Take this Chicken Macaroni Salad to your summer gatherings, and watch it disappear! This recipe takes a classic macaroni salad recipe and adds shredded chicken, crisp bacon, and a homemade creamy herb dressing to make it high in protein and absolutely irresistible!
*Today I’m partnering with Sharp Home USA ~ Sharp creates quality home appliances that make life easier!
A Summer Classic Macaroni Salad with a Twist!
Macaroni salads are a summer potluck must-have!
This healthy chicken macaroni salad is loaded with goodies! Say goodbye to your standard go-to, because this one will be your new favorite.
In addition to shredded chicken, it has hard boiled eggs and bacon, a trifecta of protein to make this pasta salad a healthy side dish, or a main course on it’s own.
You might love it so much that you come back to this recipe with your own variations! As we were enjoying this salad last week, I was imagining it recreated with bell peppers, black olives, or even pepperoncinis!
To give this salad a healthy remake, I made the mayo based dressing at home. If you’ve never made homemade mayo, it’s so easy! It’s just an egg and some seasonings emulsified with oil.
Store bought mayonnaise is typically made with refined seed oils, like canola, sunflower, or soybean oil. These oils are inflammatory. Looking for a mayonnaise made with only avocado oil is a good option, but it only takes an extra 2 minutes to make your own!
How to Cook Macaroni Noodles
Macaroni noodles should be cooked al dente to make a good pasta salad.
I rely on my Sharp Induction Cooktop to help me cook things like pasta perfectly every time!
The Sharp Induction Cooktop has a PowerBoost setting, so I can boil pasta water in a fraction of the time.
Once the pasta is cooking in the boiling water, I set the built-in timer for 7 minutes. That way, if I am distracted by making the dressing or cooking the bacon, I know the heat will shut off to my burner and slow the cooking of the pasta.
Hop on over to the Sharp USA website to see if this beautiful cooktop is the right fit for your dream kitchen!
Once your macaroni noodles are soft but still have a slightly firm (al dente!) texture, strain the pasta, and run cold water over the noodles.
Cold pasta is better to use when adding a mayo-based dressing to keep it from soaking in quickly! Either fully cool the noodles under cold water, or refrigerate the cooked pasta until ready to serve.
What You’ll Need:
- Macaroni (I use this brand of gluten free macaroni)
- Shredded Chicken (I buy a roasted chicken and pull it off for ease. You can also pan fry chicken breasts or thighs and shred them!)
- Bacon (For the healthiest salad, use one that is nitrite and nitrate free)
- Hard Boiled Eggs
- Carrots (diced small), or sub red bell pepper
- Celery (diced small)
For the Dressing,
- Egg (use a pastured egg for the healthiest and safest option)
- Avocado Oil (store bought mayo most often uses seed oils like canola, soybean, or sunflower. These oils are inflammatory. Making a homemade “mayo” dressing is a lot healthier if you use an anti inflammatory oil like avocado or a light tasting olive oil.)
- Lemon Juice
- Dijon Mustard
- Sea Salt
- Red Wine Vinegar
- Herbs (Italian parsley and dill, or try basil, cilantro, or thyme)
How to Make a Chicken Macaroni Salad
Step 1: Into a blender, add egg, lemon juice, dijon mustard, and sea salt. Pulse to combine the ingredients.
Step 2: With the blender running on a medium speed, very slowly drizzle the avocado oil into the blender. It should take about a minute to slowly add the oil, allowing it to emulsify with the liquid ingredients. This results in a creamy homemade “mayo”.
Step 3: Into the blender with the homemade mayo, add garlic, chopped herbs, and red wine vinegar.
Step 4: Pulse to combine ingredients into a tangy herbed aioli.
Step 5: Into a large salad bowl, add macaroni, chicken, bacon, vegetables, and hard boiled eggs.
Step 6: Add the dressing into the bowl, and toss the ingredients to combine.
How to Store Leftovers & Frequently Asked Questions
How to store leftover Chicken Macaroni Salad
This pasta salad is best served right after adding the dressing. If you know you will only eat half but want to save the rest for lunches, split the pasta salad in two bowls and add dressing to the portion you will eat right away.
The leftovers are good stored in air tight containers for up to 3 days. If you have salad that needs reviving, mix some mayo with a little lemon juice or vinegar, and toss the salad with it and it will still be delicious!
What pasta is best to use for a chicken pasta salad?
Use whatever macaroni noodles work for you and your family.
I use gluten free pasta, and love this brand. Gluten free pasta does not work as well for leftovers as regular pasta (it tends to harden or break apart). When I make a pasta salad with gluten free pasta, I make it the day of and don’t plan on having leftovers.
How do I stop the pasta from absorbing the mayo?
Cold pasta doesn’t absorb the mayo as much as when the pasta is warm. Refrigerate your noodles or run them under cold water until they are not warm prior to using.
Save Time Making this Chicken Macaroni Salad
Buy a rotisserie chicken: I buy a roasted chicken and just pull the chicken off to make this salad.
Use jarred mayonnaise: If you have a jarred mayo you like using, just mix it up with the garlic, red wine vinegar, and finely chopped herbs to make the dressing, rather than making your own homemade mayo first.
Other Healthy Summer Side Dish Recipes
Bacon & Chicken Macaroni Salad
- 12 ounces macaroni *gluten free, if necessary
- 2 cups chicken shredded (from a roasted chicken)
- 2 hard boiled eggs chopped
- 6 slices bacon fried crisp, drained, and chopped
- 1 cup carrots diced
- 1 cup celery diced
Creamy Herbed Dressing
- 1 egg *pastured eggs are the safest when consuming raw
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- 2 teaspoons dijon mustard
- 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
- 3/4 cup avocado oil
- 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
- 2 cloves garlic minced
- 1/2 cup Italian parsley chopped
- 1/4 cup dill chopped
- Add the macaroni, chicken, bacon, eggs, carrots and celery to a large salad bowl.
- Toss the salad with the creamy herbed dressing. Start with about 2/3 of the dressing and add more to taste. Save additional dressing to revive leftovers.
Creamy Herb Dressing
- Into a blender, add the raw egg, dijon mustard, lemon juice, and salt. Pulse a few times to mix up.
- With the blender running on medium speed, drizzle in the avocado oil very slowly. It should take a full minute to drizzle the oil into the egg mixture. When it's done, it will be a thick and creamy mayonnaise.
- Add the garlic, herbs, and red wine vinegar, and process to mix into a creamy dressing.