Pesto Chicken and Broccoli Salad

Written by Beth - Budget Bytes

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.
Close up side view of Pesto Chicken and Broccoli Salad in a bowl.
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5 from 5 votes

Pesto Chicken and Broccoli Salad

Chicken, broccoli, onion, and a creamy pesto dressing make this quick salad a delicious new lunchtime staple!
Author: Beth – Budget Bytes
Prep Time: 15 mins
Total Time: 15 mins
Servings: 4 1 cup each


  • 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)


  • 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.


*You can use store-bought rotisserie chicken, or cook your own chicken breast in a skillet.
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Serving: 1 cupCalories: 257 kcalCarbohydrates: 10 gProtein: 15 gFat: 18 gSodium: 298 mgFiber: 3 g
Nutritional values are estimates only. See our full nutrition disclaimer here.

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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!