This post may contain affiliate links. Read our disclaimer.
This 10-minute Pesto Chicken Salad puts a vibrant and herbaceous spin on everyday chicken salad. Pre-cooked chicken is tossed in a creamy pesto and Greek yogurt dressing, making for a quick, easy, and healthy lunch that’s packed with flavor.
If you couldn’t tell already, I have a thing for chicken salad. From mango chicken salad to cottage cheese chicken salad to Whole30 chicken salad, I simply cannot get enough. However, this basil Pesto Chicken Salad is quickly becoming my new favorite!
It’s a simple and refreshing salad that features tender bites of chicken coated in a creamy pesto dressing. Best of all, it’s quick and easy to make, naturally gluten free, and only calls for a short list of good-for-you ingredients! Enjoy it as a topping on salad, grain bowls, or anywhere else you need a creamy and flavor-packed protein.
- This is a fresh and simple spin on classic chicken salad that only takes 10 minutes to make.
- You only need 6 healthy ingredients to make it, like pre-cooked chicken, pesto sauce, Greek yogurt, and mayonnaise.
- It’s perfect for meal prep! Stuff the salad between sliced bread, into a wrap, pile it onto a healthy grain bowl, and much more.
Greek yogurt - This is the thick, tangy base of the creamy pesto salad dressing. Regular plain yogurt also works well.
Mayo - While Greek yogurt does make this salad nice and creamy, mayonnaise (especially my homemade avocado oil mayo) gives it an irresistible rich and creamy quality.
Lemon juice - To elevate the flavors and keep the pesto fresh-tasting and vibrant.
Step 1: Cook the chicken. Cook the chicken if you haven’t already. Let it cool, then shred or chop it into bite-sized pieces.
Step 2: Make the pesto salad dressing. Stir the yogurt, pesto, mayo, and lemon juice in a bowl until smooth. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
Step 3: Dress the chicken. Add the chicken to the bowl with the dressing. Toss to coat, then serve it over a grain bowl, salad greens, or in a sandwich. Enjoy!
Tips and FAQs
- The easiest way to cook the chicken is to boil it on the stovetop. It only takes about 20 minutes, maintains its tenderness, and makes it easier to chop or shred. You can learn how to boil and shred chicken in my Whole30 chicken salad recipe.
- The chicken must be cooled to room temperature first. If it’s too hot, it will cause the basil in the pesto to darken, resulting in an off-putting color of the final dish.
- Chicken breasts vs. chicken thighs: I prefer to make this recipe with chicken breasts, but chicken thighs can be used in a pinch. For cooking tips, check out my grilled chicken thighs, pan-seared chicken thighs, or air fryer chicken thighs recipes.
- Make chicken pesto pasta salad instead! Double up on the pesto dressing and stir cooked and cooled pasta noodles in with the dressing and chicken.
What else can you add to pesto chicken salad?
The simplicity of this chicken salad leaves plenty of room for mix-ins, such as:
- Chopped celery
- Red onion, green onion, or shallots
- Toasted pine nuts
- Almonds, walnuts, or pecans
- Halved grape tomatoes
- Sliced black olives
- Drained artichoke hearts
- Chopped sun-dried tomatoes
How do you serve pesto chicken salad?
You can serve it as a protein-packed sandwich filling, stuff it into lettuce cups, on top of salad greens or a grain bowl, or enjoy it straight-up with a side of crusty bread, crudites, or crackers.
Can you turn this into a vegetarian “chicken” salad?
Absolutely! Just like my chickpea chicken salad, you can swap the chicken for smashed chickpeas and toss them with the dressing.
Refrigerator: Keep the pesto chicken in an airtight container. Squeeze some fresh lemon juice over the top to prevent the pesto from browning, then refrigerate for 3 to 4 days.
More healthy recipes with pesto
If you made this recipe, be sure to leave a comment and star rating below. Thanks!
Pesto Chicken Salad
- If you haven’t already, cook the chicken (I cooked mine in a skillet on the stovetop).
- Next, combine the yogurt, pesto, mayo, lemon juice in a bowl and stir until smooth, then add salt and pepper to taste.
- Add the chicken in and toss to combine. Enjoy!