This post may contain affiliate links, please see our privacy policy for details.

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. 
View Recipe Comments
Pesto Chicken Avocado Orzo Salad |

Add a Comment

Recipe Rating

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.


  1. 5 stars
    This was delicious! Had no idea what to expect with all of the different flavors going on but it works! We couldn’t stop going back for more and more!

    1. Hey Daniela,
      Happy Monday!! 🍋🫐 I truly appreciate you making this recipe and your comment, love to hear that it was a hit! xT

  2. 5 stars
    I made this today for company. I made the pasta ahead, added the peppers and sun dried tomatoes and kept room temp since I do not like my greens wilted. Right before the chicken was done, finished adding all the ingredients. The salad was so delicious as is, we decided to keep the dressing on the side and have each person add to their dish. The homemade dressing is delicious too. The entire thing came together and was so flavorful and everyone enjoyed and complemented the dish. I have made so many of Tieghans recipes and they always come gr8 and she never disappoints!

    1. Hey Annmarie,
      Happy Sunday!! So glad to hear that this recipe was enjoyed, thanks a bunch for making it! Thanks so much for your kind message:) xT

  3. 5 stars
    Made this with chicken thighs. Romaine for lettuce. It was an amazing flavor bomb! Leftovers were just as good!

    1. Hey Pat,
      Happy Sunday!! So glad to hear that this recipe was enjoyed, thanks a bunch for making it! xT

  4. 5 stars
    My family absolutely loved the salad!!
    I didn’t have any lettuce so I used fresh spinach instead and it was soooo good! Thank you Tieghan 😁

    1. Hey Monica,
      Amazing!! 🍉🍓 Thank you so much for making this recipe, I love to hear that it was delish! Have a great weekend:)

  5. 5 stars
    I couldn’t imagine how all those tastes would come together and it was amazing! Absolutely a new favorite. Made this in our camper and turned out great!!

    1. Hey Maria,
      Happy Friday!! I am thrilled to hear that this recipe was a hit, thanks so much for making it:)

  6. 1 star
    I usually love the recipes from this site, but this one wasn’t good. The hot orzo made the lettuce wilt. The cubes of cheese were the part that really ruined the recipe for me. They half melted sitting on the hot orzo like they sat in the sun too long.

    1. Hey Stephanie,
      Thanks for making this recipe and sharing your feedback. So sorry to hear it was not enjoyed. I would say my orzo is not typical this hot once assembled, I would allow it to cool next time to avoid these issues. I hope this helps! xT

    1. Hey Cheryl,
      Happy Friday!! I am thrilled to hear that this recipe was a hit, thanks so much for making it:)

    1. Hey Molly,
      Fantastic!! 🌴🍌 I really appreciate you making this recipe and sharing your feedback, so glad it turned out well for you! xT

  7. 5 stars
    Yum! Made this last night and my husband and I both really enjoyed it. I used about half a jar of roasted red peppers and definitely could have used more. All the flavors together were great, and even though it was full of pasta it felt like a wonderfully fresh meal. So colorful and fun! This makes a LOT of food too, we both had seconds and had a ton left over 🙂

    1. Hey Tori,
      Happy Wednesday!! Thanks a bunch for testing this recipe and your comment, so glad to hear it was a hit! xx

  8. 5 stars
    I made this last night….. it was delicious! I made a few changes just because I used what I had. I roasted my red pepper instead of jarred, made my own pesto since I had some basil growing, used dried sun dried tomatoes because that is what we always have on hand instead of oil, and I used feta instead of cheddar because I thought it would go well with the sun dried tomatoes. I will make this again for sure! Next time I will only use 1/2 lb of orzo – that is plenty of pasta for me and my husband. Yummy! Thanks for the recipe!

    1. Hey Patrice,
      Wonderful!!😃 I appreciate you making this dish and sharing your comment, so glad it was a winner! xx

  9. Whoops, I realized I bought a jar of sliced roasted red peppers instead of actual red bell peppers to roast myself, any estimates on the equivalent amount of that instead of the 2 whole peppers? Can’t wait to try this tonight 😀

    1. Hey Tori,
      No worries, you can really use as much as you like! I would probably use the whole jar:) Let me know if I can help in any other way, I hope you love this salad! xx

      1. 5 stars
        Wow! This is my new favorite summer dish. It took me less than 20 minutes to make and it was such a yummy dinner. This is going to be a new weekly dinner.

        1. Hey Jenny,
          Fantastic!! 🌴🍌 I really appreciate you making this recipe and sharing your feedback, so glad it turned out well for you! xT

      2. Hi! I was wondering if I could use a small pasta instead of orzo as I am gluten sensitive? Or do you have any other recommendations?

        1. Hey Junie,
          Totally, any other small pasta would work well here! Let me know if I can help in any other way! xT

  10. 5 stars
    This was so tasty! I was a bit skeptical with the different flavours you had put together but I should know by now to never doubt you!! It was a little bit of work with all the steps, but my husband agreed it was well worth it 🙂
    A wonderful, flavourful summer salad

    1. Hey Lauren,
      Happy Monday!! I am so glad to hear that this recipe turned out well for you, thanks for making it! xx

    1. Hey Jodi,
      Happy Monday!! I am so glad to hear that this recipe turned out well for you, thanks for making it! xx

    1. Hey Tiffanie,
      You can put them directly over a stove top flame or under the broiler:) You can also use store bought, totally up to you! I like to use red and orange bell peppers, but again, totally up to you!! Let me know if you have any other questions! xx

  11. 5 stars
    Made this for dinner tonight. Delish! I don’t normally like thousand island dressing, but loved the homemade version in this recipe. The crunch from the lettuce is perfect. Thanks for another great recipe!

    1. Hey Jill,
      Happy Monday!! I am so glad to hear that this recipe turned out well for you, thanks for making it! xx