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This Caesar salad recipe is a flavor explosion with creamy dressing, crunchy croutons, and salty Parmesan cheese. It’s perfect as a side dish, or make it an easy lunch or dinner by adding protein!

Caesar Salad recipe on plates with Caesar dressing and lemon.
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Some foods are classic for a reason, like frosty vanilla bean ice cream or hot crispy French fries. This classic salad is another basic, but truly one of our favorite recipes ever. Meet the perfect Caesar salad! Of course you can buy a packaged store-bought version, but make it homemade there’s absolutely no comparison.

Why we love this recipe: We’ve perfected all the elements to a great homemade Caesar salad. The savory, creamy Caesar dressing will become a household favorite. Those crunchy garlicky croutons—well, you’ll be eating them off the baking sheet. Alex and I have made this recipe more times than we can count, often topped with protein for an easy dinner. We hope you’ll love it just as much!

“I made the dressing, croutons and the Caesar salad. It tasted amazing! My go to recipe from now on. Thank you so much!” -Line

Ingredients in a great Caesar salad

From the first bite of this homemade Caesar salad, you’ll be singing its praises! Here are the ingredients to make this classic salad:

  • Croutons: It’s best with homemade croutons, but you can use store-bought in a pinch. For homemade, tearing the the bread into uneven pieces before baking makes fluffy, crunchy orbs.
  • Caesar dressing: This homemade Caesar dressing recipe is so good, you won’t want to buy it again. It’s made of mayonnaise, Parmesan cheese, Dijon mustard, garlic, anchovy paste or Worcestershire sauce, and lemon juice. We’ve also got a lightened-up spin on it using Greek yogurt (keep reading).
  • Romaine hearts: Romaine hearts, the sweet and crunchy portion of a head of romaine, are best for a Caesar salad. These are sold usually in packs of 3 in the grocery. You can also use a large head of romaine lettuce, but the leafier dark green portions of the lettuce don’t taste as good.
  • Parmesan cheese shavings: You need grated Parmesan cheese for the dressing and shredded for the salad. If you don’t want to buy two separate types, grab a large block at the store.
Caesar Salad Ingredients: Mayo, garlic, Parmesan cheese, Dijon mustard, lemon juice, anchovy paste or Worcestershire sauce, croutons, Romaine lettuce.

How to make Caesar salad: step by step

This Caesar dressing recipe is our favorite that we’ve been making for years! It’s easily made vegetarian using vegan Worcestershire sauce and vegetarian Parmesan cheese. Combine it with romaine, Parmesan and croutons, and you’ve got a salad! Here’s how to make Caesar salad (or go to the full recipe):

Homemade croutons

Step 1: Make the Homemade Croutons, tearing the bread into pieces instead of slicing it into cubes. (This makes the best Caesar salad, but homemade croutons are optional). 

Caesar Dressing in bowl with spoon.

Step 2: Whisk together the dressing ingredients in a bowl. Store leftovers refrigerated in a covered jar for up to 1 week.

Toss the Caesar salad in a bowl.

Step 3: In a large bowl, toss the romaine, Parmesan cheese, and croutons with the desired amount of dressing. If serving with added protein, top with the protein and serve.

Tips for homemade Caesar dressing

This Caesar dressing recipe is our favorite that we’ve been making for years! It’s easily made vegetarian using vegan Worcestershire sauce and vegetarian Parmesan cheese. Here are a few tips for this Caesar dressing:

  • Anchovy paste is optional, but adds great flavor. Traditional Caesar dressing gets its savory flavor from anchovies, and it adds a nice sharp flavor that’s the signature of the classic. A vegetarian Caesar dressing with vegan Worcestershire sauce (or this Worcestershire sauce substitute) tastes just as good.
  • Try our lighter version with Greek yogurt. Swap out the ¾ cup mayonnaise in this recipe for ¼ cup mayonnaise, ½ cup Greek yogurt, and 1 tablespoon olive oil. It helps reduce calories and makes the salad taste lighter and fresher. We like it even better!
How to make Caesar Salad

Storing leftovers and make-ahead tips

Once you’ve got your creamy dressing and crunchy croutons, all you need is romaine hearts and Parmesan cheese shavings to bring together that perfect Caesar salad. Want a few time savers for putting it together? Here’s how to make it ahead:

  • Make the dressing up to 1 week in advance. The flavor tastes just as good made in advance.
  • Make the croutons 2 days in advance. Make the croutons and let them cool completely. Then store in a sealed container for up to 2 days.
  • Store components separately. Leftovers store best without the dressing, since dressing makes the lettuce and croutons soggy over time. Store the ingredients separately without dressing, then toss together immediately before serving.

Protein adders to make it a main dish

If you take all this time to make Caesar salad…why not turn it into a main dish meal? If you serve it topped with protein, it makes about 4 servings. Here are a few ideas:

Chicken Caesar Salad

Vegan variation

Want a plant-based or vegan variation? Whip up this Vegan Caesar Dressing! You’ll use a blender to mix chickpeas with Dijon mustard, garlic, olive oil and more. It might sound odd, but trust us. We think this Vegan Caesar Salad is just as tasty!

More variations: grilled and kale Caesar

Here are a few more variations on Caesar salad that put a fun spin on this classic salad:

  • Make it with kale: Our Kale Caesar Salad features leafy green kale and a showering of breadcrumbs. To die for!
  • Make it grilled: This Grilled Caesar Salad features grilled romaine lettuce and grilled avocado to bring big flavor.

Dietary notes

This Caesar salad recipe is vegetarian without anchovy paste. For gluten free, use gluten-free bread for the croutons. For vegan, use Vegan Caesar Dressing and omit the Parmesan cheese, or go to Vegan Caesar Salad.

Frequently asked questions

What type of lettuce is best for Caesar salad?

The classic Caesar salad uses romaine lettuce. Its sturdy leaves hold up well to the dressing and croutons without getting soggy. However, you can experiment with other lettuces like butter lettuce or even chopped kale for a different texture.

Can I make my own croutons for Caesar salad?

Yes, and we recommend it! Making homemade croutons is a great way to customize the flavor and texture. Simply cube bread, toss with olive oil and garlic powder, and bake until golden brown.

Do I need to use anchovies in Caesar dressing?

Anchovies are a traditional ingredient in Caesar dressing, but they mainly add a savory umami flavor that’s not overpowering. If you’re not a fan of anchovies, you can omit them or use a substitute like Worcestershire sauce or miso paste.

What if I don’t have Parmesan cheese?

You can substitute another hard cheese like Pecorino Romano or Grana Padano for the Parmesan cheese.

Can I make Caesar salad dressing ahead of time?

Yes, you can! Homemade Caesar dressing will keep in the refrigerator for up to 1 week in an airtight container.

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Caesar Salad recipe

Caesar Salad Recipe


5 Stars 4 Stars 3 Stars 2 Stars 1 Star

5 from 2 reviews

  • Author: Sonja Overhiser
  • Prep Time: 10 minutes
  • Cook Time: 15 minutes
  • Total Time: 30 minutes
  • Yield: 6 1x

Description

This Caesar salad recipe is a flavor explosion with creamy dressing, crunchy croutons, and salty Parmesan cheese. It’s perfect as a side dish, or make it an easy lunch or dinner by adding protein!


Ingredients

Scale

For the Caesar dressing (makes 1 cup)

  • 1 medium garlic clove, minced or grated
  • ¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice (1/2 lemon)
  • ¾ cup high quality mayonnaise (or ¼ cup mayonnaise, ½ cup Greek yogurt, and 1 tablespoon olive oil*)
  • ½ tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • ½ teaspoon anchovy paste or Worcestershire sauce (or omit)
  • ¼ teaspoon each kosher salt and fresh ground black pepper

For the Caesar salad


Instructions

  1. Make the croutons: Make the Homemade Croutons, tearing the bread into pieces instead of slicing it into cubes. (This makes the best Caesar salad, but homemade croutons are optional). 
  2. Make the dressing: Whisk together the dressing ingredients in a bowl. Store leftovers refrigerated in a covered jar for up to 1 week.
  3. Make the salad: In a large bowl, toss the romaine, Parmesan cheese, and croutons with the desired amount of dressing. (If serving with added protein, top with the protein and serve.) Leftovers store best without the dressing, since dressing makes the lettuce and croutons soggy over time. If you can, store the salad ingredients separately without dressing, then toss with the dressing immediately before serving.

Notes

*Make a lighter version of the dressing by swapping in Greek yogurt and olive oil for part of the mayo. We like it even better!

**Romaine hearts are easy to find packaged separately in the produce aisle.

  • Category: Salad
  • Method: Raw
  • Cuisine: American
  • Diet: Vegetarian

About the authors

Sonja & Alex

Hi, we’re Alex and Sonja Overhiser, married cookbook authors, food bloggers, and recipe developers. We founded A Couple Cooks to share fresh, seasonal recipes for memorable kitchen moments! Our recipes are made by two real people and work every time.

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7 Comments

  1. Bess Impey says:

    Hi from sunny South Africa
    The Caesar salad recipe looks wonderful. I shall try it with grilled chicken and serve chopped tomatoes and gherkins on the side for our tomato lovers, not for mixing in.

  2. Martha Salas says:

    You both look great. We love salads in our family. My daughter is vegan and I try my best to do good but I am overweight. I’ll try and do better the latter part of this year and next year. Looking at you both and the salads that you both share, we can’t go wrong. Thank you both for sharing these wonderful recipes.

    1. Alex Overhiser says:

      You’re welcome!

  3. Line says:

    I made the dressing, croutons and the Caesar salad. It tasted amazing ! My go to recipe from now on. Thank you so much 😊






  4. Anonymous says:

    Dressing is fabulous!






  5. William says:

    It was a good dressing just a tad too much garlic, ill try it again with half of a medium clover next time :)

  6. William says:

    It was a good dressing just a tad too much garlic, ill try it again with half of a medium over next time :)