Caesar Salad has always been one of my favorite salads and adding pasta to create Caesar Pasta Salad takes it to the next level! This is one of my favorite Pasta Salad Recipes because it blends the iconic salad and tender pasta together beautifully. The chicken and bacon round it out to make it a hearty, eats-like-a-meal salad.
Like all my Pasta Recipes, Caesar Pasta Salad is bursting with flavor, super simple, and feeds a crowd. You’re going to love the creamy, made-from-scratch dressing!
So, Let’s get started!
Caesar Pasta Salad brings everything I love from the classic salad and amps it up with the yummy additions of chicken, bacon and our homemade dressing. Its versatility is another great aspect of this salad. You can add in extra veggies or leave something out if it doesn’t suit you without losing any of the Caesar flavor!
Here are a few more reasons I love this recipe:
- Feeds a crowd
- Great make-ahead option
- Super simple to make
- Hearty enough for a meal
Just like any Pasta Salad, Caesar Pasta Salad is quite easy to make with commonly found ingredients. Just remember you’ll need to plan ahead a bit to allow time for the dressing, pasta, and meat to get cozy!
Be sure not to overcook your pasta. Pasta soaks up dressing and softens as it sits. Don’t cook the pasta beyond al dente and cool down it with a cold water rinse immediately after cooking.
Making bacon crumbles- I like to cut the bacon partially frozen. First, cut it into long strips. Then, pile all the strips up and cut it into smaller pieces. Fry in a skillet or cook in the oven. Drain on a paper towel and pat with a second towel to remove as much grease as possible. If you want to cook it first, chopping in the food processor is a another great way to make bacon bits.
I use mini penne pasta, but you can use any type of pasta you like. I also like to use spiral shaped pastas like fusilli and cavatappi. Their nooks and crannies are perfect for holding the delicious dressing!
Don’t be afraid of the anchovy paste. It doesn’t overpower the dressing and adds a lovely, tangy twist!
Rotisserie chicken is a perfect option for this salad. It’s super convenient and delicious! Of course, you can simply bake a whole chicken, or a package of boneless, skinless breasts would work as well.
Since this Caesar Pasta Salad is a mayo based dressing, make sure to keep refrigerated. The worry about mayo dressing spoiling and causing food poisoning is actually quite minimal. However, the salad will hold its texture best if kept cold.
Can You Freeze This?
Pasta salads with a creamy dressing like Caesar Pasta Salad don’t freeze very well. However, this salad holds beautifully for several days in the fridge!
Make Ahead Tips
Caesar Pasta Salad feeds at least 10-12 people. It’s perfect for parties and family gatherings! If you’ve got an extra-large crew, it doubles or even triples easily!
If you’re making this more than a day in advance, I suggest storing everything separately. Just give the pasta, chicken, and the rest of the ingredients except the lettuce several hours to mingle with the dressing. Stir in the romaine just before you serve.
How Long Can You Keep This?
Food safety guidelines say that this salad will keep for 3-4 days in the fridge.
Can I Substitute Chicken Caesar Pasta Salad Cheddars Instead Of Parmesan?
Changing up the cheese in this Caesar Pasta Salad is a great way to bring a different taste. Chunks of hard cheddar will add fantastic texture and another layer of tangy deliciousness. Other yummy cheese options include feta or fresh mozzarella.
Can I Change The Dressing In This Recipe?
If Caesar dressing isn’t your thing, you can certainly make Pasta Salad With Italian Dressing. Simply, substitute a bottle of your favorite Italian dressing and follow the rest of the instructions.
Another great alternative to Caesar is pesto. Convert Caesar Pasta Salad to Pesto Pasta Salad by swapping the dressing for a jar of pesto. The pesto compliments the bacon, chicken, and pasta beautifully.
What Seafoods Can I Try In This Recipe?
To add a taste of the sea, try Tuna Pasta Salad. Exchange the equivalent amount of canned tuna for the chicken for a delicious alternative.
Another great seafood twist is to create Shrimp Pasta Salad. Use fully cooked, peeled shrimp cut into chunks. Shrimp brings a slightly sweet taste to the salad and is super yummy paired with the dressing and bacon!
Is Bacon A Good Substitute To Chicken?
Caesar Pasta Salad can easily be served without the chicken, making bacon the star of the show. Simply omit the chicken, and you’ll have a delicious BLT Pasta Salad!
Another great bacon option is Bacon Ranch Pasta Salad. Bacon and ranch is such a great flavor combo. You know what they say- you can never go wrong with bacon!!
Can I Make It More Mediterranean?
By taking a cue from Italian Pasta Salad, you can channel more Mediterranean flavor into this Caesar Pasta Salad by adding olives or fresh mozzarella. A for true Mediterranean Pasta Salad, you’d typically use olives, sun dried tomatoes, and feta cheese. You can try any of those in this salad to give it a taste of the Med!
Caesar Pasta Salad
- 1 1/2 cup mayonnaise
- 1/2 cup sour cream
- 2 teaspoons anchovy paste
- zest of 1 lemon
- 3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
- 1 tablespoon garlic, Minced
- 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
- 1 teaspoon black pepper
- 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
- 1/4 cup milk
- 1 (16 ounce) box mini penne, this pasta shape is my fav
- 1 (10 ounce) container grape tomatoes, cut in half
- 1/2 cup red onion, chopped
- 3 grilled chicken breasts, chopped into bite-sized pieces (I buy them prepared from Trader Joes)
- 1 cup Parmesan, shredded
- 1 pound bacon, cooked and crumbled
- 2 cups romaine, sliced into 1/4 ribbons
- Whisk together all the dressing ingredients in a small mixing bowl until well combined and smooth.
- Cook the pasta according to package instructions, just until al dente. Rinse pasta and drain well.
- Gently toss together all the salad ingredients, except the romaine, in a large serving bowl. Add dressing and toss until evenly coated. Cover and refrigerated for a minimum of 4-6 hours, or overnight, for best flavor.
- When ready to serve, adjust seasoning, gently mix in romaine, and add more milk (a few Tablespoons at a time) as needed to freshen and loosen up dressing.
I love this Caesar Pasta Salad with its tangy, creamy dressing. It’s super simple to make which is one of the hallmarks of a good pasta salad. I’ve got a long list of ‘favorite’ pasta salads! Here are some of my top Pasta Salad Recipes:
Caesar Pasta Salad is sure to be a hit on your dinner table or any gathering you take it to! I love how the creamy dressing coats the chicken, pasta, bacon, and veggies to make every bite full of flavor. I can’t wait to hear how it turns out for you! Be sure to leave a comment below!