Asian chicken pasta salad has a zippy Asian chicken marinade, orzo pasta, and lots of fresh vegetables: baby spinach, carrots, and celery. Delicious served chilled, this is a great make ahead recipe for a weekday lunch or a party.
I love using orzo for a chilled chicken pasta salad because it makes the entire dish so easy to fork and eat!
This Asian chicken pasta salad has a zesty soy sauce and lime juice based dressing that tastes amazing with all those fresh, crispy veggies.
The chicken marinates in just half of the savory Asian marinade while the other half is saved and used as a salad dressing over the final pasta salad.
All those tasty fresh raw veggies are chopped and mixed in which give a delicious crunch to each bite.
You can prep everything ahead of time and just toss the pasta salad together before serving or let it mingle in the fridge for a couple hours so the flavors have time to blend together.
Why This is the Best Recipe
While there are lots of different Asian chicken recipes or Asian salad recipes, I think this is the best Asian chicken pasta salad recipe because:
- Fresh and Flavorful: The easy homemade dressing goes so well with all those fresh and colorful veggies.
- Delicious the Next Day: This is the best make ahead recipe since the chicken and pasta both taste even better the next day once the flavors have had a chance to mingle.
- Refreshing and Chilled: Served cold, this is a perfect recipe for a hot day and there's no mayo in the recipe to spoil.
- Light and Healthy: The chicken tenderloins are broiled, not battered or fried. You could even double up on some of the veggies to increase the crunch.
This easy pasta salad is filled with fresh veggies and a zippy Asian marinade and dressing:
For the Asian Marinade
- Canola Oil
- White Vinegar: Regular white vinegar is very budget-friendly. If you wanted, you could use rice wine vinegar for a little more flavor.
- Soy Sauce
- Sesame Oil: To give it a little heat, I use a chili sesame oil.
- Fresh Lime Juice
- Brown Sugar
- Ground Ginger
- Minced Garlic
- Salt and pepper
For the Pasta Salad
- Chicken Tenderloins: I love how easy chicken tenderloins are to cook and chop for salads. If you wanted, you could use boneless, skinless chicken breasts instead.
- Orzo Pasta: This is a fantastic pasta salad shape. If you don't like orzo, you could use a different small pasta like ditalini.
- Red Pepper
- Green Onions
- Baby Spinach
- Slivered Almonds
- Sesame Seeds (optional)
Prepare the Marinade
The first step to prepping this recipe is to make the Asian marinade and dressing.
Whisk together the canola oil, vinegar, soy sauce, sesame oil, lime juice, brown sugar, ginger, minced garlic, and salt and pepper together in a small bowl.
Pour half of the mixture into a large bowl where you plan to marinate the chicken, save the other half for the pasta salad dressing.
If you want to get more ideas for flavor variations or you want to print the marinade recipe all by itself without the pasta salad, you can see the full instructions and more ideas on how to use an Asian marinade here.
Marinate the Chicken
Add the chicken to the bowl with half the marinade and turn to coat on all sides.
Let the chicken marinate for at least 30 minutes, this would be a good time to prep all the pasta salad ingredients if you wanted to.
Cook the Chicken
To cook the chicken tenderloins, I recommend making this easy broiled chicken tenderloins recipe because you'll get nice bits of browned char like you would with a grill but with the ease of using your oven.
First, heat your oven broiler on high.
Place the chicken onto a broiler pan coated with cooking spray.
Cook the chicken under the broiler for 7 minutes.
Use a fork or tongs to flip the chicken over and broil it for an additional 5 minutes on the other side.
Alternatively, you could cook the chicken tenderloins in your air fryer if you prefer.
Let the chicken cool while you finish prepping the pasta salad.
Cook the Pasta
Bring a large pot of water to boil with a pinch of salt.
Cook the orzo pasta according to the package directions until al dente.
Drain the orzo and rinse with cold water to stop the cooking.
Assemble the Pasta Salad
Pour the cooked orzo into a large mixing bowl.
Add the diced green onions, carrot, red pepper, and celery.
Pour the reserved pasta salad dressing over the salad and toss with a spoon or fork to coat completely.
At this point, you can cover the orzo pasta salad and chill it in the refrigerator until you're ready to serve, at least 20 - 30 minutes for the flavors to mingle.
For Individual Servings:
If you're making this dish to eat for your lunches during the week or as a light dinner, you can place a single serving of the baby spinach on each diner's plate.
Then top with a hearty serving spoonful of the orzo salad.
Add 2 - 3 chicken tenderloins per person. Top with sesame seeds and/or almond slivers.
To Serve for a Crowd at a Party:
If you want to serve this dish as part of a party menu for a crowd, you could add the entire container of baby spinach to a large serving bowl.
Pour the orzo pasta salad over the top.
Chop the chicken into bite-sized pieces and add it to the bowl. Gently toss everything together with a pair of tongs.
Garnish the salad with almonds and/or sesame seeds.
If you are making this dish in advance for your weekday lunches or for a party, the most important trick is to be sure to store the orzo pasta salad separately from the chicken and baby spinach.
Keep each of those items in separate containers and then just assemble the full salad before serving.
You could use this recipe to make several easy variations:
- Asian Shrimp Pasta Salad: Use your favorite grilled shrimp or air fryer shrimp instead of the chicken.
- Vegetarian Asian Pasta Salad: Skip the chicken altogether and just double up on the veggies.
- Spicy Asian Pasta Salad: Add 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes to the marinade.
- Asian Pasta Salad with Fruit: Make the recipe as directed. Add a large can of drained mandarin oranges to the mix just before serving.
- Asian Pasta Side Dish: Skip the baby spinach and just serve the orzo pasta salad as a simple side dish for dinner.
- Green Asian Salad with Lettuce: The Asian marinade also works as a delicious Asian lime vinaigrette for a green leaf salad with fresh plums and clementines.
More Pasta Salad Recipes
If you love orzo as much as I do, don't miss trying this easy orzo pasta salad with lemon and feta.
If you need another pasta salad for a big crowd or easy lunches for the week, my chicken pasta salad with grapes is sweet and juicy.
Asian Chicken Pasta Salad
Asian Chicken Marinade
- ¼ cup canola oil
- ¼ cup white vinegar or rice wine vinegar
- ¼ cup soy sauce
- 2 tablespoon chili sesame oil
- Juice from ½ lime
- 6 tablespoons brown sugar
- ½ teaspoon ground ginger
- 1 teaspoon minced garlic
- Sprinkle of salt and pepper
Asian Chicken Pasta Salad
- 2 pounds chicken tenderloins
- 1 pound orzo pasta
- 2 large carrots diced
- 1 red pepper diced
- 2 celery stalks diced
- 4 green onions ends trimmed and white and greens chopped
- 1 bag prewashed baby spinach roughly chopped
- ½ cup slivered almonds toasted
- Sesame seeds for garnish optional
Prepare the Marinade
- Whisk together the ingredients for the marinade in a medium sized mixing bowl. Divide it in half. Marinate the chicken in one half and reserve the other half to dress the final pasta salad.
Marinate & Cook the Chicken
- Let the chicken marinate in half the prepared marinade for at least 30 minutes.
- To cook the chicken, heat the oven broiler to HIGH. Remove the chicken from the marinade and place it onto a broiler pan coated with cooking spray. Bake for 7 minutes and then turn the chicken. Cook for an additional 5 minutes to brown the other side. Chicken should be 180°F when tested with a food thermometer.
- Let the chicken cool and then chop into bite-sized pieces.
Prepare the Orzo Pasta Salad
- To make the orzo pasta salad, bring a large pot of water to boil. Cook the pasta according to the package directions until al dente. Drain completely and rinse with cold water. Pour the cooked orzo into a large mixing bowl.
- Top the orzo with the chopped carrot, red pepper, celery, and green onions. Pour the reserved dressing over the salad and toss to coat completely. Store the pasta salad in the refrigerator until ready to serve.
Assemble and Serve the Pasta Salad
- To assemble, pour the baby spinach into a large serving dish. Add the orzo salad and toss gently to combine. Add the chunks of cooked chicken to the bowl and stir them in. Top with the almonds and sesame seeds for garnish.
- Alternatively, you could serve the salad on individual plates with the baby spinach serving as the bottom layer, topped with a scoop of the pasta salad, and then 2 - 3 chicken tenderloins laid on the top. Garnish with almonds and sesame seeds.
Make Ahead TipsThis is a fantastic make ahead recipe for work week lunches or for serving at a party because everything tastes great once the flavors have mingled. Be sure to store the baby spinach, cooked chicken, and assembled orzo pasta salad in 3 separate containers. Only mix them together before serving. This keeps the vegetables fresh and crispy.
Save This Recipe to Your Recipe Box
Find this delicious recipe next time you visit by saving it to your very own recipe box on my site. All your favorites stored in one easy place!