Dear Chicken Caesar Pasta Salad, it’s time for your debut! This simple but splendid recipe has been my faithful barbecue, potluck, and easy lunch companion since the first summer we arrived in Wisconsin.
Ben’s parents live on a lake and, being the dutiful son and daughter-in-law that we are, we mooch off of their prime location as many warm weekends as we can.
Through the years, weekends on the lake have become one of my most valuable recipe testing grounds (e.g. this BLT Pasta Salad).
I slide my dish onto the table, then silently sit back and observe how the other guests react.
Second helpings, recipe requests, and the overall amount of leftovers (goal = none) each contribute to whether or not I decide if the recipe is a keeper (this Italian Pasta Salad was another recent winner).
Potluck salads, like 7 Layer Salad, often create a frenzy.
This tasty chicken Caesar pasta salad with its flavor combination of ingredients and pleasing contrast of textures? OFF THE CHARTS!
5 Star Review
“I made this for healthy lunches this week and I LOVE it. Thanks for a recipe that makes me look forward to mealtime!”— Audra —
How Do You Make Chicken Caesar Pasta Salad?
This crowd-approved side combines the key ingredients of chicken caesar salad—juicy chicken, crunchy greens, crispy croutons, salty Parmesan, and creamy caesar dressing—with whole wheat pasta and fresh cherry tomatoes to create a dish that’s tailor-made for lazy weekend days and quick weeknight dinners.
- Whole Wheat Pasta. ATTENTION whole wheat pasta skeptics! I beg you to try it. It’s my favorite way to sneak extra fiber, iron, and protein into just about any pasta recipe.
If you’re new to the whole wheat pasta scene, look for a high-quality option that won’t be heavy, mushy, or “wheaty,” once cooked al dente. (I like DeLallo.)
- Chicken. Any leftover cooked chicken breasts (like these Air Fryer Chicken Breast) will work for this easy pasta salad recipe (see FAQ section for more of my favorite methods). You can also use a pre-cooked rotisserie chicken from the store.
- Romaine Lettuce. Traditional and hearty enough to stand up to the other ingredients and maintain their texture long after the pasta is made, a key qualification of a potluck-worthy dish.
- Cherry Tomatoes. Bright, delicious little bursts of flavor! Plus, the red color is beautiful in the bowl.
- Croutons. For a bit of crunch and added texture.
- Parmesan. Nutty, cheesy, and perfectly suited for Caesar dressing (like in this Chicken Caesar Wrap).
- Dressing. I love using my delicious Homemade Caesar Dressing!
- Cook, drain, and rinse the pasta. Transfer into a large serving bowl.
- If necessary, cook the chicken and cut it into bite-sized pieces.
- Whip up the dressing (unless you already have some on hand).
- Toss the dressing with the remaining ingredients, the cooked pasta, and chicken until evenly coated. ENJOY!
How to Make Ahead and Store Caesar Salad
- To Store. Chicken caesar pasta salad tastes best the day it is made but will keep in the refrigerator for 2 to 3 days and can be made 1 day in advance.
- To Make Ahead. This salad can be made 1 day in advance.
- If you know you will be serving leftovers, you can make a little extra dressing and set it aside to toss on the leftovers before serving to keep them from drying out. No extra dressing? Try reviving the leftovers with a big squeeze of lemon juice.
Let the summer sunshine and the days of chicken caesar pasta salad begin!
Frequently Asked Questions
To cook the chicken in the Instant Pot, see this post for Instant Pot Chicken. To cook the chicken in the slow cooker, see this post for Crock Pot Shredded Chicken. To bake the chicken, see this post for Baked Chicken Breast. You can also grill it using my favorite Grilled Chicken Breast recipe.
If you’re looking for a shortcut, you can certainly opt to use your favorite store-bought caesar salad dressing. However, I may be biased, but I really think this homemade Greek yogurt caesar dressing is worth the extra (minimal) effort.
I don’t have a ton of experience making pasta salad with gluten free pasta so it would be an experiment. I know some varieties of gluten free pasta are better suited for cold pasta dishes than others so it may take some trial and error to find one that holds up well in this dish. If you find a winner, please share your results in the comments.
Chicken Caesar Pasta Salad
- 8 ounces whole wheat fusilli pasta or your favorite pasta shape
- 12 ounces chicken breast cooked and cut into bite-size pieces (about 1 very large or 2 small/medium breasts; see my easy method for cooking it here!)*
- 1 romaine lettuce heart chopped (about 8 ounces)
- 1 pint cherry tomatoes or grape tomatoes, halved
- 3/4 cup croutons
- 1/3 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
- 1 batch Homemade Caesar Dressing
- Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Cook the pasta until al dente, according to package instructions. Drain into a colander. Rinse under cold water, then shake off as much excess water as possible. Set aside to cool.
- Cut up some leftover cooked chicken breasts into bite-size pieces (or cook the chicken breasts according to this method for how to cook shredded chicken).
- Prepare the Homemade Caesar Dressing, if necessary.
- Shake out the pasta once more, then add the pasta to a large serving bowl. Top with the chicken, romaine, tomatoes, croutons, and Parmesan. Drizzle with Caesar dressing and toss to combine. Enjoy cold or at room temperature.
- *FAVORITE WAYS TO COOK CHICKEN: To cook the chicken in the Instant Pot, see this post for Instant Pot Chicken. To cook the chicken in the slow cooker, see this post for Crock Pot Shredded Chicken. To bake the chicken, see this post for Baked Chicken Breast.
- MAKE AHEAD: This salad can be made 1 day in advance.
- TO STORE: Chicken Caesar pasta salad tastes best the day it is made but will keep in the refrigerator for 2 to 3 days and can be made 1 day in advance.
- LEFTOVER TIP. Make a little extra dressing and set it aside to toss on the leftovers before serving to keep them from drying out. No extra dressing? Try reviving the leftovers with a big squeeze of lemon juice.
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