Made with chicken instead of tuna, this Nicoise pasta salad is a fun spin on a classic Nicoise salad. It’s light, fresh, colorful, and the perfect dish to make easy spring or summer lunches or brunch.
I have a tendency to “pasta-fy” my favorite salads. Case in point: my BLT pasta salad with avocado, my kale Caesar pasta salad, and my caprese pasta salad. Can’t stop, won’t stop.
This Nicoise pasta salad has all of the flavors and ingredients you’ll find in my classic Nicoise salad, but with shredded chicken breast instead of tuna and the addition of egg pasta noodles for when that carb craving calls. It’s light and simple and can be prepped ahead for baby showers, bridal showers, al fresco lunches, and definitely potlucks and picnics. Even more, with all the food groups represented, you can certainly consider it a complete meal for an easy spring or summer dinner as well.
What’s in This Nicoise Pasta Salad
The components of the classic Nicoise salad are tossed with a few extra vegetables and chicken instead of tuna.
Here’s what I put in my Nicoise pasta salad:
- Lemony Dijon vinaigrette dressing
- Egg noodle pasta such as tagliatelle or pappardelle
- Cooked chicken breast — I usually poach mine or use the breast from a rotisserie chicken
- Baby potatoes — creamy, white potatoes with tender skins that don’t need to be peeled
- Green beans — blanched for the best color and texture
- Tomatoes — I like using sweet cherry tomatoes
- Kalamata olives — these too add a nice briny bite
- Red bell pepper
- English cucumber — less bitter and a more tender skin
- Red onion — I prefer red over white or yellow in this recipe for color
- Capers — these pickled flower buds lend a briny pop to each bite
- Hard-boiled eggs
How to Make the Best Nicoise Pasta Salad
Follow these easy tips for making the best Nicoise pasta salad:
- Shred the chicken and chop the veg so they’re similar in size. For more flavor in each forkful, make all the bites about the same size.
- Use an egg-based pasta. Made with egg yolks, egg pastas are richer in flavor than regular pasta. I use long pasta like pappardelle or tagliatelle.
- Salt your potato water for more flavorful potatoes. Salted water adds flavor as the potatoes cook. To avoid pitting your pot, wait to add the salt until the water boils.
- Blanch the green beans in the reserved pasta water. A quick dunk for 30 seconds in the hot water takes away green bean’s raw flavor.
- Dress the potatoes with some of the dijon vinaigrette (I substitute the vinegar with lemon) while they’re warm. Hot potatoes absorb the dressing, adding another layer of flavor.
- Add the hard-boiled eggs after tossing the rest of the ingredients together. That way the yolks and whites stay intact.
Nicoise Pasta Salad Substitutions or Additions
- Serve on a bed of baby lettuce, mixed greens, bibb, or arugula if you’d like.
- Try an oil-packed tuna or smoked or grilled salmon instead of chicken
- Use other types of briny olives
- Try Nicoise salad with jammy eggs instead of hard-boiled
- Instead of white potatoes, try using red or purple baby potatoes
Make it Ahead
- This pasta salad can be made the day before serving.
- Add more dressing before serving if the salad seems dry.
- The salad will keep in the refrigerator for 3-4 days but is def best served within the first day of making.
What to Serve With This Pasta Salad
- The Best BBQ Chicken
- The BEST Caprese Sandwich
- Mozzarella and Tomato Caprese Flatbread
- The Best Juicy Grilled Pork Chops
- Grilled Skirt Steak with Chimichurri
More Great Pasta Salads for Entertaining
- BLT Pasta Salad with Avocado
- Caprese Pasta Salad
- Asian Ramen Noodle Salad
- Greek Pasta Salad with Cucumbers and Artichoke Hearts
- THE BEST Italian Pasta Salad with Pepperoni
- Creamy Tuscan Pasta Salad
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