing
Place chipotle pepper and any sauce that comes out while removing from the can on a cutting board. Mince pepper.
In a medium mixing bowl whisk together mayo, honey, Dijon, red wine vinegar, paprika, oregano, cumin, garlic powder, salt, and pepper until smooth.
Add chipotle and sauce. Whisk to combine. Adjust salt and pepper to taste. Store in the fridge in an airtight container.
Recipe Hack: Save prep time and pre-cook your chicken earlier in the week or the night before OR grab a rotisserie chicken from the store. Then just add it to the pasta salad. You can chop or shred your chicken too, whichever you prefer.
I decided to keep my ingredients in this pasta salad pretty simple, but if you want more color or to go more Southwest with things there are some other great add-in options.
- 1 pint of cherry tomatoes cut in half
- 1/4 cup cilantro finely chopped
- 1 can black beans, rinsed
- Red bell pepper in addition to the green pepper
All these options add more great flavors and colors to this pasta salad recipe.
Can you make pasta salad the night before?
- Absolutely! This pasta salad actually gets better if you let it sit in the fridge for a few hours before serving. The chipotle spice mellows out a little and the flavors marry together. It’s fantastic!
What goes with pasta salad?
- Just about everything! This pasta salad is almost a meal in itself with the chicken, cheese, pasta, and veggies. But I totally serve it up with more grilled chicken, alongside hotdogs and burgers. You can put some on a plate with anything and be a happy camper.
Does pasta salad need to be refrigerated?
- Yep. The dressing for this salad has mayo and the cheese and meat should be kept cold so they don’t get in the food “danger zone”. You can leave this pasta salad out for 4 to 6 hours before needing to chill again. (Depending on how hot the serving area is.)
If you’re looking for the perfect pasta salad your next cookout, you’re in the right place! We’ve put together our best and tastiest recipes for you to try. Just click on any of the recipe names below to get the full printable recipe.
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Grab the recipe for these other crazy good potluck salads!
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Chipotle Chicken Pasta Salad
- 1 pound medium pasta shells
- 2 cups cooked chicken breast chopped
- 15 ounces canned corn kernels drained
- 1 red or green bell pepper chopped
- 1 ½ cups Colby Jack cheese diced
- 1 avocado pitted and chopped
- ¼ cup green onion sliced
- 1 ½ tablespoons chipotle pepper in adobo (1 pepper)
- ½ cup mayonnaise
- 2 tablespoons honey
- 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
- 1 ½ teaspoons red wine vinegar
- ¼ teaspoon paprika
- ¼ teaspoon dried oregano
- ⅛ teaspoon ground cumin
- ⅛ teaspoon garlic powder
- ⅛ teaspoon salt
- ⅛ teaspoon pepper
- Cook pasta according to package directions in a large pot of boiling water seasoned with salt until al dente. Drain and rinse with cold water to stop the cooking. (Toss pasta in 1 tablespoon olive oil to prevent sticking if not assembling salad right away.)
- Add pasta to a large bowl. Pour dressing over pasta and stir to combine.
- Add cooked chicken, corn, bell pepper, cheese, avocado, and green onion to the bowl. Mix to combine and coat in dressing.
- Cover with plastic wrap and chill in the fridge for at least an hour before serving.
- Place chipotle pepper and any sauce that comes out while removing from can on a cutting board. Mince pepper.
- In a medium mixing bowl whisk together mayo, honey, Dijon, red wine vinegar, paprika, oregano, cumin, garlic powder, salt, and pepper until smooth.
- Add chipotle and sauce. Whisk to combine. Adjust salt and pepper to taste. Store in the fridge in an airtight container if not putting on salad immediately.
- You can pre-cook your chicken the day before or buy a rotisserie chicken
- You can serve this pasta salad as soon as you're done mixing it. That being said, I like to let it sit in the fridge for at least an hour to chill, let the flavors marry, and it also helps the chipotle spice settle down.
All nutritional information is based on third party calculations and is only an estimate. Each recipe and nutritional value will vary depending on the brands you use, measuring methods and portion sizes per household.