Pesto chicken salad is perfect for an easy lunch or dinner! Made with simple ingredients & comes together in less than 15 minutes! It’s protein-packed & full of flavor!
I’ve been loving chicken recipes lately! (I feel like there’s so much you can do with them in terms of flavor.) And chicken salads have been my go-to easy lunch now that I’m neck deep in cookbook things!
This pesto chicken salad has to be one of my favorites! It’s so simple yet packed with flavor and comes together in less than 15 minutes! (Plus there’s so many “mix-in options” to really make it your own!😉) You can serve it as a light lunch with your favorite crackers or make it a heartier meal by enjoying it in a wrap or sandwich.
Ingredients You’ll Need
Shredded chicken: Use rotisserie chicken for ease or cook and shred the chicken yourself!
Pesto: Store bought or homemade pesto can be used for this salad. (We love using my homemade kale pesto!)
Plain Greek yogurt: We use 0% Greek yogurt for ours. I love the extra creaminess it adds to your salad.
Mayonnaise: A necessity for every chicken salad recipe! You’ll need a ¼ cup of mayonnaise.
Celery: We love the texture and crunch it adds! We’ll usually leave ours bigger for a more “chunky” chicken salad.
Red onion: Finely dice the onion to get a little bit in every bite.
Pine nuts (optional): Elevates your pesto flavor! Pine nuts are a traditional ingredient in most pesto recipes – adding them here really plays up the pesto notes!
Spices: Salt and black pepper are needed to season your chicken salad.
How To Make Pesto Chicken Salad
1. Make the pesto (if using homemade pesto). Add your pesto ingredients to a food processor and blend until smooth. Set it aside once done.
2. Shred the chicken. Shred or dice your chicken then add it to a large bowl.
3. Mix! Add the pesto, Greek yogurt, mayonnaise, celery, red onion, pine nuts (if using), salt and pepper to the bowl with your chicken. Mix until fully combined then taste and adjust your salt and pepper, if needed. (Some pesto is more bland than others so you might need to add a little extra salt.)
4. Serve. Serve with your favorite crackers or use the salad as a sandwich filling with your favorite bread.
This pesto chicken salad is perfect for a fast lunch idea! It comes together in minutes and keeps well for leftovers!
Make Shredded Chicken At Home
We usually make our own shredded chicken for chicken salads. (It’s so easy and we like the consistency of the salad better.) Here’s how we do it:
- Season 1-1½ lbs. of chicken tenders with salt and pepper.
- Bake at 400 degrees for 15-18 minutes.
- Shred using 2 large forks!
We love making chicken salads for lunch because they’re so versatile! Whether your craving a hearty sandwich or a low carb meal, there’s an option for everyone! Here are a few ideas to help get you started:
Wrap it in a tortilla! Try adding spinach and sliced avocado or mozzarella cheese!
Serve with your favorite crackers! We love whole wheat crackers or Milton’s Crispy Sea Salt Crackers!
Make a pesto chicken salad sandwich! Add sliced tomatoes and fresh mozzarella! (We love toasting the bread too!)
Spoon it over greens! Top this salad over mixed greens with tomatoes and a squeeze of lemon! (Sometimes we add extra pesto too!)
Make this pesto chicken salad your own by adding or swapping in your favorite ingredients!
- Add chopped sun-dried tomatoes or fresh tomatoes!
- Add shredded parmesan cheese! (If adding parmesan, I’d suggest only adding salt to taste.)
- Replace the pine nuts with sliced almonds, walnuts or pecans!
- Use sliced green onions instead!
Why you’ll love this pesto chicken salad recipe!
- Quick & flavorful! This chicken salad takes minutes to prep & is full of bright zesty flavor!
- An easy lunch idea for work! Packed with protein & can easily be prepared as a to-go meal.
- So versatile! Make it a wrap, sandwich or serve it with crackers!
[Made one of my recipes? Tag my Instagram @kalefornia_kravings & leave a review in the comments – I love seeing what you create!]
Easy Pesto Chicken Salad
- 2 cups cooked chicken, shredded or diced
- ⅔ cup pesto (homemade or store-bought)
- ¼ cup mayo
- ¼ cup plain greek yogurt
- 2 celery stalks, diced
- ¼ cup red onion, finely diced
- ¼ cup pine nuts, toasted (optional)*
- ¼-½ tsp salt
- Black pepper, to taste
- Optional add-in's: chopped sun-dried tomatoes, fresh tomatoes, shredded parmesan, etc.
- Mix the shredded chicken, pesto, Greek yogurt, mayonnaise, celery, red onion, pine nuts, salt and pepper together in a large bowl.Taste and adjust the salt and pepper if needed. (Some pestos are more bland so the salad may need a little extra salt. I'll usually start with a ¼ tsp salt and go from there.)
- Cover the salad and keep it chilled in the refrigerator or serve immediately with your favorite crackers.
- Season 1-1½lbs. of chicken tenders with salt and pepper.
- Bake at 400 degrees for 15-18 minutes.
- Shred using 2 large forks.