Last Updated on September 5, 2021 by Chenée Lewis
Ever since I made my shrimp macaroni salad I’ve wanted to try another macaroni salad recipe that can work as both a side dish and a main dish! And this chicken macaroni salad is just that — it’s so simple to make, so versatile, and guaranteed to be a hit with a crowd!
The best thing about this chicken macaroni salad is how easy it is to throw together! You can use leftover shredded chicken, like I did, or make it even easier with canned chicken! Then it’s just a matter of boiling your pasta and mixing everything together in a bowl. That simple! So let’s take a look at what you’ll need:
- ditalini pasta – You can use any small, shaped pasta that you like, but ditalini is my favorite for this chicken macaroni salad!
- celery – the crunchy freshness of celery is perfect in this macaroni salad!
- red onion – I love the bold flavor of red onion, but you can also use white or yellow onion if you prefer.
- red bell pepper – adds a slight hint of sweetness to this chicken macaroni salad.
- green onions – I love green onion and the flavor it adds to this salad, but you can feel free to leave it out since we’re also using red onion.
- parsley – you can also use another herb you love like parsley, cilantro, or dill!
- shredded chicken breast – I love to make this salad with leftover chicken breast, meat from a store-bought rotisserie chicken, or 3 5-oz. cans of canned chicken!
Then to make the simple dressing for this chicken macaroni salad, you’ll need:
- mayonnaise – this one is my favorite for a creamy texture!
- sour cream – adds another layer of creaminess and a cool tangy element to this chicken macaroni salad.
- dijon mustard – I love the flavor that a touch of dijon adds to this salad. You can also use a whole-grain dijon for added texture.
- garlic powder – for a bold garlic flavor!
- cayenne powder – I like to add a bit of cayenne powder to add a little spice!
- chicken bouillon powder – THIS is the secret — it adds so much flavor. You can feel free to omit it, or use a bit of chicken stock instead, but to me the chicken bouillon powder really bumps up the chicken flavor.
- salt and pepper, to taste
This simple chicken macaroni salad is so easy to make! Once you’ve got your veggies chopped and your creamy dressing whipped up, you’ll just need a mixing bowl and wooden spoon to stir it all up!
Tips and F.A.Q.
One of the best ways to present this is by rinsing the macaroni well before adding it to your chicken macaroni salad! Rinsing it gets rid of some of the starch, which will minimize absorption of the creamy dressing!
Any small shaped pasta like elbow macaroni, shells, or cavatappi would be great options! I usually make this chicken macaroni salad with ditalini! You can also use chickpea pasta and omit the bouillon powder to make this salad gluten free!
I typically use about 1 or 1½ of a leftover cooked boneless, skinless chicken breast. But you can also pick up a rotisserie chicken from the supermarket or use canned chicken — if you opt for canned chicken you’ll need about three 5-ounce cans.
This one is! The flavorful creamy dressing adds so much flavor to the crunchy veggies and chicken. So letting it sit up to 24 hours before serving allows the flavors to mesh together and makes the salad so good! Just make sure that you rinse your macaroni so that it’s just as creamy the next day!
If stored in an airtight container, your chicken macaroni salad should stay fresh up to 4 days in the fridge.
You may not have cooked your pasta fully — slightly undercooking it allows into continue absorbing dressing after cooking. Or you may have forgotten to rinse off the excess starch before adding your pasta. Also, you may need to check the container where your chicken macaroni salad is being stored to make sure it’s airtight to prevent moisture from evaporating.
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Chicken Macaroni Salad RecipePrint Pin Recipe Rate Recipe
- 8 oz (227 g) ditalini pasta - uncooked
- ½ medium red bell pepper - chopped
- ½ cup (80 g) red onion - chopped
- 1 celery stalk - chopped
- 2 green onions - chopped
- 2 tsp (1 g) fresh Italian parsley - chopped
- 1¼ cup (280 g) mayonnaise
- ¼ cup (58 g) sour cream
- 2 tbsp (30 g) dijon mustard
- 2 tbsp (30 ml) fresh lemon juice
- 1 tsp (3 g) garlic powder
- ½ tsp (1 g) cayenne pepper - or to taste
- 1 tsp (2 g) chicken bouillon powder - optional
- 1½ cup (140 g) cooked chicken breast - shredded
- sea salt and cracked black pepper - to taste
- Cook ditalini according to package directions. Rinse with cold water and drain.8 oz ditalini pasta
- In a large bowl, combine drained pasta, red pepper, red onion, celery, green onions, and parsley. Toss to combine. Set aside.8 oz ditalini pasta, ½ medium red bell pepper, ½ cup red onion, 1 celery stalk, 2 green onions, 2 tsp fresh Italian parsley
- In a medium bowl, whisk together mayonnaise, sour cream, dijon mustard, lemon juice, garlic powder, cayenne, and bouillon powder until smooth.1¼ cup mayonnaise, ¼ cup sour cream, 2 tbsp dijon mustard, 2 tbsp fresh lemon juice, 1 tsp garlic powder, ½ tsp cayenne pepper, 1 tsp chicken bouillon powder
- Add mayonnaise mixture to the pasta mixture and stir with a wooden spoon to combine. Toss in shredded chicken until well combined. Season with salt and pepper to taste.1½ cup cooked chicken breast, sea salt and cracked black pepper
- Cover with plastic wrap or place in airtight container and chill in refrigerator for at least one hour or up to 24 hours before serving.
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