Pesto Chicken Caprese Salad Recipe

Pesto Chicken Caprese Salad is a refreshing and healthy salad that is perfect for a quick and easy lunch or dinner. This salad is packed with fresh ingredients, including juicy tomatoes, creamy mozzarella cheese, tender chicken, and fragrant basil. The combination of these ingredients creates a flavor explosion that is sure to satisfy any taste bud.

A plate of Pesto Chicken Caprese Salad on a wooden table with fresh basil, cherry tomatoes, mozzarella, and grilled chicken

To make this salad, start by grilling or baking chicken breasts until they are cooked through. While the chicken is cooking, prepare the salad by slicing fresh tomatoes and mozzarella cheese. Once the chicken is done, slice it into strips and toss it with pesto sauce. Then, assemble the salad by layering the chicken, tomatoes, and mozzarella cheese on a bed of fresh greens. Drizzle balsamic glaze over the top for added flavor and enjoy!

Overall, Pesto Chicken Caprese Salad is a delicious and healthy meal that is perfect for any occasion. It is easy to make and can be customized to suit any taste preference. Whether you are looking for a quick lunch or a light dinner, this salad is sure to satisfy.

Essential Ingredients

A vibrant bowl holds a colorful mix of pesto-coated chicken, ripe cherry tomatoes, fresh mozzarella, and basil leaves, drizzled with balsamic glaze

Chicken Preparation

To make a delicious Pesto Chicken Caprese Salad, it is important to prepare the chicken properly. The chicken should be cooked until it is no longer pink and has an internal temperature of 165°F. Grilling or baking the chicken is the best option to get a crispy texture.

Pesto Varieties

Pesto is the key ingredient in this salad, and there are many varieties to choose from. The most common pesto is made with basil, garlic, pine nuts, Parmesan cheese, and olive oil. However, there are other varieties such as sun-dried tomato, roasted red pepper, and arugula pesto. It is recommended to use a high-quality store-bought pesto or make your own for the best flavor.

Cheese Selection

Fresh mozzarella cheese is the classic choice for a Caprese salad, but other cheeses such as feta or goat cheese can also be used. It is important to choose a cheese that complements the flavor of the pesto and the tomatoes.

Tomato Types

Tomatoes are an essential ingredient in a Caprese salad. It is recommended to use ripe, juicy, and flavorful tomatoes such as heirloom or vine-ripened tomatoes. Cherry or grape tomatoes can also be used, but they should be cut in half for better presentation.

Fresh Basil

Fresh basil leaves add a fragrant and flavorful touch to the salad. It is important to use fresh basil instead of dried basil for the best flavor. The basil leaves should be torn or chopped before adding them to the salad.

In summary, to make a delicious Pesto Chicken Caprese Salad, it is important to use high-quality ingredients such as properly cooked chicken, flavorful pesto, fresh and ripe tomatoes, and fragrant basil leaves. The cheese should complement the other ingredients and add a creamy texture to the salad.

Step-by-Step Recipe

Fresh basil leaves, cherry tomatoes, mozzarella balls, and grilled chicken arranged in layers on a white plate. A dollop of pesto drizzled over the top

Marinating the Chicken

To prepare the Pesto Chicken Caprese Salad, start by marinating the chicken. In a large bowl, mix together 1/2 cup of pesto sauce, 1/4 cup of olive oil, 2 cloves of minced garlic, 1 tablespoon of lemon juice, and a pinch of salt and pepper. Add 4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts to the bowl and toss to coat. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes, or up to 4 hours.

Grilling Techniques

Preheat a grill to medium-high heat. Remove the chicken from the marinade and discard any excess marinade. Grill the chicken for 6-7 minutes per side, or until the internal temperature reaches 165°F. Let the chicken rest for 5 minutes before slicing it into strips.

Assembling the Salad

While the chicken is grilling, prepare the salad. In a large bowl, combine 6 cups of mixed greens, 1 cup of cherry tomatoes (halved), 1 cup of fresh mozzarella balls (halved), and 1/4 cup of thinly sliced red onion. Toss the salad with 1/4 cup of balsamic vinegar and 2 tablespoons of olive oil.

Dressing Application

To serve, divide the salad among four plates. Top each plate with the sliced chicken and drizzle with additional pesto sauce, if desired. Garnish with fresh basil leaves and serve immediately.

This Pesto Chicken Caprese Salad is a delicious and easy-to-make dish that is perfect for a quick and healthy lunch or dinner. The combination of juicy grilled chicken, fresh mozzarella, and tangy balsamic dressing makes for a flavorful and satisfying meal.

Nutritional Information

A vibrant plate with layers of juicy tomatoes, tender chicken, and fresh basil leaves, drizzled with pesto and balsamic glaze. Nutritional information displayed on the side

Calorie Count

One serving of Pesto Chicken Caprese Salad contains around 350-400 calories, depending on the ingredients used and the serving size. This makes it a great option for those who are looking for a healthy and filling meal that won’t add too many calories to their daily intake.

Macronutrient Breakdown

The Pesto Chicken Caprese Salad is a well-balanced meal that contains a good mix of macronutrients. Here’s a breakdown of the macronutrient content of one serving:

The salad is a good source of protein, which is essential for building and repairing muscles. It also contains healthy fats from the chicken and the olive oil used in the pesto, which are important for maintaining heart health and providing energy. The carbohydrates in the salad come from the vegetables used, which provide fiber and other essential nutrients.

Overall, the Pesto Chicken Caprese Salad is a nutritious and delicious meal that can be enjoyed as a main course or as a side dish. It is a great option for those who are looking for a healthy and balanced meal that is easy to prepare and packed with flavor.

Serving Suggestions

A plate of Pesto Chicken Caprese Salad with fresh tomatoes, mozzarella, and basil, drizzled with balsamic glaze, served on a white, circular plate


Pesto Chicken Caprese Salad is a complete meal in itself, but it can be served with some accompaniments that will complement its flavors. Here are some suggestions:

Plating Tips

The presentation of the salad is as important as its taste. Here are some plating tips that will make your Pesto Chicken Caprese Salad look as good as it tastes:

By following these serving suggestions, you can elevate the flavors of Pesto Chicken Caprese Salad and make it a meal to remember.

Variations and Substitutions

A colorful bowl of pesto chicken caprese salad with tomatoes, mozzarella, basil, and balsamic glaze, surrounded by fresh ingredients and a rustic wooden backdrop

Vegetarian Options

For a vegetarian version of this salad, simply omit the chicken and add in some grilled or roasted vegetables such as bell peppers, zucchini, or eggplant. You can also substitute the chicken with cooked chickpeas or tofu for added protein.

Allergy-Friendly Alternatives

For those with nut allergies, you can replace the traditional pine nuts in the pesto with pumpkin seeds or sunflower seeds. If you have a dairy allergy, you can use a dairy-free pesto or make your own by blending together basil, garlic, olive oil, and nutritional yeast. For a gluten-free version, be sure to use gluten-free pasta and double check all ingredient labels to ensure they are free from gluten.

Overall, there are many ways to customize this Pesto Chicken Caprese Salad to fit your dietary needs and preferences. Try experimenting with different ingredients and flavors to create your own unique version of this delicious and healthy salad.

Pesto Chicken Caprese Salad: A Symphony of Culinary Fusion

Recipe by Sarah JenCourse: Recipes, salads


Prep time


Cooking time





Indulge in the harmony of flavors as homemade pesto elevates the taste of tender chicken, paired with cherry tomatoes and fresh mozzarella. This Pesto Chicken Caprese Salad is a quick culinary delight, ready to tantalize your taste buds in just 20 minutes!


  • Pesto
  • 1 cup tightly packed fresh basil leaves (from about one 4-ounce container)

  • 1/4 cup pine nuts

  • 1/4 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese

  • 1 to 3 cloves garlic (to taste)

  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice

  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt (plus more to taste if desired)

  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper (or to taste)

  • 1/3 to 1/2 cup HemisFares Extra Virgin Olive Oil

  • Chicken
  • 2 tablespoons HemisFares Extra Virgin Olive Oil

  • Approximately 1 1/4 pounds boneless skinless chicken breast (diced into bite-sized pieces)

  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt (or to taste)

  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper (or to taste)

  • 1/3 cup pesto

  • Caprese Salad
  • 1 1/2 cups cherry or grape tomatoes (halved if desired)

  • One 8-ounce container fresh mozzarella ‘pearls’ or small mozzarella balls (drained)

  • About 10 fresh basil leaves (torn in half)

  • 1 to 2 tablespoons balsamic reduction or balsamic glaze for drizzling (or to taste)


  • Make the Pesto:
  • In a food processor, combine basil, pine nuts, parmesan, garlic, lemon juice, salt, and pepper. Blend until ingredients are broken down.
  • With the processor running, gradually drizzle in the olive oil until the pesto is smooth and emulsified. Set aside.
  • Make the Chicken:
  • In a large skillet, heat olive oil. Add chicken, season with salt and pepper, and cook over medium-high heat. Stir and flip intermittently for even cooking.
  • When the chicken is about 90% cooked, add the pesto. Stir to combine, reduce heat to low, and let the chicken simmer in the pesto for 2 to 3 minutes until done (internal temp of 165°F).
  • Assemble the Caprese Salad:
  • In a large bowl, combine the cooked chicken with pesto/pan juices, mozzarella, and torn basil.
  • Drizzle balsamic over the salad, stir to combine, and serve immediately. Best enjoyed fresh.
  • Nutrition Information:
  • Serving: 1
    Calories: 793kcal ,Carbohydrates: 22g ,Protein: 62g ,Fat: 51g ,Saturated Fat: 14g ,Polyunsaturated Fat: 33g ,Cholesterol: 173mg ,Sodium: 1454mg ,Fiber: 2g ,Sugar: 15g


  • Extra pesto will keep airtight in the fridge for up to 3 days, noting it will oxidize as time passes although the lemon juice helps to minimize this.

FAQs About Pesto Chicken Caprese Salad

  1. Can I use store-bought pesto for the marinade?
    • Certainly! Opt for a high-quality store-bought pesto if you’re short on time, but homemade pesto adds a personal touch.
  2. What’s the ideal grilling time for the chicken?
    • Grill the pesto-infused chicken for approximately 6-8 minutes per side or until it reaches an internal temperature of 165°F (74°C).
  3. Can I substitute cherry tomatoes with other varieties?
    • Yes, feel free to experiment with different tomato varieties for a unique flavor and visual appeal.
  4. Is there a vegetarian version of this salad?
    • Absolutely! Replace the chicken with grilled portobello mushrooms or tofu for a delightful vegetarian alternative.
  5. What dressing pairs well with Pesto Chicken Caprese Salad?
    • A balsamic vinaigrette complements the flavors beautifully, but you can also experiment with lemon-infused dressings for a zesty twist.