Chicken Caesar Pasta Salad
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Chicken Caesar Pasta Salad — The BEST version of a chicken Caesar salad because there’s tender pasta, too!! EASY, ready in 20 minutes, makes a big batch, and a guaranteed family FAVORITE!!
Easy Chicken Caesar Pasta Salad Recipe
This chicken Caesar pasta salad screams summertime picnics, potlucks, and casual backyard get-togethers. We’re probably not doing big gatherings this summer, but it’s great for your own family.
It makes a big batch so it’s great for planned leftovers and can be served warm, at room temp, or chilled.
This pasta salad is so easy to make, ready in 20 minutes, has all the flavors of a traditional Caesar salad, plus pasta. Everything tastes better with pasta, right? In addition to the tender pasta, there’s juicy chicken, tomatoes, and Parmesan cheese.
Everything is tossed in creamy Caesar dressing that’s spiked with a hint of balsamic vinegar for a touch of acidity to balance the flavor profile. The dressing is perfect and ties this family-friendly bow tie pasta salad together.
What’s in Chicken Caesar Pasta Salad?
To make this Caesar salad pasta salad recipe, you’ll need:
- Olive oil
- Chicken breasts
- Kosher Salt
- Black pepper
- Bowtie pasta
- Romaine lettuce
- Caesar dressing
- Balsamic vinegar
- Parmesan cheese
How to Make Caesar Pasta Salad with Chicken
To make this chicken Caesar pasta salad, first you first dice boneless skinless chicken breasts and then sauté them in a skillet with olive oil and season them with salt and pepper.
While the chicken is cooking, cook the bow tie pasta according to package directions, drain, and add to a large bowl.
Add the cooked chicken to the cooked pasta along with the lettuce, tomatoes, Caesar dressing, balsamic, Parmesan, and toss to combine.
What Type of Caesar Dressing Should I Use?
You can use any brand you like. I note in the recipe to use 3/4-cup, or to taste, because the thickness or viscosity of all dressings vary, as well as personal preference for dressing (some people like things drier and others want it really well coated), so start with 3/4 cup and add more if desired.
Can I Use Another Type of Pasta?
Yes, feel free to use any small-shape pasta you have on hand such as ziti, penne, wheels, small shells, or rotini. Whole wheat pasta would be fine in this recipe, too.
How Long Does Chicken Caesar Pasta Salad Last?
If you want to keep the lettuce from wilting, first chill everything in your mixing bowl for a few hours before adding the lettuce. I don’t have the patience or planning ability for this but you may.
Additionally, the lettuce will wilt regardless over the coming days as the leftovers sit in the fridge. It doesn’t taste bad but it’s not as visually appealing.
This is a recipe that looks it’s best in the first 12-24 hours of making it, but tastes just fine for up to 5 days.
Can I Omit the Chicken?
Yes, you’re welcome to omit the chicken to make this a classic Caesar pasta salad. Just note that the chicken also adds tons of flavor, so you may want to add extra veggies and / or Parm to make up for it.
Tips for Making a Caesar Pasta Salad
To save time, use a bag of Romaine lettuce rather than cleaning and chopping a head of it.
Another time-saving tip is to use pre-grated Parmesan cheese. Trader Joe’s, for example, sells small clear plastic containers of grated Parm for a very reasonable price. Feel free to use a Parmesan-Pecorino blend. Regular grocery stores also obviously sell similar cheese but TJ’s has better prices I’ve found.
In a pinch, you can use Parmesan in the green can. That shelf-stable Parm we all grew up with that we shook over our spaghetti, at least in my house, and we all loved it!
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 1.75 pounds boneless skinless chicken breasts, diced into bite-sized pieces
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt, or to taste
- 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, or to taste
- 1 pound bowtie pasta (ziti, penne, wheels, small shells, rotini, etc. may be substituted)
- one 10-ounce bag Romaine lettuce, or as desired
- 2/3 cup diced tomatoes (I used Roma; another variety of halved cherry or grape tomatoes may be substituted)
- 3/4 cup Caesar dressing, or to taste
- 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar (red wine vinegar may be substituted)
- 2/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese, or to taste
- To a large skillet, add the olive oil, chicken, season with salt and pepper, and saute for about 7 minutes, or until chicken is cooked through; stir and flip intermittently to ensure even cooking.
- While chicken is sautéing, cook pasta according to package directions, drain, and add to a very large bowl.
- Add the cooked chicken to the pasta bowl, the lettuce (See Note 1 below), tomatoes, slowly add the Caesar dressing (you can always add more but can't remove it so add slowly), balsamic, Parmesan (See Note 2 below), and toss well to combine and coat evenly.
- Taste, and if desired, add more salt, pepper, dressing, Parm, etc. to taste and either serve immediately, or at room temp, or chill before serving. Recipe looks it’s best in the first 12-24 hours of making it when stored airtight in the fridge, but tastes just fine for up to 5 days.
1. If you add the lettuce as I instruct without first chilling everything else in the bowl, the lettuce will be more prone to wilting, which doesn't change the taste, but isn't as visually appealing. To prevent this, chill for 2-3 hours or as necessary. Regardless whether you chill it or not, the lettuce will still wilt in the fridge in the coming days after it's coated with dressing, which is why I don't bother to chill everything first, but you may wish to if you have time and plan ahead.
2. Any type of grated Parmesan cheese is fine, based on your taste preferences, such as a container of grated Parmesan-Pecorino blend or a can of shelf-stable Parm in a green can.
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 466Total Fat: 24gSaturated Fat: 5gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 18gCholesterol: 100mgSodium: 783mgCarbohydrates: 22gFiber: 2gSugar: 2gProtein: 38g
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