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One of my favorite pasta salads of all time is this Creamy Pesto pasta salad. Loaded with chicken for a wholesome lunch or dinner option. Get dinner on the table in just 30 minutes which the entire family will love.

Another pasta salad you may like is my Chicken Caesar Pasta Salad.

pasta salad with pesto and parmesan cheese on the side.
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My kids love chicken and Pasta so I make a lot of dishes that have pasta and chicken in them. I am a huge fan of pesto so I decided to make this pesto pasta salad. 😍 Made with simple ingredients you most likely already have in your pantry, the pasta is mixed in with a creamy pesto sauce and some Italian dressing. Added tomatoes to give it 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.

Don’t want pasta but in the mood for a creamy chicken dish that is pesto-based? Then you will love my creamy pesto chicken recipe.

Ingredients you will need

  • Pasta (gluten-free if needed): you can use any pasta of your choice
  • Italian salad dressing, homemade or store-bought
  • Plain Greek yogurt: or normal plain whole-milk yogurt.
  • Pesto Sauce – I have a homemade pesto recipe to try, or you can use store-bought.
  • Fresh basil leaves: gives it a nice touch
  • Cherry tomatoes: for an added crunch
  • Shredded parmesan cheese: you can shred your own or use store-bought.
  • Chicken breast: or use boneless and skinless chicken thighs.
  • Seasoning: Garlic powder, Italian seasoning, Salt and pepper
  • Olive oil: avocado oil
cooked plain pasta in a colander

How to make it

  • 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

Tips and Substitutes

  • For a dairy-free option use dairy-free yogurt and skip the parmesan cheese
  • You can use any other chopped tomatoes you have handy. I 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.
pasta salad in bowl with chicken and fresh cherry tomatoes that is pesto based.

Frequently Asked Questions

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, I loved grabbing leftovers from the fridge and enjoying 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 to add whatever sauce the base is made of. So in this pesto pasta salad, I would add a bit of pesto combined with Italian dressing. Try a bit of oil if you don’t want to add more sauce.

hand holding a bowl filled with pesto and chicken pasta salad.

Storing and Reheating

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 it cold or reheat it in the microwave.

More pasta salads to try

hand holding fork reaching for some pesto pasta in a bowl.

If you like chicken

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5 from 14 votes

Creamy Chicken Pesto Pasta Salad

By: Rena
Servings: 8
Prep: 10 minutes
Cook: 20 minutes
Total: 30 minutes
pesto pasta in a round bowl with tomatoes, chicken, basil garnish.
Easy and flavorful pasta salad made with a creamy pesto sauce, Italian dressing, and loaded with chicken.

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 pound Boneless Skinless Chicken Breast, sliced in half on lengthwise to cook faster
  • 1 teaspoon Garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
  • 1/2 teaspoon Kosher salt, or to taste
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground pepper, or to taste
  • 1 tablespoon 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!

Video

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 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. I prefer cherry tomatoes because they are sweet and crunchy

Nutrition

Calories: 404kcalCarbohydrates: 41gProtein: 23gFat: 15gSaturated Fat: 3gCholesterol: 42mgSodium: 620mgPotassium: 274mgFiber: 6gSugar: 5gVitamin A: 447IUVitamin C: 3mgCalcium: 95mgIron: 1mg

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

Additional Info

Course: Main Course
Cuisine: American
Tried this recipe?Mention @healthyfitnessmeals or tag #healthyfitnessmeals!

About Rena Awada

Hi, I’m Rena! Welcome to my blog. I am here to help you prepare delicious, light, fresh meals that your whole family will love!

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Recipe Rating




6 Comments

  1. 5 stars
    Made this today for supper, it is perfect for when it’s so hot outside! I sprinkled in some capers, yum! My 19yo son ate THREE BOWLS!! This recipe is a keeper!

  2. 5 stars
    So yummy! I didn’t have tomatoes so I used red bell pepper. Also subbed sour cream for the yogurt. I added a can of quartered artichoke hearts and some toasted pine nuts too. Really really good, I’ll be keeping this recipe!