A grilled chicken Caesar salad is a summer (or any season) staple.
So, how do you elevate this classic?
By not just grilling your chicken, but by grilling your Romaine lettuce as well.
Yup. You read that right.
Trust me. It’s a game changer.
Grilling the Romaine gives you two textures−a caramelized exterior and a crunchy interior.
But that’s not all you can do to take this salad to the next level.
Here’s the thing. Stop buying pre-made Caesar dressing and pre-made croutons.
Instead, make them yourself at home.
While these store-bought options might seem like time savers, for the small amount of time it takes to make them at home, you’re missing out on freshness and flavor.
There. I said it.
Ditch the store-bought Caesar dressing and croutons.
Once you make these at home, you’ll never grab them at the store again.
Homemade Caesar Dressing
Grilled Chicken Caesar with Grilled Romaine
Simple to Make—Homemade Croutons
Serves: 2-4 (Really it serves 4 normal people, but my daughter eats 1/2 of the batch as a snack, so I have to be honest and say sometimes it only serves 2 people)
Time: 10 minutes
Homemade Crouton Ingredients:
- 1 mini-loaf fresh* French or Italian bread, cubed
- 2 Tbsp olive oil, divided
- Kosher salt
- Black pepper
- Dash of garlic salt (optional if you want garlic croutons)
*Some homemade crouton recipes recommend using bread that is about to go stale, but I really prefer using fresh bread for my croutons. You’ll still get the crunch you want from your croutons. These just won’t break your teeth.
- Slice the French or Italian bread, then cube it. Try to get your cubes all one size so they cook evenly.
- Drizzle 1 Tbsp olive oil in a skillet and heat over medium-high heat.
- Add your cubed French/Italian bread to the skillet, drizzle the remaining 1 Tbsp olive oil over the bread then sprinkle with Kosher salt and pepper (and the garlic salt if you want that). If you’re using a large loaf of bread, add half the bread, drizzle with olive oil, salt and pepper, then add the other half of the bread and drizzle that with additional olive oil, salt and pepper.
- Reduce heat to medium and brown the bread, stirring occasionally to evenly cook all the cubes of bread. This isn’t something you need to stir constantly as you want the bread to sit undisturbed for a bit so it can brown. Stir it occasionally so that all the bread browns evenly.
- Once the croutons are perfectly browned, remove them from the heat and let them cool completely.
That’s it! That’s how simple it is to make homemade croutons.
Trust me, once you and your family taste these, you’ll never buy pre-made croutons again.
My recipe is based on a Caesar dressing recipe from Rachel Ray. I believe I saw it on her 30-Minute Meals show, but I’m not entirely sure.
That’s because I was watching the show when I had toddlers. Many, many moons ago. Needless to say I wasn’t paying complete attention.
And I wrote it down from memory after the show ended and when I finally had time to jot it down.
So, I can’t be sure that it’s 100% accurate to what Rachel Ray’s recipe is, but it’s close.
Time: 5 minutes
Homemade Caesar Dressing Ingredients:
- Extra virgin olive oil
- 1-2 cloves garlic, minced
- 2-3 anchovies, drained and rinsed in warm water, then chopped. NOTE: You can substitute anchovy paste for the canned anchovies. Both canned anchovies and anchovy paste can be found in most grocery stores near canned tuna.
- 1 egg yolk
- 1/2 lemon, juiced
- Salt & pepper
- 1/4 C. freshly grated Parmesan cheese (This doesn’t go into the dressing, but is to be added to the salad before pouring on the dressing. And, yes, what I wrote on my recipe says Romano cheese, but that’s because I was still in my “I hate Parmesan cheese” phase.)
- In a small mixing bowl, combine the minced garlic, chopped anchovies, and salt & pepper. Mash with the back of a fork until ingredients are combined.
- Whisk in the egg yolk. You can use the fork to do this.
- Drizzle in the olive oil. This is where you’ll have to guesstimate how much you need. It’s more about the consistency of the dressing. You don’t want it thick, but you don’t want it thin.
- Add the freshly-grated Parmesan cheese and homemade croutons to your salad, then drizzle on the Caesar dressing.
Now, this is where things get fun. We’re going to grill both the chicken AND the Romaine lettuce!
Grilling the chicken is standard, but by grilling the Romaine, you’re adding extra texture and a smoky flavor to the salad.
Grilling Options: Obviously you can grill both the Romaine and the chicken on your BBQ grill, but for those who don’t have that option, you can still achieve the same flavor and results by using a George Foreman grill (or any other similar indoor grill), or a grill pan on your stovetop. The directions for this recipe are for using a George Foreman grill.
I highly recommend grilling your Romaine before grilling your chicken. If you choose to grill your Romaine after the chicken, you’ll need to clean the George Forman grill plates before grilling the Romaine (you know, raw chicken).
Grilled Romaine Ingredients:
- 2 hearts of Romaine
- Olive oil
- Salt & pepper
Grilled Romaine Instructions:
- Preheat the George Foreman grill (about 3-5 minutes)
- Slice the Romaine hearts lengthwise.
- Drizzle both sides with olive oil.
- Sprinkle salt and pepper on both sides of Romaine.
- Place two halves of the Romaine hearts on the grill plates and close the lid.
- Grill for approximately 1 minute or until you see caramelization on the exterior of the Romaine. Do not over-grill as you still want a crunchy interior of the lettuce.
- Remove from the grill and set aside.
- Repeat for the second two halves of the Romaine hearts.
This is possibly the easiest way to grill chicken if you’re planning to use it as an addition to a salad. Simple seasoning is all you need to allow the flavor of the croutons and dressing to shine.
To make this a quick weeknight meal any time of the year, I use my George Forman grill. While that may irk some true grilling fanatics out there, I don’t care.
I know exactly how long it will take to perfectly cook my chicken breasts on my George Forman grill. And when I want to put together a quick weeknight meal, that’s key to getting the food on the table.
Grilled Chicken Ingredients:
- 2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
- Salt and pepper
Grilled Chicken Instructions:
- Heat the George Forman grill (usually about 3-5 minutes).
- Sprinkle salt, pepper, and cumin on both sides of the chicken breasts.
- Lightly spray the grill pans of the George Foreman grill with cooking spray.
- Place the chicken breasts on the grill, close the lid and cook for 8 minutes. Flip the chicken after the initial 8 minutes and cook for an additional 8 minutes. I’ve found that, based on the varying shape of the chicken breasts and the design of the grill, you’ll get better grill marks if you flip the chicken once during cooking.
- Once chicken breasts reach an internal temperature of 165°, remove them from the grill, cover with foil, and let sit for 10 minutes to allow the juices to redistribute.
- Slice chicken into 1/4″ – 1/2″ slices.
Can you make this with chicken grilled on the BBQ?
Absolutely! Whether you choose to use a George Forman grill or grill on the BBQ, be sure your chicken reaches an internal temperature of 165°. Then, remove it from the grill, cover it with foil, and let it sit for 10 minutes to allow the juices to redistribute.
Assembling the Grilled Chicken Caesar Salad
- Place one half of a grilled Romaine heart on a plate.
- Top with sliced grilled chicken.
- Add homemade croutons on top of the chicken.
- Sprinkle freshly-grated Parmesan cheese over the croutons and chicken.
- Drizzle with homemade Caesar dressing.
This meal is a standard in our house and I think it will be in your house as well. Drop us a note and a photo when you make it. And you’ll make it often!