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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. Delicious overall but i am not sure i buy in to the servng size 1 lb of chicken will give like 2.5 ounces per person and that seems very small. Obviously cooks can adjust based on own wants and needs but just wanted to point that out.

    I luckily had all i grediants at home but used romaine and shredded cheese. I think a more leafy green and cubed cheddar would undoubtedly be better.

    1. Hi Allie,
      Thanks so much for making this dish and sharing your feedback! Sorry to hear you felt this wasn’t enough food, please let me know if there is anything that I can help with! xx

  2. 5 stars
    This was delicious! Unfortunately I had to use store bought thousand island and wasn’t able to make the delicious homemade version (next time!). I was unclear on how much thousand Island should be put in the mixture since 1/3 of mine would be different from yours – could you provide a measurement? I think I put a little too much in!

    1. Hi Meredith,
      Thanks so much for trying this salad!! So sorry, I don’t know what the exact measurement would be, I would just eye ball it with store bought dressing and always start with less then add more as needed. Please let me know if you have any other questions! xT

  3. Made this for dinner tonight. It was delicious! Used raw bell pepper instead of roasted, as I like the crunchy texture better. It makes a lot. I’m looking forward to eating it as a cold leftover salad tomorrow.

    1. Hi Beth,
      Amazing!! So glad to hear that this dish was enjoyed and thanks a bunch for making it! xx

  4. This salad is weird and it works. The closest flavor comparison I can give is a buffalo chicken wrap in salad form. It makes A LOT, like get out your biggest bowl for mixing. I did use fresh bell peppers instead of roasted, I prefer their freshness and crunch. I would make this again, but for a crowd and assure them with big smiles – it is delicious.

    1. Hey Katie,
      Wonderful!! I am thrilled to hear that this recipe was a winner, thanks a lot for making it! Have a great weekend:)

    1. Hi Ashlee,
      Happy Friday!!🥑🍑 I love to hear that this recipe was a hit, thanks a lot for making it and sharing your review! xT

  5. 5 stars
    I have NEVER left a comment on a recipe before in my life, but this is so unbelievably good. This recipe convinced me to learn how to use my charcoal grill finally. Honestly amazing. Thank you for such a creative, delicious recipe!

    1. Hi Taylor,
      Happy Friday!!🥑🍑 I love to hear that this recipe was a hit, thanks a lot for making it and sharing your review! xT

    1. Hi Cheryl,
      For this recipe, I like to use dill pickles:) Please let me know if you have any other questions, I hope you love this recipe! xT

  6. 5 stars
    Wow! I usually don’t like thousand island dressing BUT I’ve never made anything from HBH I didn’t like and I loved all the other ingredients so I decided to go for it….and it was SUPER good! Everything was so flavorful and just totally randomly went together. The cubed cheese was a fun addition too! I used a grill plate for the chicken and peppers and it worked out really well. Can’t wait to eat it again tomorrow!

    1. Hi Kelly,
      Happy Wednesday!! I love to hear that this recipe was a winner, thanks so much for making it!☀️🌈 xT

  7. 5 stars
    Wow! This goes together easily for a week night dinner but tastes like you spent hours fixing..I will make again for sure. I made the homemade sauce, easy and yummy. Thank you for sharing this recipe.

    1. Hi Ellen,
      Love it!!🥗🌮 I am thrilled to hear that this recipe turned out well for you, thanks for making it and sharing your review!! xx

  8. Was skeptical on this one with a few ingredients, but was delish! I prepped everything and tossed together before serving. My daughter in law loved it! A keeper for warm summers days.

    1. Hey Denise,
      Happy Friday!!🍍🥥 Thanks a bunch for making this recipe and your comment, so glad to hear it turned out well for you! xT

  9. 5 stars
    So yummy and will be an amazing recipe for the summer months! Looked so good on Instagram, so I had to give it a try. Such a random list of ingredients but came out amazing! Will definitely make again!

    1. Thanks so much Hayley!! Love to hear that this recipe was enjoyed, thanks for making it! xT

  10. Amazing! I prepped everything early in the day, and mixed it together before dinner. Served cold and it was delicious. Easy to separate some foods for kids too

    1. Hi Mollie,
      Happy Friday!!🍍🥥 Thanks a bunch for making this recipe and your comment, so glad to hear it turned out well for you! xT

  11. 4 stars
    Really flavorful. Used an aged Gouda. Good warm and cold. I think it would still be good without the lettuce/dressing, which got a little wilty. Big hit, would totally make again

    1. Hey Dawn,
      Amazing!! I am thrilled to hear that this recipe was tasty for you, thanks a lot for giving it a try!🥑🥝 xT

  12. 5 stars
    This was the strangest group of things (1000 island dressing/pesto and cajun seasoning) that I never knew I needed. Totally making again and would serve to company. Next time I’ll add spinach and try out a gouda cheese. Thanks!

    1. Hey Theresa,
      Wonderful!! I love to hear that this recipe turned out well for you, thanks so much for making it! xx

  13. 5 stars
    The dressing alone deserves 5+ stars! I used the salad part as a reference point. I made mine with kale and tossed chickpeas in the cajun seasoning mix. I then baked the chickpeas at 425 for 20 mins to get nice a crispy. I didn’t do orzo or the pesto but sun dried tomatoes, avocado, cubed smoke gouda and roasted bell peppers. Turned out absolutely delicious!

    1. Hey Alyssa,
      Wonderful!! I love to hear that this recipe turned out well for you, thanks so much for making it! xx