This Crispy Lemon Chicken Kale Caesar Salad is a delicious and easy dinner with a no-fuss Caesar dressing that’s simply made in a blender.
If you think you don’t like raw kale, THIS is the recipe to change your mind! This Kale Chicken Caesar Salad recipe with baked crispy lemon chicken is full of delicious flavors and textures. The kale is fresh and crisp and so incredibly good for you! The Caesar dressing is super easy to make in a blender and brings creaminess and big flavor that’s tangy, nutty, salty, garlicky, and delicious! My recipe uses mayonnaise instead of raw eggs, which is safer for my kids and will last longer in the fridge. And finally, on top of all of this goodness is breaded and baked-crispy chicken strips with a kiss of lemon zest.
Kale is a Great Source of Vitamin C
It’s that time of year for sniffles. Kids are back to school and the weather is getting cooler. That means adding some extra Vitamin C is good for helping to boost your immune system. Ever since receiving my Certification in Nutrition and Healthy Living, I look for natural ways to get vitamins.
Did you know that 1 cup of Kale has MORE vitamin C than 1 orange!!? That’s right, my friends, Kale is truly a superfood packed with vitamin C, as well as fiber, nutrients, folate, magnesium, and other vitamins.
Not only is Kale healthy, it is very versatile and can be used in a lot of recipes. I put kale in my morning smoothie, lunch salads or one-bowl concoctions, and into a variety of dinner dishes. I love it in salads, of course, like this recipe or Quinoa and Kale Salad with Roasted Chickpeas and Creamy Lemon Dressing. But, I also love it in cooked dishes, like my Glorious Greek Chicken Pasta Casserole with Kale or Shell Pasta with Italian Sausage and Kale. I also love to add it to SOUPS! My favorite soups to add it to are my 5-Ingredient Chicken Tortilla Soup with Kale and my Creamy Carrot Soup with Roasted Chickpeas and Kale.
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Simple Ingredients and Substitutes
Kale Caesar Salad
- Fresh Kale Leaves – I used organic whole leaves, washing them under cold water, and stripping them from the stems. You can substitute with any greens of your choice.
- Mayonnaise – Mayonnaise brings more depth to this recipe and is a nod to ranch dressing. I love the flavor that it imparts, but you can swap it out and use more sour cream, greek yogurt, or marscapone.
- Garlic cloves – You can use the pre-minced garlic in a jar, dried garlic, or garlic powder if you do not have fresh cloves.
- Anchovy paste – I keep a tube of anchovy paste in my freezer as I don’t use it very often. Caesar dressing will not taste quite as good without it! I promise, it will not taste fishy and you will not even detect it other than tasting the delicious depth and familiar caesar dressing flavor. Of course, you can leave this out if you want.
- Fresh Lemon juice – For the fresh lemon juice, you can substitute in lime or white wine vinegar if you don’t have lemon.
- Dijon Mustard – You can use yellow mustard in a pinch, but it will not have the full flavor that you get from dijon.
- Worcestershire – Similarly to the anchovy paste, worcestershire sauce brings umami and that very unique Caesar dressing flavor. If you don’t have it, you can substitute soy sauce.
- Grated Parmesan Cheese – Parmesan is what gives that salty and nutty flavor and thick texture to the dressing. If you don’t have parmesan, you can substitute in Pecorino Romano, Grana Padano, Asiago, or other grated very dry cheeses.
- Salt and Freshly Ground Black Pepper – Lots of black pepper is what gives this dressing it’s speckled appearance and peppery flavor. You can use fresh ground or pre ground.
- Chicken Breast, boneless skinless – I always have raw chicken breasts in the freezer as they can last up to 12 months if in an airtight container or packaging. Check out all of my tips on Prepping and Storing Chicken for Easier Dinners. You can substitute in Chicken tenders or skinless boneless chicken thighs.
- Egg large – The egg is for dredging the chicken in so that the breadcrumbs stick. If you need to substitute, you can use another thick substance like mayonnaise, yogurt, or sour cream.
- Panko breadcrumbs – Make sure to buy unseasoned breadcrumbs. If you don’t have panko, you you can use regular bread crumbs. You can also make your own breadcrumbs by toasting up bread and then pulsing it in a food processor. If want to make this gluten free, you can use gluten free breadcrumbs or substitute in a combination of coconut and parmesan cheese. You can also just serve grilled chicken vs. crispy.
- Lemon Zest – The lemon zest adds such a nice flavor to the chicken and since you need a lemon anyway for the dressing, it’s a great way to use the zest too. You can leave it out if you want.
- Olive Oil Cooking Spray – Any cooking oil spray will work to help get the breadcrumbs crispy.
To make the Caesar Dressing, you will need a blender for blending the ingredients until smooth and creamy.
You could also use a food processor for this, such as this mini food processor.
For baking the chicken, you will need a large sheet pan (I used a 17×11).
Prep-Ahead Steps for Chicken Kale Caesar Salad
We are all extremely busy and making dinner during the week can be overwhelming. Here are steps you can prepare ahead to save time on busy nights! (See the full recipe below)
The first thing I like to prep for this recipe is the breadcrumb topping as it uses the zest from the lemon which you need to get before juicing the lemon.
Mix the breadcrumbs, salt, ground black pepper. Zest the entire lemon and add 1 tablespoon of it to the breadcrumbs. Cut the lemon in half to be juiced in the next step.
Then, move on to making the Caesar Dressing. Into a blender, add the mayonnaise, garlic cloves, anchovy paste, lemon juice, Dijon, Worcestershire, grated Parmesan, salt, and black pepper.
Next, prep the kale. If you get the fresh kale on the stalks, they the easiest way to prepare it is to hold the end of the stem with one hand and pull off the leaves along the stem with the other hand. Rinse the leaves off under cold water in a strainer and pat dry with a towel. Then thinly slice the kale so that it’s easy to eat and it isn’t too tough. If it does feel tough, you can gently massage kale leaves in your hands and that will help the fibers start to soften. Place the kale in a large bowl for tossing with the dressing later.
Finally, slice the chicken breasts into 1 inch wide strips.
At this point, if you are doing this prep a day or more ahead, store everything sealed in the fridge. Otherwise, move on to the cooking!
Cook the Crispy Lemon Chicken
Preheat oven to 400 F degrees. Spray a large sheet pan with olive oil cooking spray.
Next, get the chicken dredging stations ready. You already made the breadcrumb mixture, so bring that over. Into another bowl, crack the egg and whisk it with the water.
You can add all of the chicken strips (or some of the strips at a time) into the egg wash and mix them around to coat each and every piece with the egg. Then one by one, transfer each chicken strip to the breadcrumbs and flip to coat. Then place on sheet pan that has been coated with olive oil cooking spray. Spray the top of each chicken piece lightly as well.
After the chicken has been in the oven for 15 minutes, take the pan out and flip each piece of chicken over. Bake for another 10 minutes. After a total of 25 minutes in the oven, the chicken should be completely cooked through…browned and crispy on the outside, moist and tender on the inside. Let sit for a few minutes before serving.
Assemble and Serve Chicken Kale Caesar Salad
Mix the kale and the caesar dressing. Then top with the chicken strips, garnish with more parmesan cheese if desired.
ENJOY! 😍 Carrie
Chicken Kale Caesar Salad FAQS
You can use any greens you have or love. Kale is so sturdy that it can be dressed an hour ahead and still not wilt or get mushy. Most other greens will not hold up as well, so you will want to dress the salad right before you serve it. Of course, the traditional lettuce used in Caesar salad is Romaine. However, I say try new greens! Even shaved Brussels Sprouts are delicious in this salad!
As mentioned about, if you use Kale, you can dress the salad an hour in advance, even up to a day in advance. You may want to add a touch more dressing right before serving, just to freshen it up. For all other lettuces, you will want to wait to dress the salad right before you serve.
Because this recipe does not use raw eggs, as many Caesar dressing recipes do, you can store it in the fridge for longer. It will last up to 7 days in a sealed container.
Yes, however, the breading will get soggy once it sits overnight in the fridge. You can crisp it up in the oven at a high heat (400F) for about 10 minutes. The alternative is to prep the chicken with the breadcrumbs on the sheet pan and cover with aluminum foil to store in the fridge raw overnight. If you want to prep more than 1 day in advance, you can flash freeze the raw breaded chicken on the sheet pan in the freezer, then transfer it to storage container. To cook, place the raw frozen chicken strips on the pan and cook exactly the same, but add an extra 5 minutes to the cooking after you flip the chicken over.
Be sure to check out the web story for this Crispy Chicken Kale Caesar Salad!
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Crispy Chicken and Kale Caesar Salad
Kale Caesar Salad with Baked Crispy Lemon Chicken is full of delicious flavors and textures. The kale is fresh and chewy – in the best way! The Caesar dressing is super easy to make in a blender and brings creaminess and big flavor that's tangy, nutty, salty, garlicky, and delicious! And finally, on top of all of this goodness is breaded and baked crispy chicken strips with a kiss of lemon zest.
Kale Caesar Salad
- 6 cups Kale
- 1 cup Mayonnaise
- 2 cloves Garlic
- 1 teaspoon Anchovy paste
- 2 Tablespoons Lemon Juice, freshly squeezed
- 1 teaspoon Dijon Mustard
- 1 teaspoon Worcestershire
- ½ cup Grated Parmesan Cheese
- ¼ teaspoon Salt
- ¼ teaspoon Ground black pepper
- 1 pound Chicken breasts boneless, skinless
- 1 Egg large
- 2 tablespoons Water
- 1 cup Panko breadcrumbs
- 1 teaspoon Salt
- 1 teaspoon Ground black pepper
- 1 tablespoon Lemon Zest
- 2 Tablespoons Olive Oil Cooking Spray
BREADCRUMBS. Mix the breadcrumbs, salt, ground black pepper.
ZEST. Zest the entire lemon and add 1 tablespoon of it to the breadcrumbs. Cut the lemon in half to be juiced in the next step.
MAKE DRESSING. Into a blender, add the mayonnaise, garlic cloves, anchovy paste, lemon juice, Dijon, Worcestershire, grated Parmesan, salt, and pepper. Pulse to combine and then blend until smooth.
PREP KALE. If you get the fresh kale on the stalks, they the easiest way to prepare it is to hold the end of the stem with one hand and pull off the leaves along the stem with the other hand. Rinse the leaves off under cold water in a strainer and pat dry with a towel. Then thinly slice the kale so that it's easy to eat and it isn't too tough.
PREP CHICKEN. Slice the chicken breasts into 1 inch wide strips.
PREHEAT. Preheat oven to 400 F degrees and spray a large sheet pan (I used an 17×11 inch) with olive oil cooking spray.
STATIONS. Crack the egg into a separate medium size bowl and whisk it with the water. Get the breadcrumb mixture you prepared and place next to the sheet pan.
COAT CHICKEN. Add all of the chicken strips into the egg wash and mix them around to coat each and every piece with the egg. Then one by one, transfer each chicken strip to the breadcrumbs and flip to coat. Then place on sheet pan that has been coated with olive oil cooking spray. Spray the top of each chicken piece lightly as well.
BAKE. Bake the chicken in the oven for 15 minutes, then take the pan out and flip each piece of chicken over. Bake for another 10 minutes. After a total of 25 minutes in the oven, the chicken should be completely cooked through…browned and crispy on the outside, moist and tender on the inside. Let sit for a few minutes before serving.
MIX & ASSEMBLE. Mix the kale and the caesar dressing. Then top with the chicken strips and enjoy! Garnish with more parmesan cheese if desired.
- Kale will last in the fridge for up to 7 days
- If you want to prep the chicken more than 1 day in advance, you can flash freeze the raw breaded chicken on the sheet pan in the freezer, then transfer it to storage container. To cook, place the raw frozen chicken strips on the pan and cook exactly the same, but add an extra 5 minutes to the cooking after you flip the chicken over.