This summer pesto chicken pasta salad is the easiest, quickest and most delicious recipe. It has chicken, fresh mozzarella, sweet tomatoes, and delicious homemade basil pesto. All of these colorful ingredients mixed together with a pretty twisted pasta shape and you have the best summer salad.
This salad is so easy to make! Throw all the ingredients into a bowl, give it a stir and it's ready to go. Making my homemade pesto recipe for this yields the best results, but store bought pesto works, if needed!
Make this as a main dish or serve it as a side dish. It is perfect to bring to a cookout or summer potlucks!
For more summer recipes, try: Lemon Pistachio Cake, Shredded Chicken Tacos with Roasted Pineapple Salsa or Individual Air Fryer Peach Crisps.
Why You Will Love This
- The pesto. There is nothing better than fresh pesto sauce! It adds so much flavor, looks beautiful and is quite simple.
- The tomatoes. Using sweet cherry tomatoes is what gives this pasta salad a pop of color and flavor!
- It is easy to make. Once you make the pesto, a few simple ingredients are tossed in a bowl and mixed together. It's easy and quick!
- Pasta: I prefer to use fusilli bucati corti for this because I love the shape and it holds up well with the other ingredients. You could choose your favorite twisted pasta shape for this.
- Pesto: I think the best pesto for this salad is fresh basil pesto that I make right before I put this salad together. You could use a store bought pesto if you prefer. Pesto is mixed in with the other ingredients and can also be drizzled on top before serving.
- Tomatoes: My grocery store carries a container of sweet tomatoes that are assorted shapes and colors. You could use cherry or grape tomatoes, or a combination of the two!
- Chicken: I prefer to use the breast meat of a rotisserie chicken, simply for convenience. I usually buy the one that is cooked with Italian seasonings for this recipe. Any cooked chicken breast will work great here.
- Mozzarella: Fresh mozzarella that is cut into bite size chunks is one the best parts of this salad. I usually buy bocconcini, which is mozzarella balls about the size of an egg, and chop them. If you have access to ciliegine or perlini (small mozzarella balls), you wouldn't have to chop them at all!
- Pecorino Romano: Grated pecorino romano is mixed in with the ingredients and can also be sprinkled on top before serving. You could use parmesan cheese in its place.
Step by Step Instructions
Here is how to make this delicious pasta salad. See the full recipe and ingredient list below in the recipe card.
STEP 1: Cook pasta according to package instructions. Drain and set aside to cool while you prepare the rest of the ingredients.
STEP 2: In a large salad bowl combine the cooked pasta, pesto, tomatoes, chicken, mozzarella, and pecorino romano. Stir to combine.
STEP 3: Top with additional dollops of pesto and a sprinkle of pecorino romano.
- If using a rotisserie chicken, remove the meat before it cools down. It's easier to get off the bones when it's still warm.
- If the salad has been refrigerated, let it sit on the counter for a few minutes before serving. The olive oil in the pesto needs a few minutes to come to room temperature.
Yes, store bought would work fine. This is best with this homemade pesto, but if you don't have time or access to fresh basil, store bought works great.
Yes. This salad is best with fresh mozzarella. A block of mozzarella, or low-moisture, mozzarella will not yield the same results. Fresh mozzarella is softer, saltier and going to be your best choice here.
Yes! This salad is great without the chicken too!
Storing and Freezing
Store the salad, covered, in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.
Freezing is not recommended.
Other Recipes to Try
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Summer Pesto Chicken Pasta Salad
- 8 ounces uncooked pasta, preferrably a twisted shape
- ½ cup prepared pesto, plus more for drizzling on top
- 2 cups assorted sweet tomatoes, quartered
- 1 cup cooked chicken, chopped
- 1 cup fresh mozzarella, cut into ½-inch cubes
- ¼ cup Pecorino Romano cheese, grated
- Cook pasta according to package directions. Drain, allow to cool to room temperature and place in a large bowl.
- Add the pesto, tomatoes, chicken, mozzarella and cheese. Stir well to combine.
- Top with additional cheese and pesto, if desired.