Pesto Chicken Salad

Pesto Chicken Salad by Brown Eyed Baker ::  www.browneyedbaker.com

Yesterday, my grandparents came over to visit for the first time since we moved. They came for lunch, and I racked my brain for a couple of days about what I could make for them. Sometimes I find a lunch menu much more difficult than dinner; you want something substantial, but not too heavy. I gave chicken salad a brief thought, but it’s never my favorite meal, mostly because I hate the gloppy mayonnaise thing. Then I remembered that my mom had given me a large package of basil from her garden, and a light bulb went off. Pesto chicken salad!

Pesto Chicken Salad by Brown Eyed Baker ::  www.browneyedbaker.com

I’ve made variations of this pasta pesto dish before, and it seemed like the perfect starting point for a pesto chicken salad. I took my favorite pesto, added frozen chopped spinach (which I had thawed), some mayonnaise, salt and pepper. Voila! If you use a store-bought rotisserie chicken, it’s an incredibly quick meal and very filling. I served the sandwiches on croissants, but you could use your favorite rolls or bread.

Everyone raved about the chicken salad, and my Chief Culinary Consultant already requested another batch for sandwiches this week. He also added that a couple of pieces of bacon would be a great addition. A man after my own heart; bacon does make everything better! This salad is going into my stash of killer lunch recipes; it’s definitely a keeper.

Pesto Chicken Salad by Brown Eyed Baker ::  www.browneyedbaker.com

One year ago: Homemade Strawberry Ice Cream Topping
Two years ago: Top 10 List: Favorite Main Dishes
Three years ago: Anise Cookies
Four years ago: Scallion Pancakes with Ginger Dipping Sauce and Snickerdoodles
Five years ago: Fresh Blueberry Pie and Plain Bagels

Pesto Chicken Salad

Yield: About 8 servings

Prep Time: 30 minutes

Total Time: 30 minutes

An easy chicken salad that is dressed in a pesto sauce; perfect for using up fresh basil!

Ingredients:

2 pounds cooked chicken, diced small
1½ cups pesto (homemade or store-bought)
1 (10-ounce) package frozen chopped spinach, thawed and squeezed dry
3 tablespoons lemon juice
1¼ cups mayonnaise
¾ teaspoon kosher salt
¾ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Directions:

1. Place the chicken in a large bowl; set aside.

2. Place the pesto, spinach and lemon juice in a food processor or blender and puree until combined and smooth. Add the mayonnaise and puree again for about 5 to 10 seconds to combine.

3. Pour the pesto mixture over the chicken, add the salt and pepper, and stir to completely coat all of the chicken. Serve on your croissants or your favorite bread. Leftovers can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 2 days.

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30 Responses to “Pesto Chicken Salad”

  1. Marcie on July 9, 2013 at 1:08 am

    This is a great idea. I think pesto makes almost everything better. Love that you added spinach, and bacon does sound like an incredible idea!

    Reply

  2. Leeann on July 9, 2013 at 5:15 am

    Yum! Bacon sounds good and I would add some pine nuts regardless of whether your pesto already has them. You can never have too many nuts!

    Reply

  3. Holly @ EatGreatBEGreat on July 9, 2013 at 7:10 am

    What a fab idea! This sounds so delicious and super flavorful!

    Reply

  4. Jennifer @ Peanut Butter and Peppers on July 9, 2013 at 8:01 am

    Yum! I love how you served it on a croissant! Beautiful!!

    Reply

  5. marie @ little kitchie on July 9, 2013 at 8:53 am

    Looks awesome!! And I agree that bacon would be a great addition ;)

    Reply

  6. Nancy P.@thebittersideofsweet on July 9, 2013 at 9:12 am

    I need this for lunch!

    Reply

  7. Tieghan on July 9, 2013 at 9:25 am

    Love this idea for a sandwich. Pesto is a summer favorite of mine!

    Reply

  8. Kathy on July 9, 2013 at 9:28 am

    This sounds fabulous! Chicken salad is so delicious!

    Reply

  9. Kristi on July 9, 2013 at 9:39 am

    Yum!! I am looking for new lunch ideas and cannot really have lunch meat right now because I am pregnant. Just one question – could I substitute out the mayo for anything else? I am not a fan of mayo at all! Maybe greek yogurt or sour cream? Love your recipes! Thanks.

    Reply

    • Katy on July 9th, 2013 at 8:35 pm

      Greek yogurt is a great mayo substitute in chicken salad. Just be sure to buy the plain (unflavored), not the vanilla as I mistakenly did once! :-)

      Reply

    • Michelle on July 9th, 2013 at 11:12 pm

      Hi Kristi, I will say you can’t taste the mayonnaise at all; it just gives it a creamy texture (I’m not a big mayo fan, either). That being said, you could certainly substitute plain greek yogurt if you’d like. Enjoy!

      Reply

  10. Ashley @ Wishes and Dishes on July 9, 2013 at 12:25 pm

    Chicken salad is my favorite lunch food ever! I never thought to add pesto in it. Sounds delish!!!!

    Reply

  11. Jamie @lifelovelemons on July 9, 2013 at 1:45 pm

    Nothing betting in a summer than chicken salad! Love the pesto variety!

    Reply

  12. Pamela @ Brooklyn Farm Girl on July 9, 2013 at 2:36 pm

    I’m on a crazy pesto kick right now but never thought of using it like this – brilliant! Thanks!

    Reply

  13. Laura (Tutti Dolci) on July 9, 2013 at 3:28 pm

    I love pesto, what a perfect lunch idea!

    Reply

  14. Nessa on July 9, 2013 at 7:01 pm

    Looks fab!

    Reply

  15. Stephanie @ Girl Versus Dough on July 9, 2013 at 9:09 pm

    What a great idea! I love pesto and I love chicken salad — can’t believe I’ve never thought to put them together before. Yummy!

    Reply

  16. Chung-Ah | Damn Delicious on July 10, 2013 at 2:29 am

    LOVE that this is on a croissant base, my favorite sandwich bread!

    Reply

  17. Sevimin Aşkanasi on July 10, 2013 at 3:20 am

    Hi
    I love pesto sauce
    Compatible with chicken meat
    I love it
    Thanks for the recipe

    Reply

  18. Leah | So, How's It Taste? on July 10, 2013 at 10:51 am

    I go nuts over any chicken salad. It’s my favorite. I like it with so many variations and this pesto version sounds delicious!

    Reply

  19. Kim on July 10, 2013 at 4:57 pm

    This looks delish but I have one question……why did you include the spinach with the pesto? Would the salad taste too rich or too basily with just the pesto and no spinach? Just wondering…..looks yummy.

    Reply

  20. Jenny on July 11, 2013 at 9:24 pm

    This looks so yummy. Two of my favorite things Chicken and Pesto :)

    Reply

  21. Summer @ Mallow and Co on July 12, 2013 at 3:41 pm

    Yum! Made this last night for an easy dinner – was delicious! Thanks for the recipe

    Reply

  22. Kirsten on July 15, 2013 at 1:17 pm

    Looks delicious! I’ll try it sometime soon, definitely! c;

    Reply

  23. Holly of Sinful Sugar on July 18, 2013 at 8:45 pm

    This was so delicious! Good way to sneak in an extra serving of leafy greens, and pesto makes everything tasty. Thanks for a new lunch staple!

    Reply

  24. plasterer bristol on September 3, 2013 at 4:28 am

    Yum yum yum

    Reply

  25. Lisa on January 20, 2014 at 1:25 pm

    Could I use fresh spinach instead? Would I need to do anything to it first before adding to the food processor? Thanks!

    Reply

    • Michelle on January 21st, 2014 at 11:08 am

      Hi Lisa, I think spinach would work, albeit a bit less flavorful than basil. You would not need to do anything to it before adding it to the food processor.

      Reply

      • Lisa on January 21st, 2014 at 12:10 pm

        I am sorry, I should have specified! I meant fresh spinach in place of the frozen spinach. I am going to try it today and let you know how it turns out. Thank you for the response!

        Reply

  26. Lori on January 27, 2014 at 7:34 pm

    Made these tonight and they were so delicious! Put a very nice spin on the chicken salad croissant!

    Reply

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