This Chicken Caesar Pasta Salad is packed full of flavour – tender, pan fried chicken chunks, crunchy croutons, crisp lettuce and pasta twirls coated in a tangy homemade Caesar dressing!
This easy to assemble salad is great for a main meal, a side dish or a filling lunch!
There is one way I’ve always been able to get my kids to eat lettuce without fail – drown it in Caesar dressing. They are now pretty much grown men (I just can’t work out where the years have gone!) and they still absolutely love it.
Pasta salads are ideal for those warm Summer days (the weather has been TERRIBLE this month, but I’ve convinced myself better days are coming!) when you don’t want to spend ages standing by a hot cooker when dinner time rolls around – my Greek orzo salad, roasted pepper orzo salad, potato and egg salad and smoked mackerel and chickpea salad can also be made ahead of time and are perfect for Summer dining.
This chicken Caesar pasta salad recipe does require a little preparation, but they are all very easy and require little effort on your part. You can also make the chicken and croutons a day or two ahead of time if it’s easier.
If you’re reading this and thinking “it’s way too much effort to make croutons especially for a salad” I HEAR YOU BUT the Ciabatta croutons really add something that shop bought croutons do not. They don’t take very long to make at all and once you’ve tried them, you’ll find excuses to make them all the time!
recipe tips and useful notes
- I usually pan fry the chicken fillets, but you could just as easily use shop bought cooked chicken or the leftovers of a roast chicken.
- I season the chicken with freshly ground black pepper plus a little garlic powder and onion salt. This is purely personal preference and you can swap the onion salt for regular salt if you wish.
- Fusilli pasta is perfect for this recipe, but feel free to use whatever pasta shape you like.
- I love parmesan cheese and I use it in the salad dressing and I also grate some directly in the salad for extra flavour. A little extra cheese is never a bad thing!
- If you want to make the salad ahead of time, then I would recommend adding the dressing just before you intend to serve it. It still tastes good if you don’t, but the croutons do lose a lot of crunch after the salad has sat in the fridge for a few hours.
Homemade Caesar dressing
I’m pretty sure I have tried every single ready made Caesar dressing on the market in the UK (I’m not kidding!) and honestly, none of them beat home made.
While some of them are pretty decent, a shop bought dressing just doesn’t have the same piquancy as one you can make at home with (mainly) store cupboard ingredients.
I add a couple of anchovy fillets to the dressing – they add an amazing depth of flavour. If you hate anchovies or don’t have any, you can make the dressing without them. But please be assured that you won’t actually taste them in the dressing!
MAKE IT EVEN EASIER!
If you want to make life even easier for yourself, you could use pre-bought ready cooked chicken fillets or rotisserie chicken. You could also buy the croutons ready made if you are in a real hurry.
More salad recipes for you to try
Did you make this chicken caesar pasta salad?
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- FOR THE CROUTONS:
- 1 small Stale Cibatta, cut into 2-3cm cubes
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 125g Pasta (I use Fusilli)
- 3 large chicken breasts
- freshly ground black pepper
- 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1/4 teaspoon onion salt (or a spinkling of regular salt)
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- FOR THE DRESSING:
- 1 large clove of garlic
- 2 anchovy fillets, mashed to a paste with a fork
- 1 teaspoon lemon juice
- 1/2 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
- 160ml mayonnaise
- 80ml sour cream or Greek yoghurt
- 3 tablespoons freshly grated parmesan cheese
- salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
- 1 or 2 Tablespoons milk to thin down the dressing, if needed
- 1 large head of Romaine lettuce, shredded
- I always start the recipe by making the croutons. Preheat the oven to 200C/180Fan. Place the bread cubes in an ovenproof dish and drizzle over the olive oil. Season with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper and bake for about 8-10 minutes or until light golden. Remove from the oven and set aside to cool.
- Boil a large pot of salted water for pasta. Cook according to the packet instructions. When it's ready, drain and rinse with cold water. Set aside while you make the chicken (I leave the pasta to sit in a colander so it drains properly.)
- Place a non stick pan over a medium heat. Cut the chicken breasts in half lengthwise (if they are thick) and season with the pepper, onion salt (or regular salt) and garlic powder.
- Place the olive oil in the pan and when it's hot, fry the chicken for 5-10 minutes either side until golden and cooked all the way through to the middle. Remove the chicken to a plate and let it rest for 5-10 minutes before cutting into strips/chunks.
- To make the dressing, simply combine all of the ingredients together in a blender until smooth. Taste to see if you want to add more cheese/lemon juice/salt and pepper. If the dressing seems a little thick, you can thin it down with a little more sour cream or yoghurt.
- To assemble the salad, place the cold pasta, chicken, shredded lettuce and croutons in a large serving bowl. Pour over the dressing and stir to mix. Sometimes I like to grate over a little parmesan cheese - because when has extra cheese ever been a bad idea? Serve the salad immediately. Any leftover should be packed away and chilled asap.
If you don't need such a large salad, you can easily halve the recipe.
Nutrition Information:Yield: 4 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 453Total Fat: 28gSaturated Fat: 6gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 20gCholesterol: 96mgSodium: 652mgCarbohydrates: 15gFiber: 1gSugar: 4gProtein: 34g
Calories and nutritional information are provided by a third party application and should be viewed as indicative figures only.