Chicken Caesar salad title image

How to make next level chicken Caesar salad

Learn how to make the ultimate Caesar salad for a main course, with crisp lettuce, crunchy croutons and smoky griddled chicken all coated in a tangy dressing.

In its original form a Caesar salad is a simple mix of lettuce, croutons and cheese in punchy anchovy and garlic dressing, classically all concocted tableside. This famous American salad is now used as a base for lots of bulked-out variations which include everything from avocado to lobster – and most commonly griddled chicken, which is where we’ve taken it.

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We haven’t veered too far from the classic, but reworked the main elements and invented the crunchiest cheese croutons yet. We’ve kept the dressing creamy but ditched the raw egg from the traditional ingredients. And to boost the chicken flavour, we’ve brought in the option of making some chicken crackling to sprinkle over it all, culminating in a salad fit for an emperor. Try our best ever chicken Caesar salad recipe for yourself and use the following tips to take it to the next level.

10 tips for the perfect chicken Caesar salad:

1. Make some chicken crackling
2. Flatten the chicken for even cooking
3. Marinate chicken for depth of flavour
4. Tear the croutons for a rough, crunchy edge
5. Next level croutons baked with cheese
6. Three ways with parmesan
7. Make the dressing creamy with mayonnaise
8. A well-balanced dressing
9. Char for flavour
10. Last-minute mixing

1. Make some chicken crackling

Two pieces of chicken crackling on tray

Not essential, but a great addition, the chicken crackling boosts the chicken flavour and overall richness of the salad and adds to the crunch. If the chicken breasts you buy are skinless, a good butcher should be able to give you some chicken skin.

2. Flatten the chicken for even cooking

Two pieces of flattened raw chicken breast

Bashing the chicken out with a meat mallet or rolling pin isn’t essential, but helps it cook quick and evenly and gives nice long strips of chicken to top the salad with.

3. Marinate chicken for depth of flavour

Square dish with marinade and brush, plus marinade ingredients

Marinating the chicken gives it lots of depth, and because the marinade is based on the flavours in the salad, it complements it. The main ingredient is lemon juice – which also means you don’t need to marinate for any longer than it takes to get the other elements together.

4. Tear the croutons for a rough, crunchy edge

Large shredded sourdough pieces on a baking tray

By ripping the croutons into large pieces, they get gnarly edges which catch and go extra crisp as they bake.

5. Next level croutons baked with cheese

Baked croutons on a baking tray

We’ve used sourdough bread for the croutons for extra flavour and baked them so they go crunchier than fried. We’ve also baked cheese onto them which gives them an addictive cheesy ‘tuile’ crisp edge as they cool. Our best croutons yet.

6. Three ways with parmesan

Finely grated parmesan becomes part of the dressing and is scattered over the croutons and cooked, but we’ve also shaved it into slivers so it plays more of an integral part in the salad.

7. Make the dressing creamy with mayonnaise

Pot of mayonnaise

Classically the dressing is based on making your own raw egg yolk emulsion, but we’ve achieved the same consistency and a better flavour by using shop-bought mayonnaise.

8. A well-balanced dressing

Bowl of chicken Caesar salad topped with croutons, dressing and Parmesan shavings

With a punchy dressing like this you need to taste and adjust to your liking, adding more anchovy for saltiness and more lemon juice for acidity.

9. Char for flavour

Two grilled chicken breasts on a wooden board

Try and get lots of charred colour on the chicken as this will add a smokiness to the overall flavour of the salad.

10. Last-minute mixing

All the elements of the salad can be prepared ahead, but the finished dish was invented to be mixed tableside and served immediately – otherwise the lettuce starts to become limp and croutons lose their crunchiness.

See the full recipe for our next level chicken Caesar salad.

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What do you think makes the best chicken Caesar salad? Leave a comment below…