Juicy grilled chicken and and a flavorful pesto vinaigrette takes this chicken pesto pasta salad to the next level! Perfect for cookouts or a lunch salad.
You can never have too many pasta salad recipes up your sleeve! Especially during cookout season when the sides have to be at their best.
For a salad that in all likelihood will make everyone forget about the main grilling event, this pesto-y chicken pasta salad is going to be your guy.
We’re loading this gem of a bowl up with ALL the goods and I must say, they do their job to perfection.
We’re talking smoky grilled chicken, a homemade pesto vinaigrette, and all the pasta salad classics wrapped up in one bowl and it’s dynamite.
And sooo incredibly easy to pull off, of course. Skip that deli pasta salad, we’re doing this the right way today!
This Pasta Salad features…
- Tender pasta, sweet cherry tomatoes, tangy feta cheese, and flavorful green onion
- Juicy grilled chicken
- An herby basil pesto vinaigrette
- Minutes to make and always a stand-out side dish or lunch salad
Making the Pesto Pasta Salad
(scroll down to the bottom of the post for the full recipe)
Ingredients You Will Need
- Boneless skinless chicken breasts
- Lemon juice
- Olive oil
- Basil pesto
- White wine vinegar
- Cherry tomatoes
- Green onion
- Feta cheese
Choosing Your Pasta
Any short pasta shape will work great in this salad! A few of our favorite shapes include…
- Small shells
- Farfalle (bowties)
Tips for Perfect Pasta Salad
- Toss cooked pasta in cold water – this cools the pasta fast and prevents it from sticking together.
- Use homemade pesto in dressing – homemade pesto is always preferable when it comes to flavors, but if you want to keep things fast you can definitely use jarred.
- Grill chicken – this adds a lovely little smoky touch to the salad that’s just incredible.
- Add fresh basil just before serving – this will prevent the basil from turning brown.
Try these ideas for a different twist on this salad!
- Add more veggies – try adding sweet pepper, cucumber, sweet corn, or avocado.
- Leave out the meat – for a vegetarian-friendly salad, simply omit the chicken and replace with additional veggies.
- Swap out cheeses – try mozzarella pearls, cubed cheddar, pepper jack, or grated Parmesan.
Make Ahead Instructions
Follow these instructions for time-saving make ahead tips!
- Make the pesto vinaigrette – this may be stored in refrigerator up to 3 days.
- Grill the chicken – grill and cut the chicken into cubes then store in refrigerator up to 3 days.
- Cook pasta – store in refrigerator up to 6 days.
- Assembled salad – once the salad is assembled it will store well in refrigerator up to 3 days.
It’s the homemade pesto vinaigrette that really brings all the flavors up to a 10 in this salad! Combined with the juicy grilled chicken, herby basil, and sweet cherry tomatoes and you can’t really go wrong.
Whether you serve this salad at your next cookout, have it as a lunch salad, or just demolish it standing in the fridge with a fork, you’re going to love it!
Save this recipe using the ‘save to recipe box’ button below. If you make it, please let us know! Leave a comment + star rating below, or take a photo and tag it on Instagram with #wholeandheavenlyoven.
More pasta salad recipes to try next!
Chicken Pesto Pasta Salad
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- 1 lb boneless skinless chicken breasts (about 2 small breasts)
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 1/2 cup prepared basil pesto
- 1/4 cup white wine vinegar
- 1 tablespoon honey or agave nectar
- 12 oz short pasta (such as penne or elbows)
- 1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
- 1/2 cup green onions, thinly sliced
- 1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese
- 1/4 cup fresh torn basil
- Rub chicken breasts all over with olive oil and lemon juice. Season on both sides with salt and pepper.
- Grill chicken over medium-high heat, turning occasionally until chicken registers 165F, about 8-10 minutes of cooking. Transfer chicken to a cutting board to cool.
- Once chicken is cool enough to handle, slice into 1/2-inch cubes and set aside.
- In a small bowl, whisk pesto, vinegar, and honey until smooth. Season dressing with salt and pepper to taste.
- Cook pasta according to package instructions until al dente. Drain and rinse with cold water until cooled and transfer to a large bowl.
- Add grilled chicken, cherry tomatoes, green onion, feta, basil, and pesto dressing to bowl and fold until pasta is evenly coated. Season salad with salt and pepper to taste and refrigerate until ready to serve. Enjoy!
This post was updated with new recipe adjustments and photos on 8/24/23.