This Healthy Caesar Chicken Salad includes a lightened up dressing that tastes just like the real thing, plus easy homemade croutons that are a way better than store bought! It’s great for lunch, dinner, or for meal prep. An all around WINNER!
I freaking love Caesar salad. Something about the creamy, cheesy, and tangy parmesan dressing just speaks to the depths of my soul. It doesn’t matter what season it is, I’m always craving it!!
But even though Caesar salad is a salad, it is often one of the most calorie dense items on a restaurant menu. This is mostly due to the dressing alone. But do not fear! This low calorie caesar dressing we’ll be using tastes just like the real deal. Just like traditional caesar salad dressing. And this salad tastes just like classic caesar salad!
My biggest tips for making this healthy caesar salad dressing taste like the real deal:
- Please, freshly grate your own parmesan cheese, do not buy parmesan already grated. This makes a HUGE difference
- You must let it sit in the fridge for an hour or so it can chill, thicken up, and so the flavors have time to come together!
PREP HEALTHY CHICKEN CAESAR SALAD IN PARTS
Because this caesar salad recipe salad has a few different parts to prep, you can break it up to make it easier on yourself. Prep a big batch of the Air Fryer Grilled Chicken Nuggets in advance and use what you don’t put in the salad for other meals during the week. You can easily prep the dressing by combining everything in a food processor and pulsing away.
And when you’re ready to eat, everything is almost ready for you to assemble your salad. Just takes 10 minutes to bake the homemade croutons! If you’re in a super time crunch, you can use store bought, but TRUST ME, the 10 minutes is worth it for these homemade croutons!
WHY YOU’LL LOVE THIS TASTY CHICKEN CAESAR SALAD
- It’s a delicious take on the classic chicken Caesar salad, but made so much healthier!
- Lighter Greek yogurt Caesar dressing reduces the calories and fat in this recipe tenfold.
- No raw eggs involved in the homemade dressing so it will keep for a few weeks in the fridge.
- The best caesar salad! So much flavor!
- Great main course meal option or omit the chicken for a tasty side dish!
- Easy to prepare in advance for quick & easy assembly!
- Legit comfort food that doesn’t taste lightened-up for a second!
HEALTHY CHICKEN CAESAR SALAD INGREDIENTS
- Chicken – I used my Air Fryer Grilled Chicken Nuggets for this recipe but you can use any chicken you have on hand. My Meal Prep Balsamic Chicken and Panko Baked Chicken Nuggets would also work! You can also just cook up some grilled chicken breast beforehand. Butterfly chicken breasts in half so they are thinner and cook in a large skillet with 1 tablespoon of olive oil or avocado oil. Cook over medium-high heat, flipping halfway through, until temperature reached 155 F.* Carry over cooking will ensure internal temperature reaches 165 F.
- Kale – I used curly kale. You can use any leafy greens of choice.
- Lettuce – I used romaine lettuce.
- Parmesan cheese – I used freshly grated parmigiano reggiano. Please use freshly grated and not pre-grated parmesan!
- Greek yogurt – I used plain nonfat Greek yogurt.
- Lemon juice – fresh lemon juice.
- Mayo – I used light mayo.
- Olive oil
- Anchovy paste – or an anchovy fillet / whole anchovies
- Seasonings – Grab some salt, pepper, and garlic salt.
- Bread – I used Sourdough bread. Use gluten-free if needed.
- Liquid stevia – optional, but really brings a nice neutral balance to the homemade caesar dressing
HOW TO MAKE THIS HEALTHY CHICKEN CAESAR SALAD
For the Caesar dressing:
- Add all ingredients to a blender or food processor along with 1/8 tsp salt and a few cracks of pepper. Blend until smooth. Taste and add any additional salt, pepper, mustard, parmesan, etc. as needed.
- Store in a jar or airtight container. For best results, allow dressing to chill for 30 minutes before serving. Log dressing separately so you can add as much or little as you wish!
For the Croutons:
- Preheat the oven to 350°F and line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper.
- Cut bread into small cubes. Spread the bread cubes on a baking sheet and spray them lightly with olive oil.
- Sprinkle it with garlic salt and parsley. Bake for 10 minutes until slightly crispy. They will crisp up more as they cool.
Assemble the salad:
- In a bowl, combine the kale and romaine. Add the parmesan and chicken on top. Pour over the dressing, top with the croutons, and mix well to combine. Sprinkle with freshly cracked black pepper and serve!
MEAL PREP TIPS & TRICKS
- Prepare the dressing and chicken in advance so you can assemble your salad quickly when you’re ready to eat it. The dressing also tastes better the longer it sits in the refrigerator, anyway!
- If you can’t prep the chicken in advance, at least get it marinating so all you have to do is throw it in the air fryer or on the grill!
- Don’t overcook the chicken. See my Air Fryer Grilled Chicken Nugget post if you wish to cook the chicken in the oven or on the stovetop.
- Use a salad spinner – Use a salad spinner or take some time to massage the romaine and kale. Greens are always 100x better when they are appropriately dressed!
BEST HEALTHY CAESAR DRESSING TIPS
- Grate your own parmesan – Use freshly grated pecorino romano, always. Please do not use the already grated parmesan. It is not the same!
- Use a good quality Greek yogurt – This greek yogurt caesar dressing recipe features Greek yogurt as the main ingredient, so you’ll definitely want to make sure you use a good quality yogurt.
- Let chill – For best results, let this light caesar dressing chill in the fridge for at least an hour before enjoying. It tastes better the longer it sits in the fridge!
- Give it a good stir after sitting – always give it a good stir to bring all the flavors back together after it’s been sitting a while.
CAN I SUBSTITUTE THE ANCHOVIES?
The anchovy paste (or anchovy fillets) really brings that umami flavor that is classic with traditional caesar salad. It’s a great thing and I definitely recommend it!
But if you absolutely can’t do it, there are some substitutions you can make that will still keep it tasting like the real deal!
Just omit the anchovy paste and sub for dijon mustard and Worcestershire sauce (about a tsp of each and then more to taste). You could also use fish sauce!
WANT TO MAKE THIS RECIPE?
If you try this Healthy Chicken Caesar Salad with Lightened up Caesar Dressing and love it, please rate this recipe!
You can also tag me on Instagram, @LaurenFitFoodie. It makes my day seeing your yummy recreations!