A delicious and easy chicken caesar pasta salad recipe that uses simple ingredients, with “shortcut” options to get dinner on the table even faster! Definitely one of our favorite salad recipes to date!
Time Saver: Chicken, pasta, lettuce, parmesan cheese, and caesar dressing are all it takes to make this chicken pasta salad! Save even more time by using rotisserie chicken and a caesar salad kit!
Chicken Caesar Salad Recipe
How do you make a Caesar salad better?
A regular caesar salad can be a great side dish idea but if you want to kick things up a notch, adding cooked pasta to it, can not only add a beautiful touch but it adds an amazing texture!
More Salad Recipes You’ll Love:
- This Italian Chopped Salad is similar but uses a different dressing and different pasta.
- It’s the most shared salad recipe (visited over 250,000 times a year) but can quickly turn in to a main dish by adding protein!
- This Thai salad with noodles is a twist on a pasta salad that can be enjoyed as a quick dinner or even lunch!
Expert tips and FAQ’s
If you love speeding things up in the kitchen, this recipe is the PERFECT dinner idea to use shortcuts on!
Rotisserie chickens are a quick way to add shredded chicken. Or, you can use pre-cooked diced chicken, canned chicken or leftover chicken.
The most popular type of lettuce to use is chopped romaine. However to speed things up you can use a caesar salad kit from the grocery store!
If you’re using a caesar salad kit, the dressing usually comes with it and this usually has a great flavor. However, brands such as Ken’s Steakhouse Caesar and Newman’s Own Caesar are great brands as well. If you prefer homemade, you may love this homemade caesar dressing.
How to make this recipe
Scroll down to see the full printable recipe card that you can save for later! However I love to walk you through with photos and tips to help you make it the best chicken caesar pasta salad!
Although I used rotini noodles in this recipe, you can use other types of noodles such as:
- bowtie pasta (or farfalle)
- elbow pasta
- or pasta of your choice!
1 cup uncooked rotini (or desired noodle type)
Cook the pasta according to directions on the package or box that the pasta came in. (Al dente) Drain and rinse with cold water. Set aside.
If you’re using raw chicken for this recipe, you’ll want to start by cooking it. You can cook it using the Instant Pot, baking it, searing in a cast iron, air frying, grilling, smoking, or boiling!
You can also use canned chicken, a rotisserie chicken or frozen cooked chicken from the grocery store.
1 cup cooked chicken
Shred the cooked chicken or chop in to small, 1-inch cubes for easier eating. If you have warm, cooked chicken that needs shredded, and have a mixer handy, this is a great, fast way to shred chicken. Or, you can use two forks to shred the hot chicken without burning your hands.
TIP: Hot chicken shreds easier than cold chicken.
Let the chicken cool while you prep the rest of the salad ingredients.
I’ve found that romaine works best for caesar salads but feel free to use leaf lettuce or head lettuce if that’s all you have on hand. Those may have more of a bitter taste for this salad so romaine is ideal but it’s definitely not a must.
2 stalks of romaine lettuce
For a salad that will serve 4, as the main dish, you’ll want at least 2 stalks of romaine lettuce. Wash, dry (spin in a salad spinner if you have one), and chop the lettuce in to bite-size pieces, discarding the core.
Place in a serving bowl that will be big enough to allow room for the pasta, chicken and toppings.
Or, you can use a caesar salad kit from the grocery store to keep things really easy. You’ll want a kit that’s about 11 oz. (give/take) to get as close to 2 stalks of romaine. (Keep in mind if you use a salad kit, this should come with dressing and parmesan cheese, however you’ll be adding pasta and chicken so ideally you’ll want more dressing, parmesan and croutons than what comes with the kit.)
Add cold, cooked pasta & chicken
This is a great time to add the cold, cooked and drained pasta and cooked chicken to the salad.
Croutons are completely optional for this recipe but they do add a great texture and flavor! You can even experiment and try flavored croutons like garlic and herb, cheddar, etc.
1 cup croutons
Pour 1 cup of croutons on top of the chopped romaine lettuce, chicken and pasta.
Shredded Parmesan cheese
The parmesan cheese adds the perfect “bite” to a caesar salad and although it can be served without it, I highly recommend using it for a punch of flavor!
You can buy shredded parmesan in the grocery store, or you can shred or even shave block parmesan for creative flair!
Note: You can use grated parmesan if that’s what you have on hand.
1/2 cup shredded parmesan
Sprinkle 1/2 cup shredded parmesan on the top of the lettuce, chicken, pasta and croutons.
You can use store-bought or homemade caesar salad dressing for this recipe. (See tips above for recommended brands and recipes.)
1 cup caesar dressing
Right before serving, toss the salad with 1 cup of caesar dressing, until the dressing is evenly disbursed through the salad.
Black pepper, optional
If you like the flavor of cracked pepper or black pepper on salad, this is a great addition and adds tons of flavor to a caesar salad!
Desired amount of pepper
After tossing with caesar dressing, grind the amount of black pepper that is desired and toss.
Toss salad to evenly coat
What else can I add to Caesar salad?
If you’re looking for more toppings to add to this salad, here are some great ideas to experiment with:
- cooked, chopped bacon
- grilled shrimp
- steak bites
- sunflower seeds, hulled
- chopped carrots
- boiled eggs
What to serve with Chicken Caesar Salad
Serving a side dish like focaccia bread with this salad is a great pairing!
More Pasta Salads
This recipe originally appeared on Tornadough Alli where I shared this with her audience too!
Chicken Caesar Pasta Salad
- 2 stalks romaine lettuce
- 1 cup cooked chicken shredded or cubed
- 1/2 cup shredded Parmesan
- 1 cup uncooked rotini or favorite pasta (see blog post)
- 1 cup croutons
- 1 cup Caesar dressing
- black pepper optional
- Cook pasta according to package directions, drain, run cold water over it and drain again. Set aside.
- Cut up romaine lettuce in to bite-size pieces, discarding the core.
- In a large bowl, add lettuce, cold pasta, cooked chicken, parmesan cheese, croutons, dressing, and finally, black pepper if desired.
- Toss to coat salad with dressing.
- Serve immediately so the lettuce does not get soggy.