Chicken Pasta Salad with Spinach Buttermilk Dressing

5 from 1 vote
1 hour
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Chicken Pasta Salad with Spinach Buttermilk Dressing is cool, creamy and delicious!  Roasted chicken, bowtie pasta, mayonnaise, buttermilk, spinach, fresh dill and tomatoes combine for a salad that’s a budget-friendly crowd pleaser.

Photo of Chicken Pasta Salad with Spinach Buttermilk Dressing in white bowl with serving utensils.

This Chicken Pasta Salad with Spinach Buttermilk Dressing is an oldie but goodie of mine.  It is inspired by a recipe in 365 Ways to Cook Pasta, For Every Season, For Every Reason, A Pasta Lover’s Paradise by Marie Simmons.  The cookbook was first published in 1988, updated in 1996 and again in 2005.

A pasta salad may not be on the cutting edge of culinary evolution.  However, I’ve made this for potlucks, bridal showers, funerals and personal chef clients and it’s always a hit.

I use bowtie pasta for this Chicken Pasta Salad with Spinach Buttermilk Dressing because it’s pretty.  However, penne or rotini (regular, whole-grain or gluten-free) also work.

Tips for making pasta salad:

  • After cooking the pasta, drain in a colander then rinse with cold running water to cool and remove excess starch.
  • Drain well, then toss the pasta with a small amount of oil.  The oil keeps the pasta from absorbing too much of the dressing.  If you’re making this salad ahead of time, the oil prevents the pasta from drying out and getting sticky in the refrigerator.
  • Save time by using rotisserie chicken instead of cooking the chicken yourself.
  • The dressing comes together quickly; simply combine all the ingredients in a food processor or blender and process until smooth.
  • Buttermilk is a wonderful ingredient to keep on hand, especially for salad dressings.  It’s much lower in fat than sour cream and adds a delightful tanginess.
  • Squeezing the water from frozen chopped spinach can be a nuisance.  However, because the spinach is going into a liquid, it doesn’t need to be perfectly dry–just give it a reasonably good squeeze.

A nice variation on this Chicken Pasta Salad with Spinach Buttermilk Dressing would be to use peas instead of the tomatoes.


Photo of Chicken Pasta Salad with Spinach Buttermilk Dressing in white bowl.

More pasta salads you’re sure to love!

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Chicken Pasta Salad with Spinach Buttermilk Dressing

5 from 1 vote

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By: Carol | From A Chef’s Kitchen
Chicken Pasta Salad with Spinach Buttermilk Dressing is a cool, creamy, delicious and budget-friendly way to feed and please a crowd!
Prep Time 35 minutes
Cook Time 25 minutes
Total Time 1 hour
Course Main Course / Dinner Salads
Cuisine American
Servings 8
Calories 440 kcal


Chicken Salad

  • 4 boneless skinless chicken breast halves - (2 1/2 pounds)
  • 3 tablespoons canola oil - divided
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 pound farfalle pasta - (bowties)
  • 1 pint cherry or grape tomatoes - halved
  • 1/2 medium red onion - chopped


  • 1 bag (12-ounce) frozen chopped spinach - thawed and squeezed of excess moisture
  • 1 medium cucumber - seeded and coarsely chopped
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh baby dill
  • 4 scallions - white and light green part only, coarsely chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic - coarsely chopped
  • 1 cup mayonnaise - regular or reduced-fat
  • 1 cup buttermilk - regular or reduced-fat
  • 1 package ranch salad dressing mix
  • Fresh lemon juice - to taste
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper - to taste


Chicken Salad

  • Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
  • Drizzle chicken with oil and season with salt and black pepper. Roast for 22 to 25 minutes or until cooked through to at least 165 degrees.
  • Let cool, then cut into 1/2-inch pieces.
  • Meanwhile, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.
  • Cook the pasta until al dente (cooked, but still firm to the bite). Drain and rinse with cold water. Drain well. Toss with approximately 2 tablespoons canola oil.
  • Transfer pasta to a large bowl. Add chicken, tomatoes and red onion.


  • Combine all dressing ingredients in a food processor or blender. Process until smooth. Add lemon juice and salt and black pepper to taste. Pour dressing over salad and toss to coat. Best served immediately.


MAKE-AHEAD:  Cook chicken and pasta. Chop chicken and refrigerate. (Chicken and pasta may be stored together in a container). Make dressing and refrigerate separately. Before serving, halve tomatoes and dice onion. Add dressing, toss and serve.
VARIATION:  Use fresh or frozen peas in place of the tomatoes.


Serving: 8 | Calories: 440kcal | Carbohydrates: 14g | Protein: 24g | Fat: 32g | Saturated Fat: 5g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 26g | Cholesterol: 75mg | Sodium: 432mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 9g

These are estimated values generated from a nutritional database using unbranded products. Please do your own research with the products you’re using if you have a serious health issue or are following a specific diet.

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5 from 1 vote (1 rating without comment)

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