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Chicken Pesto Pasta Salad

This Chicken Pesto Pasta Salad is about ease, simplicity and flavour! All you have to do is cook the pasta and toss the ingredients in a bowl. Delicious as a main dish or side salad for your favourite meal. It’s the perfect salad to go with your next backyard bbq get together!


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Easy Chicken Pasta Salad

Looking for a delicious salad that won’t keep you in the kitchen for more than 20 minutes? This is it! Rotisserie chicken, bottled salad dressing, and bottled pesto makes this recipe super quick and easy.

This salad is delicious as soon as it’s mixed and even good warm. It’s also so flavourful after chilling in the fridge for a few hours and the flavours have soaked right into the pasta.

Close up image of Pesto Chicken Pasta Salad with spoon.

You can also make my pesto recipe to go with this salad, but I understand sometimes you just need to get dinner on the table quickly.

Do you love summer salads? Awesome! You will want to check out this Creamy Potato Salad,my Mediterranean Pasta Salad and the famous TikTok Green Goddess Salad. They’re all quick and easy salad recipes too!

Why you’ll love this recipe

  • Easy simple chicken pasta salad recipe
  • Make it in 20 minutes!
  • Use ready made rotisserie chicken
  • Great make ahead salad recipe allowing flavors to meld

Ingredients and Substitutions

Ingredients for pesto chicken pasta salad.
  • shredded rotisserie chicken. I used two full chicken breasts in this salad which was about 3 cups.
  • cooked pasta – rotini is the perfect choice for this recipe because the dressing sticks to this shape very well. You could use fusilli, bowtie pasta or penne.
  • fresh basil – is a key ingredients in this recipe and I do not recommend dried as a substitute. You can find it in the salad section in the grocery store.
  • baby spinach – adds flavour and colour to the salad. You could also use fresh arugula.
  • grape tomatoes – or cherry tomatoes. In a pinch, you could use regular tomatoes and cube them.
  • sun dried tomatoes are optional – add in 1/2 cup for a tasty alternative.
  • bottled Italian salad dressing. I love Paul Newman’s brand or you can use your favourite!
  • red pepper flakes – a sprinkle gives this salad a nice kick
  • salt & pepper to taste
  • freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  • balsamic reduction glaze – this is quick and easy to make on the stovetop or you can buy it bottled in the grocery store. (recipe included in Notes section of recipe card below).

Step by step instructions for how to make chicken pesto pasta salad

Italian salad dressing and pesto in glass bowl with whisk.

Cook pasta for 8-10 minutes or as directed on package until al dente. Drain, rinse and set aside.

In a small bowl, whisk together Italian salad dressing and pesto.

Salad ingredients in mixing bowl ready to add the dressing.

In a large bowl, combine cooked pasta, chopped spinach, chopped basil, Parmesan cheese, sliced grape tomatoes and shredded chicken. Add in sun-dried tomatoes (optional).

Pour dressing over top of salad and toss well to mix dressing into all of the ingredients.

Variations

  • change up the pasta. Fusilli, bowtie pasta, any pasta that will hold the delicious dressing.
  • use bocconcini cheese or shredded mozzarella in place of the Parmesan.
  • use regular tomatoes, chopped into 1 and 1/2″ cubes
  • add in 1/2 cup chopped red, yellow or green peppers
  • substitute arugula for the chopped spinach. Or use both! Even massaged kale would be delicious! You can find the directions for how to prep the kale in my Kale salad recipe.

Top tips for making the best chicken pesto pasta salad recipe

  • Prepare all your ingredients before making this recipe
  • Make the balsamic glaze ahead of time
  • Toss it gently but stir just until the ingredients are combined
  • Add the balsamic glaze just before serving
  • Using store bought rotisserie chicken is perfect for this quick salad recipe

Storage instructions

Cover salad and store in refrigerator for up to three days.

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Close up image of Pesto Chicken Pasta Salad.

Pesto Chicken Pasta Salad


  • Author: Sandra Flegg
  • Total Time: 20 minutes
  • Yield: 8 servings.

Description

This Pesto Chicken Pasta Salad is about speed, simplicity and flavour! All you have to do is cook the pasta and toss the ingredients in a bowl. Delicious as a main dish or side salad for your favourite meal.


Ingredients

1 pkg rotini pasta 450g, 16 oz.

1/2 cup Italian salad dressing (our favourite is Paul Newman’s)

1 cup Pesto (bottled or fresh)

3 cups shredded rotisserie chicken (I use both chicken breasts)

1/2 cup sun-dried tomatoes, chopped (optional)

Sprinkle of crushed red pepper flakes (optional)

1/2 cup fresh basil, sliced into strips

1 cup grated Parmesan cheese (optional another 1/4 cup to sprinkle on top)

1 cup grape or cherry tomatoes, sliced in half

1 cup chopped fresh baby spinach

1/4 cup balsamic glaze reduction, for drizzling on top of salad (see notes for how to make it)

Salt & Pepper to taste

1/4 cup balsamic glaze reduction, for drizzling on top of salad (see notes for how to make it)


Instructions

  1. In a large pot of salted boiling, water, cook pasta for 8 to 10 minutes until al dente. Drain pasta, rinse with cold water and set aside.
  2. In a small glass dish, mix together Italian salad dressing and pesto.
  3. In a large bowl, combine cooked pasta, chopped spinach, chopped basil, Parmesan cheese, sliced grape tomatoes and shredded chicken. Add in sun-dried tomatoes (optional).
  4. Whisk the dressing quickly again, then pour over top of salad and toss well to mix the dressing into all of the ingredients.
  5. Taste the salad and add salt and pepper to taste.
  6. If eating salad immediately, drizzle with balsamic glaze reduction. If you are eating the salad later, I suggest adding the balsamic glaze at that time. 
  7. Cover and chill in refrigerator for up to 24 hours before serving.

Notes

How to make balsamic glaze reduction: In a small saucepan, combine 2 cups of balsamic vinegar with 1/2 cup brown sugar. Bring to a gentle boil, then simmer over medium heat for 10 minutes.  Mixture should be reduced by half and coat the back of a metal spoon.

Storage Instructions: Cover salad and store in refrigerator for up to three days.

  • Prep Time: 10 minutes
  • Cook Time: 10 minutes
  • Category: Salad
  • Method: Stove top
  • Cuisine: American

Nutrition

  • Serving Size: 1 helping
  • Calories: 329
  • Sugar: 5.4 g
  • Sodium: 980.2 mg
  • Fat: 19.6 g
  • Saturated Fat: 5 g
  • Trans Fat: 0.1 g
  • Carbohydrates: 16.1 g
  • Fiber: 1.5 g
  • Protein: 20.6 g
  • Cholesterol: 46.9 mg

Keywords: Chicken pesto pasta salad, chicken pasta salad, pesto pasta salad

5 Comments

  1. Sandra: In instructions step 2, the word pesto appears. Are you referring to the balsamic glaze or does this recipe call for pesto sauce? Thanks!

    Hi! I’ve update the recipe with Pesto added in on the list following the Italian Salad Dressing. The Pesto and Italian Salad Dressing are mixed together in a separate bowl.

    The Balsamic Glaze is drizzled over top of the prepared salad. Thanks so much for noting that and I hope you enjoy the recipe! Sandra 🙂

  2. saw this recipe come up in my email yesterday and knew I had to try it…. Absolutely delicious! Thanks for another easy to make and delicious tasting recipe Sandra!!!

  3. Easy to make and delicious tasting salad!! Thanks for another great recipe Sandra!!👩‍🍳👏

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