Chicken Caesar Salad Recipe
I used to think Caesar salad was the most boring of all salads. Well, after the wedge salad of course. But after I concocted homemade dressing to go with this chicken Caesar salad recipe, it’s my favorite salad. The flavor of fresh Caesar dressing made from scratch is so vibrant. It’s satisfyingly salty from the anchovy paste and salt, balanced with a puckering kick from the lemon juice. And smooth, creamy homemade mayonnaise makes me want to lick it right out of the bowl.
Why is it Called Caesar Salad?
Did Julius Caesar eat this salad after a long hard day ruling the Roman empire? Not quite. The infamous Caesar salad is actually named after an Italian immigrant who was living in Mexico. Caesar Cardini invented the salad on a busy day at his restaurant back in 1924, when ingredients in the kitchen were running low. Isn’t that funny? It was sort of an accident or a solution to a dire situation and now 100 years later, it’s still a wildly popular salad.
What was in the Original Caesar Salad?
Back in 1924 when Caesar Cardini was rummaging about in his restaurant’s kitchen to feed hungry customers, he only had a few ingredients to work with. He created a salad just from lettuce, olive oil, eggs, croutons, Worcestershire sauce and parmesan cheese. I don’t think he meant to create a timeless dish, but it was a hit with the crowds and the rest is history.
Shredded Chicken Caesar Salad
I decided to amp up the protein in this chicken Caesar salad recipe so it could be served as a full meal on its own. Today, Caesar salad is the star of the show instead of the warm-up act. And shredded chicken is the perfect addition. It tastes great cold and it’s easy to distribute amongst the lettuce leaves and Caesar dressing. You could shred a rotisserie chicken from the store, or cook it in the crockpot or Instapot. I prefer cooking it in the Instapot because it’s quick and it yields the most tender, juicy shredded chicken. But if you don’t have an Instapot, or if you like cooking your chicken in the oven instead, follow these shredded chicken instructions!
Homemade Caesar Dressing
Listen, you’ll never buy the bottled Caesar salad dressing from the store after you make your own at home. It doesn’t take very long to make, and the taste is infinitely better. The ingredients required to make homemade Caesar dressing are relatively easy to find, except perhaps for the Worcestershire sauce and anchovies. Luckily both have quite long shelf lives in the fridge. I personally leave out the Worcestershire sauce in my Caesar salad, but if you like the flavor it adds, whisk in a teaspoon to the dressing.
Many Caesar salad recipes call for whole anchovies, but I prefer using anchovy paste. I don’t have to make my cutting board smell like fish, and it’s easier to store in the fridge. You could also leave the anchovies out if you prefer, but they add a really unique umami flavor.
Homemade mayonnaise is the base of Caesar dressing, made from just olive oil and a raw egg yolk. Now, the dressing doesn’t get cooked, so technically, yes, we’re eating raw egg. The egg is essential to emulsifying the dressing, creating a thick, creamy texture without any dairy. If you’re nervous about consuming raw egg, you could pasteurize or semi-cook your egg first following this method.
Ah, my favorite part, the bread. Homemade sourdough croutons, to be specific. You don’t have to use sourdough bread either – that’s just what we usually eat. Making croutons in the oven is a great way to use up any stale bread or day old bread you may have laying around. Just cut or tear the bread into chunks and coat with olive oil. You could get fancy with your flavor additions by sprinkling in some salt, pepper, parmesan and garlic powder. Bake in the oven for about 15 minutes and voila! Crispy, flavorful homemade croutons!
How Do You Keep Croutons Crispy?
If want your croutons to stay crispy and crunchy, there are a few tips I can share. First, while baking your croutons, space them out in an even layer on the baking sheet. If they are piled on top of each other, they’ll steam and add moisture to the bread, which causes croutons to be soggy. Second, when you store leftover croutons, make sure they’re fully cooled. If they’re still warm, they will cause moisture to accumulate in your container, which will leave you with soggy croutons. Finally, you can place a paper towel in your container with your croutons to absorb any excess moisture. I use this trick for leafy greens as well, which helps prevent them from wilting too fast.
Chicken Caesar Salad Recipe
- 2 pounds skinless chicken breast
- 1 cup vegetable stock
- 1 tsp salt
- ½ tsp black pepper
- 1 tsp garlic powder
- 5 cups chopped or torn bread
- 3 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
Caesar Salad Dressing
- 1 egg yolk
- ¾ cup extra virgin olive oil
- 1 tsp anchovy paste
- 1 clove garlic, finely minced
- 3 Tbsp lemon juice, freshly squeezed
- ¼ cup grated parmesan cheese
- pinch black pepper
- salt to taste
- 1 head romaine lettuce, cut into bite-sized pieces
- 1 cup parmesan cheese
- lemon slices for topping, optional
- In an Instapot, mix together the chicken, stock, salt, pepper and garlic powder. Secure the lid and set it to seal. Cook on manual for 10 minutes, then allow it to release the pressure naturally for 5 minutes. Release any remaining pressure by switching the lid to vent.
- Use two metal forks to shred the chicken. Let it cool in the stock while you prepare the rest of the salad components.
- Preheat the oven to 400°F. Toss the chopped or hand-torn bread cubes with the olive oil and arrange in an even layer on a baking sheet. Bake for about 15 – 20 minutes, until the croutons are golden and crispy.
Caesar Salad Dressing
- Make the mayonnaise by first adding the egg yolk into a medium mixing bowl. While constantly whisking the egg yolk, add the olive oil as slowly as you can, over the course of a few minutes. It will thicken and turn into creamy mayonnaise.
- To the mayonnaise, add the remaining dressing ingredients and whisk to combine.
Assemble the Caesar Salad
- To assemble your Caesar salad, toss the lettuce and parmesan cheese with the cooled shredded chicken and Caesar salad dressing. Divide it onto plates or into bowls and top with the homemade croutons and optional lemon slices.Enjoy!