If you like Caesar salad even just the tiniest bit, then your belly is going to be giddy over this creamy Caesar Chicken Pasta! The lightened up creamy Caesar Parmesan sauce is cheesy, garlicky, lemony, salty and just plain addicting as it smothers all the nooks and crannies of pillowy tortellini and juicy chicken. This might just be your new favorite pasta – ever, or at least tied with this Caesar Pasta Salad.
This creamy Caesar Chicken Pasta is bursting with the kind of epic deliciousness you can’t even imagine. It has a few components but some of the steps are optional such as marinating your chicken and making Garlic Croutons. Both are simple to do, but not necessary if you are in a rush or just feeling plain lazy (which happens to me all the time). So this Caesar Chicken Pasta recipe can be as quick and simple as you want it to be – just don’t skimp on the Caesar Parmesan Sauce – it’s worth every second.
If you are skipping the chicken marinade, you can use store bought rotisserie chicken, or shrimp would also be quick and delicious. If you are making your own chicken, however, I highly suggest marinating it as the marinade is just a few simple ingredients of olive oil, lemon juice, Dijon, salt and pepper, and it makes the chicken WAY more tender and juicy. Which means WAY better chicken.
Next, its Garlic Crouton time! We toss our French baguette cubes with olive oil, a sprinkling of Parmesan cheese and dashes of garlic powder and salt and then bake for approximate 10 minutes for “the best croutons [you’ve] ever had.” (or so says my husband)
Finally, the crowning glory of the Caesar Chicken Pasta – the Caesar Parmesan sauce. It’s epic for a few reasons – it’s lightened up using only 1 tablespoon of butter and no heavy cream or half and half but tastes crazy creamy thanks to a roux, parmesan cheese and light cream cheese. This Caesar Parmesan Sauce is also bursting with Caesar flavor thanks to the addition of loads of garlic, lemon juice, Dijon, Worcestershire sauce and fish sauce.
Traditional Caesar salad dressings contain anchovies, which I’ve used once in a dressing. If you don’t want to use anchovy, I’ve found using Asian fish sauce adds the same salty flavor with just a splash of a painless teaspoon. If you’ve never bought fish sauce before, it can be found in the Asian section of most grocery stores and if you do much Thai cooking, (like my One Pot Thai Chicken Noodle Soup or 30 Minute Thai Red Curry Chicken), it will be gone in a flash. But more likely, it will be gone in a flash from this Caesar Chicken Pasta being on constant dinner repeat. It’s just that good. Enjoy!
Chicken Caesar Pasta
Chicken Marinade (optional)*
- 2-3 boneless skinless chicken breasts pounded to an even thickness
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
- ½ tablespoon Dijon mustard
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon pepper
- 20 ounces quality tortellini
- 3 tablespoons olive oil divided
- 1 tablespoons butter
- 2-4 garlic cloves minced
- 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 2 cups milk
- 1 ½ tablespoons lemon juice
- ½ tablespoon Dijon mustard
- 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
- 1 teaspoon Asian fish sauce
- 2 teaspoons chicken bouillon
- ½ teaspoon EACH dried parsley, dried basil, onion powder, salt
- ¼ teaspoon EACH dried oregano, pepper, red pepper flakes
- ½ cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
- 2 ounces cream cheese softened (I use ⅓ less fat)
Garlic Croutons** (optional)
- 3 cups cubed French baguette bread approx. ½-1”
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 tablespoons finely grated Parmesan
- ¼ teaspoon garlic powder
- ⅛ teaspoon salt
- freshly grated Parmesan cheese
- fresh parsley
- Add all chicken marinade ingredients to a large freezer bag or bowl and whisk to combine. Add chicken, toss to evenly coat. Refrigerate at room temperature for 30 minutes or refrigerate up to 4 hours.
- Preheat oven to 400°F. Whisk together olive oil, Parmesan, garlic powder and salt in a medium bowl. Add cubed bread and gently toss until evenly coated. Spread bread in an even layer on a baking sheet and bake for approximately 10 minutes or until golden.
- Cook pasta al dente according to package directions in salted water. Remove 1 cup pasta water before draining.
- Meanwhile, heat one tablespoon olive oil in a large skillet over medium high heat. Remove chicken from marinade and dab off excess then add to hot skillet and cook, undisturbed, for 3-5 minutes, or until nicely browned on one side.
- Turn chicken over, cover, and reduce heat to medium. Cook for approximately 5-7 more minutes (depending on thickness of chicken), or until chicken is cooked through. Remove to a cutting board and let rest 5 minutes before chopping or slicing.
- For the sauce, melt 1 tablespoon butter in 2 tablespoons olive oil over medium heat in a large skillet. Add garlic and sauté 30 seconds. Sprinkle in flour and cook while stirring for 2 minutes (it will be thick).
- Turn heat to low then slowly whisk in milk, followed by lemon juice, Dijon, Worcestershire sauce, fish sauce, chicken bouillon and all seasonings.
- Increase heat to medium high and bring the sauce to a simmer until slightly thickened, stirring constantly.
- Reduce heat to low and stir in cream cheese until melted followed by Parmesan cheese until melted.
- Stir in tortellini and chicken until well coated and heated through, adding additional reserved pasta water a little at a time if needed to reach desired consistency.
- Taste and season with additional salt, pepper and/or lemon juice to taste.
- Garnish with freshly grated Parmesan Cheese, crouton and fresh parsley if desired.
(Nutrition information provided is an estimate and will vary based on cooking methods and brands of ingredients used.)