Kitchn Love Letters

This Store-Bought Dressing Is the Secret to the Best 3-Ingredient Chicken Dinner (I Make It Over and Over!)

published Mar 6, 2024
We independently select these products—if you buy from one of our links, we may earn a commission. All prices were accurate at the time of publishing.
5 Ingredient Baked Caesar Chicken in a casserole dish
Credit: Olive & Mango

As the mom of an almost-2-year-old, I am constantly on the lookout for easy chicken dinner recipes that will please a borderline picky eater. These days, I play it safe. Gone are the evenings when I used to pick out a recipe that had an element of culinary adventure or challenge; it’s a big enough hurdle to get everyone in my family to eat what’s in front of them. Unless I’m hosting friends for a proper dinner party, on weeknights I’m looking for ideas that are simple enough that if said almost-2-year-old refuses to take a bite and instead demands blueberries and Cheerios, I won’t feel a tinge of disappointment that I’ve just wasted away my valuable time in the kitchen. 

This is why most nights I’m completely disinterested in dinners that call for more than five ingredients. It’s simply too much effort. (And this is coming from someone who used to labor over from-scratch chicken Parm on a typical Tuesday.) When I first came across this three-ingredient recipe for baked Caesar chicken, I knew it’d be a keeper. 

Credit: Olive & Mango

What Makes This Chicken Recipe So Good

The brilliance of this recipe? The main ingredient that gives the chicken so much flavor, and acts as a total shortcut for you: Caesar dressing. This isn’t the first chicken recipe I’ve made that calls for bottled salad dressing. Some of them double for solid marinades, without having to do more than give it a shake; no mincing or whisking necessary. Ranch chicken made with ranch dressing is an old-school standby, and you can use Italian dressing as a marinade (the kind from the seasoning packet — you know the one), but I had never thought of using Caesar dressing in the same way. You smother the chicken with the Caesar dressing and then top it all over with shredded Parmesan before broiling, so it takes on a nutty, toasty flavor.

I’m partial to Primal Kitchen Caesar dressing. It’s made with avocado oil, apple cider vinegar, and coconut aminos (which have a savory flavor kinda similar to soy sauce). Of course, if you’re feeling ambitious, you can make your own Caesar dressing, but to me that’s a weekend thing. (Check out all of The Kitchn’s favorite bottled Caesar dressings if you’re in need of a new go-to.)

Credit: Kelli Foster

Why This Recipe Really Works

As our Culinary Producer and resident Dinner Therapist, Kelli Foster, says, “Umami-rich Caesar dressing, packed with garlicky, lemony, cheesy flavor, is the perfect match for mild-mannered chicken breast.” What’s more, because the dressing is already so seasoned, you don’t need to add salt and pepper.

What is worth the extra time is pounding the chicken thin before baking. It helps the chicken breasts not only cook faster, but also evenly. That’s truly the only prep aside from pouring over a cup of dressing and grating some Parm at the end. The Parm is a nice touch; the familiar combination of a classic Caesar dressing and Parmesan is one I absolutely love from a Caesar salad.

The resulting, supremely low-effort baked chicken dinner packs in so much flavor that I have yet to see anyone refuse it for blueberries and Cheerios. It’s just that good.

Get the recipe: 3-Ingredient Baked Caesar Chicken