Poppy Seed Pasta Salad is an easy, make-ahead dinner perfect for hot summer nights when you don’t feel like heating the kitchen. It’s also great for packing up for picnics, barbecues, potlucks, and beach days!

This recipe costs approximately $11.21 to make. The recipe serves ten for around $1.12 per serving.

For another delicious summer recipe with poppy seeds, try my Avocado Strawberry Spinach Wraps and Cranberry Chicken Salad with Pecans for Sandwiches.

Poppy Seed Pasta Salad in a white bowl with a fork in it.

Chicken Pasta Salad With Grapes

The pasta salad is a beautiful mix of ingredients that perfectly complement each other. Cooked bowtie pasta serves as the base with the addition of savory chicken, sweet grapes and craisins, crunchy slivered almonds, and fresh green onions. 

I love making pasta salads during the summer. They’re cool and refreshing, two absolute musts when you’re in the thick of summer. This recipe is excellent for luncheons or showers because it’s easy to make, serves a crowd, and comes together quickly.

My favorite part of this pasta salad is the Creamy Poppy Seed Dressing. The dressing is different from other recipes because it has my secret ingredient, grated onion!

I only use a tablespoon of grated onion, which packs a fantastic flavor punch. Trust me. One tablespoon is all you need for the best Poppy Seed Dressing!

Why is grated onion different from chopped onion?

Compared to chopped onion, grated onion damages more onions cells, thus intensifying the flavor. It’s the same concept with garlic– the more damaged cells, the more intense the flavor.

A wooden serving spoon with some pasta salad with poppy sed dressing on it.

Ingredients and Estimated Cost

Per Serving Cost: $1.12

Recipe Cost: $11.21

  • ⅔ cup mayonnaise – $1.38
  • ½ cup half-and-half – $0.38
  • ¼ cup granulated sugar – $0.04
  • 2 Tablespoons apple cider vinegar – $0.08
  • 1 Tablespoon grated white onion – $0.04
  • 1 Tablespoon poppy seeds – $0.36
  • 1 lb bow tie pasta – $1.84
  • 2 cups cooked chicken – $2.98
  • 1 cup sliced green grapes – $1.17
  • 6 oz package Craisins – $1.99
  • ⅓ cup slivered almonds – $0.53
  • 6 green onions – $0.42

NOTE: The recipe prices are calculated by using grocery store websites. The recipe cost is calculated by the amounts needed for the recipe. The actual cost of the recipe will vary depending on what ingredients you already have. I updated the pricing for this recipe in May 2023.

All of the ingredients needed to make this recipe.

How To Make Poppy Seed Pasta Salad

***For complete recipe instructions, see the recipe card below.

  1. First, add all of the dressing ingredients to the blender and blend on high for about one minute. 
  2. Chill the dressing in the fridge for one hour. 
  3. Next, cook the pasta according to the package directions. Then drain the water, rinse with cold water, and drain again. 
  4. Place the pasta in a large serving bowl, and add the chicken, grapes, craisins, almonds, green onions, and dressing. 
  5. Stir the ingredients together. 
  6. Finally, cover and chill for at least three hours before serving. 

A picture collage showing how to make this recipe.

Recipe Variations and Substitutions

  • Use plain Greek yogurt instead of mayonnaise for a lower-fat version of the creamy poppy seed dressing. If you do so, you will need to increase the sugar to cut through the yogurt tang. I suggest starting with one additional tablespoon of sugar and adjusting for taste.
  • Leftover rotisserie chicken would be perfect in this recipe. Unfortunately, I didn’t have any, so I seasoned chicken tenderloins in the oven and cut each into bite-sized pieces.
  • You can use red grapes instead of green grapes.
  • Also, feel free to use chopped pecans or walnuts instead of almonds.
  • While you can use store-bought poppy seed dressing instead of homemade, I don’t recommend it because this homemade dressing is far superior!

Storage and Serving Tips

SERVE: As with most recipes with dairy products in them, you shouldn’t leave this pasta salad out for longer than two hours. 

STORE: Store leftovers in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to three days. Give it a gentle toss before serving again.

FREEZE: While not ideal, you can freeze the pasta salad without the dressing for up to 2 months. Thaw it overnight in the refrigerator and add the dressing before serving. Note that the texture of the pasta and the add-ins will change upon thawing.

Recipe FAQs

What is poppy seed salad dressing made of?

Poppy seed dressing is a delectable blend of mayonnaise, half-and-half, granulated sugar, apple cider vinegar, grated white onion, and poppy seeds. This creamy and slightly sweet dressing offers a delightful balance of flavors, with the subtle crunch of poppy seeds adding an extra layer of texture.

What are some mistakes to avoid when making pasta salad?

Overcooking the pasta: Be careful not to overcook it, as it can become mushy and lose its texture when mixed with other ingredients. Instead, cook it al dente and rinse it with cold water to stop the cooking process. 
Not choosing the correct type of pasta: Short pasta has lots of nooks and crannies to trap in the flavors and dressing, unlike long and straight pasta. 
Not balancing the flavors: Avoid an unbalanced pasta salad by ensuring harmony of flavors. For example, my pasta salad combines sweet, savory, and tangy elements within the ingredients. 
Overloading with dressing: Too much dressing is not a good thing! It can overpower the other ingredients and make the salad heavy. 
Not chilling the pasta salad: Allow the pasta salad to chill in the fridge for at least three hours to allow the ingredients to marry together. 

Chicken pasta salad with grapes in a clear serving bowl.

More Side Dishes

A close up picture of the finished Poppy Seed Pasta Salad recipe in a white bowl.
5 from 9 votes

Poppy Seed Pasta Salad

Recipe Cost $ $11.21
Serving Cost $ $1.12
Prep Time 4 hours
Cook Time 12 minutes
Total Time 4 hours 12 minutes
10 servings
Poppy Seed Pasta Salad is an easy, make-ahead dinner that's perfect for hot summer nights when you don't feel like heating up the kitchen.


  • blender
  • measuring cups and spoons
  • pasta pot
  • colander
  • cutting board
  • knife
  • large mixing bowl or serving bowl
  • wooden spoon



  • cup mayonnaise
  • ½ cup half-and-half
  • ¼ cup granulated sugar
  • 2 Tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • 1 Tablespoon grated white onion
  • 1 Tablespoon poppy seeds


  • 1 pound bow tie pasta
  • 2 cups chopped cooked chicken
  • 1 cup sliced green grapes
  • 6 ounce package Craisins
  • cup slivered almonds toasted
  • 6 green onions green and white parts sliced thin



  • Add all the dressing ingredients to a blender.
  • Blend on high until combined and slightly thickened, about 1 minute.
  • Chill the dressing for 1 hour.


  • Cook pasta as per package instructions.
  • Drain, rinse with cold water, and drain again.
  • Transfer pasta to a large serving bowl.
  • Add chicken, grapes, Craisins, almonds, green onions, and all of creamy poppy seed dressing.
  • Stir until pasta is coated in dressing, and all other ingredients are evenly distributed.


  • Cover and chill at least 3 hours.
  • Serve and enjoy.


Serving: 10ounces | Calories: 443kcal | Carbohydrates: 58g | Protein: 15g | Fat: 18g | Saturated Fat: 3g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 8g | Monounsaturated Fat: 5g | Trans Fat: 0.03g | Cholesterol: 32mg | Sodium: 129mg | Potassium: 278mg | Fiber: 3g | Sugar: 22g | Vitamin A: 146IU | Vitamin C: 2mg | Calcium: 58mg | Iron: 1mg

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Recipe Rating


  1. april@gingerbread says:

    no way…this looks delish!!! I love cranberries in everything! thank you girl!

  2. Miz Helen says:

    Hi Jillian,
    This is a great summertime salad. We really enjoyed this recipe.

  3. Dawn Bushnell says:

    So tasty and easy

    1. Exactly, and it’s perfect for summer, too!

  4. Jillian
    Looks so delicious. Can’t wait to make it!

    Thank you.

  5. This is such a refreshing salad! I love all the flavors and it makes for a great little lunch!

  6. This looks amazing and such a treat! Thank you!

  7. This is such a great twist on pasta salad. I’m going shopping today for the ingredients. We’re having a “Welcome Summer” party, and this is going to be perfect.

  8. Sara Welch says:

    This was such a unique and unexpected twist to classic pasta salad! Light yet hearty, and hands down delicious; easily, a new favorite recipe!