Grilled Chicken Caesar Salad | Recipe Renovator | paleo, gluten-free, dairy-free

Hearty main dish chicken Caesar salad that’s super fast.

Do you remember the first time you tasted a Caesar salad? I can’t say that I do. But I have seen a lot of bad Caesar salads. This classic salad is often poorly made: tired croutons, fake Parmesan cheese, and limp romaine.

At its finest, it’s a fantastic combination of flavors: tangy, sharp, and savory. When I watched Jamie Oliver make a version of this grilled chicken Caesar salad on Fifteen Minute Meals, I was inspired to rethink it. I adore Jamie Oliver; he’s the reason I started my food blog in the first place. I adapted his recipe to make it dairy-free.

All the elements here are grilled, including the lettuce. This gives the entire salad a smoky taste that elevates it from a typical Caesar, and the freshly made dressing is zingy and hearty.

Migraine diet notes: Some people might be sensitive to canned fish, smoked paprika, and lemon. Substitute white vinegar (a teaspoon or two) and water for the lemon juice. Use 1/4 tsp dry mustard and a bit of mayo instead of the Dijon. It won’t be quite as zingy but should still be tasty.

Suitable for:

low-sodium, migraine (see notes above), gluten-free, dairy-free, paleo (without croutons), reduced-sugar diets

Not for:

vegan, or vegetarian diets

Grilled Chicken Caesar Salad | Recipe Renovator | paleo, gluten-free, dairy-free

You might also like:

Grilled romaine from Simply Recipes
Grilled Caesar salad for Sunday Supper from Shockingly Delicious
Grilled chicken Caesar from Cooking Light

Grilled Chicken Caesar Salad | Recipe Renovator | paleo, gluten-free, dairy-free

Grilled chicken Caesar salad

5 from 1 vote
Prep Time 10 mins
Cook Time 20 mins
Total Time 30 mins
Course Dinner, Lunch
Cuisine American
Servings 2 servings


Grilled chicken

  • 1 chicken breast boneless and skinless
  • 1 tsp smoked paprika
  • 1 tsp black pepper
  • 1/8 tsp sea salt


  • 2 pieces bread (gluten-free) omit for grain-free and paleo diets
  • 1 clove garlic peeled and cut in half


  • 1/4 cup olive oil (extra virgin) plus more for the toast
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice (fresh) (see notes above for migraine-friendly substitutions)
  • 12 leaves basil leaves (fresh) or 24 very small leaves (reserve a few for topping the salad)
  • 1 tsp Dijon mustard or mustard aioli (see notes above for migraine diet)
  • 6 anchovy fillets canned in olive oil
  • 1 large head romaine lettuce



  • Heat a grill or grill pan to medium-high.
  • Lay a piece of heavy plastic wrap on your cutting board. Put the chicken breast on top, your hand on the meat to steady it, and then carefully slice it with your knife parallel to the cutting board, starting at the thick side and cutting about 2/3 of the way through.
  • Fold open the chicken breast. It should lay flat. If not, extend the cut just a little so it will. Cover with another piece of plastic wrap.
  • Pound the entire piece with a meat mallet, rolling pin, or a heavy cast-iron pan until the meat is all the same thickness, about 1/2" (1.25 cm) thick.
  • Season both sides of the meat with the smoked paprika, black pepper, and just a little salt.
  • Use tongs to lay chicken on the grill or grill pan, and grill about 4 minutes per side. Meat should have nice grill marks and be cooked through but still juicy. (If you're not sure, pull it off the grill and make one cut through the thickest part.)
  • Once you've put the chicken on the grill, toss the plastic wrap, wash your hands, and flip over the cutting board to be safe.
  • Once cooked, place the meat on the clean cutting board to rest.
  • Slice the chicken into strips when ready to plate.


  • Drizzle both sides of the bread with olive oil, and rub both sides with the cut side of a garlic clove.
  • Grill the bread until toasted with char marks, 2-4 minutes per side. Set aside to cool, propped up a bit so it doesn't sweat on the plate.
  • Cut the bread into small squares and sprinkle on each salad.

Caesar dressing

  • Pour all the canned anchovy oil into a measuring cup. Top up with extra-virgin olive oil to make 1/4 cup (60 ml).
  • Pour the oil and the remaining ingredients—lemon juice through mustard—in the blender and blend until smooth.
  • Refrigerate any leftover anchovies for another use in a glass or plastic container. See below for suggestions.

Grilled romaine

  • Slice the romaine lettuce in half lengthwise, leaving the core intact. Grill for two minutes per side.
  • Slice the romaine crosswise into ribbons, discarding the core, and place on your plates.
  • To plate: Divide the grilled romaine between the two plates. Top with chicken. Sprinkle croutons and reserved basil leaves over. Drizzle with dressing.


Per serving:
  • 514 calories
  • 33 g fat
  • 5 g saturated fat
  • 20 g monounsaturated fat
  • 3 g polyunsaturated fat
  • 0 g trans fat
  • 63 g cholesterol
  • 1083 mg sodium
  • 861 mg potassium
  • 26 g carbohydrate
  • 8 g fiber
  • 6 g sugars
  • 30 g protein
  • 13 Weight Watchers Points Plus
Calculated using Udi's Gluten-Free Bread (which is not low-sodium), and it assumes you are eating all the dressing, hence the higher fat and calories than you probably would. If you use salt-free anchovies and unbrined chicken and lower-sodium bread, this is reasonably low in sodium.
Add leftover anchovies to my chunky tomato sauce, slow cooker meatballs, or pasta alla puttanesca.