This Kicked-Up Chicken-Macaroni Salad recipe will impress your family and friends at your next picnic, BBQ or tailgate. This dish pairs well with almost anything and will have your guests begging for more.
What is it that makes this Kicked-Up Chicken-Macaroni Salad so perfect? Honestly, I think it’s a few things. The combination of jalapeno ranch dressing, fresh jalapenos and the Fritos. Yes the Fritos are the glue that ties each delicious bite all together, not only in texture , but in flavor as well.
Think about bringing this to your next tailgate or picnic. It would also be perfect for any potluck or festive, fall party. And it’s going to be fabulous served right next to any juicy burger, hot dog or slow cooked recipe.
Just remember, this is not your regular macaroni salad recipe, it’s a kicked-up version and has all the delicious flavor to back that up.
I like to grill my chicken the night before. I will make a big batch for dinner and save what I need for this recipe. Makes it easy! Taco seasoning adds a great flavor to the grilled chicken. Add evtra pepper if you like.
This Kicked-Up Chicken-Macaroni Salad really is the perfect side dish to so many fabulous entrees. Think about this salad served right next to these Slow Cooker Pulled Pork Sandwiches. Perfection, right? However, these Grilled Pork Chops would also balance out this salad nicely. Slow Cooker Balsamic Ribs would also make a perfect accompaniment. And if your gathering for a tailgate, don’t forget something sweet with these 18 Game Day Victory Desserts. I think you’re all set.
So many other recipes have been posted on this day…years past. Two years ago it was this delicious 15-Minute Mexican Chicken Avocado Soup that had my taste buds spinning. Check out the video of that one too. Three years ago I gave you 3 Fun Lunch Box Ideas with Cheese. Four years ago I shared a favorite family recipe, Chunky Apple Snack Cake. I love a good, healthy snack and six years ago it was my Sweet Brown Rice-Vanilla-Raisin concoction I told you about. And lastly, nine years ago on this day I posted about The Reuben Dip and no dip recipe has ever been the same.
Kicked-Up Chicken-Macaroni Salad
- 1.25 lbs skinless, boneless chicken breasts
- 2 Tablespoons taco seasoning
- 1 Tablespoon coconut oil or vegetable oil
- 1 lb dry, elbow macaroni
- 1/2 cup Jalapeno Ranch salad dressing ( I prefer Litehouse brand)
- 1/2 cup mayonnaise
- 3 Tablespoons apple cider vinegar
- 1 teaspoon coarse ground black pepper
- 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 4 stalks (8 oz) celery, diced
- 1 (7 oz) red bell pepper, diced
- 1 (1.5 oz) jalapeno, seeded and deveined, chopped
- 1/2 (4 oz) red onion (soaked in cold water until needed. See recipe notes), chopped
- 3 stalks (1.5 oz) green onion, sliced (green and white part)
- 1/4 cup chopped cilantro
- 1/2 a bag (4.5 oz) Jalapeno Fritos chips or regular Fritos
- Season chicken breasts with taco seasoning and brush with oil. Grill chicken until temperatures reaches 165 degrees F. Let cool. Once cool cut into 1" pieces and set aside.
- Cook the macaroni in a large amount of salted, boiling water until it is cooked a little beyond al dente according to package directions.
- In a medium bowl stir together Jalapeno Ranch dressing, mayonnaise, apple cider vinegar, black pepper, garlic powder and cayenne. Combine until smooth.
- In a very large bowl, toss together macaroni, dressing, celery, bell pepper, jalapeno, red onion, green onion, cilantro and chicken.
- Pour Fritos over the top of the macaroni salad right before serving.
- Serve immediately or refrigerate until serving. This salad will keep unrefrigerated for 4 hours, or up to a week refrigerated.
- Notes: I like to grill up chicken for this recipe the night before. I make a large batch for dinner and save what I need for this salad. Cook once, eat twice. Soaking the red onion in cold water removes some if its bite and makes it more pleasant when served raw in a cold salad like this. Soaking for at least 15 minutes is ideal. If the salad has been refrigerated for more than a few hours, it may lose its creaminess. Toss it with a little mayo or more jalapeno ranch dressing until creamy again. The Fritos are the glue that ties this delicious dish all together. I highly suggest not leaving them out. If by chance you do not include them, you might need to season with salt for a little extra flavor. If you cannot find Jalapeno Ranch dressing, substitute Avocado Ranch instead. Chicken can be made the day before and cooled in the refrigerator. I like to grill a large batch of chicken the night before for dinner and use the leftovers for this salad. Cook once, eat twice.
- Serving size: 1 cup
- Calories: 216
- Fat: 14 g
- Saturated fat: 2 g
- Carbohydrates: 28 g
- Sugar: 3 g
- Fiber: 2 g
- Protein: 12 g
- Cholesterol: 25 mg