This Pesto Chicken, Corn, and Avocado Bacon Pasta Salad is the perfect quick fix salad. It’s almost no-cook and comes together in minutes. Grilled pesto chicken tossed together with a creamy, lemony parmesan dressing, fresh romaine lettuce, grilled corn, crispy bacon, and creamy avocado. This pasta 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.
I told you I was really going to lean into Memorial Day recipes this week and I wasn’t kidding! It might be dark and dreary here, but I’m not letting that stop me from sharing new summery recipes.
Like many of you, for me, Memorial Day marks the unofficial start to summer. It’s finally that time of year for low-key, lazy days, and backyard dinners with friends and family.
With last summer being so uneventful, I feel like everyone is on the same page this summer…live it up and really embrace backyard entertaining and picnics at the park. It’s exciting, right? I really missed summer entertaining and couldn’t be more excited to share some new recipes with you guys that are easy and delicious!
So with that, I’ll stop rambling and move on to this pasta!
Summertime as a kid meant simple dinners at our house. My dad would do a lot of grilled chicken and burgers, but his specialty, and my personal favorite, was his pasta salad.
He would do it up so simply with broccoli, peppers, basil, big chunks of cheddar cheese, lots of olive oil, and hot pasta. He’d toss everything together and the cheese would melt over the pasta. It was SO GOOD. I still, to this day use his trick of tossing hot pasta with cubes of cheddar. Hot pasta equals melty cheese, which equals extra delicious pasta. Trust me on this. I know this may not be the usual way to make a pasta salad, but it’s good!
I took Dad’s pesto grilled chicken and pasta salad and combined them together to make this delicious hybrid. It’s not a simple as my dad’s pasta, but both are equally delicious.
The details on this pesto chicken pasta
I like to start with the croutons. Every salad is made better with crunchy croutons, even a pasta salad. I love making mine with torn ciabatta or sourdough bread and flaky sea salt. They’re so easy to make, I simply crisp them up in the oven. If you can find the time, homemade vs store-bought breadcrumbs are definitely worth a little extra effort.
Now on to the chicken. I kept it easy, yet still flavorful, by simply tossing the chicken with basil pesto. Using pesto is my go-to way to add delicious flavor, yet still keep the recipe as easy as can be. And with all the fresh basil we’ve been currently growing, I’m loving making basil pesto.
I decided to throw the chicken on the grill. Grilled chicken adds that summer flare, and I love the flavor and char the chicken gets from the grill. That said, if you don’t love grilling, you can easily cook the chicken up in a skillet.
On to that creamy parmesan dressing…
This is truly one of my favorite dressings. It’s a combination of creamy tahini (sesame seed paste) or mayo. For this pasta, I used avocado oil mayo, but tahini is great too. Then I whisk in Dijon mustard and add a few dashes of Worcestershire sauce and plenty of lemon. The mayo or tahini adds creaminess, while the parmesan adds plenty of flavor. I even make this dressing right in the bottom of my salad bowl to save on dishes.
As soon as you drain the pasta, toss it with the dressing while the pasta is still steaming. Then toss in the croutons, lettuce, grilled corn, bacon, and avocado.
You can eat this warm or at room temperature, but me being the hot food lover that I am, I like this best while it’s still a little warm.
Also, though I do love this warm, the longer the pasta sits, the more flavor it develops, so this is also perfect for making ahead. My only recommendation is to wait to add the avocado so that it doesn’t get brown.
It’s as quick and easy as that. What I love most about this pasta recipe is that it really does use some of summer’s best ingredients. It might be early for corn, but we have three months ahead to make and enjoy this pasta!
Looking for other summer salad recipes? Here are a few ideas:
Lastly, if you make this Pesto Chicken, Corn, and Avocado Bacon Pasta 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, Corn, and Avocado Bacon Pasta Salad
Calories Per Serving: 559 kcal
Nutritional information is only an estimate. The accuracy of the nutritional information for any recipe on this site is not guaranteed.
1 pound boneless skinless chicken, cut into bite size chunks
1/2 cup, plus 2 tablespoons basil pesto, homemade or store-bought
red pepper flakes, kosher salt, and black pepper
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
juice of 1 lemon
1/4 cup tahini or avocado oil mayo
1 tablespoon dijon mustard
2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
1/3 cup grated parmesan
1 pound short cut pasta
1 cup cubed cheddar cheese (or parmesan)
2 cups croutons (see notes)
3 cups shredded romaine lettuce
4 ears grilled or steamed corn
6 slices cooked bacon, crumbled
1 avocado, diced
1. In a bowl, combine the chicken, 1/2 cup pesto, red pepper flakes, and a large pinch of salt. 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. Meanwhile, make the dressing. In a large salad bowl, whisk together the olive oil, lemon juice, tahini or mayo, dijon, Worcestershire, parmesan, and a pinch each of red pepper flakes, salt, and pepper. 3. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Boil the pasta to al dente, according to package directions. Drain. Add the hot pasta, cheddar, and 2 tablespoons pesto and toss vigorously to combine. Add the chicken, croutons, lettuce, corn, and bacon, tossing to combine. 4. Top the pasta with avocado. Season with freshly cracked pepper and salt. Serve warm or cold.
Homemade Croutons: Preheat the oven to 425° F. Toss together 2 tablespoons olive oil, 2 cups cubed bread, and a pinch of salt. Bake for 10-12 minutes, until toasted.