Revelation: pesto chicken salad

I had a revelation the other day that I can’t believe I haven’t thought of before. Pesto chicken salad! This was so delicious that I’m blogging it independently from my Pesto: essential uses post. I came up with the idea while searching my brain for savory chicken salad recipes. Though I love the classic grape and walnut combination, I wanted something crisp, spicy, and a little cheesy. This became very much a kitchen sink recipe. I practically danced around the cabinets throwing spices into the bowl. For this reason, the measurements below are approximations. The chicken I was using was leftover from the night before so there was only about 2/3 of it left. No matter what, nothing bad can come of this chicken salad. It is just so yummy. Try it and you won’t be disappointed. The unique flavors of mustard, mayo, and pesto blend harmoniously with one another. Generous amounts of ground cumin and coriander, the crunch of red onion, and the spiciness of red pepper flakes make this the ultimate savory experience. Delicious.

Pesto Chicken Salad


Rotisserie chicken, pulled

1 tsp cumin

1 tsp coriander

1/4 cup chopped parsley, packed

1 to 1 1/4 tsp spicy brown mustard

3 big spoonfuls of pesto or to taste

ground pepper

dash of salt, if needed (depends on how salty the pesto is)

sprinkle of red pepper flakes

1/2 small red onion, chopped

1 clove garlic, pressed or minced

mayo till “wet”


  1. Pull the chicken using a fork or your fingers. If you prefer chunky chicken salad, chop the chicken to desired size. In a medium bowl, combine the chicken, red pepper flakes, ground pepper, coriander, cumin, mustard, and pesto.
  2. Chop the onion, parsley, and mince or press the garlic. Add these ingredients to the bowl and mix everything together with a large spoon or salad tongs.
  3. Beginning with a 1/3 cup, mix the mayo in with the other ingredients. Continue to add dollops of mayo until the salad is “wet.” You will know that you have added enough mayo when the chicken salad becomes easier to stir. Taste the salad, add salt if needed, and serve with sliced baguette and tomato.

Note: If serving to guests, it is best to explain that you are making PESTO chicken salad and not just any chicken salad. The specks of green from the basil will look mysterious and disconcerting to those who aren’t expecting it.

Another way to serve: Place on a bed of baby romaine. Add tomatoes, roasted broccoli, avocado.


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