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Apple Pecan Chicken Pasta Salad

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1 (16 ounce) box gemelli pasta
1 cup mayonnaise
2/3 cup creamy honey mustard salad dressing
1/3 cup honey mustard
1/4 cup lemon juice
3 tablespoons prepared horseradish
2 rotisserie chickens
2 cups whole small pecans, toasted
3 Granny Smith apples, chopped
5 stalks celery, chopped

Apple Pecan Chicken Pasta Salad

The combination of tender chicken, sweet and tart apples, crunchy pecans, and pasta in a flavorful spicy sauce is sublime.

  • Serves 8
  • Easy

About This Recipe

There’s something about adding pecans to chicken salad that elevates the dish to a new level. Whole pecans add crunch, flavor, and texture to this sweet and tart salad that includes apples and celery. They are perfect in this easy recipe for Apple Pecan Chicken Pasta Salad.

I like to double or triple this recipe; we just eat it until it’s gone. It’s fabulous for breakfast, lunch, dinner, or a snack.

Rotisserie chicken is the easiest and best way to get cooked chicken for this recipe (and for any main dish salad recipe, really), but you can cook your own or use leftover grilled or baked chicken. Just make sure the chicken is cooked to 165°F for food safety reasons.

Enjoy every bite of this wonderful recipe.

Tips for the best Apple Pecan Chicken Pasta Salad:

  • Make sure that the pasta is cooked to al dente. You have to taste it to see if it’s properly cooked. It should be tender but a bit firm in the center. When you bite into a piece, look at it. There should be no white in the center; perhaps just a fine line, but that’s it.
  • You need to use whole pecans in this salad for the eye appeal and also for the crunch they add. Chopped pecans would get lost in this recipe. Look for small whole pecans.
  • Rotisserie chicken is always tender and moist and consistently good. It’s the only type of chicken I use in main dish salads. The chicken is also safe because it is cooked automatically, so you know it’s cooked to 165°F.
  • Granny Smith apples don’t brown as quickly as other types of apples. The lemon juice in the salad helps prevent enzymatic browning, which happens when apples are cut and compounds in the fruit’s cells combine. Oxygen reacts with the ascorbic acid (vitamin C) in the lemon instead of reacting with the polyphenol oxidase in the apple.

Why this recipe works:

  • The combination of chicken, apples, and pecans is classic and perfect in terms of flavor and texture contrast.
  • The dressing, spiked with mustard and lemon juice, really complements all of the ingredients.

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Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Cook the pasta until it's al dente, according to package directions.


While the pasta cooks, combine the mayonnaise, salad dressing, honey mustard, lemon juice, and horseradish in a large bowl and mix well.


When the pasta is done, drain well and add to the dressing; stir to coat.


Remove the meat from the chickens and chop. Add to the salad along with the pecans, apples, and celery. Stir well, then cover and chill for a few hours before serving.


Linda is a bestselling cookbook author and home economist who has written 54 books (53 cookbooks and Medical Ethics for Dummies) since 2005. She has worked for Pillsbury since 1988, on the Bake-Off and other projects. Linda has been a web presence since 2002, developing recipes and teaching people how to cook.

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