Crisp, creamy, garlicky and loaded with flavour, this Whole30 Caesar Salad with Grilled Chicken is perfect for a light yet filling lunch or dinner. The homemade Caesar dressing is incredibly easy to prepare and the marinated grilled chicken comes out perfect every time.
What You Need for Whole30 Caesar Salad
A Good Caesar Dressing
You can buy the dressing or make it on your own. Personally, I’m usually not a fan of store-bought salad dressings. Don’t get me wrong, there are some great Paleo and Whole30 ones out there. They just happen to be fairly expensive. Especially for us Canadians who don’t have the same availability as those in the US. The good news is it’s very easy to make your own from scratch. You’ll save money and have control over exactly what you’re eating.
The Caesar dressing I use here is prepared in a classic, steakhouse style. You know, the throwback one they used to prepare table-side. As a matter of fact, some restaurants still do. The one that immediately comes to my mind is Jacob’s Steakhouse in Toronto. They make a pretty killer Caesar and watching it be prepared before your very eyes is always fun.
For a truly classic vibe, use thick-chopped Romaine lettuce. The crunch, juiciness and slightly bitter flavour goes great with the sharp, tangy Caesar dressing.
I’ve gotten more and more requests for chicken breast recipes lately. My guess is it’s because the summer months tend to leave us wanting something a bit lighter and easier to prepare. Truth is, I’m not a big fan of chicken breast. It’s expensive, relatively flavourless, far too lean for my palate, and super easy to overcook. I’d much rather dig into some juicy, flavourful chicken thighs.
Nevertheless, if you want to use chicken breast, I recommend marinating it first for maximum flavour and tenderness. The marinade used here is almost identical to the one I shared for my Bruschetta Chicken, except I omitted the dried oregano. It’s an incredibly versatile marinade and works great as a flavour-building base for grilled or pan-roasted chicken.
If you’re not a fan of chicken breast, feel free to substitute boneless, skinless chicken thighs. You can also try topping the Whole30 Caesar Salad with grilled steak, salmon, shrimp, scallops or even serving it alongside some grilled lamb chops.
For a vegetarian alternative, try topping the Caesar salad with assorted grilled veggies, like red peppers, mushrooms, zucchini, or eggplant.
If you don’t have a Traeger or a grill, I recommend pan-roasting the chicken breast. Use the exact same technique outlined in this recipe. The finished product is an evenly-cooked chicken breast that’s super juicy on the inside and caramelized on the outside.
The Secret to the Best Caesar Dressing
A great Caesar dressing is sharp, tangy and packs a punch, yet balanced enough that it doesn’t cause you to wince when you eat it. The secret ingredient? Anchovy filets! I know, I know, some people are just grossed out by these tiny little fish filets. Please, don’t be! Their briney, umami-packed flavour will take your Caesar dressing to a whole other level and you won’t be able to taste any fish.
The other secret ingredient is raw egg yolk. The yolk not only gives the dressing a beautiful, golden-yellow colour, but it also makes it super creamy. Essentially, you’re building an aioli when making this Caesar dressing. The acid in the lemon juice will technically “cook” the egg. However, there is always a risk when using raw poultry products.
If you can’t consume raw egg yolk, you can try replacing the egg and oil used in the dressing with ¼ cup store-bought, pasteurized mayonnaise.
For those with an egg allergy, you can try omitting the egg yolk altogether and keep the other ingredients the same. Or, you can try using vegan mayonnaise as the base of your dressing. It likely won’t be Paleo or Whole30 compliant though.
Pro Tip: To minimize cleanup I like to build the dressing directly in the bowl I’m serving the salad in.
Non-Whole30 and Paleo Caesar Additions
If you’re living your Food Freedom, try adding some finely grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese and a dash or two of Worcestershire sauce to your Caesar dressing. You can then top your Caesar with some shavings of parmesan, some toasted croutons and even some crispy, fried pieces of bacon! You’re the boss, applesauce.
Whole30 Caesar Salad with Grilled Chicken
For the Grilled Chicken:
- 1 pound boneless skinless chicken breasts (approximately 4 medium-sized breasts)
- 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 2 cloves garlic – finely chopped
- 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- ½ teaspoon smoked paprika
- ¼ teaspoon freshly-cracked black pepper
For the Caesar Salad:
- 1 clove garlic – finely grated or formed into a paste
- 3 small anchovy filets packed in olive oil – formed to a paste
- 1 egg yolk
- 1 tbsp lemon juice
- 1.5 tsp Dijon mustard
- ½ teaspoon freshly-cracked black pepper
- 1/4 cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
- Kosher salt to taste
- 3 heads Romaine lettuce – rinsed and roughly chopped
For the Chicken:
- In a bowl, combine the chicken, olive oil, garlic, lemon juice, salt, paprika, and black pepper and toss everything to coat. Cover and refrigerate for 1 to 6 hours.
- When ready to cook, preheat your Traeger Grill to 450F and let it run for 10 minutes with the grill door closed.
- Lay the chicken along the edges of the grill grate where it gets hottest and cook until grill marks form, around 8 min. Flip the chicken and cook until grill marks form and the internal temperature of the thickest part of the breast reads 160F on a digital thermometer, approximately 6 more minutes.
- Transfer the cooked chicken to a platter and let it rest for 5 minutes before slicing.
For the Caesar Salad:
- In a large salad bowl, combine the garlic, anchovies, egg yolk, lemon juice, mustard, and black pepper. Whisk until smooth and combined.
- While whisking vigorously, slowly drizzle in the extra virgin olive oil until fully emulsified. It should be a painfully slow drizzle.
- Taste for seasoning and adjust with salt and pepper as desired. Add the lettuce and toss to coat. Serve with sliced, grilled chicken.