Lemon Basil Pasta Salad is ready for ! Filled with fresh basil, spinach, and peas, this bowtie pasta salad is dressed in a homemade lemon vinaigrette for the brightest side dish of the season. Add some chicken and crumbled feta to boost the protein or leave them out and add some chickpeas for a vegetarian pasta salad.

A bowl of Lemon Basil Pasta Salad with Chicken and Feta with a dark wooden spoon in the bowl.

I’ve never been one to have a go-to recipe to use leftover chicken. There are just so many leftover rotisserie chicken recipes that aren’t chicken salad or chicken soup to try out!

Over the past few years, I’ve loved to throw it in this Lemon Basil Pasta Salad with some feta cheese to make this summer side dish into a full meal.  

Ingredients for Lemon Basil Pasta Salad with Chicken and Feta are laid out on a white marble counter.

Ingredients

This is the basic shopping list for this easy pasta salad. The full list of ingredients is in the printable recipe card below, so be sure to keep scrolling down to check it out!

For the lemon vinaigrette recipe:

  • Lemon
  • Shallot
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • Kosher salt and pepper
Two wooden spoons are mixing Lemon Basil Pasta Salad with Chicken and Feta in a clear glass bowl.

For the bowtie pasta salad:

  • Bowtie pasta
  • Fresh basil leaves
  • Spinach leaves
  • Peas — fresh or frozen
  • Cooked chicken, like from my roast chicken recipe
  • Feta cheese

How to Make Lemon Basil Pasta Salad

Here are the quick steps for how to make this recipe! The full list of Instructions is in the recipe card below, so be sure to keep scrolling down to the printable recipe card.

A spoon is scooping some Lemon Vinaigrette Recipe from a glass jar. Some of the vinaigrette is dripping back into the jar from the bottom of the spoon.

STEP 1: First, make the pasta salad dressing! Whisk the lemon zest and juice with the minced shallot, salt, and pepper. Then, slowly drizzle the olive oil into the lemon mixture while you quickly whisk.

STEP 2: Cook the bowtie pasta according to the box directions to a perfect al dente. Drain the noodles and let them cool until they are warm to the touch. Be sure to mix the pasta up with a wooden spoon occasionally while it cools to prevent the bowties from sticking to each other.

A hand is drizzling lemon vinaigrette over the Lemon Basil Pasta Salad with Chicken and Feta.

STEP 3: Once cooled a bit, add the pasta, fresh basil, fresh spinach, peas, cooked chicken, and crumbled feta cheese to a large bowl. Drizzle about 1/4 cup of the vinaigrette over the salad and mix everything up.

STEP 4: Finally, drizzle everything with some of extra the lemon vinaigrette and toss to combine. You can serve the salad at room temperature or straight from the fridge.

PRO TIP: Avoid adding all of the vinaigrette to the salad at the same time. The pasta and chicken will soak up the dressing and absorb some of the flavor. However, you don’t want the salad ingredients swimming in the lemon vinaigrette. When you serve the salad, you can always add extra dressing if the pasta and chicken seem too dry.

Ingredients for Lemon Basil Pasta Salad with Chicken and Feta in a clear glass bowl ready to be mixed together.

How Do I Keep My Pasta Salad from Drying Out?

You’d think the secret to a great summer side dish is tons of dressing, but it’s actually in the pasta itself!

You can use any noodle you choose for this recipe. I love a fun bowtie pasta salad but fusilli and penne would work well here too.

When you’re cooking the pasta, you want to cook it perfectly al dente. If it’s underdone, the vinaigrette won’t cling to the noodles. If the pasta is overcooked, the noodles become mush.

Overhead photo of Lemon Basil Pasta Salad with Chicken and Feta served in a white bowl.

Al dente pasta will soak up all that lemony goodness in the dressing when adding just a little bit before you first mix the salad together. When you go to serve the salad, add some extra dressing to give the pasta another layer of flavor.

Can Pasta Salad Be Made the Night Before?

This is one of the best party side dishes because it truly gets better overnight! I love a good make-ahead recipe!

A fork is scooping some of the Lemon Basil Pasta Salad with Chicken and Feta out of a bowl.

I tend to make all my pasta salads in advance. This one lasts a few days in the fridge, and also, the extra time allows the flavors to meld so much better after they marinate together for a few hours.

If you’re not making yours the night before, be sure to make it first in your party prep schedule for the tastiest chicken and pasta dish possible! Pop it in the fridge for a couple of hours and then be sure to give it a good stir with some extra dressing before serving.

Lemon Basil Pasta Salad with Chicken and Feta in a white serving bowl.

More Pasta Salad Recipes

Keep it super simple with this bright green peas and pesto pasta salad. This spring and summer dish is best when you highlight its in-season ingredients.

When the weather starts to warm up in the spring, I have to make this warm pasta salad with ricotta and peas! It’s so fresh and creamy, and it’s perfect as a weeknight dinner side dish.

A wooden spoon is scooping some of the Lemon Basil Pasta Salad with Chicken and Feta to serve.

Mix it up this Taco Tuesday with this tasty taco pasta salad recipe! It’s a no mayo pasta salad that opts for a creamy taco ranch dressing instead.

This roasted veggie orzo salad with feta has been a staple of mine for years! Use your favorite roasted veggies to go in this perfect picnic pasta salad.

Lemon Basil Pasta Salad with Chicken and Feta in a white serving bowl with a dark wooden spoon.

Lemon Basil Pasta Salad with Chicken and Feta

Yield: 4 to 6 servings
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 30 minutes

Lemon basil pasta salad is a fanastic dish to make as a spring side salad or summer main dish with the addition of chicken and feta cheese. Throw this salad quickly together by using rotisserie chicken and serve it up as an easy dinner at your next cookout or party.

Ingredients

For the lemon vinaigrette:

  • Zest of 2 lemons
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • ½ shallot, finely minced
  • ½ tsp Kosher salt
  • ¼ tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • ½ cup extra virgin olive oil

For the pasta salad:

  • 8 oz farfalle pasta (bowties), cooked al dente and drained
  • 1 cup frozen peas, thawed or almost completely thawed
  • 1 cup packed fresh spinach, sliced thinly
  • ½ cup packed fresh basil leaves, sliced thinly
  • 2 cups cooked chopped chicken
  • ½ cup crumbled feta
  • A good sprinkle of Kosher salt and few cranks of black pepper
  • Lemon vinaigrette from the recipe above

Instructions

  1. To make the lemon vinaigrette: Whisk the lemon zest and juice, shallots, salt, and pepper together in a 2 cup Pyrex measuring cup or small mixing bowl. Slowly drizzle the olive oil into the lemon mixture as you vigorously whisk until the vinaigrette no longer looks separated. It should be slightly thick and emulsified. You should have about ⅔ cup.
  2. To assemble the pasta salad: In a large bowl, mix all of the pasta salad ingredients together up until the vinaigrette. Drizzle half of the vinaigrette over the pasta salad and stir it in well.
  3. Refrigerate the pasta salad for a couple of hours before serving. When you’re ready to serve, allow the pasta salad to warm up to almost room temperature for about 20 minutes before serving. Then, drizzle the remaining vinaigrette over the pasta salad and mix it in well. Serve at room temperature.

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