Greek Chicken Pasta Salad

I guess we’ve hit that time of the year where just I want to eat cold salads every day (Hi, summer!). So I decided to take one of my favorite pasta salads, Lemony Cucumber Couscous Salad, and transform it into a full meal. I added a few other vegetables and used half of the dressing to marinate a couple juicy chicken thighs. And ladies and gentlemen, we have a winner! So much of a winner that I ate this Greek Chicken Pasta Salad for breakfast this morning. ;) #noregrets

Greek Chicken Pasta Salad

Close up overhead shot of Greek Chicken Pasta Salad in a bowl with a forkful laying in the middle.

Greek Chicken Pasta Salad Portion Sizes

This Greek Chicken Pasta Salad comes together quickly and easily and makes about four large meal-sized portions, or about six smaller side dish portions. It’s also a great candidate for potlucks, and would be super easy to double, or even triple if needed.

Can I Use Chicken Breast Instead of Thighs?

Yes, just make sure you pound your chicken breast to an even thickness, about 3/4-inch thick before marinating. Making sure the chicken is thin and even will help it cook quickly without drying it out. You can also filet your chicken breast into two thinner pieces, or use chicken tenders.

Make it Vegetarian

Want to make it vegetarian? No problem. Just skip the chicken and you can probably halve the dressing/marinade (or just make the full batch if you really like a lot of dressing on your salads). The medley of vegetables are plenty to keep this salad filling and interesting on its own! And if you want a little more protein in there, chickpeas would do very well with these flavors!

Close up of a forkful of Greek Chicken Pasta Salad with the bowl in the background

 
Print Recipe
4.86 from 35 votes

Greek Chicken Pasta Salad

Greek Chicken Pasta Salad is the perfectly refreshing and filling summer meal with its medley of vegetables and tangy lemon garlic dressing.
Keyword: cold lunch, Refrigerator Salad, Summer Food
Total Cost: $8.91 recipe / $2.23 serving
Author: Beth - Budget Bytes
Prep Time: 40 mins
Cook Time: 20 mins
Total Time: 1 hr
Servings: 4 to 6

Ingredients

MARINADE/DRESSING

  • 1 lemon ($0.59)
  • 1/4 cup olive oil ($0.64)
  • 3 cloves garlic, divided ($0.24)
  • 1/2 Tbsp dried oregano ($0.07)
  • 1/2 tsp salt ($0.02)
  • Freshly cracked pepper ($0.03)

SALAD

  • 2 boneless, skinless chicken thighs ($2.10)
  • 8 oz. pasta (any shape) ($0.50)
  • 1 bell pepper (any color) ($1.50)
  • 4 oz. grape tomatoes* ($1.00)
  • 1/2 cucumber (1.5 cups diced) ($1.00)
  • 1/4 bunch parsley ($0.20)
  • 2 oz. feta ($1.12)

Instructions

  • Use a zester, microplane, or small-holed cheese grater to remove the zest from the lemon. Set the zest aside. Squeeze the juice from the lemon into a separate bowl. You'll need at least 1/4 cup juice.
  • Prepare the dressing and marinade by mincing two of the three cloves of garlic and combining them with 1/4 cup lemon juice, olive oil, oregano, salt, some freshly cracked pepper, and a pinch of the lemon zest. Whisk these ingredients until well combined.
  • Place the chicken thighs in a small zip lock bag and add half of the dressing, saving the rest to add to the salad later. Mince one more clove of garlic and add it to the bag with the chicken and marinade. Squeeze the air out and massage the bag to make sure the thighs are well coated in the marinade. Refrigerate the thighs for at least 30 minutes.
  • While the chicken is marinating, cook the pasta according to the package directions, drain in a colander, and let cool.
  • Heat a skillet over a medium flame. Once hot, add the marinated chicken thighs and cook on each side until they are well browned and cooked through (about 5 minutes each side). There should be enough oil in the marinade to keep the meat from sticking. Remove the cooked chicken from the skillet and let it rest for about five minutes. Once slightly cooled, chop the chicken into smaller, bite-sized pieces.
  • While the chicken is cooking, prepare the rest of the vegetables. Dice the cucumber and bell pepper. Slice the tomatoes in half (or dice if using Roma or regular tomatoes). Pull the parsley leaves from the stems and give them a rough chop.
  • Finally, build the salad. Add the cooked and cooled pasta to a large bowl. Top the pasta with the cucumber, bell pepper, tomatoes, parsley, and chopped chicken. Crumble the feta over top and add a pinch or two of the lemon zest. Pour the remaining dressing over the salad and toss to coat. Serve immediately or refrigerate until ready to eat.

Video

Notes

*I got a sale on a snack pack of grape tomatoes for $1.00, but two Roma tomatoes (diced) or one medium tomato can be used in place of the grape tomatoes.
Tried this recipe?Mention @budgetbytes or tag #budgetbytes on Instagram!

Scroll down for the step by step photos!

Side view of Greek Chicken Pasta Salad in a bowl

How to Make Greek Chicken Pasta Salad – Step by Step Photos

Zested lemon next to a microplane and a bowl full of zest

Start by removing the zest from one lemon. The zest is the magic part of the lemon. It provides an incredibly lemony flavor without making things too sour. So, for this recipe we use both the juice and the zest for an extra lemony kick. Use a zester, microplane, or small-holed cheese grater to scrape the thin layer of yellow zest from the peel. Set the zest aside. Squeeze the juice from the lemon into a separate bowl. You’ll need at least 1/4 cup of juice.

Finished Lemon Garlic Dressing and Marinade in a small white bowl

Now prepare the mixture that will be used as both the dressing and the marinade. Mince two cloves of garlic and combine them in a bowl with 1/4 cup lemon juice, 1/4 cup olive oil, 1/2 Tbsp dried oregano, 1/2 tsp salt, some freshly cracked pepper, and a pinch of that lemon zest. Whisk with a fork until well combined.

Chicken thighs in a zip top bag with half the dressing

Add two boneless, skinless chicken thighs to a zip lock bag and add half of that dressing, plus one more clove of minced garlic (you really want the chicken to be garlicky!). Squeeze out all the air, give the bag a quick massage to distribute the marinade, then refrigerate the chicken for at least 30 minutes.

Cooked pasta draining in a white colander

While the chicken is marinating, cook 8oz. of pasta (any shape) according to the package directions. Drain the pasta in a colander, and let it cool.

Cook Chicken Thighs in the skillet

Heat a skillet over a medium flame and once hot, add the marinated chicken thighs. There should be enough oil on them from the marinade to keep them from sticking. Cook the thighs on each side until well browned and cooked through (about five minutes each side). Seriously, this chicken was SO GOOD that I’m probably going to feature it as its own recipe soon. I wanted to eat it by itself.

Chopped Chicken on a red cutting board

Remove the chicken from the skillet and let it rest for a few minutes, then chop it into smaller, bite-sized pieces.

Chopped tomatoes, cucumber, bell pepper, and parsley on a wooden cutting board

While the chicken is cooking, prepare the rest of the vegetables. Dice 1/2 cucumber (1.5 cups diced), dice the bell pepper, slice the tomatoes in half (or dice if using Roma or regular tomatoes), and give the parsley a rough chop.

Pasta Vegetables Chicken Feta Lemon Zest in a bowl

Finally, it’s time to put everything together! Place the cooked, drained, and cooled pasta in a large bowl (it’s under there, I swear). Top the pasta with the tomatoes, cucumber, bell pepper, parsley, and chopped chicken. Finally, crumble 2oz. feta over everything and add one last pinch of lemon zest.

Dressing being poured over the ingredients in the bowl

Pour the remaining dressing over the salad…

Close up of finished Greek Chicken Pasta Salad in the glass bowl

And toss until everything is coated in dressing. Done!

A forkful of Greek Chicken Pasta Salad resting on top of the bowl

I miiiiiight have to make this Greek Chicken Pasta Salad again immediately after this batch is gone. Yeah, definitely.