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How to make a Classic Caesar Salad from scratch with a rich and tangy homemade Caesar dressing, parmesan cheese and hand-torn croutons.
When we long for life without difficulties, remind us that oaks grow strong in contrary winds and diamonds are made under pressure.Peter Marshall
Don’t you just love a good classic Caesar Salad? Me too! Sadly I am often disappointed when ordering one off a menu. Yet I still do it, ever hopeful for that bright and rich creamy dressing that perfectly compliments juicy crisp romaine hearts, toasty croutons, and pungent salty parmesan. Here is a recipe to satisfy those cravings. My non-vegetable-eating son (who is this kid?) will eat this Caesar salad! So I happily keep it in rotation.
There are many tweaks and slight variations to this traditional salad. Originally hailing from Tijuana where it was made tableside by Caesar Cardini, an Italian immigrant who owned the restaurant in Mexico. It is said he created it on the fly on 4th of July as the kitchen supplies were depleted. Sometimes when under pressure, magic is made!
Before we get into it, be aware we are going for tradition, using anchovies and egg yolks. If that is not your thing, no problem! Here is a delicious vegan Caesar salad you may prefer.
Table of Contents
Ingredients in Caesar Salad
Quality is going to make the difference here, up-leveling from just a salad to an amazing Caesar salad. Whole anchovies packed in olive oil, farm-fresh eggs if you can get them, fresh squeezed lemon juice, and make sure your olive oil tastes good! Making your own croutons is super easy and addicting!
Caesar Salad Ingredient Notes
- Lettuce- use clean crisp, dry lettuce. Romain hearts, little gems work the best! (See the recipe notes for tips on cleaning, spinning and storing the lettuce!)
- Anchovies or anchovy paste– add the best depth and flavor. Can be substituted with fish sauce if needed but whole anchovies are the best.
- Egg yolks– use high-quality organic eggs (or sub mayo– see notes)
- Lemon juice and lemon zest– zest adds a lot of bright flavor.
- Olive oil– a good flavored one will make the difference!
- Bread– day-old bread is great for croutons.
See the recipe card below for a full list of ingredients and measurements.
Expert Tips For Perfect Caesar Salad
- Make sure lettuce is completely dry and cold, this helps the dressing coat the romaine chunks. With wet lettuce, the dressing has a tendency to just slip off.
- Use day-old bread for croutons, hand-torn gives more rustic crags and places to soak up the flavor.
- In the dressing, salting the garlic first helps in break down and emulsify the garlic.
- Use high-quality olive oil.
- Go slow with adding the olive oil to the salad dressing, whisking in drop by drop.
How to make Caesar salad (steP-by-steP)
STEP ONE– If using a salad spinner, cut the romaine lettuce first and then rinse and spin in a salad spinner to dry. This can be done hours before. After spinning you can just put the whole spinner in the fridge. The lettuce gets extra crisp this way.
Alternatively, without a spinner, wash whole leaves before cutting, lay on a clean towel and blot dry. When prepping ahead, store in the fridge in a plastic bag or container with a towel to absorb any moisture.
STEP TWO– Making croutons is an easy delicious way to use up old bread. A nice country loaf works great as well as does sourdough.
Hand-tearing bread gives it rugged craggy edges that dressing can soak into. Just toss with olive oil, add a pinch of salt and pepper and bake!
STEP THREE– While the croutons are baking whisk up the dressing. Smash garlic and salt together making a paste. The salt helps break down the garlic. Add the anchovy filets and continue to smash into a paste.
Into the garlic bowl, add egg yolks, lemon juice and zest, dijon, Worcestershire, and black pepper. Whisk together thoroughly.
STEP FOUR– Slowly drizzle olive oil into the mixture whisking all the while. Go little by little until the dressing is smooth and emulsified. Whisking by hand doesn’t take long, gives your arms a tiny work out and leaves a bit of texture in the dressing.
You can also make this in a food processor or blender if you want a super smooth dressing. Follow the same steps.
STEP FIVE– Grate parmesan cheese. Shave some shreds for garnishing the top.
STEP SIX– Assemeble! Place chopped romaine in a bowl. Add dressing (you may not need all of it), grated parmesan, parsley, and a couple of handfuls of croutons. Toss together, adjusting salt, pepper and lemon. Garnish with more croutons, parmesan shavings, and lemon slices.
Can this be made ahead?
Yes! To make this Caesar salad ahead- prep the Caesar dressing and croutons, and prep and refrigerate the lettuce- keeping all the components separate until right before tossing!
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Caesar Salad FAQS
While it is true that tearing lettuce leaves more cells intact, when serving within a few hours, cutting actually keeps the juices in the cut leaf which leaves them much more flavorful!
Crisp romaine lettuce, croutons, parmesan cheese, lemon, garlic, anchovies, egg yolk, dijon mustard, and Worcestershire.
Originally hailing from Tijuana where it was made tableside by Caesar Cardini, an Italian immigrant who owned the restaurant in Mexico. It is said he created it spontaneously, on the 4th of July as the kitchen supplies were depleted.
Love this recipe? Please let us know in the comments and leave a 5-star ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ rating below the recipe card.Print
How to make a classic Caesar Salad with homemade Caesar dressing, parmesan cheese and hand-torn croutons.
- 2 medium-sized heads of romaine lettuce, chopped, washed and dried (see notes)
- 1/4 cup flat leaf parsley, chopped
- 1/3 cup parmesan cheese, grated, plus some shaved for the top.
- 3 cups torn or cubed bread, day old works best
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- salt and pepper taste
- 1 garlic clove, finely minced or use a garlic press
Caesar Salad Dressing
- 2 cloves garlic
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 6 anchovies (or 3 teaspoons anchovy paste) see notes
- 2 egg yolks (or sub 1/2 cup mayo)
- 1/2 teaspoon lemon zest (optional but elevates lemony tang)
- 3 tablespoons lemon juice
- 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
- 1/4 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce (optional, gives more depth) or sub-fish sauce
- 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
- 1/2 cup mild olive oil (see notes)
Make the croutons
- Hand tear or cut bread. Toss in a bowl with olive oil, salt and pepper to taste.
- Bake in a preheated oven at 350, for 20 minutes or until crisp and golden. (see notes)
Caesar Salad Dressing
- Smash together garlic and salt until broken down and juicy.
- Add anchovies, mashing together with the garlic until a paste forms.
- Whisk in egg yolks, lemon juice and zest, dijon, Worcestershire, and black pepper. Combine thoroughly.
- Dribble olive oil into the mixture whisking all the while, little by little until the dressing is smooth and emulsified.
Make the Caesar Salad
- Place chopped dry romaine lettuce in a bowl.
- Add the Caesar salad dressing, a little at a time (you may not need all of it), grated parmesan, parsley and a couple of handfuls of croutons.
- Toss together, adding more dressing as needed. Adjust salt, pepper and lemon to your taste.
- Garnish with more croutons, parmesan shavings, and lemon slices.
Leftover dressing can be kept in the refrigerator for up to 5 days, or freeze.
Tip: Spin lettuce in a salad spinner to dry. This can be done hours before! After spinning you can just put the whole spinner in the fridge. The lettuce gets extra crisp this way. Alternatively, without a spinner, wash whole leaves before cutting, lay on a clean towel and blot dry. Store in a plastic bag or container with a towel to absorb any moisture.
Baking time for croutons will vary depending on the bread you use, a tighter crumb will take longer.
Anchovy paste has other ingredients added. For pure anchovy flavor use the filets, but either will work.
Substitute 1/4 cup mayo for egg yolks.
Extra virgin olive oil can sometimes give a bitter tang. If you do not prefer this, use regular olive oil. Or half extra virgin and half a neutral oil (such as avocado).
- Serving Size: 2 cups
- Calories: 430
- Sugar: 3.4 g
- Sodium: 1763.9 mg
- Fat: 24.8 g
- Saturated Fat: 4.8 g
- Carbohydrates: 37 g
- Fiber: 3.6 g
- Protein: 16.1 g
- Cholesterol: 76.1 mg
Keywords: classic Caesar salad, Caesar salad recipe, caesar salad