This Creamy Peri Peri Chicken Pasta Salad is the perfect recipe for your next pot luck or summer BBQ.
Everyone loves a good pasta salad and this is creamy with a hint of spice, full of flavor and can be made ahead of time. The macaroni is tossed with a wonderful peri peri mayonnaise dressing then topped with a succulent juicy blackened chicken.
So easy to put together this chicken pasta salad is sure to be a hit!
Check out the table of contents below for quick jump links to the questions and tricks for this Peri-peri Chicken Pasta Salad.
Or to just jump straight to the recipe for the pasta salad, you can use the purple steaming pot button over to the left or the link in the content box below. But after checking out the recipe come back up here and read the hints and tricks in the post, they help you to cook this dish perfectly, plus there are some drool worthy pictures!
Top Tips for Making the Best Pasta Salad
Cook your pasta for 1-2 minutes longer than the packet suggests - You want to cook the pasta for longer than the packet suggests. It wants to be softer than if you were serving it hot. This is because when pasta cools the starch goes through a process called retrogradation, this is where the starch molecules rearrange and it can give cooled pasta an undercooked bite. By cooking the pasta for longer it will seem too soft when hot, but as it cools it will return to the perfect al dente texture.
Really season your pasta water - cold dishes need more seasoning than hot dishes as the flavors are dulled as the food cools. So add more salt to your pasta water than you normally would.
How to Marinade the Chicken
The chicken in this pasta salad is marinaded with a mixture of orange and lemon juice and coated in a delicious mix of herbs and spices. This creates a great peri peri crust on the chicken when you grill it. If you have time, leave the chicken to marinate for 6 hours. But even 30 minutes in the marinade will add some great flavor to the chicken.
The peri peri chicken can be cooked on the outdoor grill, under a broiler or on a griddle pan. It needs to be cooked on high heat to ensure it gets a smokey flavor and a crispy exterior, it won't need long to cook so be careful not to overcook it as you want the inside to stay juicy and succulent.
What’s the Best Pasta for Pasta Salad?
Use a sturdy shape like a macaroni or a rotini, this is because you are going to stir the mayonnaise dressing through the pasta so you want a shape that is going to hold up well.
I don't suggest using farfalle (bowtie) pasta as it is too easy for the cute edges to break off.
Can you Make Pasta Salad in Advance?
Yes, pasta salad can be made up to 2 days in advance. Ensure it is in an airtight container in the fridge and give it a stir before you serve it.
Making Pasta Salad with Mayo
The dressing for this chicken pasta salad is a mixture of mayonnaise, sour cream and cream cheese. This gives it a wonderful richness and amazing flavor.
Try to use a whole egg mayonnaise for this dish, it really makes a difference to the taste of the finished dish. You can even try my recipe for homemade mayonnaise.
For those trying to cut calories you can use reduced fat cream cheese and reduced fat sour cream, but don't go for low fat mayonnaise it just doesn't mix well together and affects the texture of the finished pasta salad, plus it often has a weird plastic taste to it. YUCK!
Ideas for Serving Peri Peri Chicken Pasta Salad
Serve this chicken pasta salad as part of a buffet at an outdoor party. Or divide it up into mason jars and take it on a picnic. Either way, a crisp green salad will work well.
Wine: This peri peri chicken pasta salad is definitely a party dish - it works so well with a variety of drinks.
Try serving it with a well chilled Vinho Verde, the light fresh wine works well with the spice and is perfect for a summer party.
Alternatively, pasta salad works well with a chilled amber ale or a dry apple cider.
For other delicious Peri Peri recipes try:
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Peri Peri Chicken Pasta Salad Recipe
For the Spice Blend
- 1 tbsp sweet paprika
- 2 tsp dried oregano
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 tsp smoked paprika
- ½ tsp black pepper
- ½ tsp red pepper flakes - more if you like it spicy
For the Chicken
- 2 garlic cloves
- 1 lemon
- 1 orange
- 2 chicken breasts
- ¼ cup olive oil
For the Pasta
- ½ cup mayonnaise
- ½ cup sour cream
- 2 Tbsp cream cheese (room temperature)
- 1 lb dried macaroni
- 1 red bell pepper
- 1 tbsp chopped fresh parsley - to serve
To make the Spice Blend
- Mix the sweet paprika, oregano, salt, smoked paprika, black pepper, and red pepper flakes together in a small bowl. (Half is for the chicken half is for the dressing)
To Marinade the Chicken
- Spoon half of the spice mixture into a ziplock bag or lidded plastic container.
- Crush in the garlic cloves and then add the juice and zest of half of the lemon and orange. (the other halves are for the dressing)
- Pour in the olive oil, seal the bag and squish it all together until you have a thick paste.
- Cut the chicken into small chunks and add it to the bag. Mix well together and set aside to marinate for at least 30 minutes and up to 6 hours.
To make the Pasta Salad
- Take the remaining spice blend and add the mayonnaise, sour cream, and cream cheese together with the juice of the half the lemon and orange. Stir well until smooth and then place in the fridge until needed.
- Pre-heat your grill or griddle and once it is hot, cook the chicken pieces for 5-6 minutes until cooked through and charred. Set the chicken aside to cool slightly.
- Bring a large pan of water to a boil, salt it generously and then cook the pasta for 2 minutes longer than the packet suggests.
- Drain the pasta and rinse with cold water until cooled.
- Whilst the pasta is cooling finely dice the red bell pepper.
- Pour the mayonnaise mixture through the pasta.
- Add in the bell pepper and the cooked chicken.
- Serve garnished with parsley or refrigerate until needed.
- Just be sure to bring it to room temperature before you serve it.