Smoky BBQ Chicken Pasta Salad

The time has come in the school year when there are a whopping three things on everyone's minds:
  • How many days are left in the school year (11, not that I'm counting)
  • There are only ___ days left in the school year.
In relation to the 2nd thing on the list, my school building is very distinctly both air conditioned and not air conditioned. I really can deal with the temperature in the building, even in the non-air conditioned classrooms (like mine) because I get used to it. But, when I get home, the very last thing I want to do is turn on the oven to make dinner. So, thanks to a suggestion from my oh-so-wise, and oh-so-heat-hating husband, this pasta salad was born.

smoky bbq chicken salad

The ingredients for this perfectly delicious pasta salad actually came to me as I was walking through the produce section of the grocery store. I thought about what makes a pasta salad one that I actually eat, rather than one that I pick the noodles out of. I can't STAND celery or carrots in pasta salad. They're too crunchy, in my opinion, for something like pasta salad. I love when there's "surprises" that kind of get hidden in the noodles, like cheese, crunchy bits, peas, corn... And so, with the realization that I had chicken and charcoal at home, this salad was born and subsequently devoured.


As with any pasta salad, you can adjust the ingredients to your own tastes, but unless you're vegetarian, I wouldn't recommend it. The balance was perfect. However: it makes a TON. I'm talking my biggest Pyrex bowl, full to the top, and I'd call it at least 15 servings. So I suppose you could reduce the recipe, but again, I wouldn't recommend it. You'll want that much.

This can, of course, be made with leftover diced chicken, but since I had to cook the chicken fresh, I included those instructions as well.

Smoky BBQ Chicken Pasta Salad

by What's For Dinner?

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Cook Time: 15 minutes

Keywords: grill simmer entree chicken pasta

Ingredients (12-15 servings)

  • 1 pound whole wheat noodles
  • 2 chicken breasts
  • 1 pint grape tomatoes, cut in half
  • 4 ounces smoked gouda cheese, cut into bite-sized pieces
  • 1 1/2 cups corn kernels (frozen is good!)
  • 1/3 cup toasted salted sunflower seeds
  • 4 slices bacon, cooked and crumbled
  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise
  • 1/2 cup barbecue sauce
  • 1/4 cup milk


First, cook the pasta according to the package directions.

Drain, and run under cool water to quickly cool the pasta, then place it in a large bowl.

Add the cheese, tomatoes, corn, crumbled bacon, and sunflower seeds.

Toss well.

(You can skip this next part if you're using leftover BBQ chicken, or just cooked chicken tossed with BBQ sauce)

Grill the chicken breasts until nearly done, about 6 minutes per side.

Brush liberally with BBQ sauce, then grill another 2 minutes until the sauce is bubbling.

Dice the chicken and allow it to cool.

Add the cooled chicken to the pasta mixture.

Whisk together the dressing ingredients and pour the dressing over the pasta mixture.

Toss well.

Chill for at least an hour, then serve.

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I enjoyed my hefty portion of pasta salad with a cold Samuel Smith organic Cherry Ale. I can already tell that both of these will be making regular appearances throughout the summer!
Just checked...there are still 11 days of school left.
See? Teachers count down as much (if not more!) than the kids do!
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2 Responses to Smoky BBQ Chicken Pasta Salad

  1. Marianne says:

    This looks like it would fall into the “boyfriend approved” category (aside from those silly tomatoes). I will definitely give this one a go once I get back home.
    Marianne´s last blog post ..Taste Test – Boring Porridge

  2. Sara says:

    As a teacher I totally agree! We are down to just 6 days and I think I am more excited than my kidd-o’s. Recipe looks great!

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