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Healthy Chicken Pasta Salad is a spinach salad with penne pasta, grilled chicken, cherry tomatoes, toasted slivered almonds, and a fresh citrus vinaigrette.

Healthy chicken pasta salad in a grey bowl.

Hey everyone! It’s Chelsea from Chelsea’s Messy Apron. I’m bringing a healthier spinach and chicken salad with pasta today and I hope you all love it!

Instead of the typical mayo or cream-laden based dressing, this dressing is very light and citrus-y making this salad so much healthier than most pasta salads. But it’s definitely NOT lacking on flavor. If you like lemon and orange, you will be obsessed with this dressing!


Healthy Chicken Pasta Saladin a gray bowl.

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Healthy Chicken Pasta Salad

5 from 1 vote
Healthy Chicken Pasta Salad is a spinach salad with penne pasta, grilled chicken, cherry tomatoes, toasted slivered almonds, and a fresh citrus vinaigrette.
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes
Servings: 6


  • 1 heaping cup 4 ounces miniature penne pasta measured dry
  • 1 cup prepared chicken leftover marinated and grilled chicken or leftover rotisserie chicken
  • 4 ounces baby spinach stems removed
  • 1 cup cherry tomatoes halved
  • 1/3 cup crumbled feta cheese
  • 1/3 cup slivered almonds toasted


  • 1 large orange 2 teaspoons zest; 4 tablespoons juice
  • 1 large lemon 1/2 teaspoon zest; 2 tablespoons juice
  • 3 tablespoons honey
  • 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard do not use regular
  • 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 1/2 cup olive oil vegetable oil or canola oil can also be used
  • Optional: freshly cracked pepper fresh parsley


  • Cook the pasta according to package direction. Drain and then rinse with cold water.
  • Place the cooled pasta in a large bowl. Add in the spinach and the halved cherry tomatoes.
  • Briefly warm up and then coarsely chop the leftover grilled chicken. Add to salad and toss to combine.
  • Lightly toast the almonds over a skillet on medium heat until fragrant. Sprinkle the almonds and feta cheese over the salad.
  • For the dressing: combine all of the ingredients together except for the oil in a blender. Blend until all ingredients are well incorporated. Slowly add in the oil in a steady stream and pulse until combined.
  • Toss the salad with the dressing (to taste; you may not want/need all of it) and enjoy.
  • ONLY toss what you plan on eating as the dressing makes the spinach "soggy" for leftovers.



Calories: 324kcalCarbohydrates: 54gProtein: 7gFat: 11gSaturated Fat: 7gCholesterol: 45mgSodium: 1723mgSugar: 54gVitamin A: 211IUCalcium: 247mgIron: 1mg

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

Tried this recipe?Mention @alyssa_therecipecritic or tag #therecipecritic!

More Salad Recipes from Chelsea’s Messy Apron:

Candied Pecan and Pear Salad

Italian Chicken Pasta Salad

Sweet Potato Farro Salad

About Chelsea Lords

Chelsea is the blogger behind Chelsea's Messy Apron. She is always experimenting in the kitchen and making new things to eat. "Or I am in the kitchen eating. Both are good." She tries to eat a balanced diet of healthful foods, but she loves desserts. You will find most of her recipes are healthy and easy, but still taste great! She has found that eating is all about balance and she hopes that that is the case on her site!

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Recipe Rating


  1. 5 stars
    Thanks for this recipe, it turned out great. The dressing was really good, though i think in the future I might use a tad less honey.

    Ended up adding some sun dried tomatoes as I had some that needed to be used and I think it was a good addition.

  2. Thank you for this recipe! I’ve used it first a couple of months ago when I cooked for my family and friends. Ever since everyone is asking me for your recipe. They all LOVED it!

    As I did not have any leftover chicken, I actually marinated chicken-breasts in the mustard, orange, honey, olive oil mix and then baked it. Delicious.

  3. Wonderful. Salad! I made it for a baby shower and it was easy to serve and perfect for a hot summer day, I made it exactly as written but added a little fresh basil from my garden. The spinach did wilt but didn’t bother me or mt guests!

  4. I was searching for a quick chicken pasta salad and found this recipe. I used what I had and used whole wheat noodles and a packet of ramen (not the spice), skipped the honey, dijon, salt, and almonds and added celery, broccoli and lots of pepper. I only had clementines, not oranges–so zested one and cut up the fruit of both, and used the zest/juice of one lemon and threw in some spinach, feta and followed the rest of the recipe. Its amazingly good and far less calories than the original recipe (which is probably also great). Love the lemony taste.

  5. Do you know how many calories are there in one serving? I tried the salad dressing, but only because I didn’t have the vegetables suggested above. So I used whatever veggies I had in the fridge. I used shredded carrots, red capsicum, olives, celery (leaves included) and a handful of basil. And I only had the spiral pasta. I used the same amount of dressing for an additional cups of pasta and left-over chicken. It was just as delicious (and celery crunchy)!

  6. I make this salad for our Easter lunch to eat with roast lamb and roast pork. Everyone in the family mentioned how tasty, wholesome and refreshing this salad is. I didn’t even use feta cheese and slivered almonds as I didn’t have these two ingredients. Can imagine how yummy it would be with these extra 2 ingredients 🙂
    Thank you. This dish will be one of our staples from now on!