Poorman’s Chicken Caesar Salad

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Entree salads are a great one to enjoy delicious flavors without spending a lot of money. This Chicken Caesar Salad is made from scratch quick and easily and tastes fantastic!

Poorman's Chicken Caesar Salad | Good Cheap Eats

OK, Caesar Salad may be very 1994. It might also be very 1924, for that matter. But, I don’t care. It still tastes great.

Caesar Salad is actually my kids’ favorite salad. It’s my favorite, too. For months, nay, years, I’ve been making all manner of salads, but the Casear is the hands down favorite. I know they will eat their veggies if I make a Caesar Salad.

Once when I was brainstorming ways to get the kids to eat more vegetables, I asked them what they liked. The unanimous response was: Caesar Salad, but the creamy kind. Always with the disclaimer….

My kids don’t love my old standard that I’ve made forever, but I don’t want to pay big bucks on Newman’s or Cardini’s highly processed, very expensive, bottled dressings. 

So, I decided I would make “the creamy kind” myself. I’ve tweaked this recipe a few different times until I arrived at perfection. I toyed with the idea of adding the raw egg back into my standard Caesar, but the paranoid overprotective mother in me won out. I decided to go with mayonnaise instead of risk salmonella poisoning from my store bought eggs.

Though, now that I’ve discovered Safe Eggs, I may revert.

Poorman's Chicken Caesar Salad | Good Cheap Eats

Poorman’s Chicken Caesar Salad

In the early days of parenting, Caesar Salad was a regular, albeit expensive, item on our menu. I bought boxed croutons, expensive little blocks of parmesan cheese, and the aforementioned expensive, bottled dressing. I’ve changed my ways!

How to make this good and cheap:

With this Poorman’s Caesar Salad, I’ve cut the costs in several ways :

  1. Marked down bread from the grocery store (or leftover home baked bread) becomes homemade croutons. (Cost = $0.75  for a gallon-size bag of croutons.)
  2. I use the less expensive Romano cheese instead of Parmesan Reggiano (Cost comparison = $6.99/pound compared to $19.99/pound; a little goes a long, long way.) I also buy it in bulk at Costco to get the best prices.
  3. I use leftover grilled chicken from a previous meal to add protein to the salad, making it a meal in itself.
  4. I make my own dressing.
  5. I buy the romaine lettuce for 50 cents a head at Costco.

How I make this recipe easy:

This recipe really couldn’t be easier than it is, but having the right kitchen tools can really make your time in the kitchen more enjoyable. Over time, I’ve honed my collection so that they are perfect for my needs.

Here are the tools that I use for this recipe:

Poorman's Chicken Caesar Salad | Good Cheap Eats

5 from 1 vote
Poorman's Chicken Caesar Salad
Prep Time
15 mins
Total Time
15 mins
 
Entree salads are a great one to enjoy delicious flavors without spending a lot of money. This Chicken Caesar Salad is made from scratch quick and easily and tastes fantastic!
Course: Salad
Cuisine: American
Servings: 4
Author: Jessica Fisher
Ingredients
  • 1 large head romaine lettuce washed and torn into bite-sized pieces
  • 2 cups chopped cooked chicken
  • 1 cup Homemade Croutons
  • 3/4 cup shredded Romano cheese
  • 1 tbsp mayonnaise
  • the juice of 1/2 a lemon
  • 1 teaspoon crushed garlic
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
Instructions
  1. In a large salad bowl, layer the lettuce, chicken, croutons, and cheese.
  2. In a small bowl or jar, combine the mayonnaise, lemon juice, garlic, salt and pepper. Stir to combine. Stir in the olive oil, blending to combine well.
  3. Toss the salad with the dressing and divide into plates. Season with additional pepper if desired.

Originally published March 28, 2013. Updated March 16, 2018.

Poorman's Chicken Caesar Salad | Good Cheap Eats

About Jessica Fisher

I believe great meals don't have to be complicated or expensive. There's a better way, and it won't take all afternoon.

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Comments

  1. Jill says:

    I read all the time, but never really comment, but I really enjoy your blog!

    Love Caesar salad, but never made my own dressing! Any idea how long the dressing would last in the fridge, if I made up a large amount (or if we don’t eat it all, seeing as there’s only 2 of us?)

    • Jessica says:

      @Jill, thanks for your kind words!

      I think that I would only keep it for a couple days.

  2. Cherie says:

    Wow your kids have the same complaint mine do – but theyll often order ceasar salad in the restaurants because they love it so – can’t wait to try it – great job

  3. Stephanie says:

    My kids and our whole family for that matter love your olive garden like dressing. I tried to link up the recipe from the recipe search and can’t find it. My kids know if the recipe says life as mom…whatever its going to be good. Anyway the dressing has mayo vinegar parm and romano cheeses and a a few other things. Do your kids still like that one?

    • Jessica says:

      @Stephanie, I don’t think that was my recipe. I’m guessing it was shared on Ultimate Recipe Swap once upon a time. 🙂

  4. Colleen M says:

    This may be a silly question, but is mayonnaise dressing different than “mayonnaise”. I am really interested in trying this recipe for my family. Thanks!

    • Jessica says:

      You mean the difference between Mayo and Miracle Whip? I think there is sugar in Miracle Whip. But, if that’s what you use and like, I don’t think it should matter for this.

      • Colleen M says:

        @Jessica,

        Thank you so much for replying. I actually have never used Miracle Whip – only Mayo!! Thanks again and I cannot wait to try this for our Sunday dinner.

        • Jessica says:

          @Colleen M, I just saw the typo in the recipe. That would explain why I didn’t understand your question. It’s just supposed to be 1 T mayo. I have no idea why I typed dressing in there. Oy!

  5. Trish says:

    Genius to use mayo instead of raw egg!

  6. Charity L. says:

    Re-pinned it on Pinterest. Awesome. My husband will be very happy!

  7. Reche says:

    We use the recipe from your cookbook, and add a tsp or so of mustard (so that it emulsifies). We keep it in the fridge for up to a week – no problems yet!

  8. Stacy says:

    I often make my own ceasar dressing but have anchovy paste in the fridge just for this. None of my kids like it so I am anxious to try a recipe that elimates it totally!

  9. This is very similar to one that I have made and my kids love it!!! What else did you put on your salad in the picture of the big bowl? Carrots?

  10. shelley robbins says:

    Hey I enjoy your blog, and wanted to pass on this tip. I use a creamy Caesar dressing from Cooks.com. I sub out half of the mayo for greek yougart. also, powdered cheap parm works fine in this dressing, I use shredded to toss in…

  11. Karen says:

    This looks like it’s going to be my dinner solution tonight. I have leftover grilled chicken, which I’ve never thought of adding to a Caesar, for some reason, and Asiago cheese which is about half the price of parmesan here and no one has complained about subbing it for parm yet. Awesome, thanks!

  12. Jessika says:

    This dressing was a life saver last night! Thank you! I don’t usually like mayo, but it was perfect in this.

  13. My sister adds anchovy paste which is relatively cheap to her homemade version of this and it adds an extra delicious kick since authentic Caesar has it… 🙂 But I love how simple you make this sound – I just wish the prices were that cheap in Alaska… 🙂
    I love reading your blog btw!

    • Thanks so much! Anchovy paste definitely makes it more authentic. I use fish sauce these days because it can be a multitasker, ie. I can use it in Asian recipes as well as caesar salad and it gives a similar flavor.

      • I hadn’t thought of fish sauce and I have some too! Oh yay! I’ll have to make some for my roommate and I and see if we can tell a difference lol.

  14. Kirstin says:

    The CDC is still telling us to avoid all romaine lettuce from the Yuma, AZ, region, and often it’s hard to tell where romaine lettuce in stores and restaurants was grown. A person in California died a few days ago from the related E. coli outbreak. I’m avoiding romaine lettuce for the time being.

    • I’ve been watching it where I live, and I know that my Ralphs is incredibly careful with that kind of thing. I watched them pull it all the first day and a week later it was replaced with stuff sourced from California. I think it’s definitely wise to do what you feel most comfortable.

      That said, this salad is delicious made with red or green leaf or even butter lettuce.

      • Kirstin says:

        Thanks for recommending substitutions. About 10 days ago, I was getting chicken tacos at Chipotle, and when I got to the end of the line there was no lettuce of any kind. (They offered to sell me guacamole–thanks, Chipotle!) One would think that they could have had iceberg or some alternative …

        • Seriously! What state are you in? Just curious.

          • Kirstin says:

            California. I was at the Chipotle in Seal Beach/Los Alamitos.

            I shop at Ralphs, too, but I wasn’t sure about their produce vendors.

        • Costco here had it very clearly marked yesterday that their lettuce was from California.

  15. Heather M says:

    We love a good caeser salad for dinner, but it’s for those nights I don’t have a lot of time. And I totally cop out- bottled dressing, I quickly shave some parmesan from trader joe’s(I buy wedges there), also usually use the trader joe’s croutons too, and breaded chicken tenders from costco. Like I said, cop-out! My son adores those tenders, so it’s a treat for him when we do caeser salad. He won’t eat them together, but will have the lettuce and chicken separate. The rest of us win!

    • But, seriously? You could make a big batch of dressing and it would last a week. So much better if YOU make it. 😉

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