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…
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).
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).
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).
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).
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?!
How to make Chicken Caesar Pasta Salad (Full Recipe & Video)
Chicken Caesar Pasta Salad
- 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
- 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
- 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!
- 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.
Your Private Notes:
For more similar recipes check out these beauties:
Pasta Salad Recipes
- Pesto Pasta Salad
- Pizza Pasta Salad
- Deviled Egg Pasta Salad
- Chicken Bacon Ranch Pasta Salad
- Tuna Pasta Salad
- Caprese Tortellini Pasta Salad
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!