Super Easy Pesto Chicken Salad
This Pesto Chicken Salad recipe is sure to be your new summer go-to.
If you’re looking for an easy lunch idea or a summer meal that will actually fill you up, this chicken salad recipe is it. In the hotter months, we do everything we can to keep it cool in the kitchen, so when we find an easy salad recipe that the family loves, we keep it on rotation. The harmonious combination of creamy-cool and herby basil pesto are everything. You can use your favorite store-bought Basil Pesto Sauce or create a homemade pesto all your own.
This Pesto Chicken Salad is adaptable to whatever you have on hand. We love how many ways you can serve it up. If you’re trying to cut out carbs or follow a gluten-free diet, you can serve up this easy chicken salad over top of garden greens. Some of our favorite ways to enjoy it are on crackers, in a wrap, in a pita, on top of crostini toasts or as a traditional chicken salad sandwich. What about you?
To keep it super simple, pick up a rotisserie chicken from your favorite deli or hot foods department and skip cooking chicken altogether. In this case, you can use shredded chicken instead of chopping it up. Just be sure to remove the skin. Likewise, if you have some leftover chicken breasts, this chicken salad recipe is the perfect way to get use out of them.
What Is Pesto Chicken Salad?
Pesto Chicken Salad is a refreshingly herbaceous take on the creamy chicken salads of your past. Like tuna salad, chicken salad is another creamy sandwich filler you’ve probably had at delis, picnics or maybe even at a cafeteria. But this chicken salad recipe is like no other. We use sweet, fragrant basil pesto in combination with mayonnaise and cool, creamy yogurt in this delicious Mediterranean-inspired creation. The fresh green onions and crisp pine nuts make it all the more interesting.
Why You’ll Love This Pesto Chicken Salad Recipe
What’s not to love? We take a classic creamy chicken salad and give it an Italian-style upgrade with sweet, herby basil pesto. Plus, it is easy to throw together and made with only a few ingredients. It’s a great way to use up leftover chicken breasts or a rotisserie chicken. This Pesto Chicken Salad recipe is super simple and won’t heat up the kitchen, making it the perfect meal idea for easy summer lunches or weeknight meals. Ideal for meal prep, as it can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 4 days. We love that you can serve it up in so many ways and make it your own with fresh additions… we just know this is one for your bookmark tab!
The Ingredients You Will Need To Make Pesto Chicken Salad
Chicken: Use cooked chicken breasts or rotisserie chicken with the skin removed. It’s a great recipe to use leftovers, if you have any.
Mayonnaise: Mayo gives chicken salad its signature creaminess and thickens it up.
Yogurt: The addition of yogurt is a great substitute for part of the mayo, lightening it up a bit, which is great for a hot day.
Basil Pesto: You can make your own homemade pesto sauce for this recipe, or choose a tasty store-bought pesto. This is the heart of your chicken salad, so be sure it is a quality pesto.
Onions: Green onions are a great way to add a bit of flavor and freshness to your chicken salad. If you want more zip, swap them out for red onions.
Lemon juice: The fresh lemon brightens up the flavor and really works well with the herby pesto and the cool creaminess of the recipe.
Pine nuts: This one is optional, but we love the crispiness and warm flavor of toasted pine nuts in this chicken salad recipe.
How To Make Pesto Chicken Salad
1. Create the sauce.
In a small bowl, combine the mayo, yogurt and pesto. Stir well to get the olive oil of the pesto to combine with the creamy ingredients.
2. Mix it up.
In a large bowl, combine the chicken with the pesto mixture. Add in the green onion.
3. Season the salad.
Add the lemon juice, salt and pepper. Stir to evenly distribute. Toss in the pine nuts, if desired.
Watch how easy it is to make!
To store the chicken salad, place it in an airtight container and refrigerate for up to 4 days. If it dries out, stir it up and add a little more mayo or pesto to the mix.
We do not recommend freezing chicken salad. It is not a recipe meant to be heated and in thawing, it will not come together the same way.
Substitutions And Additions
There are many ways to add your own flair to this Pesto Chicken Salad. We have a few ideas:
- Chop up your favorite green olives for a bold, briny flavor.
- Use chicken breasts for a leaner option or rotisserie chicken for an added smokiness.
- If you love garlic, consider adding a couple of fresh, minced garlic cloves.
- Chop up a few sun-dried tomatoes for a sweet-smoky flavor.
- Swap the green onions in this recipe for red onions to add a bit more heat and zippy flavor.
- Add a sprinkling of hard Italian cheese for an extra salty, savory flavor. We love Parmesan cheese and Grana.
- Swap out the store-bought pesto sauce for your own homemade pesto.
How To Serve Chicken Pesto Salad
This chicken salad is super adaptable to whatever you have on-hand. Here are some ideas for serving.
- Serve it over a bed of leafy garden greens.
- Make it a sandwich. Dress it up with tomato, avocado, crispy lettuce, fresh cucumber, pickles, provolone cheese… the sky's the limit as far as toppings go.
- Spoon it over crostini toasts or garlic bread and serve it with a leafy green salad.
- Fill a wrap and add in your favorite fresh complements.
- Serve in a pita with fresh complements like tomatoes, cucumbers, crisp Romaine or leaf lettuce.
- Create a cold grain bowl with fresh, colorful additions and an extra drizzle of basil pesto.
- Enjoy with gourmet toasts or crackers.
Pesto Chicken Salad: FAQ
Is Pesto Chicken Salad Keto-Friendly?
Yes, this Pesto Chicken Salad is keto-friendly.
Can I Make This Recipe With Homemade Pesto Instead?
Yes, you can use your own homemade pesto in this Pesto Chicken Salad recipe. If you grow your own basil and have a bunch, this recipe is a great way to use it up! If you don’t have the time to create your own homemade pesto, a tasty store-bought basil pesto is the best option. You may already have a jar in your pantry!
Can I Make This Dish Ahead Of Time?
Yes, this Pesto Chicken Salad recipe is a great meal prep recipe and can be made and stored in the refrigerator for up to 4 days.
Super Easy Pesto Chicken Salad
- In a small bowl, mix together the mayonnaise, the yogurt and the pesto sauce. Stir combined.
- In a large bowl, stir together the cooked chicken with the pesto mixture. Mix well to coat.
- Add in the green onions, lemon juice, salt and pepper. Stir until evenly distributed.
- Gently fold in the toasted pine nuts (optional).
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