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This chicken pesto pasta salad is quick, easy, and a great way to use up leftover chicken. The perfect make-ahead salad for summer BBQs, potlucks, or easy entertaining.

close-up of healthy cold pesto pasta salad with chicken in a teal bowl

To make this pesto pasta salad really simple, I used rotisserie chicken. You can use any pre-cooked chicken and just toss it in there. Hot weather dictates easy recipes, right?

I did make my pesto from scratch (here’s my basil pesto recipe), because to me it just tastes so much better than the store-bought variety, but you can definitely sub your favorite jarred pesto for homemade in this chicken pesto pasta salad if you’re in a rush.

a small bowl with homemade pesto and a sprig of fresh basil

This basil pesto pasta salad was definitely a BIG hit at our house.

This makes a large batch, and my husband ate ALL OF IT over a few days. I always knew he had a big appetite, but even I was impressed.

Love pesto? Try my Salmon Pesto Pasta or this Creamy Chicken Pesto Pasta.

cold pesto pasta salad in a bowl beside basil leaf

This cold pesto pasta salad can be served in any number of ways. As a main course for sure, but it’s also one of those recipes that’s ideal to serve with other dishes.

That’s why I put in the recipe card that it serves 6-8 – it’s a really great thing to bring to any kind of summer gathering. I think you and your guests will enjoy this chicken and pesto pasta recipe!

Other pasta salad recipes to try:

close-up of healthy cold pesto pasta salad with chicken, basil, and fresh tomatoes

Will you make this easy pesto pasta salad? Let me know in the comments below!

I hope you’re getting out there and taking advantage of the nice weather and summery foods (and drinks!). 🙂

This healthy cold pesto pasta salad with chicken is simple to make and bursting with the fresh taste of basil and tomatoes. 
5 from 3 votes

Chicken Pesto Pasta Salad

This chicken pesto pasta salad is quick, easy, and a great way to use up leftover chicken. The perfect make-ahead salad for summer BBQs, potlucks, or easy entertaining. 
Prep: 10 minutes
Cook: 15 minutes
Total: 25 minutes
Servings: 6


  • 4 cups uncooked penne
  • 2 cups cooked chicken (or more to taste)
  • 5 ounces little tomatoes halved
  • 1/4 cup red onions chopped
  • 1 cup pesto (click for my recipe or use store-bought)
  • Salt & pepper to taste


  • Cook pasta al dente according to package directions. Once cooked, rinse with cold water and drain thoroughly.
  • Prep other ingredients (use my homemade pesto recipe if you wish).
  • Toss everything together in a large salad bowl and generously season pasta salad with salt & pepper.
  • Serve pasta salad immediately or chill first. Keeps in the fridge for a few days (assuming the cooked chicken you used is fresh). 


  • If you want to add cheese to this salad, I suggest mozzarella. Shredded mozza or those mini bocconcini balls would work well.
  • Serves 6-8 depending how much people eat. You can definitely halve the recipe if needed.
  • Nutritional information is provided as a courtesy only and should be construed as an estimate rather than a guarantee. Ingredients can vary and Salt & Lavender makes no guarantees to the accuracy of this information.


Calories: 523kcal, Carbohydrates: 61g, Protein: 24g, Fat: 20g, Saturated Fat: 4g, Cholesterol: 38mg, Sodium: 427mg, Potassium: 340mg, Fiber: 3g, Sugar: 4g, Vitamin A: 1049IU, Vitamin C: 4mg, Calcium: 90mg, Iron: 2mg

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

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Hi! I’m Natasha.

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  1. Delicious! I added about 1/4 cup of sundried tomatoes/oil. Used bow tie pasta as I had no penne. Served as a side to burgers! Was a hit! Thankyou