Fresh chicken, black olives, a handful of veggies, and the best pesto are all you need to make this simple, filling, and delicious Pesto Chicken Pasta Salad recipe! Versatile and ready in under a half hour, this will be your go-to summer side dish!
This Pesto Chicken Pasta Salad is perfect for your upcoming backyard BBQ. It will also work great at your summer potlucks or picnics. My family gobbled it up faster than you can say BBQ. It’s made with tender white chicken morsels, fresh veggies, and black olives all wrapped in a flavourful pesto sauce. It’s bright, fresh and packed full of wonderful flavours and textures.
If you like chicken and pesto together as much as I do, you need to try this Chicken Pesto Pizza recipe. It’s the perfect combination of the two. In fact, I’d love a slice of that while enjoying this homemade Chicken Salad with Pesto Pasta Salad recipe.
Why You’ll Love This Pasta Salad
- Quick- ready in under a half hour
- Easy to use as a side or it can double as a hearty lunch option
- Makes for great leftovers
- All you need is 8 ingredients
- Can be served cold or warm
- Simple to customize and change up to suit your taste buds
- Perfect for potlucks, parties, and bbq’s
- Boneless, skinless chicken breasts
- Colored rotini pasta
- Cherry tomatoes
- Fresh Basil
- Black olives
- Salt and Pepper
How To Make Pesto Chicken Pasta Salad
- Step One: Cook pasta according to package directions. During the last 4 minutes of cooking time, add the broccoli to the pot. Drain. Add to a large bowl.
- Step Two: Add chicken, tomatoes, basil, olives, pesto and salt and pepper. Stir to combine. Store in the refrigerator until ready to serve.
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What to Serve with Pesto Pasta Salad
- Try serving this with another classic side like Tortellini Salad or Greek Chicken Salad
- A nice juicy Stuffed Burger
- Taco Chicken Burgers
- Honey Dijon Chicken
- Honey Garlic Baked Salmon
Helpful Tips and Tricks
Disclosure: I am participating in the Chicken Farmers of Canada campaign managed by SJ Consulting. I received compensation in exchange for my participation in this campaign. The opinions on this blog are my own.
- Depending on if you’re serving this pasta salad warm, or cold, you don’t have to rinse the pasta before serving.
- I suggest using any chicken from Chicken Farmers of Canada. It’s all grain-fed and some of my favorite chicken to cook with. This chicken is also steroid free, hormone free, and raised to the highest known and highest possible standards. It’s not just delicious tasting chicken, but using this brand of chicken makes the most ethical sense to use!
Recipe Variations and Substitutions
- Add in other veggies like sauteed spinach, kale, shredded carrots, onions, mushrooms, etc.
- Feel free to make your own pesto or you can use your favorite store-bought brand.
- Swap out the pasta for other choices. I shared a bunch of other options to try below.
- For a nice change of pace, add some shredded cheese on top. Go for any hard, salty cheese options. Or stick to some soft ones. Some of our favorites are romano, parmesan, or even fresh milk mozzarella chunks on top.
- Add a handful of seeds to bring another subtle texture change to this side dish! Try some sunflower seeds, chia seeds, pumpkin seeds, or sesame seeds.
- A simple trade would be to swap out the cherry tomatoes for grape tomatoes.
- Don’t like black olives, feel free to omit them or use a different kind of olive that you prefer instead.
- If you’re in a pinch and don’t have chicken breasts, you can use other chicken, dark meat chicken or even rotisserie chicken. But I will say that boneless, skinless chicken breast is the best option in my opinion.
Any leftover pasta salad can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 2-3 days. Be careful leaving it in the fridge for too long. The pesto can start to cause the pasta noodles to break down a little bit over time, causing them to become soggy. While the texture may change, the flavor is still incredible, so keep that in mind if you go to pull out the leftovers and they don’t look as appetizing as when you first made this fantastic dish.
These kinds of side dish leftovers are wonderful, after they’ve had the time to really meld the flavors together in the fridge, they’re super flavorful. Sometimes, I like to make a big batch of this pesto pasta salad so I can enjoy some now and still have leftovers for the next day or two or so since it tastes even better the next day!
Can I Freeze This Easy Pasta Salad Side Dish?
You bet! This is an easy recipe to increase and make more of. If you don’t plan on eating it within a few days, freezing it for later is the perfect option.
After the chicken pesto pasta salad has cooled down completely, transfer the pasta salad to a freezer safe bag or container and place it in the freezer for up to 2 months.
What other pasta options can I use?
If you don’t want to use tri-colored rotini, you can swap it out for other choices, easily. Here are a few choices to try instead:
- Regular rotini
- Elbow macaroni
- Bowtie pasta
Can I add nuts to this recipe?
Sure, nuts are a common ingredient in pesto and would compliment this pasta salad very nicely.
Wondering what kind of nuts to top this chicken pesto pasta salad with? Well, here’s some of my favorite ones to add to this easy recipe:
- Toasted pine nuts
- Almond slivers
- Chopped pecans or walnuts
- A handful of pistachios or peanuts
More Yummy Pasta Salad Recipes
- Italian Pasta Salad
- Creamy Curried Chicken Pasta Salad
- Chicken Fajita Pasta Salad
- Chili Pasta Salad
- Roasted Pepper Pasta Salad
- Greek Pasta Salad
- Bruschetta Chicken Pasta Salad
- Pizza Pasta Salad
You’ll also like this Watermelon and Feta Salad.
What sides are on your BBQ menu?
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- 2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cooked and diced
- 1 (12oz/375g) package coloured rotini pasta
- 1 broccoli, chopped into florets
- 1/2 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
- 5 tablespoons fresh basil, chopped
- 6 tablespoons pesto
- 12 black olives, pitted
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon pepper
- Cook pasta according to package directions. During the last 4 minutes of cooking time, add in the broccoli to the pot. Drain. Add to a large bowl.
- Add chicken, tomatoes, basil, olives, pesto and salt and pepper. Stir to combine. Store in the refrigerator until ready to serve.
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Nutrition Information:Yield: 6 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 188Total Fat: 10gSaturated Fat: 2gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 8gCholesterol: 38mgSodium: 343mgCarbohydrates: 8gFiber: 1gSugar: 1gProtein: 15g