Creamy Chicken Pesto Pasta Salad

By Rena |

Easy and packed with flavor, this Creamy Pesto pasta salad is loaded with chicken for a wholesome lunch or dinner option. Get dinner on the table in just 30 minutes that the entire family will love.

top view of pasta salad with pesto and parmesan cheese on the side

Made with simple ingredients you most likely already have in your pantry, this pesto pasta salad is so flavorful and filling. Pasta mixed in with a creamy pesto sauce and some Italian dressing. Added tomatoes to give ut texture and crunch and some chicken breast for added protein. Top with some fresh basil leaves and freshly grated parmesan cheese for a flavorful boost.

Ingredients you will need

Pasta (gluten-free if needed)
Italian salad dressing, homemade or store-bought
Plain greek yogurt
Pesto Sauce – We have a homemade pesto recipe to try, or you can use store-bought.
Fresh basil leaves
Cherry tomatoes
Shredded parmesan cheese

Chicken breast
Garlic powder
Italian seasoning
Salt and pepper
Olive oil

cooked plain pasta in a colander

How to make this pasta salad

  • First, Cook pasta: Follow the package instructions, stirring occasionally, until pasta is cooked to al-dente. Once cooked, drain well in a colander and run under cold water to stop the cooking process.
  • Mix dressing: In a mixing bowl, whisk together Italian salad dressing, yogurt and pesto sauce until
    smooth.
  • Prepare and cook chicken: Rub the chicken with seasonings and olive oil. Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add chicken and cook undisturbed for about 5 minutes, then flip and continue to cook for 3-5 minutes more (depending on the thickness), or until cooked through and no longer pink on the inside.
  • Allow chicken to cool: Transfer the cooked chicken to a chopping board and slice.
  • Assemble salad:  Cut the tomatoes in half and set aside. To a large salad bowl, add the cooked pasta, basil leaves, shredded chicken, and tomatoes.
  • Add toppers and serve: Sprinkle parmesan cheese and pour the dressing on top, toss well to coat. Finally, garnish with some more parmesan cheese and freshly cracked black pepper. Serve and enjoy!

chicken sliced for salad on a cutting board

hand holding pasta salad top view

FAQ’s and tips

    • Pasta: use any of your favorite pasta. For low carb options use lentil or chickpea pasta
    • For a dairy-free option use dairy-free yogurt and skip on the parmesan cheese
    • Homemade or store-bought pesto
    • Use avocado oil in place of olive oil
    • You can use any other chopped tomatoes you have handy. We prefer cherry tomatoes because they are sweet and crunchy
    • Cook pasta al dense, then rinse will cold water to stop the pasta from continuing to cook.
    • Place leftovers in a container and store in the fridge for up to 5-7 days. Reheat in the microwave when ready to eat. It can be served cold. You can freeze for up to 3 months.

Can pesto pasta be eaten cold

Yes. It all comes down to your personal preference. Most people love having this pasta cold. Whether you serve it warm or cold, this pasta salad will be just as flavorful.  Also, we loved grabbing leftovers from the fridge and enjoy them cold.

Can you use pesto straight from a jar

Store-bought pesto in jars are ready to eat and nothing else needs to be done to it. Add it to your pasta salads or as toppers for chicken, meat, or shrimp for a flavor boost.

How do you moisten dry pasta salad

If your pasta salad is a bit dry there are a few ways to add moisture to it. The easiest way to do so is add whatever sauce the base is made of. So in this pesto pasta salad, we would add a bit of pesto combined with Italian dressing. Try a bit of oil if you don’t want to add more sauce.

How to store pasta salad

Place leftover pasta salad in a tightly sealed container and store it in the fridge for 5-7 days.  They can be frozen for up to 3 months. Thaw it out the night before and enjoy cold or reheat in the microwave.

pasta salad in a brown bowl top view

Other healthy pasta salads to try

pasta salad in bowl with chicken and fresh cherry tomatoes

If you try a recipe and you like it, leave us some feedback in the comment section below, and don’t forget to rate it! Also, please use our hashtag #healthyfitnessmeals on INSTAGRAM for a chance to be featured!

Finally, follow Healthy Fitness Meals on FACEBOOK | INSTAGRAM | PINTEREST | TWITTER for all of our latest blog posts and recipes.

top view of pesto pasta with tomatoes, chicken, basil garnish

Creamy Chicken Pesto Pasta Salad

Easy and flavorful pasta salad made with a creamy pesto sauce, Italian dressing, and loaded with chicken
5 from 3 votes
Print Pin Rate
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: American
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 30 minutes
Servings: 8
Calories: 404kcal
Author: Rena

Ingredients

  • 16 ounces Pasta gluten-free if needed or whole grain
  • 2/3 cup Italian salad dressing homemade or store-bought
  • 1/2 cup Plain Greek Yogurt
  • 1/2 cup Pesto Sauce homemade, or store-bought
  • 1/4 cup Fresh Basil Leaves
  • 1/2 cup Cherry Tomatoes halved
  • 1/3 cup Shredded Parmesan Cheese

For chicken:

  • 1 lb Boneless Skinless Chicken Breast sliced in half on lengthwise to cook faster
  • 1 tsp Garlic powder
  • 1 tsp Italian seasoning
  • 1/2 tsp Kosher salt or to taste
  • 1/4 tsp ground pepper or to taste
  • 1 tbsp Olive oil

Instructions

  • Cook pasta according to the package instructions, stirring occasionally, until pasta is cooked to al-dente. Once cooked, drain well in a colander and run under cold water to stop the cooking process.
  • In a mixing bowl, whisk together Italian salad dressing, yogurt, and pesto sauce until smooth.
  • Rub the chicken with seasonings and olive oil. Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat.
  • Add chicken and cook undisturbed for about 5 minutes, then flip and continue to cook for 3-5 minutes more (depending on the cooked chicken to a chopping board and slice.
  • Cut the tomatoes in half and set aside. To a large salad bowl, add the cooked pasta, basil leaves, shredded chicken, and tomatoes.
  • Sprinkle parmesan cheese and pour the dressing on top, toss well to coat.
  • Garnish with some more parmesan cheese and freshly cracked black pepper. Serve and enjoy!

Notes

Substitutes:
  • Pasta: use any of your favorite pasta. For low carb options use lentil or chickpea pasta 
  • For a dairy-free option use dairy-free yogurt and skip on the parmesan cheese
  • Homemade or store-bought pesto
  • Use avocado oil in place of olive oil
  • You can use any other chopped tomatoes you have handy. We prefer cherry tomatoes because they are sweet and crunchy
 
Storage:
Place leftovers in a container and store in the fridge for up to 5-7 days. Reheat in the microwave when ready to eat. It can be served cold. You can freeze for up to 3 months.
Nutritional facts:
Please keep in mind that the nutritional information is calculated using a nutrition facts calculator. It is a rough estimate and can vary greatly based on products used.

Nutrition

Calories: 404kcal | Carbohydrates: 41g | Protein: 23g | Fat: 15g | Saturated Fat: 3g | Cholesterol: 42mg | Sodium: 620mg | Potassium: 274mg | Fiber: 6g | Sugar: 5g | Vitamin A: 447IU | Vitamin C: 3mg | Calcium: 95mg | Iron: 1mg
Tried this Recipe? Tag me Today!Mention @HealthyFitnessMeals or tag #HealthyFitnessMeals!

Reader Interactions

Leave A Reply

Recipe Rating