This Caesar salad recipe with garlic croutons and a creamy homemade Caesar dressing with or without anchovies) makes an easy main meal or favorite side salad for a crowd.
Here on the blog, I’m not shy about my love of the Caesar salad. I made sure to share my classic Caesar salad dressing you can make with or without anchovies because some of you aren’t all that fond of the little fish. I’ve also turned this classic steakhouse primer into a kale Caesar salad and my daughter’s favorite chicken Caesar salad. The creamy, umami-rich salad dressing is so full of flavor, and coupled with crunchy romaine, freshly grated Parmesan cheese, and the easiest homemade garlicky croutons, it’s simplicity at its finest. Some eaters worry about Caesar salad’s calories, but when keeping portions in check, and if you avoid drowning it in dressing, the calorie count can stay within realistic bounds. So brace your tastebuds and let me show you how to make a killer Caesar salad.
What’s in Caesar Salad
Did you know the original Caesar salad originated in Mexico? It was created by an Italian immigrant, chef, and restauranteur. The ingredients for this salad should be familiar to most Caesar salad lovers. There are a few ingredients and methods to take note of that make this the one I make over and over again.
Here’s what is in a Caesar salad:
- Sour cream
- Red wine vinegar
- Worcestershire sauce
- Parmesan cheese
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- Tabasco sauce
- Bread cubes
- Olive oil
- Italian parsley
1. Romaine Lettuce
I use tender romaine hearts rather than the whole head. I find these center leaves to be more tender and sweet. Chop the leaves in big chunks or go ahead and dig in and tear the leaves with your fingers. Whole leaves make a killer presentation too.
If you don’t have a salad spinner, now is the time to get one. Nobody ever liked dirty lettuce. Place the lettuces in the bowl with the spinner add water to fill and soak the leaves. Lift the strainer portion of the spinner and discard the water. Then, spin the lettuce a few times.
2. Homemade Croutons
Nobody’s going to side-eye you if you grab a bag of grocery store croutons, but the homemade variety is so easy to make, they’re totally worth the extra few minutes to do so.
Use a sturdy sourdough or white bread and drizzle it with garlic-infused oil. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, season with chopped parsley kosher salt, and black pepper, and you’re ready to go. Want to give them a try? Get my homemade garlic crouton recipe here.
Store the homemade croutons in a zip-top bag or in an airtight container. Or freeze for up to one month.
3. Homemade Caesar Salad Dressing
Creamy, garlicky, and cheesy with fresh Parmesan, my homemade Caesar dressing skips the raw egg yolks and calls for mayonnaise and sour cream instead. If you’re looking for a Caesar dressing with egg, check out my chicken Caesar salad recipe here.
4. Parmesan Cheese
I use a combination of two cuts of the salty bite of Parmesan cheese, and always use fresh, not canned. I love the finely grated Parmesan because it seemingly melts into all of the nooks and crannies. But I also love chunks of Parmesan for their salty burst of flavor. Make the Parmesan shavings by skimming a block of cheese with a vegetable peeler. Together these two gratings of Parmesan make this salad extra primo.
see more: 30 Healthy Summer Potluck Salads
How to Make Caesar Salad
Make your croutons. Place the bread cubes in a large bowl and set aside. Heat the olive oil and garlic in a small saucepan over medium heat until the garlic begins to turn golden and becomes fragrant, about 4-5 minutes. Strain out the garlic. Drizzle the oil over the bread cubes, toss to coat, and bake in the oven for 10 minutes or until the bread cubes are golden. Toss with the parsley and salt and pepper and set aside to cool.
Make the creamy Caesar dressing. Add all of the ingredients to a small glass canning jar with a fitted lid and shake well to combine. Or, add to a medium-sized bowl and whisk to combine.
Assemble and serve. Toss in half of the croutons and half of the cheese with the lettuce. Season with kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper. Use tongs or get right in there and toss with your hands. Add the rest of the croutons and cheese to the top of the salad so they don’t fall to the bottom of the salad when serving. Season to taste with salt and pepper and freshly ground pepper.
Does Caesar Dressing Have Fish in it?
Yes! Classic Caesar salad dressings have anchovies (or at least anchovy paste) and I use anchovies in mine (as well as Worcestershire sauce, which is also made with anchovies). However, if you’re concretely opposed, leave them out and sub in 1 teaspoon of Worcestershire sauce and 1 teaspoon of lemon juice instead. Finally, if you’re vegan and want to make this, omit the Worcestershire and try adding some minced capers (they’ll lend a nice umami flavor).
Can I Prep the Dressing in Advance?
Yep, the creamy Caesar dressing can be refrigerated for up to 1 week before serving.
Tips for Making the Best Caesar Salad
- Use a blender and add oil for a thicker dressing. If you prefer a super thick Caesar salad dressing that won’t drip from a spoon, make it in a blender or food processor instead of shaking it in a jar or whisking. Blend all of the ingredients then slowly drizzle in ¼ cup of olive oil while the blades are going strong. This method will emulsify and thicken the dressing.
- Top with protein. I kept this homemade Caesar salad ultra simple and topped it just with garlic croutons. But you’re welcome to add your protein of choice, like chicken, shrimp, or salmon.
- Dress JUST before serving. Romaine lettuce leaves are one of the sturdiest lettuces out there, but just like their leafy cousins, they will wilt if left dressed for too long. To avoid the wilty situation, dress this salad just before serving.
What to Serve With Caesar Salad
- Tomato Basil Soup
- Top with The Best Greek Chicken Marinade
- Top with The Best Grilled Salmon
- My Mom’s Homemade Spaghetti and Meat Sauce
- Beyond Easy Chicken Mole Enchiladas
- Lighter Penne Alla Vodka
- Baked Sausage and Cheese Rigatoni
If you make this recipe, please let me know! Leave a ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ rating on this recipe below and leave a comment, take a photo and tag me on Instagram with #foodiecrusheats.
Caesar Salad with Garlic Croutons
For the Caesar Dressing
- 1 cup mayonnaise
- 1 cup sour cream
- ¼ cup red wine vinegar
- 1 ½ teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
- 1 teaspoon mashed anchovies , (or anchovy paste)
- 1 clove garlic , pressed
- ¼ tablespoons Parmesan cheese , grated
- ½ teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper
- 2-3 dashes Tabasco sauce
For the Garlic Croutons
- 4 cups bread cubes , cut into ¾ inch squares (from a sturdy bread like sourdough)
- ½ cup extra virgin olive oil
- 3 cloves garlic , thinly sliced
- 2 tablespoons Italian flat leaf parsley , minced
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt
- ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
For the Caesar Salad
- 8 cups romaine lettuce hearts , rinsed and patted dry
- ¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese
- ¼ cup Parmesan cheese , cut into ribbons
- kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper , to taste
For the Caesar Dressing
- Add all of the ingredients to a small glass canning jar with a fitted lid and shake well to combine. Or, add to a medium-sized bowl and whisk to combine.
For the Garlic Croutons
- Preheat the oven to 375° F.
- Place the bread cubes in a large bowl and set aside. Heat the olive oil and garlic in a small saucepan over medium heat until the garlic begins to turn golden and becomes fragrant, about 4-5 minutes. Be careful the garlic doesn’t burn or it will taste bitter. Strain or pick the garlic cloves out of the oil and discard or save for another use.
- Drizzle the oil over the bread cubes and toss to coat. Scatter onto a rimmed baking sheet and bake for 10 minutes or until the bread cubes are golden, flipping the cubes occasionally.
- Remove from the oven and add back to the bowl. Toss with the parsley and salt and pepper and set aside to cool. Store in an airtight container for up to 2 weeks.
For the Caesar Salad
- Chop or tear the romaine lettuce into bite-sized pieces and place in a large serving bowl. Drizzle with ⅓ cup of the Caesar dressing and toss to coat.
- Sprinkle with half of the grated Parmesan cheese and 1 cup of the croutons and toss again.
- Top with the rest of the grated Parmesan, Parmesan ribbons, and more croutons as desired. Season with kosher salt and pepper to taste, and serve.
- If you prefer to omit the anchovies from the salad dressing, substitute the anchovies for an additional 1 teaspoon of Worcestershire sauce and 1 teaspoon of lemon juice instead.
- Store the remaining dressing in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks.
- Store the leftover croutons in an airtight container for up to 2 weeks or freeze for up to 2 months.
More Classic Salad Recipe Ideas
- How to Make the Best Potato Salad
- How to Make Classic Macaroni Salad
- Chinese Chicken Salad with Sesame Dressing
- Classic Shrimp Macaroni Salad Recipe
- Classic Blue Cheese Wedge Salad Recipe
- Fresh and Easy Vietnamese Noodle Salad
- How to Make the Best Broccoli Salad
- My Favorite Ambrosia Salad
- German Potato Salad
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