This ain’t yo’ mama’s chicken salad! Easy homemade arugula pesto adds big flavor to this family favorite chicken salad. Layer Arugula Pesto Chicken Salad on sandwich rolls or stuff it in a pita with greens and sliced tomato for a delicious lunch.

chicken salad in a pita with chips on a white plate

My mom was the first to make this salad, probably close to 10 years ago, and our whole family has been enjoying it ever since. Anytime a picnic-type lunch recipe is needed, this is my go-to. It is seriously the very best chicken salad I’ve ever had. The pesto adds such dimension to your humble everyday chicken salad. Believe me, this recipe is anything but your everyday chicken salad!


Arugula Pesto Chicken Salad is not only perfect for special occasions, but it’s so easy, I often whip it up for quick lunches.

Start this recipe by making the arugula pesto. It’s so easy and SO good! It would honestly even be good over pasta or served on warm, toasty bread. Use a food processor to combine fresh arugula leaves, garlic and olive oil. Once combined, transfer to a large bowl and stir in parmesan cheese, salt and pepper.

stirring pesto with parmesan cheese in a glass bowl

Next, add mayo and lemon zest to the pesto. Use any mayo that you prefer, but I like using a heart-healthy mayo, like Primal Kitchen avocado oil mayo, which is Whole30 approved.

stirring homemade pesto in a glass bowl with a silver spoon

Last, add chicken to the pesto mixture and stir well to fully combine and coat chicken. Use any cooked chicken you have on hand. I usually just use rotisserie chicken.

arugula pesto chicken salad served in a white bowl

Now, this Arugula Pesto Chicken Salad can be served a variety of ways. Sometimes we serve it on sandwich rolls or atop fresh spinach greens, but my favorite way to enjoy it is rolled up in a tortilla or stuffed in a pita. Add some additional fresh arugula leaves and sliced cherry tomatoes and you’re set with an irresistible, satisfying lunch or dinner meal.

I love chicken salad! Try a few other favorite recipes!

BLT Chicken Salad Stuffed Avocados

Southwest Chicken Salad Wraps

Strawberry Spinach Chicken Salad Wrap

I’d love to know if you make this (or any) recipe! Tag @kimscravings on Instagram and be sure to subscribe to our mailing list to receive more healthy delicious recipes straight to your inbox.

pita stuffed with chicken, arugula and tomato served with barbecue chips on a white plate

chicken salad in a pita with chips on a white plate
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Arugula Pesto Chicken Salad

Easy homemade arugula pesto adds big flavor to the classic chicken salad!


For Arugula Pesto:

  • 2 cups packed fresh arugula leaves
  • 2 cloves garlic, peeled & halved
  • cup extra virgin olive oil
  • ½ cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon ground pepper
  • ¼ cup mayo*
  • 1 teaspoon lemon zest

Chicken Salad w/ Arugula Pesto:

  • 3 cups chicken, diced or shredded**
  • Full recipe (above) of Arugula Pesto
  • cherry or grape tomatoes, sliced, halved or quartered
  • fresh arugula leaves
  • wraps, pitas, or bread


  • Use a food processor to blend arugula and garlic until finely chopped. With the machine running, gradually add the oil until well blended. Transfer to a large bowl and stir in Parmesan, salt and pepper.
  • Add mayo and lemon zest to the Arugula Pesto and stir to combine. Stir in diced chicken.
  • To serve evenly spoon over wrap or bread or stuff in a pita and add halved tomatoes and arugula leaves of desired amount. Enjoy!


*I use a healthier mayo brand, like Primal Kitchen. 
**One large rotisserie chicken works well.
***Nutritional info only includes the Arugula Pesto Chicken Salad.
Recipe slightly adapted from Giada De Laurentiis.
Calories: 364kcal, Carbohydrates: 1g, Protein: 16.6g, Fat: 32.4g, Saturated Fat: 6.2g, Cholesterol: 62.7mg, Sodium: 333.3mg, Fiber: 0.2g, Sugar: 0.2g

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