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Pesto Chicken Avocado Orzo Salad. Grilled cajun chicken tossed together with a creamy, homemade thousand island dressing, fresh romaine lettuce, roasted peppers, and creamy avocado. This orzo is simple to toss together, super flavorful, filling, and pretty healthy too. Enjoy this for dinner and save the leftovers for lunch. Or serve this up at your next backyard dinner with friends.

Pesto Chicken Avocado Orzo Salad |

Tis the season for orzo salads, pesto chicken, and lighter, but still delicious, quick and easy recipes. And I am in love with this one. It’s funny because this recipe originally started out as a chicken club sandwich. Yep, not even close to a salad.

I was really struggling with the club sandwich recipe, so after two full days, I decided I wanted to switch gears. But I loved loved the flavors of the club sandwich.

Pesto Chicken Avocado Orzo Salad |

I ended up taking the spicy cajun chicken and creamy dressing from the sandwich and using both within this fresh orzo salad. And it turned out so much better than I could have imagined.

I know the sound of a thousand island dressing tossed in an orzo salad may sound off. My mom wasn’t sure about it either. But you have to trust me. This is a homemade dressing, so that makes a big difference. And I think it’s what makes this orzo salad so special and delicious.

There’s also spicy grilled cajun chicken, lots of cheddar cheese, pesto, and avocado.

Pesto Chicken Avocado Orzo Salad |

Here are the details

When making this, I usually begin with the cajun. I toss the chicken with my cajun seasoning blend, then olive oil and sea salt. Just 3 ingredients, but using cajun seasoning is the key. It’s a blend of smoky, spicy spices, smoked paprika, chili powder, oregano, thyme, and cayenne. And then I always include onion and garlic powder, salt, and black pepper.

One of my favorite seasoning blends!

Pesto Chicken Avocado Orzo Salad |

Toss the chicken with the seasoning, then grill. You can cook this in the oven as well.

While the chicken cooks, I mix the dressing. You can use a store-bought thousand island dressing. But I have to say, I do think the homemade dressing is with the extra effort.

Plus, it’s really not much effort. Just mayo, ketchup, lemon, hot sauce, chopped-up pickles (the key), paprika, salt, and pepper. Nothing fancy at all, but it’s creamy, tangy, perfection.

Pesto Chicken Avocado Orzo Salad |

For the salad, I toss cooked orzo pasta with basil pesto, then every other ingredient is added directly to the orzo. Roasted bell peppers, sun-dried tomatoes, cubes of cheddar cheese, lettuce, and then I throw the avocado and extra dressing right on top.

You can eat this warm or at room temperature, but I prefer warm. The dressing really sinks into every nook and cranny of this orzo salad. We all loved it, it’s so yummy!

This is one of those recipes that you’ll crave time and time again.

Pesto Chicken Avocado Orzo Salad |

Looking for other quick dinners? Here are some favorites:

Pesto Chicken Tzatziki Salad Wraps

Pesto Chicken Caesar Salad with Tomatoes and Burrata

Lemon Parmesan Salmon with Corn, Tomato, and Avocado Salad

Tropical Jerk Grilled Chicken with Charred Mango Salsa Verde

Grilled Lemon Herb Chicken Avocado Orzo Salad

Lastly, if you make this Pesto Chicken Avocado Orzo Salad, be sure to leave a comment and/or give this recipe a rating! Above all, I love to hear from you guys and always do my best to respond to each and every comment. And of course, if you do make this recipe, don’t forget to tag me on Instagram! Looking through the photos of recipes you all have made is my favorite!

Pesto Chicken Avocado Orzo Salad

Prep Time 25 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Total Time 40 minutes
Servings: 6
Calories Per Serving: 594 kcal

Nutritional information is only an estimate. The accuracy of the nutritional information for any recipe on this site is not guaranteed.


Thousand Island Dressing


  • 1. In a bowl, toss the chicken with olive oil and cajun seasoning. Season with salt and pepper. Set your grill, grill pan, or skillet to medium-high heat. Grill the chicken until lightly charred and cooked through, turning halfway through cooking, about 10 to 12 minutes.
    2. To make the dressing. Combine all ingredients in a glass jar and whisk. Taste and adjust the salt and pepper.
    3. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Boil the orzo until al dente, according to package directions. Drain. Add the orzo to a bowl and toss with the pesto. Add the lettuce and 1/3 of the thousand island dressing. Mix in the chicken, roasted peppers, sun-dried tomatoes and cheese.
    4. Top the pasta with avocado. Drizzle with more dressing. Serve warm or cold.


Homemade Cajun Seasoning: mix 2 1/2 tablespoons smoked paprika, 2 tablespoons garlic powder, 1 tablespoon onion powder, 1 tablespoon dried oregano, 1 tablespoon dried thyme, 1 tablespoon chili powder, 1 tablespoon cayenne pepper, 1 1/2 tablespoons kosher salt, and 1 tablespoon black pepper. Makes 3/4 cup. 
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Pesto Chicken Avocado Orzo Salad |

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  1. 4 stars
    I wasn’t sure how all these ingredients would come together but it works!

    I left out the avocado and sun-dried tomatoes and didn’t miss them.

    I used spinach instead of lettuce and served it on a bed of spinach rather than mixing it in and letting it wilt. I would definitely do it this way again.

    I think it would be helpful if the recipe specified sweet pickles. I was about to buy dill but then referenced another thousand island dressing recipe.

  2. 5 stars
    I thought this recipe was great! It was easy to throw together and there is a ton of flavor. My husband even loved it!

  3. 5 stars
    I absolutely love this recipe. The mix of the flavors work really well together. My husband likes it so much it had been put into our regular rotation of dinners. Thanks so much Tieghan!

    1. Hi Taylor,
      Thanks so much for giving this recipe a try and sharing your feedback, so glad to hear it was a hit! xx

    1. Hi Allison,
      Thanks for giving this recipe a try and sharing your feedback, sorry to hear it was not enjoyed! xx

  4. 5 stars
    I made this one today and I just love it. I rubbed the seasoning on boneless, skinless chicken thighs and let them sit for about an hour. My husband cooked them on his Traeger smoker at 450 for about 7 minutes on each side and they are SO delicious, they would be good just by themselves. I shredded up the lettuce, but keep it in a separate container, so I can mix at the time I have some so it doesn’t get wilted. I cubed up some nice Tillamook medium and sharp cheddar and I just duped everything over the cooked orzo (I had only about 11 oz of uncooked orzo, but it was plenty) and then mixed in some of the dressing. I used some sweet pickle relish in the dressing, instead of chopping up pickles. Like most of your recipes, it was a little expensive to make, but it is delicious.

    1. This was a hit! Easy to make. The flavors were spot on and this receipe is a keeper. Is this also found in one of your books?

  5. 5 stars
    I.made this for our family recently. The lettuce seemed a bit weird but we all absolutely loved the addition. It added a cool crunchy component that was super delicious and made the while dish better.

    1. Hey Bill,
      Amazing!! Love to hear that this recipe turned out well for you, thanks so much for making it and your comment! xx

  6. 3 stars
    This was just alright for me. I did finish all my leftovers and I would maybe make it again but only with adjustments. Most important adjustment being REMOVING the lettuce!! I followed the instructions exactly, even hesitated when it said add the lettuce in with the orzo before even letting it cool (it does say serve warm or cold afterall) but I tried to trust the process. Definitely struggled with the warm, soggy lettuce I was left with though…ended up trying my best to pick it out. So unless you like hot lettuce I would at the minimum chill it before adding it to lettuce but would probably just remove overall.

    1. Hi Rose,
      Thanks so much for making this recipe and sharing your feedback, so sorry to hear the lettuce was not enjoyed! Let me know if you give it another try! xx

  7. 5 stars
    This recipe is Amazing!! The flavors work so well together. Be sure to make the dressing – drizzled over the chicken really makes the meal go over the top.

    1. Hi Gayle,
      Happy Sunday!! So glad to hear you enjoyed this recipe, thanks a lot for making it and your review! xT