This Caesar pasta salad features a creamy Ceaser dressing tossed with avocado, crisp lettuce, tomatoes, and al dente pasta. Mix in chicken for the ultimate summer meal.
Never face the dilemma of what side dish to bring to a summer barbecue again. Your summertime menu just got easier because I promise this simple Caesar pasta salad will be your go-to alongside grilled zucchini salad and Italian pasta salad.
Make it gluten-free and try it with this creamy vegan Caesar dressing as a dairy-free option.
It's one of our favorite salads because the al dente pasta tossed with crisp romaine lettuce, fresh tomatoes, and ripe avocados tossed in a creamy Caesar dressing is unmatched in taste and texture.
Add baked or grilled chicken on top for a main dish made for summer nights.
Looking for more pasta salad recipes? Try Mexican street corn pasta salad or Italian pasta salad.
Tell Me About this Caesar Pasta Salad
- It's a simple recipe with basic, straightforward ingredients and instructions.
- Juicy chicken adds protein and flavor.
- The ultimate summer pasta salad featuring seasonal produce.
- Easy to prep ahead.
- Delicious pasta salad full of flavor.
They're not pasta salad, but this cucumber avocado salad, summer corn salad, and grilled zucchini salad are a delicious match for grilled chicken or a side dish for a barbecue (along with many more cookout side dishes).
Grab These Simple Ingredients
Here are the simple ingredients for this chicken Caesar pasta salad recipe. Most are easy and affordable to find in grocery stores. Jump down to the recipe card for exact measurements.
- Pasta: we used gluten-free Rotini pasta, but we've also tested this with other short-grain pasta like penne pasta, fusilli pasta, or bowtie pasta. You can use traditional, whole wheat pasta, or gluten-free pasta.
- Caesar dressing (keep reading for a few options!)
- Large ripe avocado: you'll know it's ripe when it's still somewhat firm to touch, but gives slightly when you push down on the skin.
- Cherry tomatoes (would be so good from your garden!).
- Fresh romaine lettuce: this is traditional in Caesar salad and adds a great crunch. Try kale as an alternative.
- Boneless skinless chicken breasts: it adds protein to make it a complete meal. Grill it to get a charred flavor you can't get anywhere else.
- Add crunchy croutons or crispy chickpeas for some crunch.
- Omit the grilled chicken and stir in crispy chickpeas for a simple side or vegan option.
- Toss in some red onion or bacon crumbles.
- Toss in some salty parmesan.
Caesar Dressing Options
The caesar dressing is the star of this recipe, which means it's important to have a delicious quality recipe. What's in Caesar dressing? Usually a mix of mayo, garlic, mustard, lemon juice, salt, anchovy paste, and parmesan cheese.
- Homemade Caesar dressing: making your own Caesar salad dressing is really easy and this creamy dressing is our favorite. It takes 5 minutes to make and you make it with pantry staples.
- Store-bought dressing: grab a bottle of Caesar the next time you're at the grocery store. Any brand will work. We've tested this Tessamae Caesar dressing and love their clean ingredients.
How to Make Chicken Caesar Pasta Salad
The full recipe is below, but let’s walk through the steps with some photos and a video so you have a clear idea of what to expect. This creamy pasta salad recipe is easy, but these step-by-step instructions will make sure it turns out every time.
Make the Caesar dressing if you're making your own Caesar dressing. Pour ½ cup of dressing, homemade or store-bought, into a large bowl or plastic bag. Add the chicken breast and toss to coat. Marinate it in the fridge for 20 minutes.
Note: you can skip this step if you're using pre-cooked chicken or rotisserie chicken.
While it's marinating, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Cook pasta according to the package instructions. Wash and chop the romaine and tomatoes. Peel and chop the avocado.
When the pasta is done, drain it then add it to a large mixing bowl. Allow it to cool slightly while you cook the chicken.
Brush the grill grates with the oil of your choice. Heat a gas or charcoal grill over medium-high heat (400-425°F). When it's hot, remove the chicken from the marinade and shake off any excess marinade.
Grill the chicken with the lid closed for 9-10 minutes, flipping halfway through. The internal temperature should reach 155-160°F when you pull it off the grill, with a target temperature of 165°F as it rests.
Quick Tip: you can use leftover cooked chicken or purchase a rotisserie chicken to add to the pasta salad.
Add all of the chopped produce to the tender pasta and pour ¾ cup of Caesar dressing on top. Toss pasta to coat everything in the dressing. Slice the chicken into strips or cut it into cubes and place it on top.
Finish with another drizzle of Caesar dressing, fresh cracked black pepper and finely chopped parsley.
Caesar Pasta Salad: Frequently Asked Questions
A short cut pasta like penne, bowtie or rotini are best for pasta salads. Go even further and choose one that has a lot of twists and grooves (like rotini) to hold in all that creamy sauce or dressing.
Pasta salad with dressing on it will last up to 3 days in the fridge.
This caesar pasta salad is GREAT as is, but you could also add chopped bacon, hard boiled eggs, kale or croutons.
Most consider this an unhealthy option because of the amount of calories, sugar and or sodium in it. The dressing is option heavy and it's usually topped with croutons and parmesan cheese. However, this caesar pasta salad recipe calls for crispy chickpeas here and we also added avocado for healthy fat and used a vegan caesar dressing from scratch to keep the ingredients clean.
Storage and Make Ahead Instructions
- How to prep in advance: make the dressing, pasta and chickpeas up to 5 days in advance. Toss half the dressing with the pasta then prep the veggies and finish mixing. This saves tons of time!
- Traveling with it? If you're taking it to a party, leave the last half of the dressing and chickpeas off in separate containers. Top and toss right before serving.
- Store in the fridge: Cover tightly and store for up to 3 days. Note the avocado can turn brown after being cut and the lettuce won't be quite as crunchy.
If you make this recipe, I’d love for you to give it a star rating ★ below. You can also tag me on Instagram so I can see it!
More pasta salads:
Chicken Caesar Pasta Salad
For the caesar pasta salad
- 1 lb boneless skinless chicken breasts (Note 1)
- 1 (12 ounce) package of short cut pasta like rotini or bowtie pasta gluten-free if needed
- 1 ½ cups Caesar dressing homemade or store-bought
- 3 cups chopped romaine lettuce
- 1 avocado cut into 1 inch pieces
- 1 pint cherry tomatoes halved
- To top: fresh cracked black pepper, shaved parmesan cheese, and/or chopped parsley
- Large stock pot
- Make the Caesar dressing if you're making your own Caesar dressing. Pour ½ cup of dressing, homemade or store-bought, into a large bowl or plastic bag. Add the chicken breast and toss to coat. Marinate it in the fridge for 20 minutes.
- While it's marinating, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Cook pasta according to the package instructions. Wash and chop the romaine and tomatoes. Peel and chop the avocado.
- When the pasta is done, drain it then add it to a large mixing bowl. Allow it to cool slightly while you cook the chicken.
- Brush the grill grates with the oil of your choice. Heat a gas or charcoal grill over medium-high heat (400-425°F). When it's hot, remove the chicken from the marinade and shake off any excess marinade. Grill the chicken with the lid closed for 9-10 minutes, flipping halfway through. The internal temperature should reach 155-160°F when you pull it off the grill, with a target temperature of 165°F as it rests. See notes for baked chicken or pre-cooked rotisserie chicken.
- Add all of the chopped produce to the cooked pasta and pour ¾ cup of Caesar dressing on top. Toss pasta to coat everything in the dressing. Slice the chicken into strips or cubes and place it on top. Finish with another drizzle of Caesar dressing, fresh cracked black pepper, parmesan cheese and/or finely chopped parsley.