Hi, I’m Jenna.

Welcome to my blog! I am a Minnesota Mom cooking with kids in the Land of 10,000 Recipes.

Healthy Cherry Chicken Pasta Salad

Healthy Cherry Chicken Pasta Salad

My husband has a VERY hard time getting out of bed in the morning. Sorry Matt, I just called you out on the internet! If I am feeling extra nice, I will help him out in the morning by making an easy grab it on the fly lunch. This Cherry Chicken Pasta Salad is perfect for weekday lunches. I keep the dressing separate so that the pasta doesn’t get soggy and it will last longer in the fridge.

Having a pasta salad all ready to go in the fridge is also super nice when you are chasing your kids around and can barely find the time to stop and have lunch (I hope that’s not just me!). Make it easy on yourself and make this pasta salad - then when you are running out the door or have 5 quick minutes to eat, your lunch will be all ready for you!


This is a healthier version of a Cherry Chicken Pasta Salad (this recipe has a lot less mayonnaise). For this pasta salad, I use gemelli pasta. If you can’t find that, you can substitute pretty much any type of noodle (penne would work great), but I really love using gemelli pasta in this recipe because it is a little more dense and substantial than your typical noodle. When you combine this with sweet cherries, crunchy celery and walnuts, a sweet-tangy dressing and some shredded chicken for protein, you have a complete (and delicious!) meal in and of itself.

Another nice thing about keeping the sauce separate, besides the pasta not getting soggy, is that if someone in your family doesn’t like sauce (I’m looking at you Jack-a-roo), they can just eat the pasta plain. Will thought this pasta salad was amazing, I even got two thumbs up!!


Will is my best little sampler during recipe development. This one is toddler approved!


Healthy Cherry Chicken Pasta Salad


  • 8 servings


Pasta Salad

  • 1/2 lb gemelli pasta noodles*

  • 1/2 cup celery, chopped

  • 3/4 cup chicken, shredded

  • 1/2 cup walnuts, chopped

  • 1/2 cup dried cherries


  • 1/2 cup olive oil mayonnaise

  • 1/2 cup apple cider vinegar

  • 1 tsp onion salt

  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder

  • 1 tsp ground mustard

  • 1.5 Tbsp sugar

  • 1/2 tsp salt

  • 1/2 Tbsp poppy seeds


  1. Cook the noodles according to the directions on the package. Once cooked, drain and rinse with cold water.

  2. While the noodles are cooking, chop the celery (and the walnuts if you didn’t buy them chopped) and shred the chicken.**

  3. Combine all the ingredients for the pasta salad into one bowl.***

  4. In a separate bowl, mix together all the ingredients for the dressing. Mix to combine.

  5. When ready to serve, pour the dressing on the pasta salad and stir to combine.


*If you can’t find gemelli pasta, you can subsitute it for another type of pasta. Penne would work great!

**I buy rotisserie chicken all the time and just take the white meat, shred it, and then keep it in the freezer. That way, I always have shredded chicken on hand.

***Another way to keep this salad for longer is to keep the cherries and walnuts separate. Just add them when you are ready to eat!


  • Have them help you cut up all the vegetables using these knives.

  • Let them measure all of the ingredients and stir to combine (both for the pasta salad and the dressing recipes).

-Cooking with kids in the Land of 10,000 Recipes-

Hello. My name is Jenna!

I am a Minnesota Mom, born and raised in the land of 10,000 lakes. I have two amazing boys, Jack (6) and Will (3). I have a pretty awesome husband too! After teaching high school chemistry, I decided to make a change and stay at home with my kiddos. I love food - eating it, making it - you name it and I’m there. I enjoy making healthy, fast and easy recipes with my little sous chefs at home!

I hope that you will find some healthy, quick and easy recipes here that your whole family can make and enjoy together!

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