This pan-fried chicken caesar salad is going to make all other chicken caesar salads pale in comparison once you take your first bite. Flavourful panko-crusted chicken, crisp romaine lettuce, garlicky homemade dressing and the easiest croutons you will ever make, you won’t want to go back!
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PAN-FRIED CHICKEN CAESAR SALAD VIDEO
Have you ever heard the saying “good food takes time”? That adage applies here. There are a lot of steps, but it’s well worth the effort. If you want to see everything that’s involved, here’s the video tutorial! If you’re a fan of my “silent-film mode”, I hope you’ll subscribe to my YouTube channel!
PAN-FRIED CHICKEN CAESAR SALAD: A GAME CHANGER
Congratulations, you have just struck Caesar salad gold! I have no idea how many chicken caesar salads I have eaten in my life, but this pan-fried chicken version is to-die-for. I must warn you: there are a lot of steps involved. You’ll have to clarify butter, make your own caesar dressing, and fry up some croutons, but by golly is it ever worth it. I hope you love it as much as I do!
IT BEGINS WITH BUTTER
I am going to be straight-up: I’m not a fan of vegetable oils. I use olive and avocado oils almost every day, adore coconut oil and get along with small doses of sesame oil. But everything else? I have issues. I used to be a strong advocate for shortening, grape seed, sunflower, and canola oils, but Sally Fallon’s book, Nourishing Traditions, opened my eyes to just how damaging they can be. In any case, butter is the queen of fats in my kitchen!
If you cook with butter a lot, then you’ll know it likes to burn. By clarifying butter, the milk solids that cause it to burn become separated, giving the butter more resilience to withstand high temperatures. It’s a lucky thing, too, because I can’t think of anything better than buttery fried chicken!
I love keeping a jar of clarified butter in the fridge, but this is something you will need to make in advance. Clarified butter needs to be cooked slow and low, and then it needs to be skimmed and strained through cheesecloth. I usually let mine cool and harden, then wrap it up in cheesecloth and squeeze it dry. The recipe calls for more than you’ll need so you can keep a small jar in the fridge, too! Alternatively, you can use the whole lot and have a real fry fest.
Crumbled bacon is one of those ultra-convenient ready-made products you can buy in a bag. It beats the artificial bacon bits, that’s for sure! This pan-fried chicken caesar salad isn’t about convenience though. It’s about flavour. I don’t eat a lot of bacon, but when I do I make sure it’s of the highest quality which, I find, I can only get from local producers. The bacon I get from them is thick and beautiful. I mean, use whatever bacon you can get your hands on, but please consider splurging in this one area. It’s so worth it.
Anyhow, cooking bacon is easy, but I recommend preparing it in the same pan you’ll be using for the chicken. Once the bacon is draining on a paper towel, add the clarified butter and cook the chicken directly in the pan. The bacon grease adds a little smokiness to the chicken, which is perfect considering it’s for a caesar salad.
TIPS FOR MAKING THE CHICKEN
Like the bacon, I recommend sourcing something that’s local, organic, and sustainably raised. Buying a whole chicken and quartering it yourself is the most economical way to go and gives you several meals, but do whatever works for you. Before you begin, I recommend salting the chicken breasts and letting them sit at room temperature for half an hour. This will lead to flavourful, juicy chicken. Make sure the tenders are separated from the breasts and then pound them with a meat tenderizer to thin them out a bit.
The chicken gets dredged in seasoned flour, a salted egg wash, and a parmesan-laced panko or breadcrumb mixture before getting fried in the clarified butter. If you’re using a cast-iron skillet to make this, make sure your pan and the butter are good and hot before adding the chicken. Fry for 3-4 minutes per side until cooked. Set it on a paper towel and let it cool before slicing it into strips.
THE CAESAR DRESSING
While it’s a lot more convenient to run out and buy commercial dressing, making it from scratch is much more satisfying and delicious. You also have full control of the ingredients that go into your dressing, like the type of oil used and the seasonings. Plus, there are no nasty additives when you make your own at home!
The dressing starts off as a mayonnaise. There’s an egg yolk, a bit of lemon juice, and olive oil. I love mixing mine my hand, but you can also make yours using a stand mixer and whisk attachment on high speed, or a food processor. If you whip it up by hand, you will want to wrap a towel around the base of the bowl to secure it.
Add the yolk and the lemon juice to the bowl and start whisking. Slowly drizzle in the olive oil, streaming it down the side of the bowl. You might have to pause on adding oil to make sure everything is incorporated before continuing. If you pour it in too fast, it might not emulsify and you’ll just have a liquid mess. Slow and steady makes the mayonnaise. Whatever you do, don’t stop whisking!
Homemade mayonnaise is never as thick as the commercial stuff because it’s missing additives. It also doesn’t last as long for the same reason, but it’s so much better for you! Once the mayonnaise is made, it’s just a matter of adding the seasonings: minced garlic and anchovies, more lemon juice, salt, pepper, Worcestershire sauce, and parmesan cheese. Season it to taste. I recommend dipping in a leaf of romaine lettuce when testing it out!
THE ROMAINE LETTUCE
Am I actually writing about how to prepare the romaine lettuce? It’s pretty straight forward. Chop it up into bite-sized pieces, then wash it in cold water mixed with vinegar. Drain it and rinse it again in cold water, then toss it in a salad spinner to dry.
Have you ever made your own croutons before? If not, you’re in for a treat! They are going to taste so much better than the stale bread you get out of a box. I grew up not liking croutons because that’s all I ever knew, but things changed once I started making everything from scratch. Croutons are no exception and they’re so easy!
Use whatever bread you have on hand. I love using sourdough bread or a rustic country loaf. If it’s on the older side, even better. Making croutons is a great way to use up old bread (so is making your own breadcrumbs!). Cube it up into bite-sized chunks and toss it in the chicken skillet to sop up what’s left of the bacon-flavoured butter. Stir it around until they’re toasty and golden brown. Done!
PUTTING THE PAN-FRIED CHICKEN CAESAR SALAD TOGETHER
Now that everything is ready-to-go, it’s a simple matter of assembling everything together. Toss the romaine in some of the Caesar dressing. There may be more dressing than you need, but maybe someone will want extra dressing on their salad. I love using up the extras by making a pizza the next day and using the dressing as a dipping sauce. So good! You can also use it in wraps and sandwiches, but be sure to use it up within three or four days.
Plate the romaine, divide the chicken between each plate and sprinkle with parmesan cheese. Next, add the chopped bacon and the homemade croutons. If desired, you can garnish the salads with a wedge of lemon. Alternatively, you can serve this on a platter that everyone can help themselves to. It’s a salad, there’s not much more I can say about it.
THANK YOU FOR POPPING BY THE KITCHEN!
Caesar salad is such a classic menu option, but nothing beats a homemade version. I hope you’ll brave the many steps and give this recipe a try, it’s so worth it! If you do make it, I hope you’ll let me know your thoughts in the comments below or hit me up on Instagram!
INGREDIENTS FOR PAN-FRIED CHICKEN CAESAR SALAD
1/2 lb butter
2 chicken breasts
1/2 cup panko or bread crumbs
1 tbsp parmesan, grated
1 tbsp lemon zest
1/3 cup flour
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp salt
salt and pepper
3 heads of romaine, chopped
4-5 slices of bacon
sourdough bread, cubed
1/4 cup lemon juice
1 egg yolk
3/4 cup olive oil
2 tbsp parmesan, grated
3 anchovies, minced
1 garlic clove, minced
2-3 dashes Worcestershire sauce
salt & pepper to taste
PAN-FRIED CHICKEN CAESAR SALAD DIRECTIONS
Make the clarified butter in advance. In a glass bowl, pop it into a 200ºF/95ºC oven for 30 minutes.
Skim off the crusty foam and allow it to cool and set.
Using cheesecloth, squeeze out the set butter until all the milk solids have been released. Store in the refrigerator until ready to use.
Using a bowl and whisk, a stand mixer or a food processor, add the yolk and 1-2 tbsp of the lemon juice to the bowl.
Whisking constantly, slowly stream in a bit of olive oil, hitting the side of the bowl first. You might need to hold off on streaming oil to incorporate everything before continuing. This will thicken into a basic mayonnaise.
Season the mayonnaise with the anchovies, garlic, parmesan cheese and Worcestershire sauce. Add additional lemon juice, salt, and pepper to taste.
If possible, salt the chicken breasts the night before or the morning of making the salad, if not, salt the chicken half an hour before frying and allow the chicken to warm up.
Heat a 12" cast-iron skillet and fry the bacon to the desired crispness.
While the bacon is sizzling, mix the flour, garlic powder, salt, pepper and lemon zest in a shallow baking dish.
Beat up the egg with a bit of salt in another dish.
In a third shallow baking dish, mix up the panko bread crumbs, parmesan cheese, salt and pepper.
Transfer the bacon to a paper towel and chop it once cool.
Using a meat tenderizer, pound the chicken a bit to thin it.
Dredge the chicken in the flour and egg, shaking off the excess, then dredge it in the panko bread crumbs.
Once the bacon is removed, melt half or all of the clarified butter in the skillet.
Fry the chicken for 3-4 minutes on each side.
When the chicken is done, remove it from the skillet and let it rest for a couple of minutes before slicing.
Toss the cubes of bread into the buttery pan and stir them around until they're toasty and golden brown.
Toss the salad with the dressing, then assemble it by adding the chicken, bacon, parmesan cheese and croutons.
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CHECK OUT MY FAVOURITE CHICKEN RECIPES
Tequila Lime Marinated Chicken Quesadillas
Roasted Paprika Chicken
Kefir-Brined Chicken Sheet Pan Dinner
Pan-Fried Chicken Caesar Salad
- Salad Spinner
- 12" Cast Iron Skillet
- 1/2 lb butter
- 2 chicken breasts
- 1/2 cup panko or bread crumbs
- 1 tbsp parmesan grated
- 1 tbsp lemon zest
- 1/3 cup flour
- 1/2 tsp garlic powder
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1 egg
- salt and pepper
- 3 heads of romaine chopped
- 4-5 slices of bacon
- sourdough bread cubed
- 1/4 cup lemon juice
- 1 egg yolk
- 3/4 cup olive oil
- 2 tbsp parmesan grated
- 3 anchovies minced
- 1 garlic clove minced
- 2-3 dashes Worcestershire sauce
- salt & pepper to taste
- Make the clarified butter in advance. In a glass bowl, pop it into a 200ºF/95ºC oven for 30 minutes.
- Skim off the crusty foam and allow it to cool and set.
- Using cheesecloth, squeeze out the set butter until all the milk solids have been released. Store in the refrigerator until ready to use.
- Using a bowl and whisk, a stand mixer or a food processor, add the yolk and 1-2 tbsp of the lemon juice to the bowl.
- Whisking constantly, slowly stream in a bit of olive oil, hitting the side of the bowl first. You might need to hold off on streaming oil to incorporate everything before continuing. This will thicken into a basic mayonnaise.
- Season the mayonnaise with the anchovies, garlic, parmesan cheese and Worcestershire sauce. Add additional lemon juice, salt, and pepper to taste.
- If possible, salt the chicken breasts the night before or the morning of making the salad, if not, salt the chicken half an hour before frying and allow the chicken to warm up.
- Heat a 12″ cast-iron skillet and fry the bacon to the desired crispness.
- While the bacon is sizzling, mix the flour, garlic powder, salt, pepper and lemon zest in a shallow baking dish.
- Beat up the egg with a bit of salt in another dish.
- In a third shallow baking dish, mix up the panko bread crumbs, parmesan cheese, salt and pepper.
- Transfer the bacon to a paper towel and chop it once cool.
- Using a meat tenderizer, pound the chicken a bit to thin it.
- Dredge the chicken in the flour and egg, shaking off the excess, then dredge it in the panko bread crumbs.
- Once the bacon is removed, melt half or all of the clarified butter in the skillet.
- Fry the chicken for 3-4 minutes on each side. When the chicken is done, remove it from the skillet and let it rest for a couple of minutes before slicing.
- Toss the cubes of bread into the buttery pan and stir them around until they’re toasty and golden brown.
- Toss the salad with the dressing, then assemble it by adding the chicken, bacon, parmesan cheese and croutons.
- This recipe makes a lot of clarified butter. If you don’t want to use the full amount for frying, you can halve the recipe, or keep a jar of clarified butter in the fridge for other use. Clarified butter can withstand higher temperatures than regular butter can.
- Use your own judgement when making croutons. Use as much or as little bread as you like.
- I don’t flavour the croutons because there’s enough flavour in the grease, but if you’d like, you can toss them with olive oil, salt, pepper and your favourite herbs and spices.
- I really encourage you to use the same pan for the bacon, chicken and croutons. Don’t wash it in between. The bacon grease imparts a wonderful smokiness to the chicken and you won’t need to add anything to the croutons because the grease in the pan is full of buttery flavour.
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Love and gratitude,