Pesto Chicken Salad


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This pesto chicken salad is everything you want in a summer meal. Juicy chicken, crisp vegetables, and toasted pine nuts get tossed with a fresh and creamy basil pesto sauce that takes this salad over the top. Plus, it double duties as a durable meal prep idea for the week or a crowd-loving summer salad.

Pesto chicken salad in a bowl

Don’t get me wrong — my ultimate chicken salad can never be replaced, especially with how many raving reviews it has. But when basil season is upon us, it’s time to turn a new (green) leaf on a classic by mixing chicken salad with my homemade basil pesto sauce. It was a spur-of-the-moment idea, but I have to say, this pesto chicken salad is almost too good. If you love pesto as much as I do… it’s guaranteed to be a summer salad favorite.

Pesto chicken salad ingredients on a table

Pesto Chicken Salad Ingredients

The ingredient list is quite simple. But I’ve got a few notes below on the condiments used in this salad.

  • Chicken: Follow my poached chicken recipe for perfectly cooked chicken. Then, you can dice it into cubes or make shredded chicken. Want an even easier shortcut? Use store-bought rotisserie chicken.
  • Vegetables: Diced celery ribs and red onion add crisp and crunchy goodness (and a pop of red!).
  • Nuts: I love toasting the pine nuts for just a few minutes for an even better nutty flavor. But feel free to use raw nuts as well.
  • Cheese: The cheese is optional, but a sprinkle of grated parmesan is a delicious addition.
  • Sauce: Stir the mayonnaise and basil pesto for a fresh and creamy combo. I truly believe homemade is best for both condiments. So I’ve linked my basil pesto recipe below, and here’s how to make mayonnaise.

Find the printable recipe with measurements below in the recipe card.

How to Make Pesto Chicken Salad

Stir the salad. Once you have everything sliced and diced, add all the ingredients to a large mixing bowl. Stir until the salad is well combined and evenly coated with the basil pesto.

Pesto chicken salad ingredients in a bowl

Serve or chill. You can enjoy this salad right away or leave it chilled in the fridge for later.

Pesto chicken salad in a glass bowl

Storage Tips

Since this recipe is meant to be chilled, don’t leave it out at room temperature for more than two hours. Otherwise, store it in the fridge for up to 4 to 5 days.

A close up of pesto chicken salad

More Summer Salad Recipes

Turn the best of summer produce into these easy summer salads. And if you need a few more ideas, take a peek through this list of salad recipes that will hopefully spur your creative juices in the kitchen.

I hope you love this pesto chicken salad as much as I do for the summer season! Once you make it, let me know your thoughts in the comment box below.

A white bowl of pesto chicken salad

Pesto Chicken Salad

5 from 5 votes
Prep: 25 minutes
Total: 25 minutes
Servings: 6 servings
Author: Lisa Bryan


This pesto chicken salad is a fresh basil pesto spin on a classic that will undoubtedly be the summer salad of the season!


  • 3 cups diced chicken (or shredded chicken)
  • 2 celery ribs, diced
  • ½ cup basil pesto
  • ¼ cup mayonnaise
  • ¼ cup diced red onion
  • ¼ cup toasted pine nuts
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • ¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • Optional: freshly grated parmesan


  • Stir. In a large mixing bowl, stir together all the ingredients until it's well combined and evenly coated with the basil pesto.
    Mixing pesto chicken salad in a bowl
  • Serve or chill. Enjoy this salad right away or leave it chilled in the fridge for later.
    A bowl of mixed pesto chicken salad


Calories: 272kcal | Carbohydrates: 4g | Protein: 18g | Fat: 20g | Saturated Fat: 3g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 6g | Monounsaturated Fat: 3g | Trans Fat: 0.03g | Cholesterol: 54mg | Sodium: 544mg | Potassium: 358mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 1g | Vitamin A: 507IU | Vitamin C: 2mg | Calcium: 46mg | Iron: 1mg
Course: Dinner, Salad
Cuisine: American
Keyword: Chicken Salad, Pesto Chicken Salad
Did you make this recipe?Mention @downshiftology or tag #downshiftology!

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About the author

Lisa Bryan

Lisa is a bestselling cookbook author, recipe developer, and YouTuber (with over 2.5 million subscribers) living in sunny Southern California. She started Downshiftology in 2014, and is passionate about making healthy food with fresh, simple and seasonal ingredients.

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Recipe Rating


  1. As always, this recipe is just perfect and delicious. Really like how the pine nuts compliment or strengthen the pesto flavor. Love it! And it’s quick and easy to make so double win 😀.5 stars

  2. Very delicious and super easy to make. I would only add 1/4 tsp salt next time as a bit too salty for my liking but otherwise really good!5 stars

  3. Love this recipe, it was easy to make. I removed the celery for personal preference but if you’re up for it go ahead. I’ll totally make it part of my regular menu.

  4. This Pesto chicken salad is so good and super easy to make! It tasted SO refreshing…I also love the crunch the celery adds. Thank you so much for this recipe!