Fresh, vibrant, and simple, this Herby Lemon Chicken Pasta Salad is fit for any Summer lunch or dinner. Try my super tender air fryer chicken breast method or use rotisserie chicken. Make-ahead friendly for a delicious cold lunch option!
zest and juice of 1 large lemon(minus 1/2 tsp for chicken)
1/2cup chopped fresh herbs(I used parsley & dill)
1 small shallot bulb, finely diced
1/2cup freshly grated parmesan cheese
salt & fresh ground black pepper to taste
Tenderize the chicken: Place the two chicken breasts on a plate next to a cutting board. One at a time, tenderize each chicken breast by placing it into a Ziploc bag or between plastic wrap, laying it on the cutting board, and pounding the chicken with a tenderizer or heavy pan. Go slowly and methodically to create an even thickness in the chicken. It should take about 10-15 seconds to tenderize each piece of chicken.
I prefer to use some kind of plastic shield to avoid raw chicken splatter during tenderizing (gallon Ziploc or plastic wrap), but if you have a preferred method to tenderize your chicken, go for it. Be careful to avoid cross contamination here!
Season the chicken: Place tenderized chicken back on the plate and use a paper towel to pat the chicken breasts dry. In a small bowl or measuring cup, mix the avocado oil and 1/2 teaspoon of lemon juice together, then drizzle on to the chicken. Use a pastry brush or your fingers to coat the chicken with the lemon oil mixture. Next, season the chicken breasts by sprinkling the salt, fresh ground black pepper, onion powder, and garlic powder on both sides.
Cook the chicken: Use tongs to place prepared chicken breasts into the air fryer basket in a single layer. Air fry at 380F for 11-14 minutes, flipping halfway through (thicker chicken breasts may take a little longer). The chicken is done when the edges are browning and the internal temperature reads 165F. Remove the chicken breasts from the air fryer and place onto a clean cutting board. Let them rest for 10 minutes while you start the pasta, then dice into bite sized pieces and set aside.
Cook the pasta: Heat about 4 quarts of water in a large stockpot over high heat. Once boiling, add at least 1 tablespoon salt to season the water. Cook pasta to al dente based on package directions (11 minutes for my pasta). Drain well and rinse pasta with cold water to stop the cooking and bring to room temperature. Set aside to cool while you prep the remaining ingredients.
Assemble pasta salad: After the cooked ingredients have cooled for a few minutes, combine all pasta salad ingredients in a large bowl, including the cooked pasta, cooked chicken breast, olive oil, lemon zest, lemon juice, fresh herbs, shallot, and parmesan cheese. Mix it up and taste to see if it needs any additional salt or pepper.
Serve & store: Serve immediately or transfer to a serving dish and top with additional chopped fresh herbs and parmesan cheese. For meal prep, divide into four containers with lids. Store leftovers in the refrigerator and enjoy within 4 days. Serve cold – if pasta seems dry, drizzle with additional olive oil.
Chicken: This pasta salad would be delicious with rotisserie chicken, or chicken cooked in another method that you like if you don’t have an air fryer. For more chicken cooking ideas, check out my post on How to Cook Chicken for Meal Prep. Any of those chicken cooking methods would work for this recipe.