This delish Caesar Pasta Salad is cold and refreshing, just in time for summer!

A delicious pasta salad tossed with grilled chicken, parmesan cheese, and crisp romaine lettuce in a super quick Caesar dressing.

Serve as a hearty side dish, a light summer supper, or tuck it into a pita or wrap for a healthy midday lunch!

plated Caesar Pasta Salad with lemon slices

A Favorite Summer Meal

  • This meal is great made ahead of time and packs well for lunches all week.
  • Caesar pasta salad is full of goodness from protein, veggies, and dairy all into one delish dish!
  • It’s the perfect potluck dish because there is something for everyone.
  • So many variations to choose from. Use whatever pasta is on hand or use leftover or rotisserie chicken. Love kale Caesar salad, swap out the romaine for kale!
  • Toss with bottled dressing, use the shortcut version below or try our favorite from scratch Ceasar salad dressing.
  • Serve with extra homemade croutons or a slice of garlic bread and watch it disappear!
chicken caesar pasta salad ingredients

Ingredients and Variations

Pasta – Choose medium-sized pasta shapes that have ridges and spaces for the dressing to cling to. We like penne, rotini, and larger sizes of shells and macaroni.

Chicken – Grilled chicken makes this side dish salad a full meal deal! Make it with this DIY chicken seasoning blend or this spicy Cajun blend. Other delicious protein options are bay shrimp, smoked or grilled salmon, or diced salami.

Dressing – Caesar salad dressing has delicious lemon parmesan and garlic dressing.

Greek yogurt can be switched out for sour cream. To decrease the calories a bit, use light mayonnaise and low fat Greek yogurt or sour cream.

Additions – For a salad bar, offer a variety of toppings like extra parmesan cheese, shredded cheddar cheese, chopped hard-boiled eggs, bacon bits, sunflower seeds, or slivered almonds.

Do you HAVE to add anchovy paste?

NOPE! If it’s not your jam, skip the anchovy or add some chopped or slightly mashed capers in place.

But… I do recommend giving it a try! It adds a unique umami to the recipe and lasts a long time. I don’t love anything really ‘fishy’ so I just add a little, it does add a special flavor to the dressing!

How to Make Caesar Pasta Salad

This salad is delicious and so easy to throw together! The steps are simple:

  1. Make the dressing (per recipe below) and refrigerate.
  2. Cook pasta al dente according to package directions. Drain and rinse under cold water.
  3. Grill seasoned chicken until the internal temperature reaches 165°F, remove from the grill and let rest.
  4. Chop chicken. Combine all ingredients in a bowl and toss with the desired amount of dressing. Top with additional croutons.

Pro Tip for Firm Pasta

After draining, plunge pasta into a bowl of ice water for about 2 minutes to stop the cooking process, then thoroughly drain again

bowls of Caesar Pasta Salad

Tips for Caesar Pasta Salad

  • Make the dressing first so the flavors can blend. I often double the dressing to have Caesar salad later in the week too!
  • As with all pasta recipes, be sure to salt the pasta water. Use any medium pasta shape.
  • Use grilled chicken, rotisserie chicken, or leftover chicken to make this recipe quick.
  • To make this meal a side dish, leave out the chicken.
  • Homemade dressing is best but you can certainly substitute bottled Caesar salad dressing if you prefer.
  • Bacon or real bacon bits will both work perfectly in this recipe. Skip the imitation bacon, it will get soggy.
Caesar Pasta Salad in bowl with lemon

Storing Caesar Pasta Salad

  • Store dressing/salad in the fridge for up to 2-3 days. If stored longer, there is a risk that the garlic may produce botulism, a serious toxin, and this is not a risk worth taking.
  • Add fresh chopped romaine lettuce and salad dressing, if desired.
  • To make ahead, mix all the ingredients except the dressing and refrigerate. Add the dressing just before serving.

More Pasta Salads That Eat Like a Meal

These pasta salads are a full meal in a bowl and best of all, they keep a few days for lunches!

plated Caesar Pasta Salad with lemon slices
4.91 from 20 votes↑ Click stars to rate now!
Or to leave a comment, click here!

Caesar Pasta Salad

Loaded with the traditional Caesar Salad flavors in a creamy garlic lemon dressing, this meal is both flavorful and filling!
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes
Servings 8 servings
Author Holly Nilsson

Ingredients  

  • ¾ pound penne or other medium pasta
  • 2-3 chicken breasts
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • seasoning to taste cajun seasoning, salt & pepper, etc
  • 6 cups romaine lettuce chopped
  • 1 cup croutons
  • ½ cup parmesan cheese shredded
  • 6 slices bacon cooked and crumbled
  • lemon wedges for serving

Dressing

  • 1 cup mayonnaise
  • ½ cup Greek yogurt or sour cream
  • cup parmesan cheese shredded
  • 3-4 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 2 cloves garlic minced
  • 1 ½ tablespoons anchovy paste
  • 1 tablespoon dijon mustard
  • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
  • salt & fresh black pepper to taste

Instructions 

  • Combine all dressing ingredients in a large bowl. Refrigerate.
  • Cook pasta al dente according to package directions. Run under cold water and drain well.
  • Season chicken breasts with olive oil and seasoning to taste. Grill over medium heat 4-5 minutes per side or until juices run clear. (165°F). Rest until cooled then chop or slice.
  • Combine all salad ingredients in a large bowl. Toss with desired amount of dressing.
  • Serve immediately.

Video

Notes

  • Make the dressing first so the flavors can blend. I often double the dressing to have Caesar salad later in the week too!
  • As with all pasta recipes, be sure to salt the pasta water. Use any medium pasta shape.
  • Use grilled chicken, rotisserie chicken, or leftover chicken to make this recipe quick.
  • To make this meal a side dish, leave out the chicken.
  • Homemade dressing is best but you can certainly substitute bottled Caesar salad dressing if you prefer.
  • Bacon or real bacon bits will both work perfectly in this recipe. Skip the imitation bacon, it will get soggy.
4.91 from 20 votes↑ Click stars to rate now!
Or to leave a comment, click here!

Nutrition Information

Calories: 537 | Carbohydrates: 38g | Protein: 27g | Fat: 30g | Saturated Fat: 7g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 14g | Monounsaturated Fat: 8g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 64mg | Sodium: 706mg | Potassium: 503mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 3g | Vitamin A: 3194IU | Vitamin C: 5mg | Calcium: 178mg | Iron: 2mg

Nutrition information provided is an estimate and will vary based on cooking methods and brands of ingredients used.

Course Main Course, Pasta, Salad, Side Dish
Cuisine American

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plated Caesar Pasta Salad with writing
close up of Caesar Pasta Salad in a bowl and plated with writing

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About the author

Holly is a wine and cheese lover, recipe creator, shopping enthusiast and self appointed foodie. Her greatest passion is creating in the kitchen and making deliciously comforting recipes for the everyday home cook!
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Comments

  1. This is going to be good; made the dressing ahead of time for supper Monday night.
    Then I realized I have pasta planned for Tuesday night and I generally don’t do pasta 2 nights in a row. So I’m subbing baby potatoes for the pasta! And I did 50% whole milk Greek yogurt and 50% mayo for the dressing. A bit lighter but still really delicious! Everything on this blog is delicious.

  2. Made this for supper last night and it was the perfect change from a classic Caesar salad. Thanks for the easy and delicious recipe!5 stars

  3. Sounds good! At the top it says it can be prepared ahead, but at the bottom it says serve immediately.

    Is there any advice on how to prepare ahead? Like make the chicken and pasta? Or only the chicken and combine the rest the day you’re serving?

    1. Prep all ingredients in advance, and toss them together before serving Kelly. Enjoy!

  4. The dressing is out of this world, Amazing! My family and I loved this recipe. I made it just as directed, delish! Thank you for this recipe!5 stars

  5. This looks delicious!! What is the serving size? Is the nutritional value for the entire salad or per serving? I may have missed this info. Thanks

    1. This recipe serves 8 so the serving size would be ⅛th of the recipe, approximately 1 ¼ cups. The nutritional information is for 1 serving.

  6. I skipped putting in the Romaine and put in broccoli . Yum, even my dad who hates broccoli ate it! bravo !!