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Zupas Chicken Pesto Sandwiches - Copycat Recipe

Have you ever eaten at a restaurant several times, and found yourself ordering the same thing each visit? Why do we do this? Answer: for me, it's because the second I walk into that door, I always crave that one thing. And I gotta have it. It's not worth the risk ordering something that could be less awesome.

If you live in Utah and Arizona, you've been blessed with access to a gem of a place to eat: Cafe Zupas . It's one of our favorite restaurants. They have the most wonderful soups, the most beautiful salads, and the most killer sandwiches/paninis I've ever eaten. Plus, at the end, they give you a free chocolate-dipped strawberry. Ryan loves the Lobster Bisque (surprise, surprise) and I usually switch around between the Wild Mushroom Bisque and Tomato Basil with Orzo Pasta. The salads are huge, and healthily worth every bite, but I love their sandwiches the most. I've tried several things on the menu, and have yet to taste something that's not completely mouth-watering. But my all-time favorite has been the Gourmet Chicken Pesto Sandwich.

My obsession is to the point where I find myself wanting it between Zupas visits (which with our budget, can be a ways between). So what do I do? I make it at home!

First step, find a copycat recipe online. NOTHING. I'm serious. I couldn't find any copycat recipes, and the website was locking away every recipe secret known to man concerning this beautiful sandwich. So I flat out called the restaurant and asked them what was in the chicken mixture. The guy laughed out a ''nice try, lady.'' On our next visit, I was a little sneaky, and casually asked him what was in the chicken mixture (as if I've never had it before) - he must have thought I was asking for food-allergy purposes, and explained what a few of the ingredients were. It was just enough for me to get a head start in the kitchen.

I was planning on serving these at a bridal shower I'm hosting this weekend, so I wanted to test my ''in-brain'' recipe this afternoon. I felt like I was on an episode of Hell's Kitchen when Gordon Ramsay had the competitors taste a dish he made, and then asked them to recreate the recipe from "taste-memory."

Let me just say this:  I have cracked the code, my friends.

The chicken mixture is genius with pesto mixed right into the mayo, met with the perfect crunch here and there of the toasted almonds, and spicy zing of the roasted red peppers. I am in love with this sandwich, and can't wait to make them for a crowd of ladies this weekend! 

Zupas Chicken Pesto Sandwiches
Copycat Recipe
makes 4 sandwiches

4 ciabatta rolls, sliced in half
1 large tomato, stem removed, sliced
about a cup of alfalfa sprouts
4 slices muenster cheese

1 chicken breast, cooked, cubed
1 roasted red pepper (I used the ones from the jar = easiest), sliced into small cubes
1/2 C slivered almonds, toasted
1 batch of my homemade basil pesto (basil, garlic, pine nuts, EVOO, parmesan, lemon juice)
1 cup real mayonnaise (I love miracle whip, but don't use it with this recipe. I beg you)

In a bowl, mix together chicken breast, roasted red pepper, slivered almonds, basil pesto, and mayo until just combined.

Slightly broil your ciabatta rolls in the oven so they're warm and a teeny bit crispy (or, if you're one of those people with a panini-maker... use the heck outta that thing after assembling the sandwich).

On the bottom half of the ciabatta roll, layer on your muenster cheese, chicken mixture, tomato (seasoned with salt and pepper), and alfalfa sprouts. Top with the other half of the roll, and use a toothpick to hold in place.

Dunk in soup, or devour as is. Both will rock your world.
linking up here 

I've been featured! 
Thank you! 


  1. Hmmm, this sounds delish! Just about everything in this sandwich is a fave of mine, let's see: chicken, pesto, real mayo, tomato, roasted pepper (actually only way I'll eat)and so on. So this is a sandwich I will be making. I'm always thrilled to see when you link up because I know I will be enjoying seeing some great looking and tasting food. You truly are a women of my heart - just love food and cooking.

    1. Cathy, you're always such a sweetheart! Thank you so much, as always, for hosting. I think we have the same taste palate :)

  2. Hi there, I'm hosting My Sweet party and I would love you to join! Check it out at


  3. Yeah. THIS LOOKS AMAZING. I don't know the cafe but I am so glad you do! Printed and waiting to be made :) I am truly a fan of what you have happening on your blog! cheers!


    1. Thanks for visiting, Danielle! I've added you to my Google Reader :) Love your blog! You will really love this recipe - whenever I go to Zupas with someone new, I recommend this sandwich, and it gets them hooked everytime.

  4. Lovely post. I got to this via Mealtime Monday on Couponing and Cooking. I have linked in spicy mince lettuce cups. Enjoy.

  5. so when does your cafe open my dear? I think you are ready... this looks amazing - and others agree. Make me one? Proud of your talents, excited for your future.

  6. Yum! This looks so delicious. I wish I could have this for lunch.

    Thanks so much for linking this up to the Pinworthy Projects Party last week. I hope to see you there again this Friday.

  7. No way!! Pinning this for later I am IN LOVE with that sandwich (who isn't, right?).


  8. YUM!! These look so good Mandy!! I can't wait to give them a try!
    Thanks so much for linking up - I featured you today!!

  9. I found your recipe at Make Ahead Meals for Busy Moms. I cannot wait to try this sandwich! It looks absolutely delicious! Thank you for sharing.

  10. This looks too good. I love anything with pesto in it!! Thanks for sharing on Tout It Tuesday! Hope to see you tomorrow.

  11. Oh boy this has me drooling. What a great recipe. I am happy you joined in on the copy cat party. Please have my link visible so that others know you are joining in. You linking up here is not working too btw:)

  12. Oh. My. Goodness. I am so glad that I am not the only one that is completely obsessed with this sandwhich. I crave this all the time, but sadly, when you're a full time student working two jobs for school, you don't necessarily have the fattest wallet. I am definitely not the best cook, but this seems simple enough...and I will be making this. Thankyou!

  13. Yours looks too pretty to eat. Thanks for posting the recipe! It really does look divine.

    Linking from Debbiedoo's,
    Ricki Jill

  14. YOU ARE MY HERO!!! I've searched the web for this recipe and could never find it, and like you, my mouth waters for this sandwich when I can't seem to justify eating out :) THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU

  15. I love Zuppas and I love that I can make this sandwich at home!!!

  16. How much pesto does your recipe make? If I'm lazy and don't make the pesto myself, I'm just wondering how much store bought stuff to add? Thanks! Can't wait to try this recipe!

  17. I'm totally going to make this sandwich too!!! Anything from zupas is AMAZING!!! SO YUMMY!!!! I love it!!! My little girl will be estatic to try this sandwich!

    1. You definitely have to - it tastes just like it!!! Thanks Brianne for your sweet comments, you are seriously AWESOME!

  18. A George Foreman grill is a great stand in for a panini press, that is literally all I use mine for! I can't wait to try this recipe!

  19. Great job! I love this sandwich! I used to get it every day when I worked at Zupas. And since it's been forever since I've worked there and live in California where it's not around, I feel no guilt whatsoever in divulging that the Zupas pesto recipe uses slivered almonds instead of pinenuts and no parmesan. But I really liked adding the parm when I made it at home.

  20. I always thought those were Water Chestnuts in the sandwich not almonds.

  21. Wow great recipe.. I love Sandwich very much. It is very easy to make at home. Thank you for sharing.
    Sandwich recipes


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