This Chicken Avocado Pasta Salad is loaded with fresh summer ingredients and tossed in a flavorful homemade dressing. This colorful pasta salad is a great choice for a potluck menu!
When it comes to planning a summer cookout menu, a pasta salad should always be on the list. Satisfying and substantial, they are a great choice for filling out a menu when you’re feeding a group. This Chicken Avocado Pasta Salad is joining my beloved Orzo Salad with Roasted Red Peppers and Italian Tortellini Salad as my all-time favorite pasta salad recipes for entertaining.
- There’s plenty of fresh summer flavor from chunks of ripe avocado, bright red cherry tomatoes, and fresh basil.
- Tender bites of chicken add protein and make it a substantial choice for entertaining.
- It’s tossed with a simple but absolutely delicious homemade pasta salad dressing.
- The salad can be made ahead and is easy to transport.
You’ll want to include this flavor-packed pasta salad on your menu all summer long!
For the Chicken Avocado Pasta Salad
- Rotini pasta – Cooked in salted water according to the package directions. Rotini is a corkscrew pasta that’s slightly smaller than fusilli with a tighter curl that holds on to pasta salad dressing really well. See the Variations section below for more ideas.
- Cooked chicken breast – Remove and chop the chicken breast meat from a rotisserie chicken or you can cook your own.
- Cherry tomatoes – For a bright red burst of color and fresh summer flavor.
- Red onion
- Fresh basil
- Crumbled feta cheese – A little feta adds creamy, tangy, salty flavor.
- Fresh Italian parsley
- Avocados – You’ll need 1 large or 2 small ripe avocados. If you have trouble locating ripe avocados, see below for tips on how to speed up the ripening process.
For the Pasta Salad Dressing
- Extra virgin olive oil
- Red wine vinegar – I love the intensity of red wine vinegar and think it stands up well to the Dijon and seasoning. For a slightly milder dressing, you can substitute white wine vinegar or apple cider vinegar if you’d like.
- Dijon mustard
- Italian seasoning
- Sugar – A little sugar helps balance the acidity in vinaigrettes like this one.
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
How to Make Chicken Avocado Pasta Salad
- Cook the pasta and make the dressing – Boil the pasta in salted water according to the package directions. Meanwhile combine the vinaigrette ingredients in a small mason jar and shake it well until the dressing has thickened. Pour about half of the dressing over the cooked and drained pasta in a large bowl.
- Cool the pasta and prep the ingredients – Stir the pasta to coat it well and then let it rest and cool while you prepare the remaining ingredients. It should sit for at least 20 minutes or more to cool before adding remaining ingredients. You can speed up this process by transferring the bowl to the refrigerator.
- Assemble the pasta salad – Add the chicken, cherry tomatoes, onion, basil, feta, and parsley to the pasta and toss to combine.
- Finish with avocado – Add as much of the remaining dressing as you’d like and toss again. Gently fold in the avocado. If you’re not serving the salad right away, see below for Storage and Make-Ahead Tips.
How Do You Ripen Avocados
It’s frustrating to go to the store and find a pile of rock-hard, underripe avocados when you have your heart set on making a recipe. The good news is that you can speed up the ripening process once you get home. Just place the avocados in a brown paper bag with an apple or banana, close the bag, and let it rest. Within a day or two, the gas produced by the fruit will create an environment inside the closed bag that will help to ripen the avocado more quickly than if you just place it on your kitchen counter.
Storage and Make-Ahead Tips
If you’re not serving the salad immediately, omit the avocado and cover and chill the assembled salad for up to 8 hours. Gently fold in the avocado just before serving to prevent it from browning. If anything, making the salad in advance will just make the flavors more intense as the ingredients marinate in the pasta salad dressing. Since pasta has a tendency to absorb dressing, sometimes I’ll reserve part to drizzle in just before serving.
Although we all know what happens to avocado once it is exposed to the air, the acid from the vinaigrette helps the leftovers fare quite well. While the avocado will not be quite as perfectly fresh, we enjoyed leftovers of this pasta salad the next day. For the best quality, I recommend storing leftovers in an airtight container and consuming them within a day or two.
- Pasta – Rotini works really well for this Chicken Avocado Pasta Salad but you can substitute any short, dry pasta you love. Penne, rigatoni, bow-tie, or medium elbows would all work well in this recipe.
- Add-ins – For even more summer fresh flavor, add fresh or thawed frozen sweet corn. More yummy choices include sliced black olives, chopped cucumber, or chopped toasted walnuts for a little crunch.
- Grilled chicken – Grill your own chicken, simply seasoned with salt and pepper or your favorite all-purpose seasoning to use in place of rotisserie chicken.
- Vegetarian – Feel free to omit the chicken altogether for a vegetarian pasta salad.
More Easy Pasta Salads You’ll Love
- Chicken Caesar Pasta Salad
- Pizza Pasta Salad
- Tortellini Broccoli Salad
- Orzo, Grape, Feta Salad
- Chicken Berry Pasta Salad
Chicken Avocado Pasta Salad
For the Chicken Avocado Pasta Salad
- 8 ounces dry rotini pasta
- 1 ½ cups chopped cooked chicken breast
- 1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
- ⅓ cup chopped red onion
- ⅓ cup chopped fresh basil
- ¼ cup crumbled feta cheese
- 2 tablespoons chopped fresh Italian parsley
- 1 large or 2 small avocados, chopped
For the Pasta Salad Dressing
- ½ cup extra virgin olive oil
- ¼ cup red wine vinegar
- 4 teaspoons Dijon mustard
- 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, or to taste
- Boil the pasta in salted water according to the package directions.
- Meanwhile combine the dressing ingredients in a small mason jar and shake well to emulsify and thicken the dressing. Set aside.
- Drain the cooked pasta well and transfer it to a medium serving bowl. Pour about half of the dressing over the hot cooked pasta and toss well to coat. Let the pasta stand at room temperature for for about 20 minutes or more to cool a bit before adding the remaining ingredients. You can transfer it to the fridge if you'd like to speed this up.
- Add the chicken, cherry tomatoes, onion, basil, feta, and parsley to the pasta and toss to combine. Add as much of the remaining dressing as you’d like and toss again. Gently fold in the avocado. Serve immediately or cover and chill until ready to serve (if making ahead, don't add avocado until ready to serve).
Nutrition information is automatically calculated using generic ingredients, and is an estimate not a guarantee. For more accurate results, please refer to the labels on your ingredients at home.