Kale Caesar Salad with Crispy Lemon Chicken

Kale Caesar Salad with Baked Crispy Lemon Chicken strips on top on a plate with a fork.
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Kale Caesar Salad with Baked Crispy Lemon Chicken strips on top on a plate with a fork.

If you think you don’t like raw kale, THIS is the recipe to change your mind!  Kale Caesar Salad 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.

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. 

Kale 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.

Quick note!  This post contains affiliate links, which means I earn a commission (at no extra cost to you) if you purchase from them.  This commission is what helps me keep this blog afloat :).  I also share these links because I have used the products, genuinely love them, and want you to know exactly what I used. 

EQUIPMENT NEEDED

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 KALE CAESAR SALAD WITH CRISPY CHICKEN

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.

Lemon zested with zest in a bow, microplane on counter and lemon halved for Kale Caesar Salad with Baked Crispy Lemon Chicken strips

Hand holding small bowl with lemon zest over breadcrumbs for Kale Caesar Salad with Baked Crispy Lemon Chicken strips

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.

Ingredients on counter for Caesar dressing for Kale Caesar Salad with Baked Crispy Lemon Chicken strips

Blender with Caesar dressing ingredients for Kale Caesar Salad with Baked Crispy Lemon Chicken strips

Hand juicing lemon into a blender with Caesar dressing ingredients for Kale Caesar Salad with Baked Crispy Lemon Chicken strips

Blender with a spoon scooping blended Caesar dressing for Kale Caesar Salad with Baked Crispy Lemon Chicken strips

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.

Hand stripping the kale leaves from a stem for Kale Caesar Salad with Baked Crispy Lemon Chicken strips

Knife cutting kale leaves into strips for Kale Caesar Salad with Baked Crispy Lemon Chicken strips

Finally, slice the chicken breasts into 1 inch wide strips.

Knife cutting raw chicken breast into thin strips on a pink cutting board for Kale Caesar Salad with Baked Crispy Lemon Chicken 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 YOUR CRISPY 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.

Dish with breadcrumbs and a raw chicken strip on left bottom, above that a dish with beaten eggs with raw chicken strips, and on the right is a sheet pan with breaded chicken strips for Kale Caesar Salad with Baked Crispy Lemon Chicken strips

Hand spraying olive oil over breaded chicken strips on a sheet pan for Kale Caesar Salad with Baked Crispy Lemon Chicken strips

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.

Cooked breaded chicken strips on a sheet pan for Kale Caesar Salad with Baked Crispy Lemon Chicken strips

ASSEMBLE & SERVE THE KALE CAESAR SALAD

Mix the kale and the caesar dressing. Then top with the chicken strips and enjoy! Garnish with more parmesan cheese if desired.

Tongs tossing kale with caesar dressing in a clear bowl for Kale Caesar Salad with Baked Crispy Lemon Chicken strips

RECIPE FAQS

Can I use Spinach or other Greens instead of Kale?

You can really use any greens you have or love.  The great thing about kale, though is that it’s 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!

How far in advance can I dress the 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.  

How long will the Caesar Dressing last in the fridge?

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.

Can I make the chicken in advance?

Yes, however, the breading will get soggy once it sits overnight in the fridge.  Therefore, you will want to crisp it up in the oven at a high heat (400F) for about 10 minutes.  You don’t want to overcook the meat, but you do want it to crisp up.  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. 

ENJOY!  😍 Carrie

Have you tried this recipe? If so, please leave a ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ star rating in the recipe below! I love to hear your feedback and your rating helps others to find this recipe. Thanks so much!

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.

Course Main Course, Salad
Cuisine American
Keyword bread salad, caesar dressing, caesar salad, chicken, Chicken Salad, kale, kale salad
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 25 minutes
Servings 4 servings
Author Carrie Tyler

Ingredients

Kale Caesar Salad

  • 4 cups Kale
  • 1 cup Mayo
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1 teaspoon anchovy paste
  • 2 Tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon
  • 1 teaspoon Worcestershire
  • 1/2 cup Grated Parmesan
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper

Crispy Chicken

  • 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

Instructions

Prep-Ahead Steps

  1. BREADCRUMBS. Mix the breadcrumbs, salt, ground black pepper.

  2. 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.

    Hand holding small bowl with lemon zest over breadcrumbs for Kale Caesar Salad with Baked Crispy Lemon Chicken strips
  3. MAKE DRESSING. Into a blender, add the mayonnaise, garlic cloves, anchovy paste, lemon juice, Dijon, Worcestershire, grated Parmesan, salt, and pepper

    Blender with a spoon scooping blended Caesar dressing for Kale Caesar Salad with Baked Crispy Lemon Chicken strips
  4. 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.

    Hand stripping the kale leaves from a stem for Kale Caesar Salad with Baked Crispy Lemon Chicken strips
  5. PREP CHICKEN. Slice the chicken breasts into 1 inch wide strips.

    Knife cutting raw chicken breast into thin strips on a pink cutting board for Kale Caesar Salad with Baked Crispy Lemon Chicken strips

Cooking Steps

  1. PREHEAT. Preheat oven to 400 F degrees and spray a large sheet pan (I used an 17×11 inch) with olive oil cooking spray.

  2. 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.

    Dish with breadcrumbs and a raw chicken strip on left bottom, above that a dish with beaten eggs with raw chicken strips, and on the right is a sheet pan with breaded chicken strips for Kale Caesar Salad with Baked Crispy Lemon Chicken strips
  3. 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.

    Hand spraying olive oil over breaded chicken strips on a sheet pan for Kale Caesar Salad with Baked Crispy Lemon Chicken strips
  4. BAKE. 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.

    Cooked breaded chicken strips on a sheet pan for Kale Caesar Salad with Baked Crispy Lemon Chicken strips

Serve

  1. MIX & ASSEMBLE. Mix the kale and the caesar dressing. Then top with the chicken strips and enjoy! Garnish with more parmesan cheese if desired.

    Tongs tossing kale with caesar dressing in a clear bowl for Kale Caesar Salad with Baked Crispy Lemon Chicken strips

Recipe Notes

  1. Kale will last in the fridge for up to 7 days
  2. 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.