How to Make a Classic Caesar Salad (2024)

Updated: Mar. 15, 2023

Ever wonder how to make the ultimate Caesar salad? We've got you covered with a classic recipe and kitchen tricks.

Caesar salads are one of the most popular salads around. They can be served as a main dish or side. Learn the basics of how to throw one together, then whip up a custom Caesar salad anytime.

What Is a Caesar Salad?

A classic Caesar salad has just a few main ingredients: greens, a creamy dressing, croutons and cheese. Toss everything together and you have a crisp, crunchy and refreshing salad.

But where did Caesar salad come from? Many people assume the salad has ties to Julius Caesar, but it actually originated in Tijuana, Mexico. Chef Caesar Cardini invented the recipe in 1924 and would assemble and serve it tableside at his namesake restaurant.

Today, there are countless variations, but the same basic components remain the same:

  • Dressing
  • Lettuce
  • Croutons
  • Cheese

Caesar Dressing

How to Make a Classic Caesar Salad (1)Taste of Home

In this classic Caesar salad recipe, you might notice that our dressing isn’t milk-white like the kind you’d find at the grocery store. That’s because most Caesar dressings nowadays call for ingredients like mayonnaise, buttermilk or sour cream. The traditional recipe actually consists solely of egg yolk, mustard, anchovies, Worcestershire sauce, wine vinegar and lemon—plus a little S&P. When emulsified, these ingredients form simple—yet rich dressing that transforms your salad from ho-hum into a restaurant-worthy meal.

While we think there is an unbeatable richness and simplicity to old-school Caesar dressing, if the raw yolks scare you, there are plenty of tasty alternatives. This low-fatCaesar dressinglets you skip the blender. And a dash of cayenne pepper gives this easy Caesar salad dressing extra zip. Regardless of the route you choose, homemade tastes best.

Lettuce

How to Make a Classic Caesar Salad (2)Alexthq/Getty Images

Most Caesar salads are made with Romaine lettuce torn or chopped into bite-sized pieces. However, feel free to swap in any type of lettuceinto your dish. Iceberg lettuce, Little Gem lettuce andendivehave a similar crunchy texture to Romaine.

Pro tip:Want to impart even more flavor to your cae sal? Rub your salad bowl with crushed garlic prior to adding the lettuce. It’ll impart a subtle garlicky flavor to your dish—an impress your guests, too.

Homemade Croutons

How to Make a Classic Caesar Salad (3)Taste of Home

To take your Caesar salad over the top, we highly recommend making your own croutons. Sure, the boxed kind will work in pinch, but they just don’t compare to the buttery golden-brown bite of croutons made from scratch.

Fayne Lutz of Taos, New Mexico sent in this simple recipe for homemade salad croutons which we adore. Simply cube day-old bread and toss it with olive oil, minced garlic and salt. Bake at 325° until lightly browned, then store in an airtight container until ready to use. Experiment with flavor by incorporating different herbs and spices.

Cheese

How to Make a Classic Caesar Salad (4)Tetra images/Getty Images

Perhaps the greatest thing about a Caesar salad (or any salad, really) is its use of cheese.Parmesan is the usual choice here. If you’re looking for a high-quality cheese, opt for Parmigiano Reggiano. Pick up a wedge and have at it with your grater, or use a vegetable peeler for pretty shavings. Pre-shredded also works in a pinch.

Can’t find parm? Opt for Grana Padano,pecorino orany other hard cheese.

Essential Tools for Making a Caesar Salad

To avoid a soggy salad, we recommend grabbing a salad spinner ($30) to ensure perfectly dry greens.

For the ultimate Caesar salad experience, making the dressing from scratch is a must. A quick blitz in the blender and you’ll have your very own homemade Caesar salad dressing! We love the Vitamix Explorian Blender ($345) for its speed control and self-cleaning system, but the Ninja Professional Blender ($90) works well here too.

We suggest making the Caesar salad dressing a day ahead to allow it to rest and let the flavors really come together. This salad dressing shaker ($10) is ideal for storing homemade dressing and sauces.

How to Make a Caesar Salad

How to Make a Classic Caesar Salad (8)Lisovskaya/Getty Images

Ingredients

For the dressing:

  • 3 pasteurized large egg yolks
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 2 tablespoons anchovy paste
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • dash hot pepper sauce, optional
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese

For the salad:

  • 1 large bunch romaine
  • 1/4 to 1/2 cup shaved or shredded Parmesan cheese
  • Croutons for topping

Instructions

Step 1: Make the Caesar dressing

In a blender, combine the first 10 ingredients for dressing; cover and process until blended. While processing, gradually add oil in a steady stream. Stir in Parmesan cheese. Chill until serving.

Pro tip:Can’t find anchovy paste? Whole anchovies work well, too.

Step 2: Prep the lettuce

Tear romaine lettuce into bite-sized pieces and place in a large salad bowl.

Step 3: Assemble the salad

Pour dressing over lettuce and toss to coat. Sprinkle with cheese and croutons. Add freshly cracked pepper or a squeeze of lemon juice to taste.

Pro tip:For a restaurant-like appeal, serve your salad on chilled salad plates.

How to Make a Healthy Caesar Salad

For a healthy Caesar salad, serve the dressing on the side. Aim for a light, even coating, just enough for the dressing to complement the flavors, not overpower them.

Additionally, go light on the Parmesan cheese and croutons if you’re trying to be more health-conscious.

Caesar Salad Variations

What’s great about Caesar salad, is there’s a lot of room to expand upon it. Play around with toppings you have on hand to make the salad completely your own.

  • Make it a mealby topping the salad with cubed ham, grilled chicken, salmon, crumbled bacon or even pasta.
  • Get fruity:Amp up the flavor with crunchy fruit like apples or ripe pears.
  • Go for the wow-factor:Impress your guests by serving your salad in a bowl made entirely of cheese. Learn how to makefrico salad bowls.

How Long Will the Salad Last?

We recommend storing the lettuce, toppings and dressing separately so that the lettuce doesn’t get too soggy. An undressed Caesar salad lasts 3-5 days in the fridge.

More Recipes for Caesar Salad Fans

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Chicken Pasta Caesar Salad Recipe photo by Taste of Home

Chicken Pasta Caesar SaladMy colleagues and I made a pact to eat healthier, and we took turns sharing dishes. I'm happy to report that, thanks to recipes like this crisp and tangy salad, we all trimmed down. —Teresa Jordan, Springville, Utah

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Chicken Caesar Wrap Recipe photo by Taste of Home

Chicken Caesar WrapThis classic handheld with tender chicken, Parmesan cheese and chopped Caesar croutons features the perfect amount of dressing for a tasty meal any night. Nancy Pratt - Longview, TX

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Caesar Salad with Grilled Steak and PotatoesWe get our grill on for this sizzling steak and potatoes baked in foil. It’s a quick and easy main dish we like to take outdoors. —Edie DeSpain, Logan, Utah

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My family loved this pasta salad right from the start, so these days I serve it a lot. When grilling season hits, I grill the chicken as a special treat. —Lee Reese, Rolla, Missouri

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Taste of Home

That Good SaladWhen a friend shared this salad recipe, it had a fancy French name. Our children can never remember it, so they say, "Mom, please make 'that good salad.'" Now our friends and neighbors request it for potluck dinners. It really is one of the best salad recipes. —Betty Lamb, Orem, Utah

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Chicken Caesar PitasHand-held and picnic friendly, these chicken-stuffed pockets pack a double dose of whole grains from brown rice and whole wheat pitas. The chicken can be made up to 2 days in advance for a fast-fix lunch. —Taste of Home Test Kitchen

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Mediterranean Pasta Caesar Toss Recipe photo by Taste of Home

Mediterranean Pasta Caesar TossGet creative using convenience items with a fresh take on ravioli. Try this lightened-up pasta toss for an al fresco dinner, or double it for a family picnic. —Libby Walp, Chicago, Illinois

Caesar Chicken with FetaMy tomatoey chicken is the perfect answer on those crazy days when supper has to be on the table in 30 minutes, tops (doesn't hurt that it's delicious, too). —Denise Chelpka, Phoenix, Arizona

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Loaded Potato SaladGet a load of this loaded potato salad with sour cream, bacon, shredded cheddar, green onions and more. The ingredients come together to give you all the richness of restaurant potato skins at your next picnic. —Monique Boulanger, Greenwood, Nova Scotia

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Caesar Chicken Wraps Recipe photo by Taste of Home

Caesar Chicken WrapsWhen we have chicken for dinner, I cook extra for these full-flavored roll-ups. Featuring Caesar salad dressing, cream cheese, red pepper, black olives and a hint of garlic, the wraps are perfect alongside corn on the cob and a green vegetable. —Christi Martin, Elko, Nevada

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Taste of Home

Chicken Caesar PizzaDressed greens on top of warm pizza may sound a little strange but trust me, it's fantastic. —Tracy Youngman, Post Falls, Idaho. Next, check out our collection of pizza appetizers.

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Caesar Orange RoughyI'm so thankful that my mother taught me to cook at a young age. She won several cooking contests over the years and this is one of my favorite recipes of hers. —Mary Lou Boyce, Wilmingon, Delaware

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Caesar Salad in Peppered Parmesan Bowls Recipe photo by Taste of Home

Caesar Salad in Peppered Parmesan BowlsThis cheese bowl salad looks impressive but is a cinch to make. I won't tell if you don't! —Melissa Wilkes, St. Augustine, Florida

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Taste of Home

Cheesy Chicken SubsI've been part of the Food Services staff at Appalachian State University for 33 years. One summer we created this flavorful sandwich that combines seasoned grilled chicken, Swiss cheese and sauteed mushrooms and onions. Thousands of students have enjoyed this wonderful sub since then. —Jane Hollar, Vilas, North Carolina

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This is my "go to" recipe for quick dinners, family or guests. It's colorful, healthy, easy to prepare and absolutely delicious. The best part is it only calls for five ingredients! —Mary Hawkes, Prescott, Arizona

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Taste of Home

Blackened Pork Caesar SaladWhen I cook, the goal is to have enough leftovers for lunch the next day. This Caesar with pork has fantastic flavor even when the meat is chilled. —Penny Hedges, Dewdney, British Columbia

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Bacon-Wrapped Shrimp Recipe photo by Taste of Home

Bacon-Wrapped ShrimpI tweaked this bacon-wrapped shrimp recipe to please my family, and boy were they glad! For less heat, skip the jalapenos. —Debbie Cheek, State Road, North Carolina

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Taste of Home

Tortellini Caesar SaladThis salad was served at a dear friend's baby shower by a health-conscious friend, who suggested the dressing be prepared with low-fat or fat-free ingredients. Either way, the creamy dressing has plenty of garlic flavor and coats the pasta, romaine and croutons nicely. —Tammy Steenbock, Sembach Air Base, Germany

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Crispy Shrimp Caesar Salad Recipe photo by Taste of Home

Crispy Shrimp Caesar SaladMy friend Jane and I have a favorite lunch spot that serves a fantastic salad on Wednesdays. I made my own version at home so I can share it with my family and eat it whenever I want. Save a lot of prep time and buy peeled, deveined shrimp and pre-washed lettuce. —Marla Clark, Albuquerque, New Mexico

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Chicken Caesar FlorentineI adapted this dish from my favorite chicken Caesar salad recipe. It has many of the same ingredients as the salad: croutons, grated Parmesan, chicken, and creamy Caesar dressing. This makes the perfect comforting meal on a busy weeknight. —Joyce Conway, Westerville, Ohio

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Salmon Caesar Salad Recipe photo by Taste of Home

Salmon Caesar SaladThis salmon Caesar salad was invented out of a need to serve my family a balanced meal when time was limited. Even my young son loves it! —Ann Bagdonas of Antioch, California

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My Caesar with grilled chicken is a healthier alternative to heavy meat and potatoes dishes. After grilling the kabobs, we serve them family style. —Melissa Adams, Tooele, Utah

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How to Make a Classic Caesar Salad (2024)

FAQs

What does a classic Caesar salad contain? ›

We all know what it is: chopped romaine lettuce and garlicky croutons, tossed in a creamy dressing made with eggs, olive oil, lemon, Parmesan, Worcestershire sauce, and anchovies. Even when mass-produced, this combination of savory, creamy, tangy, and crunchy ingredients is tasty stuff.

What is the original Caesar dressing made of? ›

Juice of 1 lime. 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce. ¾ cup extra virgin olive oil. ¼ cup finely grated parmesan cheese, plus more for topping.

Which ingredient is not commonly found in classic Caesar salad? ›

The ingredient typically not found in a classic Caesar salad is Iceberg lettuce. A traditional Caesar salad, made primarily of romaine lettuce, doesn't include iceberg lettuce. It may vary in different recipes.

How does Gordon Ramsay make Caesar salad? ›

How to cook:
  1. separate the whites from the yolks;
  2. whisk the yolks and add Dijon mustard and wine vinegar;
  3. carefully whisk everything until the mass thickens;
  4. gradually introduce olive oil and whisk;
  5. add anchovies, garlic and grated Parmesan to the sauce;
  6. cut the chicken fillet into slices;
  7. sprinkle with salt and pepper;
Apr 21, 2020

What was in the original Caesar salad? ›

The seven ingredients of the original Caesar salad: whole leaves of romaine lettuce, a raw egg yolk, Italian olive oil, grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, Worcestershire sauce, lime juice and a toasted round of baguette. Photo by Bill St. John, for UCHealth.

What makes a Caesar salad a Caesar salad? ›

Caesar salad is made with romaine lettuce, croutons, Parmesan cheese, and Caesar dressing. The dressing is a mixture of olive oil, lemon juice, Worcestershire sauce, Dijon mustard, and garlic. Tip: Skip the shaky cheese. Shaved Parmesan makes a big difference with this dish, elevating both presentation and flavor.

Does the original Caesar salad have anchovies? ›

Cardini's daughter and several other sources have testified that the original recipe used only Worcestershire sauce, not anchovies, mustard, or herbs, which Cardini considered too bold in flavor. Modern recipes typically include anchovies as a key ingredient, and are frequently emulsified or based on mayonnaise.

What are the two types of caesar dressing? ›

Caesar salad dressing comes in a few basic forms. First, some are creamy, like ranch dressing, while others are more like vinaigrette, with a visible separation of oil and water-based ingredients.

What's in store bought Caesar dressing? ›

It's the Caesar dressing—generally made with lime or lemon juice, egg yolks, Dijon mustard, garlic, anchovies, olive oil, parmesan cheese, Worcester sauce, and black pepper—that makes this dish so iconic and enduring.

Why is Caesar salad so good? ›

Caesar salads can be satisfying as a main dish or side. The fiber and water content in the lettuce and other added vegetables help you feel full. Plus, the crunchy texture of the croutons and raw vegetables may make salads more enjoyable to eat, according to researchers (10).

Why do people think Caesar salad is Italian? ›

Many people think the Caesar salad was named after Julius Caesar -- it's not. The Caesar salad was invented by an Italian man named Caesar Cardini. Italians can rest assured that there was Italian influence behind its creation. Cardini was a restauranteur who was born in northern Italy.

Why does Caesar salad have raw egg? ›

PUBLISHED: May 28, 1992 at 1:00 a.m. | UPDATED: August 10, 2021 at 7:25 a.m. Used in the classic Caesar salad dressing as well as most other versions, raw or partially cooked egg yolks impart a subtle richness and emulsify the dressing so it clings to the lettuce.

What is the difference between a regular salad and a Caesar salad? ›

The main differences lie in the type of lettuce used, key components, and dressing. House salads offer a broader range of ingredients and dressings, while Caesar salads have specific components like romaine lettuce, parmesan cheese, and a distinct Caesar dressing.

What are the two types of Caesar dressing? ›

Caesar salad dressing comes in a few basic forms. First, some are creamy, like ranch dressing, while others are more like vinaigrette, with a visible separation of oil and water-based ingredients.

Does cesar salad have meat or fish? ›

Some of the most common variations to the salad include: grilled poultry (most often chicken), meat, shellfish, or fish, capers, Romano cheese, anchovies, and bacon. A Caesar salad with chicken.

Is Caesar salad lettuce healthy? ›

Romaine lettuce, the main ingredient in Caesar salads, provides fiber and other essential nutrients. It contains lutein and vitamin C, both of which can guard against macular degeneration, which leads to blindness in seniors.

References

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