Ramp up the protein in your traditional caesar salad by adding flavorful chicken and turning it into chicken caesar salad for a quick and easy lunch or light dinner. Level it up with homemade croutons, a creamy homemade dressing, and shaved Parmigiano!
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Just Add Chicken!
There is nothing complicated about a Caesar salad and I think that’s part of its charm. You can turn just a few ingredients into one of the most classic salad recipes that will forever be one of the best. And homemade? Well, that’s even better!
However, because there are so few ingredients, each one should be as quality as your budget allows.
You’ll need fresh, crisp Romaine lettuce, a creamy briny homemade Caesar salad dressing, and light, and crunchy homemade croutons. To bulk it up we’re adding chicken which takes it from a side salad to a complete meal perfect for lunch and light dinners.
Sometimes I’ll turn it into a chicken Caesar wrap for something a little more portable.
Best Type of Chicken to Use
Chicken breast is the leaner choice and if you have a few pieces you want to cook, try making a simple oven baked chicken breast. Leftover grilled chicken or shredded chicken is always great because those extra char marks add so much flavor. If you’ve got an oven roasted chicken you want to shred apart, you can use that too.
You can use whatever dark meat or bone-in pieces too, you might just not get as much meat from it as you would an entire boneless breast.
Most of the time I will pick up a rotisserie chicken from the grocery store, because, why not!
Find the full printable recipe with specific measurements below.
- Garlic cloves: You can be a bit heavy-handed with the fresh minced garlic if you like a garlicky flavor in your dressing to come through.
- Anchovy paste: Comes in a tube and is essentially the same thing as using anchovy fillets without the extra work.
- Fresh lemon juice: Freshly squeezed lemon juice all the way! The bottled stuff just isn’t the same for this tangy dressing.
- Dijon mustard & Worcestershire sauce: Both of these work together to give the dressing a pungent umami flavor which can actually replace the anchovy paste altogether if desired.
- Mayonnaise: This is what gives the dressing its rich and creamy textures. Authentic Caesar salad dressing is made with raw egg yolks and olive oil, but this is a close second.
- Parmigiano-Reggiano: The real deal quality Parmesan cheese! A sharp, tangy cheese that combines nicely and gives the dressing the cheesiness it needs.
- Salt & fresh cracked black pepper: Just a bit of seasoning to taste and round out the dressing.
- Lettuce: Romaine lettuce leaves that are fresh, cold, washed, rinsed, and chopped! No wilted leaves, no brown leaves, and no warm leaves, please.
- Croutons: If you have some day-old bread and a bit of extra time, I recommend making homemade croutons. If not, store-bought crunchy croutons can certainly work too.
- Parmesan cheese: Shaved or shredded, for the top of the salad. I love big chunks of shaved cheese on mine!
- Shredded chicken: I typically use rotisserie chicken, but you can make this your own by adding your favorite cooked chicken overtop.
- A homemade dressing is always a bonus, but if you have a favorite store-bought kind you love, go ahead and use it.
- Add some cooked bacon bits in there as well for a bit of salty smokiness!
- Throw on some cherry tomatoes and sliced avocado for a healthy and heartier meal.
- Meal prep this salad by preparing the lettuce, croutons, and chicken ahead of time. Then assemble just before eating.
- Toss in some extra veggies like cucumbers or bell peppers.
- Last, sometimes I’ll turn it into chicken Caesar pasta salad by adding bowtie pasta into the mix. It’s a great summertime meal!
How to Make Chicken Caesar Salad
- Add lettuce to the bowl. Make sure to wash your lettuce leaves and dry them well. You can wash and dry them in advance and keep them cold in the fridge to save time. Chop them up into bite-sized pieces and add them to a large salad bowl.
- Make croutons. If you plan to make your own croutons, now’s a great time to do that. These are great make-ahead recipes too because they keep for days.
- Combine dressing. In a medium bowl, whisk together the garlic, anchovy paste, lemon juice, mustard, and Worcestershire sauce until the anchovy paste is combined. Then, continue whisking in the mayo, Parmigiano-Reggiano, salt, and pepper until smooth. Season to combine.
- Assemble the chicken Caesar salad. Add the shredded chicken to the bowl of lettuce, sprinkle with Parmesan and croutons, then drizzle with Caesar dressing. Toss gently to combine until the lettuce is evenly coated. Enjoy!
- Do not add hot chicken to the salad. The heat will make the lettuce soggy and the dressing a little too runny. Allow it to cool a bit first.
- Chicken caesar salad is best served right away. The longer it sits, the soggier it will get. Plus, warm chicken caesar salad is weird.
- Make a vegetarian version by skipping the meat and serving it with chickpeas or a hard-boiled egg for protein instead.
Simple ingredients make up this hearty salad. It contains a combination of romaine lettuce, a homemade Caesar dressing, shredded chicken, croutons and fresh Parmesan cheese.
It’s safe to say a chicken Caesar salad is enjoyed more for flavor and crunch than for the nutrients, but that’s not to say there aren’t things you can do to increase the nutritional value.
First off, it does deliver fiber and vitamins thanks to the lettuce, and lean protein from the chicken. If you want to make some substitutions to make it a little healthier start with using kale or baby spinach instead of Romaine lettuce. Next, use a homemade dressing so you can control the amount of sodium. Finally, add some more veggies and good fats with things like avocado and tomatoes!
Cover it with an airtight lid and keep it fresh for up to 5 days in the refrigerator.
You can swap half the mayo for Greek yogurt or low-fat sour cream. Using real whole egg mayo is the best way to get the creamiest dressing, but with that comes a higher calorie content.
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Chicken Caesar Salad Recipe
- 1-2 garlic cloves , minced
- ½ teaspoon anchovy paste
- 1 Tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice (about 1/2 lemon)
- ¾ teaspoon Dijon mustard
- 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
- ½ cup mayonnaise
- ¼ cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
- ¼ teaspoon Kosher salt
- freshly cracked pepper
- In a medium bowl, whisk together the garlic, anchovy paste, lemon juice, mustard, and Worcestershire sauce until anchovy paste is combined.
- Whisk in the the mayonnaise, Parmigiano-Reggiano, salt, and pepper until smooth and combined. Season to taste, if needed. Chill until ready to use.
- In a large serving bowl, add lettuce and chicken. Sprinkle with parmesan and croutons. Drizzle with Caesar dressing and toss gently until lettuce is evenly coated.
Nutrition provided is an estimate. It will vary based on specific ingredients used.
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