Perfect Caesar Salad

The very best Caesar salad recipe! This stunner has the perfect balance of creamy homemade dressing, crunchy croutons, and crisp lettuce.

Caesar salad

Some foods are classic for a reason. Like frosty vanilla bean ice cream or hot crispy French fries, this classic salad is basic but truly irresistible. Meet the perfect Caesar salad! Yes, you can buy a packaged storebought version with sub-par dressing and soggy croutons. But make all the components at home and it’s a knock out stunner. We’ve perfected all the elements so that you can make them at home. The savory, creamy dressing will instantly become a household favorite. And the crunchy garlicky croutons…well, you’ll be eating them off the baking sheet.

How to make the best Caesar salad

This homemade Caesar salad is absolutely magnificent. From the first bite, you’ll be singing its praises. (Promise.) Here are the ingredients to make an absolutely perfect version of this classic:

  • Homemade croutons: Don’t even think about purchasing a box! Tear the bread into uneven pieces to make fluffy, crunchy orbs.
  • Best Caesar dressing: Our recipe is so good, you won’t want to buy it again.
  • Romaine hearts: We like the romaine hearts, the sweet and crunchy portion of a head of romaine. These are sold usually in packs of 3 in the grocery. You can also use a large head of romaine lettuce.
  • Parmesan cheese shavings: You need grated for the dressing, so grab yourself a block of the stuff.
Best Caesar salad

Tips for Caesar salad croutons

You’ll start with the croutons for this Caesar salad. All they need is 15 minutes in a hot oven! You can prep the rest of the salad while they bake. Here are our tips for the best homemade croutons:

  • Use great bread: The better the bread, the better the crouton! Use artisan bread, French bread or sourdough bread from the store, or leftover homemade bread.
  • Tear the bread into pieces: Tearing the bread into small pieces makes for crispier croutons with crevices that catch the dressing!
  • Add garlic powder. Our croutons recipe is for garlic croutons, which have the perfect savory flavor.
  • Bake until crispy (about 15 minutes). You’ll use a low temperature, 300 degrees, and bake until just crispy. The croutons crisp up after baking .
Best Caesar salad

The secrets to homemade Caesar dressing

This Caesar dressing recipe is our favorite that we’ve been making for years! It’s a healthy spin on the standard but it tastes just as good. It’s also easily made vegetarian. Here are a few notes on this Caesar dressing:

  • Greek yogurt gives it a healthy spin. Instead of going all mayo and oil, we’ve added a little Greek yogurt too. This keeps it creamy but cuts a few of the calories. We use this philosophy in our Ranch Dressing recipe too.
  • Use anchovy paste, or don’t: it’s optional! Traditional Caesar dressing gets its savory flavor from anchovies, so we’ve used it here. It adds a huge amount of flavor! But this dressing tastes just as good without it. Feel free to make a vegetarian Caesar dressing and it’s just as good.
  • There’s no raw egg. Standard Caesar dressing uses raw egg yolks (like a homemade mayo). But this recipe is so full of flavor, it doesn’t need it.
How to make Caesar salad

Make ahead instructions for Caesar salad

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. Make it and refrigerate up to 1 week: the flavor tastes just as good!
  • 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. The flavor gets gradually staler over time, so the closer to fresh they are, the better.

Variations: 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:

Caesar salad

More variations: grilled, kale, and more

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

This Caesar salad recipe is…

Vegetarian without anchovy paste. For gluten free, use gluten-free bread for the croutons.

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Caesar salad

Perfect Caesar Salad


1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars (6 votes, average: 5.00 out of 5)

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

Description

The very best Caesar salad recipe! This stunner has the perfect balance of creamy homemade dressing, crunchy croutons, and crisp lettuce.


Scale

Ingredients

For the Caesar dressing (makes 1 cup)

  • 1 medium clove garlic
  • 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese, finely grated
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice (1/2 lemon)
  • 1/4 cup mayonnaise
  • 1/2 cup Greek yogurt
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon anchovy paste (optional)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper

For the Caesar salad

  • 1 recipe Homemade Croutons
  • 3 romaine hearts* (or 1 large head romaine)
  • 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese shavings

Instructions

  1. For the croutons: Make the Homemade Croutons, but tear the bread into pieces instead of slicing it into cubes.
  2. For the dressing: While the croutons bake, make the dressing. Grate the garlic, or finely mince it. Grate the Parmesan cheese as finely as possible (it’s helpful to use a microplane or the fine holes on a grater). Juice the lemon. Whisk together all the ingredients in a bowl. Store refrigerated (keeps at least 1 week).
  3. For the salad: Tear the romaine leaves into pieces (or chop them). Top each salad with Parmesan cheese shavings, croutons, and dressing.

Notes

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

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

Keywords: Caesar salad

More great salad recipes

We love salads! If you do too, here are a few more great salad recipes to try:

  • Broccoli Salad Crunchy and savory sweet, it stars broccoli, raisins, and a flavor-popping dressing.
  • Perfect Italian Salad Crisp veggies, crunchy croutons, tangy pepperoncini, and a punchy homemade dressing.
  • Antipasto Salad Hearty and full of zingy flavor, with lots of crunchy veggies, olives, artichokes, cheese, and Italian herbs.
  • Classic Corn Salad Fresh and full of tangy flavor, with bursts of bright tomato and basil!
  • Caprese Salad Pair perfectly ripe, juicy tomatoes with fresh mozzarella and peppery basil.
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About the Authors

Sonja Overhiser

Cookbook Author and writer

Sonja Overhiser is author of Pretty Simple Cooking, named one of the best healthy cookbooks of 2018. She’s host of the food podcast Small Bites and founder of the food blog A Couple Cooks. Featured from the TODAY Show to Bon Appetit, Sonja seeks to inspire adventurous eating to make the world a better place one bite at a time.

Alex Overhiser

Cookbook Author and photographer

Alex Overhiser is an acclaimed food photographer and author based in Indianapolis. He’s host of the food podcast Small Bites and founder of the recipe website A Couple Cooks. Featured from the TODAY Show to Bon Appetit, Alex is author of Pretty Simple Cooking, named one of the best vegetarian cookbooks by Epicurious.

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