A fitting side for summer cookouts, chicken-and-macaroni salad is easy to whip up at home. Picking up a precooked rotisserie chicken cuts down on the prep time, and the dressing can be prepared while the pasta cooks. Adapted from Cooking Light’s southwestern chicken pasta salad, this recipe calls for ranch seasoning and spicy Sriracha to add a bold, zippy flavor, while crumbled bacon adds a smoky savoriness. Prepare the chicken and macaroni salad hours in advance to let the flavors meld and penetrate the pasta.
Start to Finish: 30 minutes, plus at least 2 hours to chill
Servings: Around 8 cups
Difficulty Level: Beginner
- 2 cups uncooked shell or elbow macaroni
- 2 to 2 1/2 cups rotisserie chicken, shredded
- 3 slices cooked bacon, crumbled
- 1/2 cup cherry or grape tomatoes, halved or quartered
- 2 stalks celery, chopped
- 1/2 cup red onion, finely diced
- Two 1-ounce packages dry ranch seasoning
- 1/2 cup sour cream
- 1/2 cup mayonnaise
- 1/4 cup milk
- 1 tablespoon Sriracha
- Salt and pepper, to taste
Step 1: Prepare the Pasta
Cook the shells or elbow macaroni according to package instructions. Drain and immediately rinse with cold water.
Step 2: Prepare the Sriracha Ranch Dressing
Put the ranch seasoning, sour cream, mayonnaise, milk and Sriracha in a large bowl and whisk to combine.
Step 3: Put It All Together
Add the macaroni, rotisserie chicken, bacon, tomatoes and celery to the bowl and stir to combine, fully coating all of the ingredients. Season the ingredients with salt and pepper, to taste. Chill the chicken and macaroni salad in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours to let the flavors develop.
Opt for low-fat sour cream and mayonnaise and skim milk to lighten up the calories. You can also swap out the sour cream for plain Greek yogurt.
Substitutions and Variations
Corn adds a sweet crunch, green or red bell peppers add depth without adding heat and black olives contribute a savory tang.
Instead of ranch seasoning, mix it up with taco seasoning. Or toss in any combination of herbs and spices you would like, such as garlic powder, dried basil and parsley, and smoked paprika.
Instead of Sriracha, use any hot sauce you prefer, such as a mild green chili sauce, a spicy jalapeno sauce or a fiery habanero sauce.