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Chicken Caesar Pasta Salad

August 6, 2022 (Last Updated: May 5, 2023) by Chris Collins

This Chicken Caesar Pasta Salad is super hearty and so easy to make!

A Caesar salad is one of the few salads I’d go out of my way to order at a restaurant. It’s just timeless! Today we’re celebrating the mighty Caesar in the tastiest way possible and turning it into a pasta salad. Follow me…

close up overhead shot of chicken caesar pasta salad in large white bowl with wooden salad tossers

Caesar Salad Dressing

The difference between a good Caesar salad dressing and a bad one is quite something. Here we’re going to do a ‘cheats’ version and use mayonnaise as the base, where traditionally you’d start with egg yolk and oil. But it’s just as delicious – promise!

Anchovies – yes, really!

These are an essential ingredient in the dressing. But fear not, they don’t make the dressing taste fishy. They just give the dressing a deeper, saltier flavour.

Can I make the dressing ahead of time?

Yep! In fact, leaving it to rest will allow the flavours to mingle together. Just tightly store in the fridge until needed (3-4 days, longer at your discretion).

Process shots: gather ingredients (photo 1), add to food processor (photo 2), blitz until smooth and fully blended (photo 3).

3 step by step photos showing how to make caesar salad dressing

Chicken Caesar Salad

Caesar salad doesn’t need chicken, but it is always welcomed. Plus, this is me, so obviously there’s gonna be chicken 😛 Bacon on the other hand is non-negotiable.

You’ll want to slice and season some chicken, then fry it in the leftover bacon fat. Once both the chicken and bacon are cooked, it’s important to leave them to cool. If either are warm, they’ll steam the salad and not only cause the lettuce to go soggy, but the dressing will also congeal too.

Process shots: slice chicken breasts (photo 1), season (photo 2), add bacon to pan (photo 3), fry until crisp then remove (photo 4), add chicken to leftover bacon fat (photo 5), fry until cooked then remove (photo 6).

6 step by step photos showing how to make chicken for caesar salad

Homemade Croutons

I usually make my croutons, mainly because I’ve always got some sort of bread knocking about the cupboards that’s screaming to be used. Plus, croutons are too easy not to make!

Instead of cutting it into neat cubes, I tend to just roughly tear the bread into small bite-sized pieces. I much prefer the rustic style. Plus it’s less effort!

What kind of bread to use?

I recommend ciabatta, but any kind of non-sandwich style bread will do the trick (Sourdough, Artisan etc).

Process shots: tear bread (photo 1), drizzle with oil and sprinkle with salt (photo 2), toss to combine (photo 3), bake until golden and crunchy (photo 4).

4 step by step photos showing how to make ciabatta croutons

Caesar Pasta Salad

Alrighty, chicken, bacon, croutons and dressing out the way, all we need now is pasta and lettuce.

What kind of pasta to use?

I like Penne, but realistically any short-cut pasta will do the trick. The main thing is that you rinse it in cold once it’s cooked, then give it a vigorous shake in the colander to remove as much water as possible. Because nobody likes a watery salad!!

What kind of lettuce to use?

Romaine is traditional, but little gem lettuce makes a pretty good sub.

Process shots: cook, drain and rinse pasta (photo 1), add lettuce (photo 2), add bacon, chicken, croutons and parmesan (photo 3), add dressing then toss to combine (photo 4).

4 step by step photos showing how to make chicken caesar pasta salad

Serving Chicken Caesar Pasta Salad

Once you’ve given everything a good toss, you’re ready to rock n roll!

Can I make this ahead of time?

You can, I just recommend leaving out the croutons (and preferably the lettuce too) and adding them in before serving, just because they get soggy as they rest. I also recommend holding back a little of the dressing and tossing it through just before serving; as the pasta rests it soaks up the dressing and drys the salad out a little.

Alrighty, let’s tuck into the full recipe for this chicken Caesar pasta salad shall we?!

close up shot of fork stabbing into bowl of chicken caesar pasta salad

How to make Chicken Caesar Pasta SaladΒ (Full Recipe & Video)

close up overhead shot of chicken caesar pasta salad in large white bowl with wooden salad tossers

Chicken Caesar Pasta Salad

This Chicken Caesar Pasta Salad is super hearty and so easy to make!
5 from 5 votes
Print Pin Rate
Servings (click & slide): 6
Course: BBQ / Lunch / Pot Luck
Cuisine: Italian
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 25 minutes
Total Time: 40 minutes
Calories per serving: 768kcal
Cost per serving: Β£3 / $4

Equipment:

  • Food Processor & Spatula (for dressing)
  • Large Pot & Colander (for pasta)
  • Large Pan & Tongs (for frying chicken/bacon)
  • Baking Tray (for croutons)
  • Sharp Knife & Chopping Board
  • Large Serving Dish & Salad Tossers

Ingredients (check list):

Caesar Salad Dressing

  • 1 cup / 240g good quality Full Fat Mayo
  • 1/2 cup / 40g freshly grated Parmesan
  • 2 Anchovy Fillets (see notes)
  • 1 Lemon, juice only (approx 2 tbsp)
  • 1 tsp EACH: Dijon Mustard, Worcestershire Sauce
  • 1 small clove of Garlic
  • 1/4 tsp EACH: Salt, Black Pepper

Pasta Salad

  • 12oz / 350g Penne, or other shortcut pasta
  • 2x 7-9oz/200-250g Chicken Breasts
  • 6 slices of Bacon
  • 1 large head of Romaine Lettuce, chopped
  • 1/4 cup / 20g shaved Parmesan, or to preference (I typically just use a vegetable peeler)
  • 3.5oz / 100g Ciabatta, roughly torn into small bite-sized pieces
  • 1/2 tsp EACH: Salt, Garlic Powder plus more salt as needed
  • 1/4 tsp Black Pepper
  • Olive Oil, as needed

Instructions:

  • Horizontally slice the chicken breasts through the centre to make 4 even-sized breasts. Coat in 1/2 tsp salt, 1/2 tsp garlic powder & 1/4 tsp black pepper. Place to one side.
  • Fry bacon over low-medium heat until crisp, then remove bacon and leave the fat in the pan. Increase heat slightly to medium and add the chicken to the leftover fat, adding a drizzle more oil if you need to. Fry the chicken for a few mins each side, or until golden on the outside and white/piping hot through the centre. Place to one side and leave to completely cool. Slice into thin strips just before needed.
  • Add torn bread to a baking tray, drizzle with olive oil (1-2 tbsp) and sprinkle with a good pinch of salt. Give it all a toss then pop in the oven at 180C/350F for around 12mins, or until deep golden and crispy. Place to one side and leave to cool.
  • Add pasta to salted boiling water and cook to packet instruction. Drain and rinse with water until completely cool. Give it a very good shake in the colander to remove as much water as possible.
  • Whilst the pasta is cooking, add mayo, parmesan, anchovies, mustard, Worcestershire sauce, garlic, lemon juice, salt and pepper to a food processor and blitz until smooth and fully blended.
  • Add drained pasta to a large serving bowl. Top with chopped lettuce, bacon, chicken, croutons and shaved parmesan. Pour in all the dressing (or the amount of your preference) then give everything a good toss. Serve up and enjoy!

Quick 1 min demo!

Notes:

a) Homemade Dressing - This isn't completely traditional, because we're cheating and using mayo, but it's still delicious! You can make the dressing ahead of time and tightly store it in the fridge until needed (good for 3-4 days, longer at your discretion).
b) Anchovies - These are essential in a caesar dressing. They won't make it taste fishy, they just give the dressing a deeper, salty flavour. Make sure you're using the anchovies marinated in oil (usually in a small tin or jar). You'll find them in most stores in the canned tuna section.
c) Store-bought substitutes:
  • Croutons - Store-bought croutons work fine, just work to preference (1-1.5 cups).
  • Dressing - If you have a favourite store-bought caesar dressing then you can sub that! The homemade recipe gives you around 1 1/2 - 1 3/4 cups worth. But again, just work to preference.
  • Chicken - You can use rotisserie chicken instead of cooking up your own. Around 2 packed cups worth should suffice.
d) Make Ahead - If you want to make the whole thing ahead of time, I recommend leaving out the croutons (and preferably the lettuce too) and adding them in before serving, just because they lose their crispiness as they rest. I also recommend holding back a little of the dressing and tossing it through just before serving, just because as the pasta rests it soaks up the dressing and drys the salad out a little.Β 
e) Calories/Serving - Assuming 2x 9oz/200g chicken breasts and 1 tbsp olive for the croutons. Shared between 6, but could serve as 8 smaller portions.

Your Private Notes:

Nutrition:

Nutrition Facts
Chicken Caesar Pasta Salad
Amount Per Serving
Calories 768 Calories from Fat 419
% Daily Value*
Fat 46.54g72%
Saturated Fat 7.067g35%
Trans Fat 0.147g
Polyunsaturated Fat 18.03g
Monounsaturated Fat 9.513g
Cholesterol 64mg21%
Sodium 1046mg44%
Potassium 800mg23%
Carbohydrates 59.43g20%
Fiber 9g36%
Sugar 2.96g3%
Protein 29.54g59%
Vitamin A 9339IU187%
Vitamin C 7.6mg9%
Calcium 192mg19%
Iron 3.16mg18%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.
Nutrition is based on the absence of salt unless stated as a measurement in the ingredients. Cost is worked out based on ingredients bought from UK supermarkets, then divided by the number of servings. In both instances these values are just for guidance. Please check out my FAQ Page for more info.
Tried this recipe?Show me how you got on by tagging @dontgobaconmyheart_ on IG and #dontgobaconmyheart
Looking for more?You'll find plenty more delicious comfort food like this in my Debut Cookbook 'Comfy'

For more Caesar salad goodness check out my Caesar Salad Parmesan Cups and Crispy Chicken Caesar Salad!

For more similar recipes check out these beauties:

Pasta Salad Recipes


If you loved this Chicken Caesar Pasta Salad Recipe then be sure to Pin it for later! Already made it or got a question? Give me a shout in the comments and pick up your free ecookbook along the way!

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Recipe Rating




14 Comments

  • Reply
    Linda Spangler
    August 19, 2023 at 12:19 am

    5 stars
    Oh my gosh my grandkids ate this all up!!!! It was delicious

    • Reply
      Chris Collins
      August 19, 2023 at 10:03 am

      So great to hear!! Thanks for the review πŸ™‚ C.

  • Reply
    Mrs G
    August 1, 2023 at 8:22 am

    5 stars
    This salad and dressing was absolutely delicious!! It was filling and everyone loved it, I added my home made garlic bread which always gets eaten up. I will definitely add this recipe to my collection as it was my first time making a Caesar salad.

    • Reply
      Chris Collins
      August 1, 2023 at 10:12 am

      So great to hear it went down well! Love the addition of garlic bread. Thanks so much for the review πŸ™‚ C.

  • Reply
    Dazza
    July 26, 2023 at 6:08 pm

    5 stars
    I’ve just made this after getting the ingredients from the supermarket. What can I say – wow. I absolutely adore cesar sauce~dressing but had never made it myself, all I needed was a tin of anchovies. Tasted well, also tried streaky bacon and as an Irish man used to eating back-bacon, on this occasion of the 6 pieces cooked, another 4 had to be cooked to compensate for “snacking” whilst it cooled (lol).

    I have since bookmarked 6 or 7 other recipes from DGBMH and intend to attempt and review them in due course.

    Thank you Chris!

    • Reply
      Chris Collins
      July 26, 2023 at 7:09 pm

      Cheers for the review, Dazza! Extra bacon is always welcome haha! Hope you love the bookmarked recipes πŸ™‚ C.

  • Reply
    The Simpsons
    March 28, 2023 at 4:22 am

    It was delicious! I put tomatoes in the pasta salad. My husband made our own Cesar cause I can’t have cheese but it was delicious! Thank you for the recipe.

    • Reply
      Chris Collins
      March 28, 2023 at 10:42 am

      So great to hear this went down well! Thanks for the review πŸ™‚ C.

  • Reply
    Mo
    February 11, 2023 at 10:13 pm

    5 stars
    Soooo goooood!!

    • Reply
      Chris Collins
      February 12, 2023 at 12:07 pm

      Thanks Mo! πŸ™‚ C.

  • Reply
    Colleen
    January 21, 2023 at 6:39 pm

    5*

    Love don’t go “bacon’

    • Reply
      Chris Collins
      January 22, 2023 at 10:24 am

      Thanks Colleen! C.

  • Reply
    Bob
    August 25, 2022 at 1:11 pm

    5 stars
    Served this at a BBQ and it went down a storm. Thank you.

    • Reply
      Chris Collins
      August 25, 2022 at 1:27 pm

      Great to hear – thanks Bob!

    5 KNOCKOUT

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