Chicken Caesar Salad
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Impress your guests with this elevated version of a classic chicken Caesar salad. In only 30 minutes, you can make homemade ciabatta croutons, fresh chicken, and creamy Caesar dressing all from scratch!
Table of Contents
- Why you’ll love this chicken Caesar salad recipe:
- Key Ingredient Notes:
- How to make Caesar Salad from scratch:
- 1. Bake the homemade croutons:
- 2. Mix the Caesar dressing:
- 3. Cook the Chicken:
- 4. Assemble the Caesar salad:
- Tips for Success:
- Make-Ahead Tips:
- Storing Tips:
- Chicken Caesar Salad FAQs:
- More Salad Recipes:
- Chicken Caesar Salad Recipe
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Why you’ll love this chicken Caesar salad recipe:
Tender grilled chicken, crunchy croutons, and grated parmesan over a bed of crisp lettuce and tossed with a savory Caesar dressing (with anchovies!).
- Flavorful – Full of savory, cheesy flavor elevated with creamy, crunchy textures.
- Quick – Caesar salad requires minimal prep time and is ready to eat with a total time of just 30 minutes!
- Fresh – You won’t find any store-bought dressing or croutons in this recipe. It’s all homemade with fresh ingredients.
Make a delicious grilled chicken Caesar salad at home quickly, without shortcuts, instead of going out to a restaurant.
If you’re in a time crunch, it’s ok to take a few shortcuts, like in this easy chicken caesar salad wrap!
Key Ingredient Notes:
For Caesar Dressing:
- Mayonnaise serves as the base for the homemade Caesar dressing. I recommend using full-fat mayo for the ultimate creamy texture.
- Parmesan cheese – High-quality parmesan cheese will take the flavor of the dressing to the next level! Look for a label “Parmigiano Reggiano” rather than just Parmesan.
- Fresh garlic – A whole clove blends into the dressing for a bold, fresh, garlicky flavor! Feel free to add more if you’re a garlic lover!
- Lemon juice adds tangy flavor to the dressing and cuts through the richness of the mayonnaise.
- Dijon mustard creates an even creamier texture and enhances the tangy taste of the dressing.
- Anchovies – You can use either anchovy fillets or anchovy paste. Anchovy fillets have better flavor, but paste is fine too! Use Worcestershire sauce in place of anchovies, or skip it altogether for a vegetarian version of the salad dressing.
- Ciabatta rolls – Crusty and chewy ciabatta rolls are the best for homemade croutons! If you can’t find ciabatta, use a sourdough loaf instead.
- Olive oil is used to make the seasonings stick to bread and add flavor and healthy fats.
- Seasonings – Garlic powder, oregano, and kosher salt add a tasty flavor that ties the flavor of the croutons with the other salad ingredients.
- Chicken breasts – Choose whole, boneless chicken breasts, not cutlets or tenderloins. Butterfly the chicken breast for even cooking.
- Avocado oil – Used for its mild flavor and high smoke point. You can substitute extra virgin olive oil or grapeseed oil for avocado oil.
- Romaine lettuce gives the salad plenty of fresh, crisp texture and hold up well to the thick and creamy dressing.
How to make Caesar Salad from scratch:
1. Bake the homemade croutons:
- Preheat your oven to 375°F, and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
- Chop (or tear) the ciabatta into ¾-inch cubes. Then, transfer them to a medium-sized mixing bowl.
- Drizzle the ciabatta pieces with olive oil, sprinkle with the crouton seasonings, and toss until well combined.
- Spread the croutons in an even layer on the lined baking sheet.
- Bake the croutons for 10-15 minutes or until they’re crispy and golden brown, turning once halfway through.
- Remove the croutons from the baking sheet, and allow them to fully cool before adding them to the salad.
Don’t dry your croutons completely
You want the croutons to have plenty of crunch with a little bit of moisture remaining.
2. Mix the Caesar dressing:
- Add the homemade Caesar salad dressing ingredients to a large mason jar.
- Blend the dressing ingredients using an immersion blender until smooth.
- Thin out the dressing with extra lemon juice if needed.
3. Cook the Chicken:
- Prepare the chicken breasts. Use a sharp knife to butterfly the boneless skinless chicken breasts. Then, cut them into four pieces.
- Pound out the thickest part of the chicken using a meat pounder. Flatten the chicken until the thickest part is even with the thinnest part.
- Drizzle both sides of the chicken breasts with 1 tablespoon of avocado oil. Season both sides liberally with salt, garlic powder, and oregano.
- Heat a grill pan (or cast iron skillet) over medium-high heat. Add the remaining avocado oil to the hot pan.
- Grill the chicken. Add the chicken to the pan, and cook for 3-4 minutes. Flip it, and cook for another 3 minutes. When the thickest part of the chicken has reached 165 degrees F, remove it from the skillet and let it rest for at least 5 minutes before slicing.
4. Assemble the Caesar salad:
- Chop the lettuce into bite-sized pieces.
- Combine the lettuce with half of the dressing, grated parmesan cheese, and croutons in a large bowl. Toss until evenly mixed.
- Slice the chicken into strips or bite-sized pieces. Add the remaining dressing, and toss to combine.
- Serve the salad immediately, topped with extra parmesan!
Tips for Success:
- Use freshly grated parmesan. I recommend purchasing a block of parmesan cheese and grating it fresh when you’re ready to make your salad. The flavor and texture are superior to store-bought grated parmesan.
- Thoroughly toss the lettuce with the dressing. Caesar salads have very few toppings. So, it’s important to toss the ingredients well to ensure maximum flavor in every bite!
- Dry the chopped lettuce. After you’ve washed and chopped your romaine hearts, use a salad spinner to completely dry the lettuce pieces. If the lettuce is wet, the dressing will become too thin and won’t properly coat the salad.
- You can make Caesar dressing ahead of time and keep it in the fridge for up to a week. Store it in a sealed container, jar, or bottle.
- Make the homemade croutons up to a week in advance and store in an airtight container at room temperature.
- You can also prepare the rest of the salad ingredients in advance and store in separate airtight containers in the refrigerator. However, I recommend cooking the chicken when you’re ready to assemble your salads so it’s warm and fresh!
Chicken Caesar salad is best eaten fresh! The salad will get soggy once you mix the romaine with the dressing. However, storing your salad for lunch or dinner the next day is possible.
- Store the salad and dressing separately in airtight containers.
- When you’re ready to serve your salad, toss it with the dressing, add the remaining ingredients, and enjoy.
- Freeze the homemade croutons for later use! Simply place them in a freezer bag, and store them in the freezer for up to 6 months. When you’re ready to use them again, reheat the croutons in the oven at 250°F just to warm and crisp them up again. They’ll taste as good as new!
Chicken Caesar Salad FAQs:
While chicken Caesar salads can be a complete meal on their own, they also pair well with various sides and main dishes! For example, Caesar salad pairs perfectly with grilled artichoke pizza, butternut squash soup, and lobster bisque.
Chicken Caesar salad contains lean protein, fat, carbohydrates, and fresh vegetables, making it a complete and balanced meal. The dressing can be high in fat, though, which may not be recommended for everyone.
While chicken breasts are the most popular choice for chicken Caesar salad, chicken thighs or even rotisserie chicken would also work! I recommend sticking with chicken breasts, but you can use other types of chicken in a pinch.
Chicken Caesar Salad
For the Homemade Caesar Dressing:
- ½ cup mayonnaise
- ½ cup Parmesan cheese freshly grated Note 1
- 1 clove garlic or more
- ½ large lemon juiced
- 1 ½ teaspoons Dijon mustard
- ½ teaspoons kosher salt
- 2 anchovies fillet or 1 ½ teaspoons anchovy paste Note 2
For the Homemade Croutons:
- 2 ciabatta rolls or sourdough loaf cut or torn into ¾ inch cubes
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1 teaspoon oregano
- ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
For the chicken:
- 2 chicken breasts butterflied
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt
- ½ teaspoon garlic powder
- 1 teaspoon oregano
- 3 tablespoons avocado oil divided
For the salad:
- 2 romaine lettuce hearts chopped
- ¾ cup Caesar dressing
- 2 cups croutons
- ⅓ cup parmesan cheese finely grated and more for serving
- 1 immersion blender (or food processsor)
- 1 grill pan (or cast iron skillet)
To make the croutons:
- Preheat the oven to the oven at 375°F (175°C). Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
- Chop or tear the ciabatta into ¾ inch cubes and add to a bowl.2 ciabatta rolls or sourdough loaf
- Drizzle the olive oil, add the seasonings, and toss until combined.3 tablespoons olive oil, 1 teaspoon garlic powder, 1 teaspoon oregano, ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
- Spread the croutons evenly in one layer on a baking sheet.
- Bake for 10-15 minutes, turning once halfway, or until they’re crispy and golden brown. You don’t want the croutons to be completely dry, but to have a little bit of moisture and chew to them but also crunchy at the same time.
- Remove the croutons from the baking sheet and allow them to cool completely before using.
To make the Caesar Dressing:
- Add all the dressing ingredients into a mason jar and blend with an immersion blender (or a food processor) until smooth. If the dressing is too thick, add more lemon juice to thin it out.½ cup mayonnaise, ½ cup Parmesan cheese, 1 clove garlic, ½ large lemon, 1 ½ teaspoons Dijon mustard, ½ teaspoons kosher salt, 2 anchovies fillet or 1 ½ teaspoons anchovy paste Note 2
To cook the chicken:
- Butterfly the chicken breast and cut into 4 pieces. Using a meat pounder, pound out the thickest part of the chicken to match the thin part.2 chicken breasts
- Drizzle 1 tablespoon of avocado oil on both sides of the chicken. Season with salt, garlic powder and oregano on both sides.½ teaspoon kosher salt, ½ teaspoon garlic powder, 3 tablespoons avocado oil, 1 teaspoon oregano
- Heat a grill pan (or use a cast iron skillet) to medium-high heat. Add the 2 tablespoons of avocado oil.
- Add the chicken and cook for 3-4 minutes, flip and cook for another 3 on the other side. When the internal temp of the chicken has reached 165°F/74°C of the thicker part, remove it onto a plate and set aside. Let it rest for at least 5 minutes before slicing.
To make the salad:
- Chop the lettuce into bite sized pieces.2 romaine lettuce hearts
- In a large bowl, combine the lettuce with the ½ of the dressing, parmesan, and croutons. Toss until well combined.¾ cup Caesar dressing, 2 cups croutons
- Slice the chicken into strips or bite sizes. Add the remaining dressing and toss to combine.
- Serve with additional parmesan cheese, optional.⅓ cup parmesan cheese
Tips & Notes
– Storing Caesar dressing: Store in a sealed container, jar, or bottle for up to a week.
– Storing Croutons: Keep these in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 1 week.
– Freezing Croutons: Homemade croutons freeze very well. Just place them in a freezer bag, and freeze them for up to 6 months. Reheat in the oven at 250°F/120°C just to warm them up and help them crisp up again.