Caesar Chicken Tortellini (Lightened Up)


Lightened Up Caesar Chicken Tortellini is bursting with your favorite Caesar dressing flavors but in AMAZING pasta! 


The creamy, cheesy, garlicky, lemony, homemade Caesar Parmesan Sauce is out of this world all smothering juicy chicken and cheesy tortellini!   This Caesar Chicken Tortellini is comfort food at its most addictive! 

Caesar Chicken Tortellini

If you like Caesar salad even just the tiniest bit, then your belly is going to be giddy over this Creamy Caesar Chicken Tortellini!  The lightened up creamy Caesar Parmesan sauce is cheesy, garlicky, lemony, salty and just plain addicting as it smothers all the nooks and crannies of pillowy tortellini and juicy chicken.  This might just be your new favorite pasta!  Its definitely one of mine as my stomach screamed for the leftovers well after there was none left.  Sad, sad day.

Once I envisioned this Caesar Chicken Tortellini recipe, I could not wait to make it – I just knew the tangy, creamy Caesar Parmesan sauce was going to be a show stopper.  In fact, I had just returned home from an eye exam and my eyes were extremely dilated to the point that everything in the immediate foreground was extremely fuzzy – I couldn’t even see numbers or texts on my phone.  But my stomach’s yearnings prevailed and this Caesar Chicken Tortellini was born.  It was glorious.  Even more glorious than I had envisioned.  Because you just can’t imagine this kind of epic deliciousness.

Caesar Chicken Tortellini in a blue and white cast iron pot.

This Caesar Chicken Tortellini has a few components but some of the steps are optional such as marinating your chicken and making Garlic Croutons.  Both are simple to do, but not necessary if you are in a rush or just feeling plain lazy (which happens to me all the time).  So this Caesar Chicken Tortellini recipe can be as quick and simple as you want it to be – just don’t skimp on the Caesar Parmesan Sauce.

If you are skipping the chicken marinade, you can use store bought rotisserie chicken, or shrimp would also be quick and delicious.  If you are making your own chicken, however, I highly suggest marinating it as the marinade is just a few simple ingredients of olive oil, lemon juice, Dijon, salt and pepper, and it makes the chicken WAY more tender and juicy.  Which means WAY better chicken.

Caesar Chicken Tortellini with a wood spoon.

Next, its Garlic Crouton time!  “These are the best croutons I’ve ever had,” stated my husband as he devoured them one after the other straight from the baking sheet when he got home from work. Notice there are not many croutons in the photos.  They are in my husband’s stomach.

I used part of a French baguette as opposed to a larger bread because the smaller baguettes have more crust surface area, which is the best part, in my opinion, and holds together better when making croutons.   We toss our baguette cubes with olive oil, a sprinkling of Parmesan cheese and dashes of garlic powder and salt and then bake for approximate 10 minutes for “the best croutons [you’ve] ever had.”

Close up of Caesar Chicken Tortellini.

Finally, the crowning glory of the Chicken Caesar Pasta -the Caesar Parmesan sauce.  Its epic for a few reasons – its lightened up using only 1 tablespoon of butter and no heavy cream or half and half but tastes crazy creamy thanks to a roux, parmesan cheese and light cream cheese.  This Caesar Parmesan Sauce is also bursting with Caesar flavor thanks to the addition of loads of garlic, lemon juice, Dijon, Worcestershire sauce and fish sauce.

Traditional Caesar salad dressings contain anchovies, which I’ve used once in a dressing and although delicious, totally grossed me out.  Instead, I’ve found using Asian fish sauce adds the same salty flavor with just a splash of a painless teaspoon.  If you’ve never bought fish sauce before, it can be found in the Asian section of most grocery stores and if you do much Thai cooking, you will use it all the time (like in my One Pot Thai Chicken Noodle Soup or 30 Minute Thai Red Curry Chicken).

But more likely, you will come back again and again to this Caesar Chicken Tortellini.  Its just that good.

Looking for more Tortellini Recipes?

Caesar Chicken Tortellini in a teal bowl.

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©Carlsbad Cravings by CarlsbadCravings.com

This Creamy Caesar Chicken Tortellini is SO addicting!  My family raved about it for days!   Its  wonderfully cheesy, garlicky, lemony, & perfect with tortellini and juicy chicken!  I will be using the chicken marinade just plain too its so good! 

Caesar Chicken Pasta (Lightened Up)

Lightened Up Caesar Chicken Tortellini is bursting with your favorite Caesar dressing flavors but in AMAZING pasta!  The creamy, cheesy, garlicky, lemony, homemade Caesar Parmesan Sauce is out of this world all smothering juicy chicken and cheesy tortellini!   This Caesar Chicken Tortellini is comfort food at its most addictive! 
Servings: 6 servings
Prep Time: 45 minutes
Cook Time: 25 minutes

Ingredients

CHICKEN MARINADE (OPTIONAL)*

  • 2-3 boneless skinless chicken breasts pounded to an even thickness
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/2 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper

CAESAR PARMESAN SAUCE

  • 1 20 oz. package quality cheese tortellini
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • 1 tablespoons butter
  • 2-4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups milk
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1/2 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 teaspoon Asian fish sauce
  • 2 teaspoons chicken bouillon
  • 1/2 tsp EACH dried parsley, dried basil, onion powder, salt
  • 1/4 tsp EACH dried oregano, pepper, red pepper flakes
  • 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  • 2 oz. cream cheese, softened (I use ⅓ less fat)

GARLIC CROUTONS** (OPTIONAL)

  • 3 cups cubed French baguette bread (approx. 1/2-1”)
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons finely grated Parmesan
  • 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt

GARNISH (OPTIONAL)

  • freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  • fresh parsley
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Instructions

MARINADE:

  • Add all chicken marinade ingredients (except chicken) to a large freezer bag or bowl and whisk to combine. Add chicken, toss to evenly coat. Refrigerate at room temperature for 30 minutes or refrigerate up to 4 hours.

TORTELLINI

  • TORTELLINI: Cook pasta al dente according to package directions in salted water. Remove 1 cup pasta water before draining.

CROUTONS

  • Preheat oven to 400F degrees F. Whisk together olive oil, Parmesan, garlic powder and salt in a medium bowl. Add cubed bread and gently toss until evenly coated. Spread bread in an even layer on a baking sheet and bake for approximately 10 minutes or until golden.

CHICKEN

  • Meanwhile, heat one tablespoon olive oil in a large skillet over medium high heat. Remove chicken from marinade and dab off excess then add to hot skillet and cook, undisturbed, for 3-5 minutes, or until nicely browned on one side.
  • Turn chicken over, cover, and reduce heat to medium. Cook for approximately 5-7 more minutes (depending on thickness of chicken), or until chicken is cooked through. Remove to a cutting board and let rest 5 minutes before chopping or slicing.

CAESAR PARMESAN SAUCE

  • Melt 1 tablespoon butter in 2 tablespoons olive oil over medium heat in a large skillet. Add garlic and sauté 30 seconds. Sprinkle in flour and cook while stirring for 2 minutes (it will be thick).
  • Turn heat to low then slowly whisk in milk, followed by lemon juice, Dijon, Worcestershire sauce, fish sauce, chicken bouillon and all seasonings.
  • Increase heat to medium high and bring the sauce to a simmer until slightly thickened, stirring constantly.
  • Reduce heat to low and stir in cream cheese until melted followed by Parmesan cheese until melted.
  • Stir in tortellini and chicken until well coated and heated through, adding additional reserved pasta water a little at a time if needed to reach desired consistency.
  • Taste and season with additional salt, pepper and/or lemon juice to taste.

GARNISH

  • Garnish with freshly grated Parmesan Cheese, crouton and fresh parsley if desired.

Notes

*May substitute 2 ½ cups chopped rotisserie chicken breasts
**Croutons can be prepared days in advance and stored in an airtight container.

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10 Comments

  1. Nadine says

    This is an AMAZING dish. Better than something at a restaurant. The meat is full of flavor. And so is the sauce. I made this last weekend and doubled the meat and marinade. I froze half and made it again today. Thank you for posting awesome recipes!!!

    • Jen says

      Thank you so much for your awesome comment Nadine! I am flattered and so happy you find this better than a restaurant! I love your trick of doubling the meat and marinade and freezing half – brilliant!

  2. Paolina says

    No words were actually spoken during this dinner just lots of “mmms.” This was so, so good. The chicken alone was awesome and would be great for lunch salads!

    • Jen says

      LOL! yessssss! I love the table visual full of “mmmmms” :). Thank you so much Paolina!

  3. layne says

    Creamy yumminess. Totally satisfied my pasta craving! The croutons gave an awesome crunch!

    • Jen says

      I’m so happy you liked it – can’t go wrong with creamy tortellini! I’m so glad you tried the croutons with it too!

  4. Sharon says

    I was thinking of making this for a dinner for 12. I was going to double it, and was hoping to make it earlier in the day. Can I keep this warm in my crockpot until they arrive? What would you suggest?

    • Jen says

      Hi Sharon! I wouldn’t suggest keeping this warm in the crockpot as the tortellini can get mushy. Instead, you could keep the sauce warm in the crock pot and then add cooked, refrigerated tortellini last minute. After you cook the tortellini, I would toss it in some olive oil to keep it from sticking and refrigerating it and then just adding it directly to the sauce to warm up. I hope that helps!

  5. Maybeth says

    Super excited to to make this! Can this be served cold? I need a dish for a party that can sit out.