Perfect Vegan Caesar Salad

This vegan Caesar salad tastes even better than the original! It features an irresistibly creamy dressing, capers, and crunchy croutons.

Vegan caesar salad

There’s nothing quite like a great Caesar salad. So there’s no reason why there shouldn’t be an irresistibly tasty vegan version of it in your life. Meet: our perfect Vegan Caesar Salad! Of course, we love ourselves a great classic Caesar salad. But this one comes extraordinarily close: in fact, Alex even said he liked it better than the original! It’s got an irresistibly creamy, savory vegan Caesar dressing, crunchy croutons, and salty pops of flavor from the capers. In fact, the capers are the secret to making it taste so savory and delicious, you barely notice it’s totally plant-based.

Ingredients for the best vegan Caesar salad

This vegan Caesar salad is a big favorite in our house: especially the salad dressing. In fact, we like making this one more than the original. Here are the elements that make it perfectly delicious:

  • Vegan Caesar dressing: This dressing is so incredibly savory, you’ll forget there’s no mayo, Parmesan or anchovies like the real thing.
  • Capers: Yes, capers are the key! They give a pop of savory flavor to each bite that mimics the salty punch of Parmesan shavings.
  • Homemade croutons: If you have time, homemade croutons are crazy good. Tear the bread into uneven pieces to make fluffy, crunchy orbs.
  • Avocado & lemon zest (optional): Use avocado to add even more richness, and lemon for a zing.
  • Tuscan kale & romaine: Use a mix of greens to add variety and contrast in flavor.
Vegan caesar dressing

Secrets to homemade vegan Caesar dressing

The hardest part about making a vegan Caesar salad is…the dressing! A classic Caesar dressing relies on mayonnaise, Parmesan cheese, and anchovies to make an umami-packed flavor sensation. A plant-based Caesar dressing gets none of these easy shortcuts to flavor. What does it use?

  • Chickpeas AND aquafaba make it creamy! Aquafaba is the liquid inside a can of chickpeas, and it’s an amazing way to add silky texture to sauces (like avocado mayo). You can even use it for things like vegan meringues! It adds just the right silky richness to the dressing here.
  • Miso paste adds massive savory flavor. Miso is a fermented Japanese soybean paste that adds great flavor to vegan dishes. Look for yellow or white miso paste; red or brown is not recommended.
  • Dijon mustard also brings in tangy, savory flavor. Dijon is key here!
  • Garlic, lemon and oil round it out. Speaking of the oil…

Why to use a mix of olive oil and neutral oil

This vegan Caesar dressing uses a mix of olive oil and neutral oil. Why is this necessary?

  • All olive oil makes a bright yellow dressing. You can certainly use 100% olive oil in this dressing, especially if you like cooking with olive oil for health reasons. Olive oil is one of the healthiest cooking oils in the world. But it does make the color quite bright!
  • Neutral oil keeps the color closer to a Caesar dressing. It also adds a nuance to the flavor. Use grapeseed oil or organic canola or vegetable oil: anything that has a lighter color and a neutral flavor.
Vegan Caesar salad

Capers are the key!

Capers are part of the magic behind this vegan Caesar salad: because they really mimic the burst of flavor that comes from Parmesan shavings. Here’s a bit more info about this beautiful ingredient if you’ve never worked with it:

  • Capers are a berry of the caper bush that’s native to the Mediterranean. They’re round and dark green gray, about the size of a peppercorn. You’ll find them in Italian and Mediterranean recipes.
  • What do capers taste like? They have a bright, briny and salty flavor.
  • Where to find capers? Capers are served pickled, so you’ll find them in small, thin jars near the olives at the grocery store.
  • What recipes use capers? Make more capers recipes like Roasted Eggplant Pasta, Salmon with Capers or Remoulade Sauce.
Vegan caesar salad

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? At least, that’s the way we think around here! We love it as a side, but it’s fun as a main dish too. Here’s how to add plant-based protein and turn it into a meal:

How would you serve it? Let us know in the comments below!

Vegan Caesar salad recipe

This vegan Caesar salad recipe is…

Vegetarian, vegan, plant-based, and dairy-free. For gluten free, omit the croutons or use gluten free bread.

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Vegan caesar salad

Perfect Vegan Caesar Salad


1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars (7 votes, average: 4.71 out of 5)

  • Author: Sonja Overhiser
  • Prep Time: 20 minutes
  • Cook Time: 0 minutes
  • Total Time: 20 minutes
  • Yield: 4 1x
  • Diet: Vegan

Description

This vegan Caesar salad tastes even better than the original! It features an irresistibly creamy dressing, capers, and crunchy croutons. 


Ingredients

Scale

For the Vegan Caesar Dressing (makes 1 cup)

  • 1 medium garlic clove
  • 1 cup canned chickpeas, drained + 1/4 cup aquafaba (liquid from the can)
  • 1 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons yellow miso paste (or any miso marked light or white*)
  • 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
  • 6 tablespoons olive oil
  • 6 tablespoons neutral oil 
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt 
  • Fresh ground black pepper

For the salad

  • 1 cup croutons, store-bought or homemade
  • 1 head romaine or 2 romaine hearts
  • 1 bunch Tuscan kale
  • 1/4 cup capers, drained
  • 1 ripe avocado (optional)
  • Lemon zest (optional)

Instructions

  1. Make the croutons (optional): If using, make the Homemade Croutons, tearing the bread into pieces before baking instead of slicing it into cubes. Or, use purchased croutons. 
  2. Make the dressing: Peel and roughly chop the garlic. Drain the chickpeas into a liquid measuring cup: save 1/4 cup of the liquid (aquafaba) for the dressing. In a large blender, place the garlic, chickpeas, aquafaba, lemon juice, light miso paste, Dijon mustard, olive oil, neutral oil, kosher salt, and fresh ground pepper. Blend until a creamy dressing forms. Makes 1 cup; serve immediately or refrigerate up to 1 month; bring to room temperature before serving. 
  3. Prep the fresh ingredients: Chop the romaine and Tuscan kale. Chop the avocado, if using.
  4. Serve: To serve, place the greens in serving bowls and top with drained capers, avocado, croutons, lemon zest (optional), and a few tablespoons of the dressing. 

Notes

*Do not substitute brown or red miso, as the flavor is too strong and it makes the dressing too dark in color. Yellow, light or white miso is best here. 

  • Category: Salad
  • Method: Raw
  • Cuisine: Vegan

Keywords: Vegan caesar salad

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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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