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This Gluten-Free Chicken Caesar Pasta Salad is the perfect make-ahead lunch, BBQ side, or dinner for any night of the week. It’s loaded with grilled chicken, a dairy-free caesar dressing, crisp romaine, bacon, and ripe summer tomatoes.
Easy Gluten-Free Pasta Salad Recipe
I’ve always loved a good caesar salad. Since I was a kid, it’s been one of my favorites. It’s really all about that amazing creamy caesar dressing. Well, of course, I wanted to transform the classic salad into a pasta dish! I also love my Chicken Caesar Quinoa Salad, Baked Chicken Caesar Salad Burgers, and Grilled Caesar Salad With Blackened Shrimp!
So I did just that.
That creamy dressing paired with crispy romaine, salty and crunchy bacon, sweet summer tomatoes, perfectly grilled chicken, and tender noodles and you’ve got yourself the perfect meal.
- Caesar Dressing: we’re making a homemade caesar dressing with mayo, olive oil, vinegar, dijon, lemon juice, anchovy paste, garlic, salt, and pepper.
- Salt and Pepper: a couple of simple seasonings for the chicken before grilling.
- Bacon: you can cook the bacon however you like. I like to cook it in the air fryer.
- Chicken Breast: I use boneless, skinless chicken breast. I like to cook it on the grill, but feel free to cook it any way you like.
- Lettuce: my favorite is romaine. Be sure to clean and chop the lettuce first.
- Pasta: use your favorite gluten-free variety of pasta. Or, if you’re not gluten-free, use your favorite regular pasta.
- Tomatoes: halved cherry tomatoes are the perfect pop of texture.
- Lemon, Salt, and Pepper: finishes the caesar pasta salad off with a little extra flavor.
How to Make Chicken Caesar Pasta Salad
This chicken pasta salad comes together in a total of 30 minutes!
- Make the dressing: In a blender, combine mayo, olive oil, vinegar, dijon, lemon juice, anchovy paste, garlic, salt, and pepper. Pulse until blended, then adjust as needed and set aside.
- Cook the chicken: Season the chicken with salt and pepper, then grill it for 8-10 minutes on each side. Rest for a few minutes, then cut into cubes and set aside.
- Cook the pasta: Make the pasta according to package instructions. Rinse with cool water, then place into a large bowl.
- Assemble and serve: In a bowl, combine pasta, bacon, tomatoes, lettuce, and chicken. Pour the dressing over the top and stir to combine. Season with salt, pepper, and lemon juice, then serve.
Is Caesar Dressing Gluten-Free?
Some store-bought caesar dressings can contain gluten. To avoid trying to figure out which ones work, I just like to make my own!
This gluten-free pasta salad contains a homemade caesar dressing that is naturally gluten-free. It’s also made dairy-free, but doesn’t skimp on the creaminess and the flavor.
How Do You Keep Gluten-Free Pasta from Getting Mushy?
There are a couple of things that you can do to prevent your pasta from getting mushy as it sits:
- Cook al dente. Slightly underdone pasta has a little bit more structure so it holds up better in the dressing.
- Rinse it. Rinsing the pasta with cold water immediately after cooking stops the cooking process so it stays perfectly al dente.
- Add some oil. A light layer of oil on each piece of pasta creates a barrier so the pasta doesn’t mush together.
- Serve right away. The longer the pasta sits in the dressing, the mushier it will get. Once the caesar pasta salad is totally assembled, serve it immediately or as soon as possible.
Tips and Notes
- Use a small pasta shape. I like to use rotini in this recipe, but if you decide to use another pasta shape, make sure it’s a smaller one. The small pasta incorporates better into the salad.
- Chop everything similar in size. Chop all the ingredients roughly the same size so you get a little bit of everything in each bite.
- If you have leftover cooked chicken, you can totally use that instead. I like to make this pasta salad after I’ve whipped up a batch of Instant Pot Shredded Chicken.
- Serve right away. Once the chicken caesar pasta salad is fully assembled, it’s best served right away.
- To make ahead of time, you can cook the pasta, cook the bacon, make the dressing, and chop the veggies, then store it all separately in the fridge until you’re ready to assemble.
- If you want to make the salad creamier, just add extra dressing!
- Make it vegetarian. Just leave out the chicken or use a meatless chicken substitute.
- Not a fan of anchovy? That’s fine. You can leave it out. Although, it is a pretty quintessential caesar flavor.
I love this caesar pasta salad warm or at room temperature. Cold will work too, but I don’t think it’s quite as good.
You can serve it as a meal with a side of Gluten-Free Garlic Bread or as a side dish next to:
- My Go-To 10-Minute Sautéed Shrimp
- Paleo Mushroom Burgers
- My Family’s Favorite Grilled Chicken Thighs
- Dry-Rub Grilled Wings
How to Store
A fully assembled gluten-free pasta salad will last in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 5 days.
To serve again, bring to room temperature, then enjoy!
More Summer Sides You’ll Love
- Instant Pot Corn on the Cob with Southern Spicy Butter
- Sweet & Crunchy Thai Slaw with Chicken
- Chipotle Slaw
- Chia Honey Lime Fruit Salad
More Pasta Salads
- Classic Macaroni Salad
- BLT Pasta Salad
- Caprese Pesto Pasta Salad
- Buffalo Chicken Pasta Salad
- Mexican Street Corn Pasta Salad
GLUTEN-FREE CHICKEN CAESAR PASTA SALAD
- 1/2 cup mayo homemade or store-bought
- 2 teaspoons olive oil
- 1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
- 1 teaspoon dijon mustard
- 1 teaspoon lemon juice divided
- 1/2 teaspoon anchovy paste
- 1 clove garlic crushed
- Pinch of fine sea salt
- Pinch of freshly ground black pepper
- 4 pieces of bacon cooked
- 1 lb. boneless skinless chicken breast
- 1 head romaine lettuce cleaned and roughly chopped
- 1 16- ounce package gluten-free pasta
- 1 cup cherry tomatoes halved
- 1 lemon
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Make the dressing: In a high-speed blender combine mayo, olive oil, vinegar, dijon, lemon juice, anchovy paste, garlic and big pinch salt and pepper. Pulse once or twice just until blended. Taste and adjust seasoning and set aside.
- Season chicken with salt and pepper and grill for 8-10 minutes on each side until no pink remains. Cut into cubes and set aside.
- Make pasta as instructed on package. Rinse with cool water and drain and place into a large bowl.
- Assemble: To the large bowl, add pasta, bacon, tomatoes, lettuce, and chicken. Pour over dressing and mix to combine. Season to taste with salt, pepper and a squeeze of fresh lemon juice. Serve warm or room temperature.
- If you want it creamier, making extra dressing!
- You can use rotisserie chicken, too!