Easy Healthy High Protein Pasta Salad

This high protein pasta salad is easy, amazing, and perfect to meal prep ahead for lunches. It’s packed with veggies and tossed in a flavorful homemade dressing. It packs an impressive 47 grams of protein and 11 grams of fiber per serving for a balanced, satisfying meal you’ll love.

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A white bowl of high protein pasta salad full of veggies, chicken and sprinkled with parmesan cheese.

Why you’ll love this pasta salad

First of all, what’s not to love about pasta salad? It’s easy to make, and I love it especially because it’s a great “meal prep” balanced meal that’s easy to pack nutrition into! Here’s why you’ll love this one in particular:

  1. It’s high protein! One serving packs around 47 grams of protein so that you can feel full, satisfied, and support your goals. Because it’s made with chickpea pasta and chicken, it has a lot more protein than your typical pasta salad.
  2. It’s high fiber. Protein content tends to get all the attention, but fiber is super important too. Fiber is integral for gut health, supports a healthy weight, and can even help lower cholesterol levels. This recipe has 11 grams of fiber from colorful veggies and chickpea pasta.
  3. It’s delicious, the best part! You’d never know this was a “healthy” version of pasta salad because it’s so, so tasty and satisfying.

Let’s get into what you need to make it next.

A white bowl of high protein pasta salad full of veggies, chicken and sprinkled with parmesan cheese.

Ingredients

Pasta salad ingredients

  • Chopped chicken breast: Personally, I like using a shortcut here by buying an already-cooked rotisserie chicken.
  • Chickpea pasta: I love using Banza chickpea pasta in the cavatappi variety because it’s such a fun shape, but you can use any chickpea pasta that you enjoy. I also love Barilla chickpea rotini! I recommend rinsing with cold water after cooking to halt the cooking process (this will prevent mushy chickpea pasta).
  • English cucumber: You can also use mini cucumbers. I like both English cucumbers and mini cucumbers because they’re sweeter and the seeds tend to be smaller.
  • Cherry tomatoes: Any fresh tomatoes will work but I like cherry tomatoes because they hold up better for mixing.
  • Red bell pepper: For pasta salads, I like to use either red, orange or yellow bell peppers because they’re much sweeter than green.
  • Shredded carrots: Another shortcut opportunity here! I like to grab the pre-shredded bags.
  • Sweet onion: Red onion is delish too but has a bit more of a bite.
  • Sharp cheddar cheese: Other cheeses that go well with this pasta salad are mozzarella, monterey jack, or even big shavings of parmesan cheese.

Dressing ingredients

  • White wine vinegar
  • Olive oil
  • Honey
  • Parmesan cheese
  • Salt, pepper and Italian seasoning

If you want to save time, you can skip the homemade dressing and use your favorite store-bought Italian dressing, too!

Feel free to experiment with vinegars, too! This dressing recipe can be used with red wine vinegar, apple cider vinegar, or even balsamic vinegar.

Step-by-step instructions

  1. In a small bowl, combine white wine vinegar, olive oil, honey, parmesan cheese, Italian seasoning, salt and pepper. Whisk until fully combined. Add additional salt and pepper to taste.
A large bowl of pasta, chicken, cheese and veggies unmixed.
A large bowl of mixed high protein pasta salad.
  1. In a large mixing bowl, add cooked chicken breast, cooked pasta, cucumber, tomato, bell pepper, shredded carrots, sweet onion and cheddar.
  2. Add dressing to the bowl of pasta ingredients and toss gently until thoroughly combined.
  3. Top with additional parmesan cheese if desired and enjoy!
High protein pasta salad separated into tupperware.

FAQ

My chickpea pasta is falling apart, help!

Chickpea pasta is a little more fragile than traditional pasta, so make sure you cook it to al dente according to the package instructions, usually about 6-8 minutes of boil time. When it’s finished cooking, rinse in cold water to stop the cooking process.

How should I store this?

If you’re making this ahead, store the dressing separately for a fresher flavor. Or, make a little bit of extra dressing to freshen up before serving.

To store, place leftovers in an airtight container (or containers) in the refrigerator for up to 5 days. These are my favorite meal prep containers for this pasta salad!

Variations

  • If you can’t find chickpea pasta, you can also use red lentil pasta, whole wheat pasta, or even just regular pasta (white pasta) if you prefer it. Any type of pasta you enjoy will work.
  • Not in the mood to make your own dressing? Use your favorite dressing instead!
  • Make it vegetarian by omitting the chicken and adding a cup or two of edamame or 1 cup of black beans instead! Chickpea pasta has quite a bit of plant-based protein all on its own, but edamame will add additional protein.
  • Add any other fresh vegetables that you enjoy! Chopped vegetables like broccoli, celery, or even chopped spinach would all work.
  • Use feta cheese instead of cheddar for a little more bite!
  • Add any other salad toppings that you typically like on salad, like kalamata olives or fresh herbs.
  • Add fresh mozzarella, fresh chopped basil and swap the white wine vinegar for balsamic to make it a caprese pasta salad!

More Easy Lunch Recipes:

The BEST Italian Grinder Salad (Quick and Easy!)

Easy Buffalo Chicken Rice Bowl

The Best 10 Adult Lunchables (Easy + Healthy!)

The BEST Sauteéd Brussel Sprout Pasta Salad Bowl

A large bowl of mixed high protein pasta salad.

Easy Healthy High Protein Pasta Salad

An easy, healthy and high protein pasta salad packed with veggies and tossed in a flavorful parmesan vinaigrette dressing.
5 from 2 votes
Print Pin Rate
Course: dinner, lunch
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Servings: 4
Calories: 598kcal

Ingredients

  • 1 lb chicken breast or rotisserie chicken cooked, chopped and cooled
  • 1 8 oz box chickpea pasta cooked according to package directions and cooled
  • 1 cup English cucumber diced
  • 1 cup cherry tomatoes halved
  • 1 red bell pepper diced
  • 1 cup shredded carrots
  • 1 small sweet onion diced
  • 4 oz sharp cheddar cubed

Parmesan vinaigrette dressing

  • 3 tbsp white wine vinegar
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tbsp honey
  • 1/4 cup parmesan cheese
  • 1/2 tsp Italian seasoning
  • 1 pinch salt or to taste
  • 1 pinch black pepper or to taste

Instructions

  • In a small bowl, combine white wine vinegar, olive oil, honey, parmesan cheese, Italian seasoning, salt and pepper. Whisk until fully combined. Add additional salt and pepper to taste.
  • In a large mixing bowl, add cooked chicken breast, cooked chickpea pasta, cucumber, tomato, bell pepper, shredded carrots, sweet onion and cheddar.
  • Add dressing to the bowl of pasta ingredients and toss gently until thoroughly combined.
  • Top with additional parmesan cheese if desired and enjoy!

Nutrition

Calories: 598kcal | Carbohydrates: 53g | Protein: 47g | Fat: 25g | Saturated Fat: 8g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 2g | Monounsaturated Fat: 9g | Trans Fat: 0.01g | Cholesterol: 105mg | Sodium: 463mg | Potassium: 841mg | Fiber: 11g | Sugar: 13g | Vitamin A: 6859IU | Vitamin C: 55mg | Calcium: 323mg | Iron: 4mg

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It's me, Jamie!

I’m a Registered Dietitian dedicated to helping you break free of the all-or-nothing dieting with balanced and realistic healthy eating.

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Meet Jamie

I’m a Registered Dietitian and I’ve been exactly where you are, right now. The all or nothing dieting, the constant food guilt, the scale obsession, absolutely no balance with food…. Sound familiar?