In my youth I worked in many restaurants and in the process, I ate a lot of restaurant food. I can’t tell you just how many BAD Caesar salads I've eaten in my day, but there were a lot. And it certainly wasn’t easy to find a good one. Then everything changed when my little brother got a job working at a now-defunct restaurant called Clancy’s, in Winnipeg in the early 1990s. That was how we discovered this amazing Caesar salad dressing recipe, which I use in this Grilled Chicken Caesar Salad.
With a tangy and delicious garlicky dressing, crunchy croutons, and crisp romaine, this will be the best Caesar salad you ever eat! Every time I bring it anywhere, I get asked for a recipe. So, if you're looking for Caesar salad dinner ideas, you'll love this one!
However, my very first job was a "salad girl" at Bonanza. I was 14 years old. I recall my parents having to sign some special form to say I could work; I had begged them. I wanted to have my own money and a real job so badly; not just the chump change I was earning from babysitting at the time.
Surprisingly, for a restaurant that had the biggest salad bar around at the time, (so big that they needed 2 'salad girls' stocking it during the dinner shift) Bonanza had one of the worst Caesar salads I ever tasted!
📋More Restaurant Copycat Recipes
BUT they did have an amazing Monterey Chicken! There are very few restaurant recipes that I want to recreate, but Bonanza's Monterey Chicken was definitely one of them! And now my mission to recreate it has been successful! I actually contacted a couple of people who worked there with me back in the 80s, and based on their memories and my own, I was finally about to pretty much nail it!
And although I personally never actually worked at Moxie’s, I have eaten there a lot over the years and adore Moxie's Steak Salad with Clamato Dressing! (shown below) And I happen to think I've done a pretty darn good job of recreating it (in a healthy Weight Watchers Way, of course!) And my IHOP Grain & Nut Pancake Copycat recipe is also a delicious rendition of the original. And since I LOVE Calgary ginger beef, I have created a copycat version of The Calgary Ginger Beef Restaurant's Ginger Beef Recipe.
However, this recipe is not a copycat; this Classic Chicken Caesar Salad recipe with chicken is the real deal. I'm soo lucky that I don't even have to try to recreate it because my brother got the actual recipe many years ago. It's the perfect combo of tangy and creamy Caesar salad dressing!
I'm not exaggerating when I say this Chicken Caesar salad dressing is THE BEST!
Whenever I bring it to a dinner or potluck I always get asked for the recipe. My Mom started making this salad dressing back then and it has become a cherished family classic. If this Caesar salad is not served at a special meal or gathering in our family, it is very unusual. I moved away from home many years ago, but I still serve this salad at every special meal I make.
So what's the magic ingredient? I would have to say it's anchovies. They make a huge difference in Caesar salad dressing and add that nice touch of saltiness, without too much fishiness. For this recipe, you'll also need:
For the creamy Caesar dressing:
- olive oil - it's important you use this type of oil - it keeps the dressing night and light!
- garlic-fresh is best, but if you are in a pinch, you can use jarred minced garlic
- Worcestershire sauce
- lemon juice from concentrate
- white wine vinegar
- eggs *This recipe uses raw eggs. If you are concerned about this, then use pasteurized whole eggs or liquid eggs. **You can read more about egg safety HERE. and HERE! There is a risk of illness/food poisoning/Salmonella if you use raw eggs.
For the salad:
- romaine lettuce - don't use leaf or head lettuce. Romaine lettuce stays crunchy in a salad without quickly wilting, especially when it's saturated in a heavy Caesar salad dressing.
- parmesan cheese
- chicken breast
- garlic powder
- Cajun seasoning - can substitute a little chili powder or cayenne pepper
- lemon wedges (optional)
🧂Chicken seasoning for Caesar Salad
I like to keep it simple and use garlic powder and Cajun seasoning when I grill chicken. I think this is the best seasoning for grilled chicken!
📖 Variations & Substitutions
This salad is an excellent main course, but skip the chicken and it's also an ideal side salad!
- Cajun seasoning:-If you don't have Cajun seasoning, I would recommend you buy some! It's great for seasoning meat, especially for the grill. However, in a pinch, you could substitute chili powder or cayenne pepper.
- Anchovies- I often keep a tube of anchovy paste in the fridge as a backup, in case I don't have canned anchovies on hand.
- Croutons- you can make homemade croutons or simply use store-bought
- Grilled chicken:-I can't always grill the chicken on the BBQ, so I often cook it on the stovetop. You can also use a stovetop grill like this if you want grill marks (below). It functions just like a frying pan. *See Equipment* Alternatively, you could use boneless chicken breasts or boneless chicken thighs instead.
- Wine vinegar -you can use red wine vinegar instead of white
- Lemon juice- you can use fresh lemon juice instead of lemon juice from concentrate, but you'll need to double the amount
When I took that job at Bonanza at the age of 14 my parents told me I'd have plenty of time to work and instead, I should just enjoy being a kid. I wish I listened to them because I’ve been working ever since.
And by the age of 30 I was pretty much ready to retire. Several years later, I am still ready to retire, but that won't be for a while yet. Fortunately, I'm not working in the restaurant business, as I had my fill of that for a lifetime. And although my parents were right, one thing I have no regrets about is being introduced to Bonanza's Chicken Monterey. But I'm especially thankful that my brother did his own stint in restaurants and was able to score this amazing Classic Chicken Caesar recipe!
You will need a blender and a large salad bowl. You can grill the chicken on your outdoor grill or use an indoor grill pan (affiliate links) that goes right on your stovetop. An instant-read thermometer also comes in very handy!
**NOTE: Checking for doneness with grilled meats
Did you know that temperature is the BEST way to check for doneness when it comes to grilled meat? No more cutting into your meat mid-grilling, guessing or hoping it's done. I use this instant-read thermometer and it's one of the very best kitchen tools I've ever invested in!
- I use my Thermapen for everything from baking pie and bread to eggs, casseroles, candy making, and more!
- This amazing little tool instantly and accurately measures temperature with a quick poke. And it's not just for the grill, it's the go-to kitchen instrument trusted by the world's most acclaimed chefs and BBQ champions (it's one of Alton Brown's 'favorite things')!
- And it comes with a handy little chart that gives you chef-recommended temperatures, as well as the minimum done temps for food safety.
This thermometer is a game-changer! If you love cooking, baking, or grilling, this tool is a must-have!
I would recommend storing the salad separate from both the chicken and the dressing in an airtight container, as it gets very mushy when mixed together. And if you use unpasteurized/raw eggs, then I do NOT recommend storing and eating leftovers (or doing so at your own risk).
💭What to do with leftover Caesar Salad Dressing
I always end up with a little extra dressing (or make sure I do now that I created these) So if you have leftover Caesar salad dressing, then give these Caesar Twice Baked Potatoes a try. They are soooo tasty!
I loved this homemade Caesar dressing recipe so much that it inspired me to create this Fried Caesar Chicken!
If you are looking for the best restaurant style, creamy Caesar salad dressing, a classic Caesar salad or simply looking for Caesar salad dinner ideas, you'll love this one!
🥗 Grilled Chicken Caesar Salad Recipe
Caesar Salad Dressing:
- ⅓ cup parmesan cheese
- 1 -142 g bag of ceasar salad croutons
- 1-2 head romaine lettuce washed and dried *or use romaine hearts
- parmesan cheese for sprinkling
- lemon wedges (optional)
- black pepper
- Generously sprinkle garlic powder and Cajun seasoning on both sides of boneless skinless chicken breasts.
- Place chicken on heated grill and grill chicken breasts over medium-high heat until cooked through and no longer pink in the middle (internal temperature of 165 degrees F/74 degrees C).
- Cut chicken into bite-size pieces.
- Wash and cut lettuce into bite sized pieces. Add croutons, parmeasan cheese and cooked chicken.
Caesar Salad Dressing
- Add eggs, garlic, anchovies, wine vinegar, Worcestershire and lemon juice to blender and mix until smooth.
- Then turn blender down to low setting ang slowly add olive oil and blend for another minute or so, until combined.
- Mix dressing into lettuce mixture until combined. Sprinkle on a little more parmesan cheese , black pepper, and add lemon wedges, if desired.