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Chicken Caesar Pasta Salad 

May 27, 2024
Shanika | Orchids + Sweet Tea

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Forget your regular chicken Caesar Salad—try a chicken Caesar PASTA salad instead! Picture all the classic Caesar Salad goodness, but tossed with pasta. Totally delicious and perfect for lunch or dinner!

Chicken Caesar Pasta Salad 

Meet your new favorite dish --- Chicken Caesar Pasta Salad! This tasty twist on a classic combines tender chicken, fresh kale, and perfectly cooked pasta, all tossed in a creamy Caesar dressing. With the addition of sweet + savory candied bacon, it's a hearty, refreshing meal that's perfect for lunch, dinner, or any time you need a deliciously satisfying bite. Gluten-free, Meatless, Vegan + Make-ahead Options.

Up close shot of chicken pasta salad with two spoons.

Ever wondered how Chicken Caesar Salad could get any better? Add pasta! Haha. I'm a big fan of salads, chicken, and pasta, so I just had to combine them into this Chicken Caesar Pasta Salad. It's the best of both worlds—fully creamy, with every bite perfectly coated. The combo of fresh kale, chicken, and pasta is so irresistible that you'll find yourself sneaking back to the fridge for another bite just minutes after putting away the leftovers.

This salad is perfect for a spring dinner or to bring along to a summer BBQ or potluck. It's comfort food in a healthy form, with simple steps! And can totally be personalized based on preferences! Whether you're opting for a meatless meal or following a gluten-free diet, this salad has got you covered!

If you're a salad lover, you've got to give these a try next --- Ultimate Summer BBQ Chopped Kale Salad Roasted Cauliflower Green Goddess SaladSpicy Chipotle Sweet Potato Chopped SaladChicken Caesar Salad with Cornbread Croutons, and Baked Jamaican Jerk Chicken Salad. And see my roundup of 20 Oh-So-Satisfying Salad Recipes that I absolutely adore making over and over again!

Jump to:

What Is Chicken Caesar Pasta Salad?

Chicken Caesar Pasta Salad is a delightful combination of two classic dishes: Chicken Caesar Salad and pasta salad. It features tender chicken, crisp kale, candied bacon and flavorful Caesar dressing, all tossed with cooked pasta to create a hearty + satisfying meal. It's a delicious twist on traditional Caesar salad, perfect for lunch, dinner, or any gathering.

Ingredients on a brown wood table.

How To Make Chicken Caesar Pasta Salad

Making this Chicken Caesar Pasta Salad involves a few steps, but here's the good news: you can do many of them ahead of time! Marinate + bake the chicken, whip up your homemade Caesar dressing, make some candied bacon, and cook the pasta—all before putting it all together! This salad also travels really well, making it perfect for BBQs and cookouts!

Ingredients

CHICKEN:

  • Organic chicken breasts. The chicken gives the salad a nice bite + adds a nice source of protein.
  • Extra virgin olive oil. Feel free to use your favorite high-quality EVOO. My fave tried and trusted brand is California Olive Ranch.
  • Seasonings. Sea salt, black pepper, garlic powder + Italian seasoning.

PASTA SALAD:

  • Your fave shortcut pasta. I used Rotini pasta.
  • Bunch organic kale. You can also keep things more traditional with romaine lettuce or other mix of greens.
  • Parmesan cheese. Use freshly grated for the best flavor.
  • Candied bacon. Optional. Learn how to make candied bacon HERE!
Cooked pasta in a bowl being held on a brown wood table.

How To Make Creamy Caesar Dressing

Add ALL ingredients into bowl and whisk until everything becomes smooth and creamy. NOTE: If you don't want garlic bits in your dressing, you can add everything to a high-powered blender and blend until smooth.

INGREDIENTS:

  • Mayonnaise. If you want to keep things egg-free you can use a vegan mayo.
  • Garlic cloves. Minced.
  • Lemon. Freshly-squeezed is best.
  • Dijon mustard. This adds a nice tanginess to the dressing.
  • Worcestershire sauce. My favorite is from Annies.
  • Parmesan cheese. Again freshly-grated is best.
  • Sea salt + black pepper. To taste.

SHOP MY FAVORITE TOOLS FOR COOKING, ESPECIALLY FOR THIS PASTA SALAD!

Here, I’ve curated a list of baking essentials that I use to achieve my favorite dishes, especially with this Chicken Caesar Pasta Salad. Everything from whisks, blenders, knives, and more. SEE THEM HERE!

Ingredients in a bowl.

Why You Will LOVE Chicken Caesar Pasta Salad

  • Best of both worlds ---- Combines the flavors of Chicken Caesar Salad with the heartiness of pasta!!
  • Creamy + totally luscious in texture.
  • Perfect balance of tangy + savory notes
  • Travel-friendly --- Ideal for bringing to BBQs, picnics, or potlucks.
  • Totally customizable! Easily made to be gluten-free + meatless.
All chicken pasta salad ingredients being mixed together in a bowl.

Meatless Options for this Chicken Caesar Pasta Salad

While this Chicken Caesar Pasta Salad is perfect as is---I definitely wanted to give options for those of you who don't eat meat or just might make this salad more than once and want to switch things up with a meatless option from time to time! Here are a few great ingredients that you can substitute with the chicken in this delicious salad.

Other meatless ingredient ideas include:

  • Roasted chickpeas
  • Beans (like White beans, Kidney beans, etc.)
  • Mushrooms
  • Tofu or Tempeh
  • Cauliflower
  • Roasted veggies (like Broccoli, Asparagus, Cabbage, etc.)
  • Vegan meatballs
  • Jackfruit
  • Other plant-based meat alternatives (store-bought)

Why and How to Massage Kale

This recipe uses kale instead of the more traditional romaine lettuce. When it comes to massaging kale, it's usually recommended because kale is known for being tough and fibrous, which makes it sometimes hard to chew and digest. However, massaging the kale softens it a great deal and helps the flavors to be more pronounced which works hand in hand with the other ingredients.

My easy method to massage kale is to add the de-stemmed and chopped kale to a large bowl and then drizzling it with 1-2 tsps of lemon juice or Extra virgin olive oil and using your clean hands, rubbing the leaves together gently for about 2-3 minutes. They should look glossy and slightly reduced in volume when massaging is achieved.

What Kind Of Pasta To Use?

I like using rotini, but any short-cut pasta like penne, fusilli, farfalle, rigatoni, and macaroni will work great. The main thing is to cook the pasta, drain it, and then lightly toss it in olive oil to prevent it from sticking together. Let it cool + set it aside.

Chicken pasta salad on a serving platter.

What to Serve with Chicken Caesar Pasta Salad

This Chicken Caesar Pasta Salad not only makes a delightful spring and summer dinner option with its fresh flavors, but it also shines as a beautiful side dish at potlucks and BBQs. Here are some of my favorite accompaniments to serve alongside it:

How To Make Chicken Caesar Pasta Salad Ahead Of Time?

The baked chicken and pasta can be made up to 2 days beforehand and stored in an airtight container (separately) and refrigerated. While the candied bacon (if using) can be made and stored in the fridge for up to 2 days and reheated. The dressing can be made and refrigerated in a separate airtight container. The salad can be chopped up to 30 minutes before serving.

Chicken pasta salad on a platter with two spoons.

Common Q + A's For Chicken Caesar Pasta Salad

How To store?

Leftovers can be refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 3 days, depending on the ingredients. Always determine the ingredients in your salad and keep it no longer than the shelf life of your fastest-spoiling ingredient.

How to make gluten-free?

To make this salad GF-friendly, just ensure that the pasta is GF-friendly as well as any ingredients in the dressing that may be needed.

How to make this recipe vegan?

For a meatless version, swap the chicken for a plant-based option (check out the meatless options above), and skip the bacon—or use a vegan version if you prefer. For the dressing, use vegan mayo and make sure your Worcestershire sauce is vegan, like Annie's! And finally use a vegan parmesan option or nutritional yeast.

Do i have to use kale?

If preferred, you can always add greens like Romaine lettuce, Arugula, Mustard Greens, Microgreens, Spinach or Collard Greens to this salad for added flavor + texture

Is it okay to serve this warm?

Yes, you can serve the pasta and chicken warm if you prefer, but the salad is typically enjoyed cold or at room temperature.

More Healthy Salad Recipes

Now that you've fallen in love with this Chicken Caesar Pasta Salad recipe, put to good use your remaining produce with these great salad recipes:

MADE OUR RECIPE(S)?

If you tried this Chicken Caesar Pasta Salad recipe or any other recipe on my website, please please leave a 🌟 star rating and let me know how you go in the 📝 comments below. And don't forget to tag @orchidsnsweettea_ on Instagram and hashtag it #orchidsandsweettea! I love hearing from you!

Chicken pasta salad on a platter with two spoons.

Chicken Caesar Pasta Salad 

May 27, 2024
5 from 1 vote
Meet your new favorite dish --- Chicken Caesar Pasta Salad! This tasty twist on a classic combines tender chicken, fresh kale, and perfectly cooked pasta, all tossed in a creamy Caesar dressing. With the addition of sweet + savory candied bacon, it's a hearty, refreshing meal that's perfect for lunch, dinner, or any time you need a deliciously satisfying bite. Gluten-free, Dairy-free, Meatless, Vegan + Make-ahead Options.
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 35 minutes
Total Time: 45 minutes
Serves: 6 servings

Ingredients

CHICKEN:

  • 2 lbs. organic chicken breasts
  • 2 Tbsps Extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning

PASTA SALAD:

  • 1 (16 oz.) package Your fave shortcut pasta (I used Rotini pasta)
  • 1 bunch organic kale (You can keep things traditional with romaine lettuce or other mix of greens)
  • 1 cup freshly-grated parmesan cheese
  • 2 cups chopped candied bacon, optional

CREAMY CAESAR DRESSING:

  • 1 cup mayonnaise
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • ½ lemon, freshly-squeezed
  • 1 teaspoon dijon mustard
  • 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
  • ½ cup freshly-grated parmesan cheese
  • sea salt + black pepper, to taste

Instructions

BAKE THE CHICKEN:

  • Preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit and line a small baking sheet with parchment paper.
  • If you marinate your chicken overnight in the refrigerator, remove and let it sit at room temperature for 30-45 minutes before adding to prepared baking sheet and baking it for for 30-35 minutes or until fully cooked through. NOTE: When done, the chicken should look "dark" in color from the seasoning and crusted, but juicy + clear on the inside. Remove from oven and slice into "strip-like' chicken or chunks, if preferred.

BOIL THE PASTA:

  • Bring a large pot of water to a boil with a pinch of salt and add your fave shortcut pasta and cook according to packaging, about 8-10 minutes in most cases. Once cooked, drain, and lightly toss in olive oil (to prevent sticking together), cool and set aside.

TO MAKE THE CAESAR DRESSING:

  • Add the mayo, milk, minced garlic, lemon juice, dijon mustard, Worcestershire sauce, grated parmesan, salt + black pepper into bowl and whisk until everything becomes smooth and creamy. NOTE: If you don't want garlic bits in your dressing, you can add everything to a high-powered blender and blend until smooth.

CHOP + MASSAGE THE KALE:

  • Strip the leaves from the bunch of kale and discard the stems if you haven't already. Roughly chop the leaves and add them to a large bowl. Drizzle about 1 tablespoon of olive oil atop chopped kale and using clean hands, rub together the kale gently for about 2-3 minutes to soften the leaves and help to infuse the 'flavors' of the kale.

TO ASSEMBLE THE SALAD:

  • To the bowl with the kale, add the sliced cooked chicken, cooled pasta, grated parmesan, chopped bacon (if using), and the Caesar dressing, tossing everything together. NOTE: You can add the dressing to the salad when tossing OR set aside until serving.
  • To serve, add the salad to your bowl(s) and add additional grated parmesan, if desired.
  • Bon Appetit!

Tips & Tricks

  • STORAGE: Leftovers can be refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 3 days, depending on the ingredients. Always determine the ingredients in your salad and keep it no longer than the shelf life of your fastest-spoiling ingredient.
  • MAKE AHEAD: The baked chicken and pasta can be made up to 2 days beforehand and stored in an airtight container (separately) and refrigerated. While the candied bacon (if using) can be made and stored in the fridge for up to 2 days and reheated. The dressing can be made and refrigerated in a separate airtight container. The salad can be chopped up to 30 minutes before serving.
  • GLUTEN-FREE OPTION: To make this salad GF-friendly, just ensure that the pasta is GF-friendly as well as any ingredients in the dressing that may be needed.
  • VEGAN OPTION: See post for Meatless options for the topping of this salad instead of chicken. 
  • GREENS: If preferred, you can always add greens like Romaine lettuce, Arugula, Mustard Greens, Microgreens, Spinach or Collard Greens to this salad for added flavor + texture.

Nutrition

Calories: 582kcal | Carbohydrates: 6g | Protein: 40g | Fat: 44g | Saturated Fat: 10g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 18g | Monounsaturated Fat: 12g | Trans Fat: 0.1g | Cholesterol: 134mg | Sodium: 1261mg | Potassium: 655mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 1g | Vitamin A: 297IU | Vitamin C: 7mg | Calcium: 246mg | Iron: 1mg

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Xx, Shanika in script writing

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