This grilled chicken Caesar salad is a summer classic with an easy, lighter dressing. Crisp romaine, tender grilled chicken, salty parmesan, and crunchy croutons in a bright lemony caesar dressing.
I’m a huge fan of having big salads for dinner.
This summer I have been having Caesar salad almost weekly so I thought it was time I finally shared my version of the BEST grilled chicken Caesar salad.
A few years ago I shared a recipe for Roasted Asparagus Caesar Salad. In that post, I made a homemade Greek yogurt Caesar dressing which is delicious and tastes just like traditional Caesar dressing.
It’s creamy, dreamy, and lighter in calories, and higher in protein.
However, for this post, I went with an even lighter Caesar dressing that I would almost describe as a Caesar vinaigrette.
I use some of the dressing for a chicken marinade and the rest to give the salad a big boost of flavor.
This salad is easy and light and perfect for summer!
Ingredients for grilled chicken Caesar salad
- Homemade Caesar vinaigrette – I made the most delicious lighter Caesar vinaigrette for this recipe. Packed with all the flavors you’re used to with less dairy. We also use part of the dressing as a marinade for the chicken!
- Romaine lettuce – Ultimate crunch! Romaine is traditional for Caesar salad but it also tastes great and goes well with all the textures of the salad. You can also grill the romaine if you’re feeling adventurous.
- Shaved Parmesan – I know we have Parmesan in the dressing but I love it even more over the top for serving.
- Croutons – Store-bought or homemade is fine. I really love my Homemade Garlic Butter Croutons for this recipe. They add ultimate crunch and garlic flavor.
- Boneless skinless chicken breast – I think chicken breast works really well for this recipe as it cooks up quickly and soaks up the marinade in just a few hours. I grilled my chicken but you can also pan fry or broil your chicken if you don’t have a grill.
- Olive oil – This is the base of our vinaigrette. I like to use extra virgin olive oil as I personally think it brings the best taste for dressing.
- Lemon juice – Brings acid and a bright fresh flavor to the salad.
- Parmesan cheese – For the dressing, I like freshly grated Parmesan cheese. It gives the best freshest flavor. I think using a higher quality Parmesan is best for this dressing.
- Garlic – I love garlic so feel free to use less (or more) depending on your general love of garlic.
- Dijon mustard – This adds richness and a little acid to the dressing.
- Worcestershire sauce – Just a few dashes for added umami flavor.
- Egg yolk – Egg yolk is traditional in Caesar dressing but this recipe will work if you opt not to use it. You can typically find pasteurized raw eggs in the grocery store.
Making Caesar salad in advance
It’s not often that making a green leafy salad in advance holds up well.
However, it can be done with his salad by following a few steps.
To make before dinner or lunch simply put together the chopped lettuce, croutons, and cooked and cooled chicken and toss in dressing right before serving.
You can also do this by pouring the dressing at the bottom of a salad bowl, gently placing the ingredients on top, and then tossed right before serving.
However, even with this advice, I don’t recommend making this salad more than a few hours before serving. The croutons run the risk of getting soft if left in the fridge for too long.
Additions and substitutions
Looking to add even more ingredients to your grilled chicken Caesar salad?
For a little more crunch and saltiness try adding crumbled cooked bacon.
How about some added richness? Try adding in some sliced or cubed fresh avocado.
Not a fan of chicken? How about leaving it off or using grilled shrimp instead?
Storage and leftovers
Dressed salad does not store well for leftovers. So I do not recommend making more than you think you’ll eat in one sitting.
However, if you have any leftover dressing it can store for up to a week in an airtight container.
More salad recipes
- Craving another option for a crunchy green salad? Try my Green Goddess Salad.
- Want to use up delicious summer tomatoes? Try my Grilled Sourdough Panzanella Salad.
- Need another way to enjoy Caesar salad? Try my Roasted Asparagus Caesar Salad.
- Love an easy dinnertime salad? Try my Crispy Chicken Sandwich with Cabbage Apple Slaw.
- 4 cloves garlic, pressed
- 2/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
- 1/3 cup lemon juice
- 1/3 cup fresh grated parmesan
- 2 tablespoons dijon mustard
- 1 tablespoon anchovy paste
- 2 teaspoons worcestershire sauce
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
- 1 pasteurized egg yolk, optional
- 1-1/2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breast cutlets
- 2 large heads of romaine lettuce, chopped and washed
- Shaved or shredded fresh parmesan, for garnish
- Croutons, for garnish
- Place garlic, olive oil, lemon juice, grated Parmesan cheese, mustard, anchovy paste, Worcestershire sauce, kosher salt, black pepper, and egg yolk, if using, large mason jar or medium mixing bowl.
- Tightly replace the jar lid and shake vigorously. Or, whisk until fully combined. Taste, and adjust seasoning if needed.
- Place chicken in a gallon-size ziplock baggie with 1/4 cup of dressing.
- Add chicken to the refrigerator and let marinade for at least 2 hours, up to 6 hours.
- Grill chicken on medium-high heat until the internal temperature registers 165 degrees F, about 5-7 minutes per side. Let rest for 10 minutes and slice thinly across the grain.
- Place the lettuce in a large serving bowl, and top with croutons and shredded fresh parmesan. Serve with the sliced chicken and the dressing. Serve immediately.
- To serve plated: Place 1/4 cup of dressing at the bottom of a large serving bowl. Add lettuce and toss to evenly coat. Plate lettuce, top with grilled sliced chicken and garnish with croutons, and shaved parmesan cheese.
- If you cannot find chicken breast cutlets (which are thinly sliced chicken breasts) you can pound out chicken breasts between 2 pieces of plastic wrap, until they are an even ½-inch thickness. This will ensure that they cook evenly.
- Anchovy paste can be found in the imported Italian aisle or specialty markets.