Home » Recipe Index » Main Entrees

BBQ Chicken Salad

This ranch and BBQ chicken salad with bowtie pasta packs in so much amazing flavor without feeling too heavy! It’s perfect for a cold lunch or summer cookout side.

Fork dishing up bite of yummy BBQ chicken salad

This post may contain affiliate links. If you click on a link and make a purchase, I may receive a small commission at no extra cost to you. For more information, please read my disclaimer.

With summer just around the corner, it’s time to start getting all your favorite cold dish recipes ready. And once you try BBQ chicken salad with bowtie pasta, you’re going to want to eat this recipe on repeat!

It’s a super easy dish that’s perfect if you’re looking for cold lunch ideas or a delicious side to bring to summer cookouts. Toss together bowtie pasta and chicken in a delicious BBQ ranch sauce with corn, black beans, tomatoes, and cilantro, then top it all off with crunchy fried onions!

large bowl of BBQ chicken salad

Here’s what I’m going to teach you in this post:

  • How to make pasta salad with BBQ chicken
  • The best pasta to use for BBQ salad
  • How to store BBQ chicken pasta salad if you have leftovers or want to make it in advance
  • Variations for your BBQ salad

Whenever I have leftover chicken, I love throwing it in BBQ chicken pasta salad. The flavors and textures are super satisfying without feeling too heavy. That’s what makes it so great for a quick lunch or dinner all summer long!

prepared ingredients for BBQ chicken salad

How to Make BBQ Chicken Salad

A full printable version of this recipe with ingredient measurements is available at the bottom of this post.

STEP ONE: In a large skillet over medium-high heat, add the diced chicken and ½ cup of BBQ sauce.

STEP TWO: Cook 7 to 9 minutes until the chicken is cooked through and the sauce has become a glaze on the chicken. Set aside to cool.

cook and mix diced chicken and BBQ sauce

STEP THREE: Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add the pasta and cook to al dente according to box directions. 

STEP FOUR: Drain the pasta, rinse with cold water, and set aside.

STEP FIVE: In a large mixing bowl, combine the cooled chicken and pasta, 1 cup of BBQ sauce, ranch dressing, tomatoes, corn, beans, and cilantro. Toss gently to combine.

add all ingredients to a bowl
mix together all ingredients thoroughly

STEP SIX: Chill for at least 2 hours or enjoy when hot.

STEP SEVEN: Before serving, top with the crispy fried onions and more cilantro. 

white serving bowl of BBQ chicken salad

What Kind of Pasta Works Best For BBQ Pasta Salad?

Bowtie pasta is always my go-to for this recipe! I love the shape, plus I think it adds just the right texture to BBQ chicken salad.

That being said, any short pasta will be great in this recipe! You could try shells, elbows, or penne if you prefer, they will all work wonderfully. You could even mix and match a few if you like!

What Kind of BBQ Sauce Should You Use?

Feel free to use your personal favorite brand of barbecue sauce. Personally, I usually turn to my 2 Ingredient BBQ Sauce. It’s so easy to make, plus it tastes amazing!

Sweet Baby Rays and Stubb’s BBQ sauce are my two favorite store-bought BBQ sauces. If you prefer something with no added sugar, make sure to check out the G Hughes brand.

fork with bite of BBQ chicken salad from bowl

Can You Make BBQ Chicken Pasta Salad In Advance?

Absolutely! In fact, I highly recommend making this pasta salad ahead of time if you can. The longer the flavors have to meld in the refrigerator, the better it will be!

BBQ pasta salad can be stored in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 4 days. Just keep in mind that once cooked, chicken should be eaten within 4 days. So if you’re using leftover chicken, you’ll want to factor that into how long you store the BBQ salad.

What To Serve With BBQ Chicken Pasta

large white bowl of BBQ chicken salad on red checkered tablecloth

Variations for Pasta Salad with BBQ

  • This salad would also be wonderful with some bacon, cheese, or even pineapple mixed in.
  • You can add thinly sliced red onion instead of crispy onions if you prefer. Or use both!
  • You can spice this BBQ salad up by adding some chopped jalapenos.
  • If you do not like cilantro, you can substitute parsley.
  • Chopped red or green bell peppers would also be great in this salad.

Other Cold Lunch Recipes You’ll Love:

purchase my cookbook here!
Yield: 6 servings

BBQ Chicken Salad

large bowl of BBQ chicken salad

From summer cookouts to easy lunches, this BBQ chicken salad will be your new go-to! Top with crunchy fried onions for an instant classic.

Cook Time 15 minutes
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cool Time 2 hours
Total Time 2 hours 30 minutes


  • 2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, diced into bite size pieces
  • 1 ½ cups BBQ sauce, divided
  • 16 ounces bowtie pasta
  • 1 cup ranch dressing
  • 1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 1 15-ounce can sweet corn, drained
  • 1 15-ounce can black beans, drained and rinsed
  • ¼ cup cilantro, chopped
  • 1 cup fried onions (the packaged kind) for topping


  1. In a large skillet over medium-high heat add the diced chicken and ½ cup of BBQ sauce.
  2. Cook 7 to 9 minutes until the chicken is cooked through and the sauce has gotten glazy on the chicken. 
  3. Set aside to cool.
  4. Bring a large pot of water to a boil and add in your pasta, cooking to al dente according to box directions. 
  5. Drain the pasta, rinse with cold water, and set aside.
  6. In a large mixing bowl combine the cooled chicken, pasta, 1 cup of BBQ sauce, ranch dressing, tomatoes, corn, beans, and cilantro. 
  7. Toss gently to combine.
  8. Chill for 2 hours before serving for cold pasta or enjoy warm.
  9. Before serving top with the crispy fried onions and more cilantro.

Nutrition Information:



Serving Size:


Amount Per Serving: Calories: 583Total Fat: 21gSaturated Fat: 3gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 15gCholesterol: 13mgSodium: 1329mgCarbohydrates: 87gFiber: 10gSugar: 30gProtein: 15g

This nutrition information is based on the exact products I used in this recipe. Brands and sizes of products could alter exact nutrition and should always be calculated independently.

Did you make this recipe?

Share a photo on Instagram tagging @EverydayFamilyCooking! I love to see your pictures!


About Samantha

I’ve always had a love of cooking and creating new recipes, so it only made sense to create a food blog so I could share those recipes with you. This site is designed to provide easy and flavorful recipes with as little ingredients as possible. That means you still get great flavor combinations without all that extra time and effort. Read more...

2 thoughts on “BBQ Chicken Salad”

  1. Love this recipe! We found it a bit pasta heavy the first time, so next time I used 3 chicken breasts and it’s perfect for a light lunch or dinner. Also, we’re not cilantro fans so I subbed parsley and it was awesome. Don’t skip the crunchy onions 😉


Leave a Comment


as seen on promo graphic


as seen on promo graphic
Skip to Recipe