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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 | halfbakedharvest.com

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 | halfbakedharvest.com

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 | halfbakedharvest.com

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 | halfbakedharvest.com

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 | halfbakedharvest.com

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 | halfbakedharvest.com

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.

Ingredients

Thousand Island Dressing

Instructions

  • 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.

Notes

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 | halfbakedharvest.com

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Comments

  1. So yummy! We had some Russian dressing left over from making Rubens and used that instead of the thousand island. DELICIOUS

    1. Hey Tracy,
      Happy Sunday!!☀️🧁 I appreciate you making this recipe and sharing your review, so glad to hear that it turned out well for you! xT

  2. 5 stars
    This is a delicious salad. It was so easy to make, tasty and there were no leftovers! I made the orzo/pesto early in the morning took it out of the refrigerator 30 minutes before assembling. Plan on making this great recipe weekly. Thank you!

    1. Thanks so much Paulina!! I love to hear that this recipe was a hit, thanks for making it! Happy Sunday! xx

  3. 5 stars
    We made this last night and it was delicious! Made a few modifications due to personal preferences but swapping pickled jalapeños for the pickles was a real winner! Thanks for the flavor explosion!

    1. Hey Jane,
      Happy Sunday!!☀️🧁 I appreciate you making this recipe and sharing your review, so glad to hear that it turned out well for you! xT

  4. 5 stars
    Perfect Friday night dinner! True story: My 85 year old mother is with us but now under hospice. I feed her since she is not able to feed herself. Everytime I put a spoon of this salad in her mouth she let out a loud “MMMMM”. I laughed through the whole time! Very enjoyable food and famiy time.

    1. Awe, thanks so much for making this recipe Debbie! I’m so glad you enjoyed as well as your mother! Have a great weekend:) xT

      1. Made this an am loving it! The dressing is spicier than a regular thousand island and fun! The Cajun seasoning is fabulous. Glad the recipe made extra for the next food adventure. Thanks for this! Very tasty.

        1. Hey there,
          Love to hear this! Thanks so much for giving the recipe a try and sharing your feedback! Happy Saturday! xT

    1. Yes! And that’s what makes this recipe amazing! It’s like a delicious taste explosion in your mouth.

      Thanks for another winner, Chef Gerard! 😃

    2. Of course she tasted it – multiple times, I’m sure! Did YOU taste it before critiquing? If you’ve been around here for a while, you’ll know that one of her specialties is putting multiple unexpected flavours together that you don’t necessarily think will work but always do :).

  5. Tiegran, I have 3 of your cookbooks and have given them as gifts to my children and friends. Who love them. Your recipes are co creative , tasty, and easy to fix. I have so many cookbooks and all I use now are yours. I love to cook, and I love to eat out I guess you would call me a foodie. Your recipes are fabulous. I eagerly look forward to your weekly menu.

    1. Thanks so much for your kind message Marion!! I’m so glad to hear you have been enjoying the recipes and appreciate you making them:) xT

  6. Does it make a difference which color bell pepper I use? I noticed you use orange. Looks SO yum, will be trying this one soon:)

    1. Hey Kellie,
      Nope, totally up to you!! Let me know if you have any other questions, I hope you love this recipe! xx

  7. 5 stars
    Delicious. Made it for dinner last night and it was a huge hit. So easy to make and tasty, and now we have leftovers for the weekend! Another fantastic HBH recipe that will be on repeat in our house, thank you so much!!

    1. Hi Annie,
      Awesome!! Thanks so much for making this recipe and sharing your feedback, so glad to hear it was enjoyed:) xT

  8. 5 stars
    great recipe. First one of yours that I actually made, they all look so good. My husband thought this was a restaurant quality meal. thank you!

  9. 5 stars
    Delicious! Just made it because I had every ingredient in house. Subbed yogurt since I don’t like mayo. Thank you!

    1. Hey Michael,
      Happy Friday!! I appreciate you making this recipe and your feedback, I am thrilled that it turned out well for you! ☀️🍉

  10. Quick question: The recipe says shredded lettuce but the image shows something different than what I expected. What type of lettuce do you use?

    1. Hi Brook,
      I used some large romaine leaves, which will need to be cut up, so totally up to you! Please let me know if you have any other questions, I hope you love this recipe! xT

  11. What kind of pickles do you use in the dressing? That would make a huge difference. Looking forward to making this. Thanks.

    1. Hi Kathi,
      I used dill pickles for this recipe! Please let me know if you have any other questions, I hope you love this recipe! xT

  12. This looks delicious. I love all of your orzo salads. Making the dressing is worth the time too, so much healthier. I always make my own dressings. Thanks for all of your great recipe.