Table of Contents
  1. Why I love this Chicken Caesar Pasta Salad recipe.
  2. Everything you’ll need to make this recipe.
  3. Here’s how to make this Chicken Caesar Pasta Salad recipe.
  4. These pro tips will make this recipe a success.
  5. Frequently asked questions about this recipe.
  6. You'll love these other side dish recipes.
  7. Watch how to make this Chicken Caesar Pasta Salad recipe.
  8. Have I convinced you to make this recipe?
  9. Chicken Caesar Pasta Salad Recipe

This Chicken Caesar Pasta Salad is a combination dish ideal for the grilling season. A creamy, delicious Caesar dressing pulls all the elements together, marrying red onion, romaine lettuce, and penne pasta. Succulent chicken adds heartiness and protein, and bacon gives a richening final touch. This is the perfect dish to enjoy all summer long.

Kaleb Wyse standing in front of light gray background with black t-shirt.

Why I love this Chicken Caesar Pasta Salad recipe.

This recipe brings together two favorite dishes: pasta salad and Caesar salad. Both of these dishes are icons in their own right. Pasta salad is a staple at every potluck and grill-out. Caesar salad is a favorite for its rich, creamy dressing and crisp lettuce. Now imagine the two together. This recipe creates the best of both with a rich, creamy dressing that marries with the pasta for a perfect pasta salad. To add layers of texture, grilled chicken and bacon are mixed in with some lettuce for the traditional crunch. The result is a near-perfect pasta salad that could be a main dish for lunch or a great side dish during the grilling season.

Large white bowl on white marble surface filled with chicken Caesar pasta salad with two glasses filled with liquid to the side.

Everything you’ll need to make this recipe.

  • Penne pasta is the perfect size and shape for the dressing to cling to.
  • Chicken breasts are grilled or roasted and add protein to the dish.
  • Bacon is not traditional in Caesar salad but adds flavor and texture with a layer of crispy smokiness.
  • Anchovies are essential for the best-flavored Caesar dressing. Trust the process and choose oil-packed anchovies.
  • Romaine hearts is the perfect lettuce. It is the choice for Caesar salads for its crisp texture that withstands the dressing. This is the same reason it works well in pasta salad.
White marble surface filled with all ingredients needed for a chicken Caesar pasta salad including pasta, lettuce, bacon, chicken, and more.

Here’s how to make this Chicken Caesar Pasta Salad recipe.

  1. Cook the bacon. Crisp the bacon on a grill pan or a skillet. Cook to the desired crispness. Meanwhile, prepare the chicken.
  1. Cook the chicken. Place the chicken breasts in a sealable bag. Using a meat tenderizer, pound the chicken breasts into even thicknesses. Season the chicken with salt and pepper on both sides. Cook over medium heat on the same grill pan used to cook the bacon.
  1. Cook the pasta. Bring a large stockpot filled with water to a boil. Add kosher salt. Fully cook the pasta beyond al dente, then drain and rinse under cold water to stop the cooking.
  1. Prepare the Caesar dressing. Finely chop the anchovies and garlic. Place in a large serving bowl and gently smash into a paste. Add in the mayonnaise, Greek yogurt, Dijon mustard, Worcestershire sauce, a squeeze of lemon, kosher salt, black pepper, and freshly grated Parmesan cheese. Whisk together.
  1. Assemble the dish. Add the pasta to the dressing. Dice the bacon and chicken into small bite-sized pieces. Slice the red onion, and chop up the romaine lettuce. Add to the pasta. If desired, garnish with additional shards of Parmesan and lemon zest.

These pro tips will make this recipe a success.

  • Pounding the chicken to create a uniform thickness makes it cook evenly. It evens out the breasts, meaning they will cook at the same rate all the way through. However, you do not need to pound them super thin as would be done for a Chicken Parmesan; just an even thickness.
  • Cook the chicken and bacon in the same pan. This reduces dish cleanup while imparting some of the bacon’s flavor to the chicken.
  • Rinsing the pasta under cold water stops the cooking. It also rinses off any excess starches. Unlike making pasta with hot sauce, the extra starches from the noodles are unnecessary for binding in this recipe.
  • Taste for seasoning on the dressing and adjust accordingly. The different elements can shift the balance depending on the ingredients used. Add black pepper and kosher salt as necessary.
Combination of cubed chicken, Caesar dressing, lettuce, pasta, red onion, and more for a pasta salad recipe.

Frequently asked questions about this recipe.

What other types of pasta work for this dish?

Rotini pasta would also work for this recipe. The spirals would allow the sauce to cling to the large surface area of the pasta.

Can this be made ahead of time?

Yes, the pasta salad can be prepared a few hours ahead. If it is prepared much further ahead, wait to add the romaine lettuce until closer to serving, as it will tend to wilt the longer it sits with the dressing.

How long will this last after preparation?

Leftovers should be stored in an air-tight container in the refrigerator and will last for 5 to 7 days.

Large white bowl filled with chicken Caesar pasta salad with shards of Parmesan cheese, pasta, red onion, lettuce, and more.

Watch how to make this Chicken Caesar Pasta Salad recipe.

More summer side dish recipes

Have I convinced you to make this recipe?

I hope you make this recipe and put some food on your table. Leave a comment and share a star rating so you can let others know how much you love this recipe. This helps show others that this is a recipe they, too, can make, enjoy, and love!

White bowl filled with chicken Caesar pasta salad with shards of Parmesan cheese, lettuce, red onion, and tossed in Caesar dressing.

Chicken Caesar Pasta Salad

5 from 2 votes
This chicken Caesar Pasta salad is a combination dish ideal for the grilling season. A creamy, delicious Caesar dressing pulls all the elements together, marrying red onion, romaine lettuce, and penne pasta. Succulent chicken adds heartiness and protein, and bacon gives a richening final touch. This is the perfect dish to enjoy all summer long.
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Total Time 40 minutes
Servings 6 servings

Ingredients

  • 16 oz penne pasta
  • 1 head romaine heart lettuce chopped
  • ½ medium red onion sliced
  • 8 oz bacon browned and crumbled
  • 1 lb chicken breast
  • kosher salt
  • black pepper
  • Parmesan shards (for garnish)

For the Caesar dressing

  • 2 cloves garlic minced
  • 8 filets anchovies
  • 1 tbsp Dijon mustard
  • ¾ cup mayonnaise
  • ½ cup full-fat Greek yogurt
  • 2 tsp Worcestershire sauce
  • ¼ cup fresh lemon juice
  • ¾ tsp kosher salt
  • ½ tsp black pepper
  • 1 ¼ cups grated Parmesan cheese

Instructions
 

  • Prepare the pasta. Cook the pasta according to the package instructions. Once tender, drain and rinse the pasta to stop the cooking. Set it aside to cool.
    16 oz penne pasta
  • Cook the bacon. Using a grill pan, grill, or skillet, cook the bacon until it is browned and crisp on both sides, 6-8 minutes.
    8 oz bacon
  • Cook the chicken. Place the chicken breasts in a zip-top bag. Use a meat mallet to pound the chicken to an even thickness, about ¼-inch thick. Salt and pepper the chicken on both sides. Use a grill pan or stand-alone grill to cook the chicken to an internal temperature of 160°F, 3-5 minutes per side. Once cooked, remove from the heat and set it aside. The carry-over cooking will bring the finished breasts to an internal temperature of 165°F. Alternatively, the chicken can be drizzled with olive oil and roasted in a 375°F oven for 12-15 minutes. Once cooled, chop the chicken into bite-sized pieces.
    1 lb chicken breast, kosher salt, black pepper
  • Prepare the dressing. Chop and mash together the minced garlic and anchovy filets until they form a paste. In a bowl, combine the paste, Dijon mustard, mayonnaise, Greek yogurt, Worcestershire sauce, lemon juice, kosher salt, black pepper, and Parmesan cheese. Whisk to combine.
    2 cloves garlic, 8 filets anchovies, 1 tbsp Dijon mustard, ¾ cup mayonnaise, ½ cup full-fat Greek yogurt, 2 tsp Worcestershire sauce, ¼ cup fresh lemon juice, ¾ tsp kosher salt, ½ tsp black pepper, 1 ¼ cups grated Parmesan cheese
  • Assemble the salad. In a large bowl, combine the prepared pasta, chopped romaine, red onion, crumbled bacon, and diced chicken. Add half of the dressing and toss to combine. Add the remaining dressing as desired. Garnish with shards of Parmesan and serve.
    1 head romaine heart lettuce, ½ medium red onion, Parmesan shards (for garnish)

Notes

Pounding the chicken to create a uniform thickness makes it cook evenly. It evens out the breasts, meaning they will cook at the same rate all the way through. However, you do not need to pound them super thin as would be done for a Chicken Parmesan; just an even thickness.
Cook the chicken and bacon in the same pan. This reduces dish cleanup while imparting some of the bacon’s flavor to the chicken.
Rinsing the pasta under cold water stops the cooking. It also rinses off any excess starches. Unlike making pasta with hot sauce, the extra starches from the noodles are unnecessary for binding in this recipe.
Taste for seasoning on the dressing and adjust accordingly. The different elements can shift the balance depending on the ingredients used. Add black pepper and kosher salt as necessary.

Nutrition

Serving: 1servingCalories: 591kcal
Course Side Dish
Cuisine American
Difficulty Easy
Method Cooking

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Kaleb

I’m Kaleb! I'm not a chef, professional baker, landscaper, or designer, but I like to play each on Knollgate Farm. Come join me on my journey and let's learn together!

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2 Comments

  1. 5 stars
    I’ve been cooking since I was 3 years old so that’s about 70 years this is the best Caesar salad recipe I’ve ever seen. I don’t like anchovies but making a paste with the raw garlic is brilliant. Adding the bacon and all the other ingredients is perfection you never cease to amaze Kaleb and you make it so fun and you’re such a good teacher. Your garden and your property and your remodel kitchen are so nice and the way you handle yourself in front of the camera is beautiful you’re such a natural the whole package. I want to know who you have chosen for your partner in life because that individual is extremely fortunate. I also enjoy seeing your mother.

  2. 5 stars
    I’m really picky over any Caesar dressing. I’ve never made it from scratch before. I also have never had pasta with Caesar dressing so I was a little hesitant to try this. I’m so happy I did because the dressing is amazing. Even better than the Caesar dressing at my favorite restaurant. The pasta just added a lot more substance and fullness to just eating lettuce and grilled chicken. My daughters both loved this recipe!!