An easy and healthy balsamic chicken caesar pasta salad recipe that is perfect for a hot summer day. This chicken caesar salad comes together in under 30 minutes, is packed with protein, and dressed in a low-fat homemade yogurt caesar dressing. A fun & healthy spin on the classic caesar salad recipe!
The best healthy caesar salad ever
Chicken caesar salad is a staple on most menus, but I have to say this remake is even better than the classic recipe! First, this healthy chicken caesar salad recipe uses simple and healthy ingredients. Second, this salad is dressing in a homemade caesar dressing made out of yogurt. By using non-fat Greek yogurt as a base for this healthy caesar salad dressing, we make it a high protein and low-fat dish. Plus, we are using pickle juice in place of the anchovies too! Trust me; it tastes like the real thing with all the traditional flavors you love.
Third, the chicken is super moist and marinated in a balsamic marinade. We pan-sear the chicken first to lock in all the juices, then pop it into the oven to finish off cooking. I must admit, the chicken is so tender, juicy, and flavorful! Way better than traditional grilled chicken.
Finally, we are spicing up this caesar salad by adding pasta. This makes it hearty enough to serve as a main dish! I even used Banza bowtie pasta which is a chickpea-based pasta that is gluten-free and is a wonderful source of fiber and additional protein.
This delicious caesar pasta salad will help keep you full and satisfied. After trying this recipe you will never want a basic chicken caesar salad again! Your family, kids, and friends will be begging you to make it again, trust me.
What makes this pasta caesar salad healthy?
This chicken caesar salad has so many nutritional benefits! It is a perfect recipe if you are looking to make a healthier choice. First, this recipe uses minimal, simple ingredients. Second, the dressing doesn’t use additives and has a greek-yogurt base that keeps it low-fat and high-protein.
In addition, chicken is one of the best lean sources of protein you can find. The chicken breast is prepared with a simple marinate, keeping it tasty and healthy. You can choose whatever type of pasta you prefer for the pasta portion, but if you are looking to keep the recipe gluten-free, there are some great options. For example, I use Banza pasta with 23 grams of protein per serving, keeping you full and satiated. Enjoy this tasty pasta salad guilt-free!
Ingredients in balsamic chicken caesar pasta salad
This healthier caesar salad recipe is super easy to make and is sure to be a family favorite! There are three sections of ingredients needed to make this healthy Summer recipe: the balsamic chicken, the homemade caesar dressing, and the salad. Here is a list of ingredients you need to make healthy balsamic chicken caesar pasta salad:
- Chicken breasts: First up, you’ll need 2 large chicken breasts that we are boiling to marinate in balsamic for extra flavor.
- Extra virgin olive oil: You just need 1 tablespoon of this healthy oil to help cook your chicken.
- Balsamic vinegar: use two tablespoons of balsamic vinegar to give your chicken the best flavor
- Garlic Clove: use 1 large garlic clove minced into your chicken marinade.
- Oregano: 1 teaspoon of oregano is all you will need!
- Salt and Pepper: just add in ½ teaspoon of salt and pepper for extra flavoring
- Pasta: I used Banza bowtie, but any pasta or pasta substitute will work!
- Cherry tomatoes: use about 20 halved cherry tomatoes
- Romaine: use 2 hearts chopped for the base of your salad
- Parmesan Cheese: use ¼ cup of shredded cheese for the best classic caesar taste!
healthy caesar dressing:
- Non-fat plain Greek yogurt: we use 1/4 cup of nonfat Greek yogurt as the base of this healthy caesar salad dressing. This makes the dressing creamy, low in fat, and high in protein! There is no mayo in this recipe.
- Extra-virgin olive oil: measure out 1 Tbsp of olive oil.
- Lemon: 1 Tablespoon of lemon juice is the perfect amount to add a tangy note to this caesar dressing.
- Pickle juice: in place of anchovies, we are using 1 Tablespoon of pickle juice.
- Dijon mustard: plus 1 teaspoon of dijon mustard for additional flavor and tanginess.
- Garlic clove: 1 minced garlic clove adds wonderful flavor.
- Freshly ground black pepper: a dash of pepper is needed.
Kitchen tools needed
Healthy chicken caesar salad is made using standard kitchen tools. Since we only need four items, you are going to love how easy clean up is going to be! Here’s a quick list of what you’ll need for this gluten-free salad recipe:
- Large Pot: You will use this to cook your pasta until it is al dente.
- Pasta strainer: This makes draining your cooked pasta so much easier.
- Saute Pan: One saute pan is needed to cook the juicy chicken.
- Mixing Bowls: I recommend using 1 large mixing bowl and 1 small mixing bowl
- Measuring cups: 1/2 teaspoon, 1 teaspoon, 1 Tablespoon, 1/4 cup, and 1 cup.
How to make healthy balsamic chicken caesar pasta salad
This caesar pasta salad is so easy to make, it is the perfect recipe to throw together for a summer lunch or dinner. This gluten-free recipe can be made in a few easy steps. Here is how to make the best healthy balsamic chicken caesar pasta salad ever:
First, prepare the tangy and juicy balsamic chicken by preheating the oven to 400°F and combining all the ingredients in a large ziplock bag to mix and marinate. Let the chicken marinate for at least 10 – 15 minutes.
Meanwhile, cook the pasta by bringing a pot of salted water to a boil on the stovetop and cooking the pasta to al dente. Once it is ready, strain the pasta, run it under cold water, and set it in the refrigerator to cool.
Now, grab a large saute pan and heat 1 Tablespoon of olive oil to medium-high heat. Add your chicken to the pan and let it cook for 3 – 5 minutes on each side. Then, carefully transfer the pan to the oven and continue to cook for 8 – 12 minutes, until the chicken is cooked through and no longer pink. Let chicken rest for 5 minutes before cutting into bite-sized pieces.
Meanwhile, prepare the healthy homemade yogurt caesar dressing by whisking all the ingredients together in a small mixing bowl. I recommend letting it sit for 5 minutes then tasting it to adjust seasonings to your liking. For a tangier dressing add 1 Tablespoon more of pickle juice and/or lemon.
Then, pour the dressing on top of the cold pasta and mix. Now, add the chopped romaine hearts, sweet cherry tomatoes, and balsamic chicken to the bowl with the dressed pasta. Use tongs to gently toss to combine until everything is combined and coated.
Sprinkle the salad with parmesan cheese and enjoy your healthy chicken caesar pasta salad!
Here are some quick tips to make sure you prepare the best chicken caesar pasta salad ever:
- Cook the pasta al dente. When making pasta salads, al dente pasta is the best because it ensures that the salad will not get soggy and fall apart.
- Mix the pasta and dressing first. Before adding your pasta to the salad with the chicken, I recommend mixing the homemade caesar dressing with the cooked and cooled pasta. This ensures that all the pasta is coated, and the flavor will be super delicious!
- Prepare the dressing and let it sit for at least 5 – 10 minutes. By allowing the yogurt caesar salad dressing to sit for a few minutes before serving, you ensure that all the wonderful flavors develop.
- Let pasta cool in the fridge. Strain, rinse and let your pasta cool in the refrigerator as you finish preparing the rest of the salad. No one likes a warm salad.
- Make it vegetarian! Simply leave out the chicken to make this caesar salad vegetarian! Instead, you can use chickpea pasta to ensure you are getting lots of protein in place of the chicken.
- Swap out the chicken for grilled shrimp. Not a fan of chicken, no worries! Switch the chicken out for grilled shrimp and make this a shrimp caesar salad.
Can I use rotisserie chicken?
Absolutely! If you want to make this caesar salad recipe even easier, then skip cooking your own chicken and either add in cut-up rotisserie chicken or pre-cooked grilled chicken. This is such an easy way to eat healthily and make this recipe no-bake.
How to store and meal prep
One of the best parts of this healthy caesar pasta salad recipe is that it is great for meal prep. If you have extras, you can easy to store and enjoy throughout the week.
How to store: Simply store leftover balsamic chicken caesar salad in the refrigerator for 3 – 4 days in one large sealed container or individual containers. There is no need to heat it up, because this salad is best enjoyed chilled or at room temperate.
Did you make this recipe?
If you make this recipe, be sure to comment and rate it down below. Also, don’t forget to tag me @healthfulblondie on Instagram and use the hashtag #healthfulblondie so I can see your delicious creation and share it with my followers!
If you loved this recipe, check these out!
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- Healthy Stuffed Chicken Parmesan Burgers
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Healthy Balsamic Chicken Caesar Pasta Salad
- 2 large chicken breasts, skinless and boneless
- 1 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- 2 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
- 1 large garlic clove, minced
- 1 tsp dried oregano
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp pepper
- 8 oz dried pasta, I used bowtie
- 20 sweet cherry tomatoes, halved (about 1 + 1/4 cups)
- 2 hearts romaine, chopped
- 1/4 cup shredded parmesan cheese
- 1/4 cup non-fat plain Greek yogurt, I used Chobani 0%
- 1 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 Tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
- 1 Tbsp pickle juice, I used Kosher Dill
- 1 tsp Dijon mustard
- 1 garlic clove, minced
- 1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
- Preheat oven to 400°F and bring a pot of salted water to a boil on the stovetop.
- In a large ziplock bag, mix together all the balsamic chicken marinade ingredients. Add in chicken, seal the bag and shake until chicken is evenly coated. Let marinate for at least 10 - 15 minutes.
- Cook pasta according to package until it is al dente. Strain pasta, run under cold water, and set in the refrigerator to cool while you cook the chicken.
- In a large saute pan, heat 1 Tablespoon of olive oil to medium-high heat. Add chicken to the pan and cook for 3 - 5 minutes on each side. Then, carefully transfer the pan to the oven and continue to cook for 8 - 12 minutes, until the chicken is cooked through and no longer pink. Let chicken rest for 5 minutes before cutting.
- Meanwhile, prepare the dressing by whisking all the ingredients together in a small mixing bowl. Taste and adjust seasonings as desired. For a tangier dressing add 1 Tablespoon more of pickle juice and/or lemon.
- Pour the dressing on top of the cold pasta and gently toss to fully coat each piece.
- Add the chopped romaine hearts and sweet cherry tomatoes to the bowl with the dressed pasta. Use tongs to gently toss to combine until everything is combined and coated.
- Slice the chicken breasts and add to the pasta salad.
- Sprinkle with parmesan cheese and enjoy!
Recipe by Tati Chermayeff / Healthful Blondie + Photos by The Travel Palate
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