There are a few things in life that are worth the extra time and effort to make from scratch and a grilled chicken caesar salad is one of them!
Caesar salad tastes SO much better when you make it from scratch, from the flavorful grilled chicken and homemade caesar salad dressing to the crunchy croutons and fresh parmesan cheese. It just cannot compare! It's a wonderful salad recipe for Mother's Day, or Baby or Bridal Showers too!
Recipe Pairing Ideas:
- For starters try my savory Sweet Pea and Crab Panna Cotta or Gazpacho Shrimp Shooters
- For dessert try my N0-Bake Cheesecake or Lavender Creme Brulee!
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Making the Chicken Marinade
My classic chicken marinade for Caesar salad includes lemon, garlic, olive oil, salt and pepper, and Italian herbs. For the most flavorful chicken, I highly recommend marinating your chicken first. It will flavor it and tenderize it at the same time.
This marinade makes the chicken tender and juicy! I like to slice the chicken into diagonal strips because I think it looks prettier on the plate than cut into cubes.
The secret to making this "off-season" is having a great indoor grill pan and I cannot say enough good things about them. They are totally worth the investment and cheaper than a real BBQ!
What are the Key Ingredients for a Caesar Salad?
It can vary slightly but the basics for a Caesar salad include; romaine lettuce, parmesan cheese, croutons (homemade!), and of course homemade dressing!
A homemade caesar salad dressing will taste 100x better than anything you will buy in the store no matter how fancy the bottle may be! (sigh...yes I'm a sucker for nice packaging too, but don't be fooled!) This will taste so much better!
What is in a Caesar Salad Dressing?
The classic combination includes mayonnaise, Worcestershire sauce, parmesan cheese, anchovies or anchovy paste, a little olive oil, lemon juice, and lemon zest. It's as easy as it gets!
Anchovies vs. Anchoy Paste?
Even though you may be cringing, don't skip the anchovy paste! While traditional Caesar salad dressing is made with real anchovies, I like the cheat of the paste. Especially, if you are skirmish about using the anchovies, the paste is a nice foil for what lies behind!
It's also just as flavorful. It won't taste "fishy" but rather a bit salty and provide your dressing with a nice depth of flavor. Without the anchovy paste, your dressing will not have the depth of flavor and you will feel like something is missing! And it will be the anchovies!
Another key component to a homemade caesar salad is the croutons! These croutons steal the show with their garlicky, herby flavor that is so much better than store-bought.
Best Bread for Homemade Croutons
- I think the best bread to use for a Caesar salad is ciabatta bread.
- The nooks and crannies that this bread provides soaks up the Ceasar salad dressing perfectly as it rests in the crevices of the croutons.
- Ciabatta bread is also hearty enough to not get soggy under the weight of the dressing.
- You can also freeze the croutons after they cool and reheat in the oven to crisp them back up when ready to serve.
Keeping the Romaine Lettuce Whole
To give your salad a sophisticated presentation use whole romaine lettuce leaves and do not chop them. It makes for a prettier presentation and allows your guests the ability to cut the lettuce into bite-sized pieces as they enjoy it.
I like to finish this salad with pinenuts, parmesan cheese, and freshly cracked pepper!
More Spring Recipes!
- Creamy Cucumber Dill Salad
- Lemon Ricotta Pancakes
- Cheesy Egg Bake Casserole
- Lemon Strawberry Muffins
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- 1 head romaine lettuce
- 2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
- 1 clove garlic
- 1 tablespoon (15 ml) Italian Herbs
- zest of 1 lemon
- ½ cup (120 ml) of olive oil
- 2 tablespoon (30 ml) roasted pine nuts
- 3 cups (180 g) cibatta bread, cubed into ½ inch (13mm) cubes
- 3 tablespoon (45 ml) olive oil
- 1 garlic clove, minced
- salt and cracked pepper to taste
- 3 tablespoon (45 ml) prepared mayonnaise
- 1 teaspoon (5 ml) lemon zest
- 3 tablespoon (45 ml) lemon juice
- 1 teaspoon (5 ml) anchovy paste
- 3-5 dashes of Worcestershire sauce
- 2 tablespoon (30 ml) olive oil
- ½ cup (45 ml) of grated Parmesan cheese
- Begin by mixing the marinade for the chicken. Combine the garlic, lemon, herbs, olive oil, salt and pepper in a shallow dish and whisk until combined. Coat the chicken on all sides, cover and refrigerate for at least 30 mins.
- Meanwhile prepare your croutons. Combine the cubed bread, olive oil, garlic and salt and pepper in a bowl and toss until bread is well coated. Turn out onto a rimmed cookie sheet and bake at 375 for 20-25 mins, or until the croutons turn golden brown. Allow to cool and set aside.
- To prepare the dressing, combine mayonnaise, lemon zest and juice, anchovy paste, Worcestershire sauce, olive oil and cheese. Set aside.
- Grill chicken 7-8 mins each side until nice grill marks form and chicken is cooked through. Allow to rest for 10 mins on a cutting board before slicing.
- Toss the lettuce leaves with the croutons and dressing until well coated. Portion out 2-3 leaves per plate. Then slice the chicken on the diagonal and top on the lettuce, garnish with the roasted pine nuts and additional Parmesan cheese and freshly cracked pepper to taste.
The croutons can be frozen and reheated as needed
Nutrition Information:Yield: 4 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 629Total Fat: 40gSaturated Fat: 4gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 33gCholesterol: 56mgSodium: 505mgCarbohydrates: 45gFiber: 5gSugar: 26gProtein: 25g