This Cashew Chicken Pasta Salad with grapes is one of my very favorite summertime main dishes. It is so stinking good! I take it to potlucks, baby showers, and family parties all the time and everyone loves it.
It has such a great combination of flavors. The sweetness of the fruit is balanced by the saltiness of the cashews. So yummy!
I like to use my homemade ranch dressing to make the sauce, because it gives this salad such a fresh flavor. But you can use bottled dressing in a pinch.
This main dish salad is great alongside a fruit salad or even a smoothie, but a green salad or vegetables would be great too. And of course you can never go wrong serving salad with homemade rolls.
HOW TO MAKE CHICKEN PASTA SALAD
- cooked chicken – You can cook the chicken, or use a rotisserie chicken.
- pasta – We like the spiral (rotini) pasta, because all those grooves hold onto the sauce. But you can use another type of small pasta instead. Make sure you salt the cooking water for best flavor, and don’t overcook it!
- grapes – Purple grapes add nice color and are more sweet than green grapes, so that’s what I recommend.
- pineapple tidbits – Pineapple chunks are a little large for the salad, but if that’s all you can find, just cut them into fourths before adding them to the salad.
- green onions – These add both flavor and a bit of crunch.
- celery – Adds both pretty green color, and a nice crunch to the salad.
- Craisins – These give a tangy sweetness, plus add some chewy texture to the salad.
- cashews – Maybe my favorite ingredient, the roasted cashews add such a nice salty crunch!
- mayonnaise – Binds all of the salad together and adds creaminess.
- ranch dressing – Homemade ranch dressing gives this salad the best flavor!
- PASTA: Cook your pasta in salted boiling water just till barely tender. Overcooked pasta will fall apart, so make sure you just cook it to the al dente stage. You can cool it quickly by rinsing it in cold water.
- COMBINE: Just toss all of the ingredients (except the cashews) in a very large bowl. Stir till everything is well coated. You can add more or less of the mayo and ranch to suit your taste.
- CASHEWS: Stir the cashews in right before serving.
WHAT ABOUT LEFTOVERS?
This creamy chicken pasta salad will keep in the refrigerator for 3-4 days. The pasta does start to absorb the dressing, so it’s best within a few hours. But you can add additional dressing or even a bit of milk if it seems dry.
CAN I PREP THIS CHICKEN AND PASTA SALAD AHEAD OF TIME?
Yes! Just combine the chicken, pasta, grapes, pineapple, green onions, celery, and craisins in a large bowl and store it covered in the refrigerator for up to 2 days. When you are ready to serve, stir in the cashews, mayonnaise, and ranch dressing.
COLD CHICKEN PASTA SALAD VARIATIONS:
- Instead of pineapple, you can use diced apples.
- Replace the cashews with pecans or sliced almonds. For best flavor, use salted roasted nuts.
- Serve the salad in rolls or croissants, or use tortillas to make wraps. You could also serve it over a bed of lettuce, or wrap it in lettuce leaves.
No matter how you serve it, this pasta salad is filled with flavor and texture from the first to the last bite. It’s a must try chicken salad recipe!
MORE TASTY SALAD RECIPES:
- Cabbage Ramen Salad
- Asian Pasta Salad
- BBQ Chicken Salad
- Chicken Bacon Ranch Pasta Salad
- Best Broccoli Salad Recipe
- Apple Salad
- Spinach Salad with Bacon
- Grape Salad with Cream Cheese
- Oriental Salad Recipe
CHICKEN PASTA SALAD WITH GRAPES
- 5 boneless, skinless chicken breast, cooked and chopped
- 24oz spiral pasta, cooked
- 2 cups grapes, halved
- 2 cans pineapple tidbits, drained
- 4 green onions, sliced
- 2 cups sliced celery
- 1 cup Craisins
- 2 cups roasted, salted cashews
- 1 cup mayonnaise
- 2 cups Ranch dressing (more or less)
- Cook pasta in boiling water till al dente. Drain and cool.
- Combine all salad ingredients except cashews in a large bowl.
- Stir in mayonnaise and ranch dressing till everything is well coated. You can add more or less ranch dressing according to taste.
- Add cashews right before serving.
-This makes a really large salad, so cut it in half if you have a small family.
-The cashews get all funky and soft if they sit in the salad overnight, so if you know you will have leftovers, you can just add them to the individual servings.
-Do not use Miracle Whip instead of mayo, it would just be wrong. Trust me.
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Amount Per Serving: Calories: 507Total Fat: 34gSaturated Fat: 6gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 26gCholesterol: 45mgSodium: 507mgCarbohydrates: 36gFiber: 3gSugar: 15gProtein: 18g
(originally published 10/13/2008, updated July 2021)