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Chicken Pesto Pasta Salad

Chicken Pesto Pasta Salad is a simple and easy recipe, packed with flavor, and perfect for a potluck or cookout!

chicken pasta salad in a white bowl

Chicken Pesto Pasta Salad

Need a simple and easy to make salad recipe for the warm weather months, when you’re hosting a potluck or a picnic? This salad is just what you need!

This salad is the right balance of chicken for protein and healthy veggies, all dressed in an herb packed pesto that you can use for many more recipes.

I love that you can make it ahead of time, giving you more time with your friends and family. Plus, the longer it sits the better the flavors!

chopped cooked chicken on a cutting board

What is Chicken Pesto Pasta?

Packed with fresh ingredients and loaded with flavors – that’s what a chicken pesto pasta is all about.

I consider it a salad because of the all the veggies, but you can call it the best side dish ever if you want. Whatever you call it, it’s a crowd pleaser for sure!

With just 20 minutes to make start to finish, it’s perfect for a busy weeknight meal or pack it for a refreshing and healthy lunch during the week.

labeled picture of pesto pasta salad

Ingredients Needed

  • cooked chicken
  • pasta
  • pesto – make fresh or store bought
  • fresh spinach
  • cherry tomatoes
  • Italian dressing
  • cheese – I prefer shredded Parmesan

The longest part of making this recipe is cooking the pasta because everything else is already done.

This pesto pasta salad is a great way to use your leftover chicken if you have some from another recipe!

pesto pasta salad in a white bowl

How to make Chicken Pesto Pasta Salad

First: Cook the pasta in a large pot according to the package directions. Cook the chicken breast how you like it or use a rotisserie chicken from the store to save even more time!

Second: Prep your veggies but cutting them into bite-sized pieces.

Third: Combine the pasta and pesto sauce to coat. Toss in your chicken and veggies. Toss with Italian dressing if you like. Season with salt and pepper. Enjoy!

For the full recipe and detailed baking instructions, please see the recipe card at the end of this post.

Looking for more leftover worthy dishes? Follow LTB on Pinterest and pin to a board!

overhead picture of ingredients for

What kind of pasta goes best with pesto?

There’s actually no rule when it comes to choosing the right pasta for your pesto pasta salad.

You can pretty much stick to the regular penne (if you have dietary restrictions, try a gluten free or whole wheat pasta).

Other pasta shapes to try

  • bowtie
  • rotini
  • small shells
  • orzo
  • spaghetti or linguine
  • try letter shapes for the kids to enjoy

Switch up the veggies to add your favorites. Fresh squash, beans, and bell peppers will be very tasty in it!

wood bowl of chicken pasta salad


Try these other mix-ins to add some variety to it

  • sun-dried tomatoes
  • chick peas
  • feta cheese
  • fresh mozzarella
  • roasted squash
  • toasted pecans
  • pumpkin seeds
  • pine nuts
  • red pepper flakes for heat

It is the perfect cold salad that you can carry along with you on picnics and outings in the hot summer heat.

If you love this recipe as much as I do, please write a five-star review in the comment section below (or on Pinterest with the “tried it” button – you can now add pictures into reviews, too!), and be sure to help me share on facebook!

pinterest image of pasta salad with text "chicken pesto pasta salad fresh"

This pesto pasta salad with chicken packs in the protein and a generous helping of fresh veggies topped off with a fresh basil pesto and indulgent Parmesan cheese.

chicken pesto pasta salad recipe card

Chicken Pesto Pasta Salad

Yield: 8 servings
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 20 minutes

Chicken Pesto Pasta Salad is a simple and easy recipe, packed with flavor, and perfect for a potluck or cookout!


  • 16 oz. penne pasta
  • 1/2 cup basil pesto
  • 3/4 cup Italian salad dressing
  • 2 cups cooked chopped chicken breast
  • 2 handfuls baby spinach leaves
  • 1 cup cherry tomatoes – sliced in halve
  • 1/2 cup shredded Parmesan cheese


  1. Prepare pasta according to package until Al-dente. Strain pasta and rinse pasta under cold water to cool. Then place drained pasta in a large bowl.
  2. Pour the Italian dressing and basil pesto over the cooled pasta in bowl. Gently toss to combine.
  3. Add spinach, chicken, tomatoes and shredded Parmesan cheese to pasta. Gently toss to combine.
  4. Serve immediately or chill in the fridge up to 8 hours.
  5. Sprinkle extra shredded cheese over the top and season with salt and pepper just before serving. Enjoy!  


*if you like this recipe, please leave me a comment and rate it 5 stars. Thank you!

Nutrition Information:
Yield: 8 Serving Size: 2 ounces
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 308Total Fat: 16gSaturated Fat: 3gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 11gCholesterol: 37mgSodium: 420mgCarbohydrates: 23gFiber: 2gSugar: 3gProtein: 18g

This nutrition information was generated via a third party, Nutritionix, and can not be held liable for any discrepancies in the information provided.

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