This delicious chicken pesto pasta salad is packed with Italian flavors and is perfect for a summertime meal! The chicken, pasta, feta, and sun-dried tomatoes are all tossed together with a zesty Italian dressing, making it an easy, flavorful, and satisfying dish.
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This chicken pesto pasta salad is light and flavorful and the perfect recipe for a summer picnic or potluck. It's packed with flavorful ingredients like chicken, pesto, and sun-dried tomatoes, and it can be made ahead of time so you can enjoy your event worry-free.
The best part about this dish is that it's just as delicious when served cold or at room temperature, making it ideal for outdoor gatherings. So if you're looking for a crowd-pleasing recipe that will keep everyone coming back for more, look no further than this chicken pesto pasta salad.
Why You’ll Love This Recipe
This chicken pesto pasta salad is the perfect dish for a summer potluck or barbecue. It's packed with flavor, easy to make, and can be served either hot or cold. Here are four more reasons why you'll love this recipe:
- The pesto gives this pasta salad a delicious, herby flavor and the sun-dried tomatoes add a lovely sweetness and depth of flavor to the dish.
- This pasta salad can be easily customized to your liking - add in your favorite veggies, cheese, or even some crumbled bacon.
- It's a great way to use up any leftover cooked chicken you might have on hand.
- It can be served either hot or cold, making it perfect for summer potlucks and barbecues.
So what are you waiting for? Give this recipe a try today!
What You’ll Need To Make Chicken Pesto Pasta Salad
To make this chicken pesto pasta salad, you'll need the following ingredients:
Cooked chicken: You can use either shredded or diced chicken in this recipe. I prefer to use rotisserie chicken as it's already cooked and seasoned, but you can use any cooked chicken you have on hand.
Pesto: I like to use store-bought basil pesto for this recipe, but you can certainly make your own if you prefer.
Pasta: I used rotini pasta in this recipe, but any type of pasta will work.
Feta cheese: Feta adds a nice salty flavor to this dish, but you can omit it or substitute a different kind of cheese if you're not a fan.
Sun-dried tomatoes: I used oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes, but you can use any type you like.
Italian dressing: I used a store-bought Italian dressing for this recipe, but you can make your own if you prefer.
Fresh basil: I love the flavor of fresh basil in this dish, but you can omit it if you don't have any on hand.
Baby spinach and arugula salad mix: I like to add some greens to my pasta salads for extra color and nutrition, but you can omit them if you prefer.
Now that you have all of your ingredients, it's time to start cooking! This chicken pesto pasta salad comes together quickly and easily. Just follow these simple steps:
Step 1: Cook the pasta according to package instructions. I like to cook mine a minute or two less than the recommended time so it's not too soft.
Step 2: While the pasta is cooking, prepare the rest of the ingredients. Dice or shred the chicken, chop the sun-dried tomatoes, and crumble the feta cheese.
Step 3: Once the pasta is cooked, drain it, rinse it in cold water to cool it quickly, and add it to a large bowl.
Step 4: Add the chicken, sun-dried tomatoes, feta cheese, arugula and baby spinach mix, and basil leaves to the pasta.
Step 5: Mix the Italian dressing and pesto together in a small bowl then pour it over the pasta salad and stir everything together until evenly coated.
Step 6: Serve immediately or store in the fridge for later.
And that's all there is to it! Just six simple steps and you'll have a delicious, crowd-pleasing pasta salad that's perfect for summer potlucks and barbecues. Give this recipe a try today!
Recipe Tips And Tricks
Here are a few tips and tricks to help you make the perfect chicken pesto pasta salad:
- If you're not a fan of feta cheese, you can omit it or substitute a different kind of cheese. I think goat cheese would be delicious in this recipe.
- Feel free to add in your favorite veggies. Some chopped bell peppers or Kalamata olives would be great in this salad.
- This pasta salad can be served either hot or cold. If you're serving it hot, I recommend reheating it in the microwave for a minute or two before serving.
- If you're not a fan of Italian dressing, you can use a vinaigrette or your favorite salad dressing instead.
- If you want to lighten up this dish, you can use a light or fat-free Italian dressing.
Serving Suggestions And Substitutions
Here are a few ideas for how to serve this chicken pesto pasta salad:
- As a main dish: This pasta salad makes a great main dish. Serve it with a side of bread and a simple green salad for a complete meal.
- As a side dish: This pasta salad would be a great side dish for grilled chicken or fish.
- As an appetizer: Serve this pasta salad as an appetizer at your next party. Just put it in a small bowl and provide guests with forks.
Here are a few substitutions you can make to this recipe:
- If you're not a fan of chicken, you can omit it or substitute crispy bacon or ham. If you'd like to make a vegetarian version, I recommend this Mozzarella Pesto Pasta by Emma over at Kitchen Mason.
- If you don't like arugula and baby spinach, you can use any other type of salad green you like.
- If you don't want to use store-bought pesto, you can make your own. Just combine ½ cup of olive oil, 2 cups of fresh basil leaves, ½ cup of Parmesan cheese, and 1 clove of garlic in a food processor and blend until smooth.
How To Store Leftovers
Leftover chicken pesto pasta salad can be stored in an airtight container in the fridge for 3-4 days. I do not recommend freezing this dish as the arugula and baby spinach won't hold up well when defrosted.
When you're ready to eat the leftovers, just give them a good stir then serve. You may need to add a little bit more dressing to moisten things up.
Frequently Asked Questions
Yes, you can make this pasta salad ahead of time. Just store it in an airtight container in the fridge until you're ready to serve it.
Yes, you can substitute goat cheese, blue cheese, mozzarella, or any other type of cheese you like.
Leftover pasta salad can be stored in an airtight container in the fridge for 3-4 days.
Tools And Equipment For This Recipe
Glass Mixing Bowls: These glass mixing bowls are super versatile. You can use them for mixing, storing, and serving. In this recipe, they can be used for mixing all of the ingredients for the chicken pesto pasta salad together.
Stainless Steel Wire Whisk: These wire whisks are a great tool to have in your kitchen. I used the smallest one to whisk together the ingredients for the pesto dressing.
8-Inch Kitchen Knife: You’ll need a sharp knife for dicing the chicken. This 8-inch kitchen knife by Paudin is a great choice.
Chicken Pesto Pasta Salad
- 16 ounces spiral pasta
- 2 cups cooked chicken shredded or chopped
- ½ cup sun-dried tomatoes
- ⅓ cup feta cheese crumbled
- 10 grams fresh basil leaves
- 2 cups arugula and baby spinach mix
- ½ cup basil pesto
- ¾ cup Italian dressing
- Cook the pasta according to package instructions. I like to cook mine a minute or two less than the recommended time so it's not too soft.
- While the pasta is cooking, prepare the rest of the ingredients. Dice or shred the chicken, chop the sun-dried tomatoes, and crumble the feta cheese.
- Once the pasta is cooked, drain it, rinse it in cold water to cool it quickly, and add it to a large bowl.
- Add the chicken, sun-dried tomatoes, feta cheese, arugula and baby spinach mix, and basil leaves to the pasta.
- Mix the Italian dressing and pesto together in a small bowl then pour it over the pasta salad and stir everything together until evenly coated.
- Serve immediately or store in the fridge for later.
* Nutritional information is based on third-party calculations and should be considered estimates. Actual nutritional content may vary based on brands of ingredients used, measuring methods, portion sizes, and more.