This post may contain affiliate links. For more information, please see our affiliate policy.

No need to decide between chicken Caesar salad or pasta salad. This 30-minute lunch recipe combines both into one mash-up recipe that only gets better once you add crispy bacon and a simple homemade Caesar dressing.

Chicken Caesar pasta salad in a white bowl.

One of my all-time favorite summer potluck menu items, pasta salad, meets one of my go-to restaurant orders, chicken Caesar salad, with over-the-top delicious results in this easy 30-minute lunch recipe.

By now, you’re probably well aware that I’m a proponent of pasta salad any which way, as proven by my California Pasta Salad, BLT Pasta Salad, Seafood Pasta Salad, Easy Cold Pasta Salad, Italian Pasta Salad, and Greek Pasta Salad.

But this Cajun chicken-infused, lettuce-stoked salad is well-balanced and flavorful enough that I could eat it by the serving bowl-full every day with zero regrets. And even with the homemade salad dressing (which just so happens to be anchovy-free if you’re not a fan or struggle to find the itty-bitty fish), it comes together in half an hour, so I absolutely could whip it up daily.

Table of Contents
  1. Recipe ingredients
  2. Ingredient notes
  3. Step-by-step instructions
  4. Recipe tips and variations
  5. Recipe FAQs
  6. Chicken Caesar Pasta Salad Recipe

Recipe ingredients

Labeled ingredients for chicken Caesar pasta salad.

At a Glance: Here is a quick snapshot of what ingredients are in this recipe.
Please see the recipe card below for specific quantities.

Ingredient notes

  • Caesar dressing: Or substitute your favorite store-bought brand. See my Caesar dressing recipe for a classic version (with anchovies and whole egg), or follow the homemade salad dressing instructions below for an anchovy-free option.
  • Rotini: These short corkscrews are stellar as vehicles for a large amount of the Caesar dressing. Any small pasta works well, though. Use elbows, farfalle, gemelli, penne, or orecchiette, if you prefer.
  • Cajun seasoning: To make your own, in a small bowl, combine 3 tablespoons paprika, with 2 tablespoons garlic powder, 2 tablespoons Italian seasoning, 2 tablespoons salt, 1 tablespoon cayenne pepper, 1 tablespoon thyme, and 1 tablespoon onion powder. 
  • Croutons: To make your own, cut 1 loaf (1 pound) into cubes, then toss in a large bowl with ¼ cup oil, 1 teaspoon garlic powder, 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning, and ¼ teaspoon salt until combined. Spread on a rimmed baking sheet and bake in a 450-degree oven for 10 to 15 minutes.

Step-by-step instructions

  1. To make the dressing, in a small bowl, whisk together mayonnaise, lemon juice, Parmesan cheese, brown mustard, Worcestershire sauce, and salt and pepper to taste (I like ½ teaspoon salt and ¼ teaspoon pepper). Cover and refrigerate while preparing the rest of the salad.
Caesar salad dressing in a clear bottle.
  1. In a large saucepan or stock pot, bring 4 quarts water and 1 tablespoon salt to a boil. Add rotini and cook according to package instructions, about 9 to 11 minutes. Drain and rinse with cold water.
Cooked rotini in a silver colander.
  1. Meanwhile, arrange chicken on a baking sheet or work surface and sprinkle both sides generously with Cajun seasoning
Seasoned chicken on a baking sheet before being cooked.
  1. In large skillet, heat oil until shimmering. Arrange chicken in a single layer and cook, flipping once, until the temperature on an internal thermometer reaches 165 degrees, about 5 minutes on each side. Remove from heat and rest for 5 minutes. Slice into strips.
Chicken breasts being cooked in a silver skillet.
  1. In a very large bowl, combine cooled rotini, lettuce, croutons, and bacon.
Chicken Caesar pasta salad in a clear bowl before being mixed.
  1. Drizzle with Caesar salad dressing and toss until uniformly coated.
Someone pouring Caesar dressing into a bowl with chicken Caesarsalad.
  1. Top with chicken and garnish with Parmesan cheese.
Chicken Caesar pasta salad in a white bowl.

Recipe tips and variations

  • Yield: This recipe makes a whopping 16 servings in just 30 minutes, ideal for family lunches throughout the week or as part of a potluck menu. If desired, halve the recipe to feed a smaller crowd.
  • Storage: Store leftovers covered in the refrigerator for up to 4 days.
  • Make ahead: The salad dressing can be made up to 3 days in advance.
Three plates of chicken Caesar pasta salad.

Recipe FAQs

How does this homemade Caesar dressing taste so Caesar-y without the anchovies and raw eggs?

Instead of anchovies and raw eggs, this dressing recipe calls for staple ingredients like mayonnaise (there are your eggs) and Worcestershire sauce (ahem, anchovies). Add some spicy brown mustard and lemon juice for zing, season with salt and pepper, and your new favorite Caesar dressing is all set. If you find the dressing is too spicy or tangy, just add a little more mayonnaise.

Can I use leftover or rotisserie chicken in this Chicken Caesar Pasta Salad?

You bet. Skip Step 3 and 4 in this recipe. Instead, simply toss about 2 cups of leftover or Rotisserie Chicken chicken with the Cajun seasoning, then reheat the chicken until warm, then proceed with Step 5.

Caesar Salad

Master the classic from-scratch Caesar Salad, complete with crisp romaine, zesty herbed croutons, and a creamy homemade Caesar dressing. All of this salad recipe goodness can be yours just 20 minutes from now!

20 minutes
View Recipe

More substantial salads

Chicken Caesar pasta salad on a gray plate.

Chicken Caesar Pasta Salad

No need to decide between chicken Caesar salad or pasta salad. This 30-minute lunch recipe combines both into one mash-up recipe that only gets better once you add crispy bacon and a simple homemade Caesar dressing.
5 from 4 votes
Prep Time 10 mins
Cook Time 20 mins
Total Time 30 mins
Servings 16 servings
Course Salad
Cuisine American
Calories 251

Ingredients 

For the Caesar dressing (see note 1):

  • 1 cup mayonnaise
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice (from 2 lemons)
  • 2 tablespoons Parmesan cheese
  • 2 tablespoons spicy brown mustard
  • 2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper

For the pasta salad:

Instructions 

  • To make the dressing, in a small bowl, whisk together mayonnaise, lemon juice, Parmesan cheese, brown mustard, Worcestershire sauce, and salt and pepper to taste (I like ½ teaspoon salt and ¼ teaspoon pepper). Cover and refrigerate while preparing the rest of the salad.
  • In a large saucepan or stock pot, bring 4 quarts water and 1 tablespoon salt to a boil. Add rotini and cook according to package instructions, about 9 to 11 minutes. Drain and rinse with cold water.
  • Meanwhile, arrange chicken on a baking sheet or work surface and sprinkle both sides generously with Cajun seasoning
  • In large skillet, heat oil until shimmering. Arrange chicken in a single layer and cook, flipping once, until the temperature on an internal thermometer reaches 165 degrees, about 5 minutes on each side. Remove from heat and rest for 5 minutes. Slice into strips.
  • In a very large bowl, combine cooled rotini, lettuce, croutons, and bacon. Drizzle with Caesar salad dressing and toss until uniformly coated. Top with chicken and garnish with Parmesan cheese.

Notes

  1. Caesar dressing: Or substitute your favorite store-bought brand. See my Caesar dressing recipe for a classic version (with anchovies and whole egg), or follow the homemade salad dressing instructions below for an anchovy-free option.
  2. Rotini: These short corkscrews are stellar as vehicles for a large amount of the Caesar dressing. Any small pasta works well, though. Use elbows, farfalle, gemelli, penne, or orecchiette, if you prefer.
  3. Cajun seasoning: To make your own, in a small bowl, combine 3 tablespoons paprika, with 2 tablespoons garlic powder, 2 tablespoons Italian seasoning, 2 tablespoons salt, 1 tablespoon cayenne pepper, 1 tablespoon thyme, and 1 tablespoon onion powder. 
  4. Croutons: To make your own, cut 1 loaf (1 pound) into cubes, then toss in a large bowl with ¼ cup oil, 1 teaspoon garlic powder, 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning, and ¼ teaspoon salt until combined. Spread on a rimmed baking sheet and bake in a 450-degree oven for 10 to 15 minutes.
  5. Yield: This recipe makes a whopping 16 servings in just 30 minutes, ideal for family lunches throughout the week or as part of a potluck menu. If desired, halve the recipe to feed a smaller crowd.
  6. Storage: Store leftovers covered in the refrigerator for up to 4 days.
  7. Make ahead: The salad dressing can be made up to 3 days in advance.

Nutrition

Serving: 2cupsCalories: 251kcalCarbohydrates: 26gProtein: 16gFat: 9gSaturated Fat: 3gTrans Fat: 1gCholesterol: 33mgSodium: 332mgPotassium: 363mgFiber: 2gSugar: 1gVitamin A: 3866IUVitamin C: 2mgCalcium: 44mgIron: 1mg
Tried this Recipe? Pin it for Later!Mention @CulinaryHill or tag #CulinaryHill!
Website | + posts

Iā€™m the Executive Chef and head of the Culinary Hill Test Kitchen. Every recipe is developed, tested, and approved just for you.

Culinary School Secrets
Pro-level tricks to transform your cooking!

Meggan Hill

Iā€™m the Executive Chef and head of the Culinary Hill Test Kitchen. Every recipe is developed, tested, and approved just for you.

You May Also Like

Questions and Comments

Thank you for your comments! Please allow 1-2 business days for a reply. Our business hours are Monday through Friday, 9:00 am PST to 5:00 pm PST, excluding holidays. Comments are moderated to prevent spam and profanity.

Your email address will not be published.

Recipe Rating




This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Comments

  1. I gobble up tortellini way too fast for me to just keep on hand, but I love the idea of adding them to a salad, especially a caesar salad (one of my faves!)!

    1. Thanks Alyssa! I’m always looking for ways to get my toddler to eat more veggies, and mixing in something good like tortellini with vegetables goes a long way! If only it worked on my husband… wah wah!

  2. I love the addition of the cheese tortellini in this caesar salad. The salad looks so fresh and delicious! What a great, easy to make lunch or dinner!5 stars

    1. Thank you Danae! It’s still pretty hot in SoCal so salads like this keep me cool. :)

    1. Thank you so much Bri! Why eat just vegetables if you can also have a cheesy-filled pasta with your veggies? ;)

  3. This is a really interesting version of a classic crowd-pleaser salad, Meggan! The dressing sounds great, too!5 stars

    1. Thanks Helen! I did love the dressing, although I’m not very picky when it comes to salad dressing. :)

  4. What a wonderful way to customize Caesar salad, a nice break from chicken,I love it! I’m also not a fan of raw eggs in m Caesar dressing, so your dressing recipe is just “my type”. This salad looks fresh, I want to dig into it right now!

    1. Thanks Mira! :) Why risk it with raw eggs, right? Plus I love mayonnaise so that’s a bonus. :)

  5. This is really clever! It’s like a caesar and pasta salad had a baby, two of my favourites! Plus you’ve upped the stakes by using tortellini rather than ordinary pasta. I also like the simple dressing you’ve used and the quantity you make gets a big tick from me too! A pet peeve of mine are salad recipes that should be called “Mayo dressing with lettuce” rather than “Lettuce with mayo dressing” because the salad is DROWNING in dressing. So one of the first things I always do is check out the dressing recipe quantities and I like that yours is so sensible! Pinning!5 stars

    1. Thanks Nagi, glad you approve! :) Whew! I know what you mean though, so many times it’s something like, would you like some lettuce with your salad dressing? In this case it’s full-fat dressing all over the place too so it is definitely best to be judicious in your usage. Still trying to offer a salad here, after all! :) Thanks for the pin too!