Pesto Chicken Salad – this flavorful mixed herb pesto chicken salad is fresh, creamy, and perfect served in lettuce cups for a delicious light lunch. Dairy free, Whole30, and Keto approved. (this post was originally published in March 2016 and updated January 2019)
Pesto is one of those flavor enhancers that bring boring, ordinary foods to life. Enter plain chicken breast and some creamy homemade mayo and this Pesto Chicken Salad was born! It’s no secret that I love chicken salad and all the delicious flavor combinations it comes in. This version is definitely a favorite, especially served in a crispy lettuce cup.
One of the things I love about fresh homemade pesto is how versatile it is. When I originally created this recipe, I intended to make a traditional basil pesto but ran out of basil and ended up improvising with other herbs. The flavor came out amazing! Basil, parsley, and cilantro make up the base of this pesto, but you could easily substitute with what you have in your frig or garden!
Although pine nuts are typically used in a traditional pesto, other nuts can be substituted with great results. I used walnuts in this recipe, but almonds or pecans work too! To make this a true chicken salad, of course I needed to add some of my homemade avocado oil mayo. It’s made with only healthy fats and adds a nice creaminess to the chicken salad, but without overpowering the pesto.
How to Make Pesto Chicken Salad
Cook your chicken. My preferred method is in the Instant Pot!
Make the pesto. This Mixed Herb Pesto is excellent, but pesto is easily customizable. Different herbs and/or nuts can be substituted.
Make Homemade Avocado Oil Mayonnaise or use your preferred mayo.
Combine it all together and serve over greens, in lettuce cups, or in a wrap!
- 2 cups cooked and shredded chicken breast
- 2 tablespoons Homemade Mayo or Greek yogurt (plain, fat-free)
- 1/4 cup mixed herb pesto
Mixed Herb Pesto
- 1/2 cup fresh basil leaves
- 1/4 cup fresh parsley
- 1/4 cup fresh cilantro
- 3 tablespoons walnuts
- 3 cloves garlic
- 1/3 cup olive oil
- salt and pepper
For the pesto:
- In a food processor, combine fresh herbs, walnuts, and garlic. Pulse to combine.
- Slowly add olive oil while pulsing until combined well.
- Add salt and pepper to taste.
For the Paleo Mayo:
- In a food processor, combine 1/4 cup oil, egg, mustard powder, and salt and pulse to combine. Slowly stream in remaining oil until emulsified. Add lemon juice and pulse to combine.
For the chicken salad:
- In a large bowl, combine chicken, paleo mayo (or yogurt), and pesto. Add salt and pepper to taste.
- Serve over greens or on bread/bun of your choice.