Pesto Chicken and Broccoli Salad

$6.18 recipe / $1.55 serving
by Beth - Budget Bytes
4.86 from 7 votes
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Last year I made an amazing Broccoli Cheddar Chicken Salad that was just to die for, and ever since I’ve wanted to try a pesto-based version. Well, that day has finally come and I’m here to say that it’s just as easy and totally delish! So if you need another quick and filling refrigerator salad to make for lunches, this Pesto Chicken and Broccoli Salad is it!

Close up side view of pesto chicken broccoli salad in a bowl.

What Kind of Chicken to Use

This Pesto Chicken and Broccoli Salad is the perfect recipe for store-bought rotisserie chicken, but if that’s not your jam you can totally cook your own boneless, skinless chicken breast or thighs. You’ll need about one cup of chopped cooked chicken (the amount is flexible), which will be about one chicken breast or two chicken thighs.

What Kind of Pesto to Use

I like the freshness of a basil pesto for this recipe. The herbal flavor really lightens up the dish. Pesto can be on the pricey side, but there are several brands that are a bit more affordable. Look for Alessi, Barilla, Classico, or Filippo Berio. And don’t let the rest of that jar of pesto go to waste! Check out our pesto recipe archives for ways to make sure every last drop gets put to good use.

Is the Broccoli Raw??

Yes, this salad is made with raw broccoli. The extra crunchy broccoli gives this salad tons of texture and helps it hold up well in the refrigerator for days. If you absolutely can not do raw broccoli, the next best option would probably be very lightly steamed broccoli, so that it still has some texture but that edge of raw flavor has been taken off.

How to Serve Pesto Chicken and Broccoli Salad

You can eat this salad alone in a bowl, stuff it into a pita, scoop some on top of a green salad, or wrap it up in a tortilla. There are so many options!

Pesto Chicken and Broccoli Salad in a pita.
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Pesto Chicken and Broccoli Salad

4.86 from 7 votes
Chicken, broccoli, onion, and a creamy pesto dressing make this quick salad a delicious new lunchtime staple!
Author: Beth – Budget Bytes
Close up side view of Pesto Chicken and Broccoli Salad in a bowl.
Servings 4 1 cup each
Prep 15 mins
Total 15 mins

Ingredients

  • 1 cup chopped cooked chicken* ($3.50)
  • 1 lb. fresh broccoli (about 2 cups chopped) ($1.25)
  • 1/4 cup chopped red onion ($0.08)
  • 1/4 cup basil pesto ($1.00)
  • 1/4 cup mayonnaise ($0.29)
  • 1 Tbsp lemon juice ($0.04)
  • 1/4 tsp freshly cracked black pepper ($0.02)

Instructions 

  • Chop the chicken and broccoli into small, bite-sized pieces. Finely dice the red onion.
  • In a bowl, stir together the pesto, mayonnaise, and lemon juice.
  • Add the chicken, broccoli, and red onion to a large bowl. Pour the creamy pesto over top, and add the freshly cracked pepper. Stir to combine.
  • Taste the salad and add salt or pepper to your liking. Serve immediately or refrigerate until ready to eat.

See how we calculate recipe costs here.

Notes

*You can use store-bought rotisserie chicken, or cook your own chicken breast in a skillet.

Nutrition

Serving: 1cupCalories: 257kcalCarbohydrates: 10gProtein: 15gFat: 18gSodium: 298mgFiber: 3g
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Overhead view of a bowl of pesto chicken and broccoli salad.

How to Make Pesto Chicken and Broccoli Salad – Step by Step Photos

Cooked chicken breast in a skillet.

You’ll want about one cup (give or take some) of chopped cooked chicken for this recipe. The easiest option is to use store-bought rotisserie chicken. But, if you aren’t using a rotisserie chicken, you can cook one chicken breast or two chicken thighs to use for this recipe. If you need instructions for cooking chicken breast in a skillet, see my tutorial here. Make sure to let the chicken cool before using it in the recipe.

Creamy pesto dressing in a bowl with a spoon.

To make the creamy pesto dressing, stir together ¼ cup basil pesto, ¼ cup mayonnaise, and 1 Tbsp lemon juice.

Chopped broccoli on a cutting board.

Chop about two cups of broccoli into small bite-sized pieces. Making sure to chop the broccoli small enough is key to making this salad work. They should be small enough that a few pieces could fit onto a fork.

Chopped chicken on a cutting board.

Chop the chicken into small ¼-½ inch pieces (the cutting board pictured above is quite small, for reference)

Broccoli, chicken, and red onion in a bowl.

Finely dice ¼ cup red onion. Place the broccoli, chicken, and onion in a bowl.

Pesto dressing being poured over the salad.

Pour the creamy pesto dressing over the ingredients in the bowl. Add about ¼ tsp freshly cracked pepper.

Finished pesto chicken and broccoli salad in the bowl.

Stir everything together, give it a taste, and add salt or pepper to taste.

Pesto chicken and broccoli salad in pita pockets on a plate.

Enjoy in a bowl, stuffed into a pita, or on a green salad!

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Comments

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  1. This was amazing! It was Quick, Simple, Filling and Delicious. My wife and I made it and put it in Pita. I put some Tabasco on mine. I like my taste a little spicy.

  2. Delish as written, but we wanted something kind of briny to round out the flavor.  Topped with some tzatziki, which put it over the top. Hubs had 3rds! Thanks for a healthful and easy meal!

  3. Hi Beth,

    Another winner for sure….So simple to make and its delicious. I made extra to share and everyone loved it. I did sub a rotisserie chicken instead of making breasts. So delicious and keeps well in the fridge. Wonderful for lunches at work. Love your recipes….Keep up the fantastic work!

  4. This was SO easy and so very delicious! I used leftover grilled chicken breast, lightly roasted broccoli,  and pesto I froze last fall. I also added extra parmigiana. I served it on crunchy lettuce for dinner. What was left was even better the next day!

    1. I used a basil pesto that I bought at the store and I have some suggested brands in the blog post up above the recipe under the heading, “What Kind of Pesto to Use”. :)

  5. Super delicious and healthy! I wrapped this up in some tortillas and took them as wraps for work. Great for the hot summer days.

  6. Absolutely love this! The pesto gave it such a unique, bright flavor. Definitely a keeper for my work-lunch list.

  7. Another easy recipe! I used my air fryer for the chicken breast and had them cook for about 25 mins on 370, but otherwise followed the recipe. Will be using this in my meal prep rotation.

  8. This was so flavorful and delicious! I added some whole wheat elbows (along with a splash of pasta water) to it to extend it a little more. My husband and I ate it for 3 meals!!

    1. Hi Beth! I absolutely love your recipes! Especially the slow cooker ones, I’m lazy (especially in the summer!) Just wondering if you had any ideas for subbing the mayo. I’m not a fan but this recipe still looks phenomenal and I would love to try it. Thanks!

      1. I don’t have a good option for that, honestly. I know a lot of people use Greek yogurt in place of mayo, but I’m not a huge fan of that swap. Mayo is way creamier and less tangy than Greek yogurt and I feel like you need the creaminess here to mellow out the pesto some. That being said, you might try the Greek yogurt and like it! Sometimes it’s all about personal preference. :)

        1. Hi, Beth…

          This was another winner – I really loved the way it turned out. So far I’ve tried it with leftover chicken, leftover pork roast, and leftover ham… they’ve all worked well.

          As for a mayo replacement, while I don’t replace mayo in my salads, my housemate isn’t fond of the stuff, so I’ve taken to swapping out about half of it.  I’ve had pretty good results with tuna and egg salads in swapping half the mayo for a like amount of hummus. I like the roasted garlic, but just about any would do, I should think.

          1. Oooh, I LOVE the hummus idea! I definitely need to try that. Thanks for sharing!

          2. Hi! I wanted to chime in here – I sub’d the mayo with mashed avocado! I had one in my fridge I needed to use up, and they’re both fats. It was a perfect swap.

            I also switched the chicken for chick peas, because that’s what I had on hand and added cherry tomatoes for color. Accidentally made it vegan.

    1. Fantastic recipe! I roasted the broccoli and onion with lemon zest because I can’t eat raw broccoli and the kid won’t eat raw onion.