Caesar salad with homemade Caesar dressing and crunchy croutons is simply the best! Fresh romaine lettuce, parmesan cheese, and this creamy Caesar dressing will have you swearing off the store-bought salads for good!
This Caesar salad is THE BEST. This is always my favorite go-to salad because it’s simple, easy to make, and is loaded with fresh flavor. The homemade croutons really are the cherry on the ice cream!
The Caesar salad dressing is creamy, slightly salty, and savory. The anchovies, Worcestershire sauce, and lemon juice give the dressing it’s savory salty flavor. Yep, you read that right- anchovies are used to make this dressing! This is why anchovies are offered to top most Caesar salads!
The homemade croutons are made with olive oil, parmesan cheese, and fresh herbs. They come out of the oven crispy and delicious- watch out, they are addicting! They only take about 15 minutes from start to finish to make and they are the perfect addition to the Caesar salad. Store-bought croutons could never!
Caesar salad sounds luxurious but it’s quick and easy to make and uses minimum, simple ingredients. Chopped romaine lettuce is tossed with the homemade Caesar dressing, then topped with the parmesan croutons and parmesan cheese. Super simple, ultra delicious. Let’s dig in, shall we?
Caesar salad recipe ingredients
For the Caesar dressing
- Mayo– Traditionally, olive oil and egg yolks are combined to create the base of the Caesar dressing, which is essentially making mayo from scratch. I took the easy route and just used mayo.
- Garlic– Just a couple of cloves of garlic adds the perfect bite to this dressing. To kick this recipe up a notch, use roasted garlic!
- Anchovies– Anchovy paste OR whole anchovies give the Caesar dressing that savory and delicious flavor. There is really no good substitute for anchovies, but trust me, you won’t taste it!
- Lemon juice– A squeeze of lemon juice adds a fresh flavor.
- Dijon mustard- Everything is made better with dijon mustard!
- Worcestershire sauce– Just a small splash of Worcestershire sauce gives the Caesar dressing a delicious depth of savory flavor.
- Parmigiano Reggiano– You can use Parmigiano Reggiano or parmesan, but Parmigiano Reggiano has a superior flavor.
- Salt & pepper– Just a pinch of each will enhance the flavor!
For the homemade parmesan croutons
- Crusty bread– The day old baguettes you can find at almost any grocery store are perfect for croutons! If you can’t find day old bread, no worries, fresh crusty bread will work just fine.
- Olive oil– I enhanced these croutons by using a flavored olive oil, but extra virgin olive oil will work great.
- Parmesan cheese– Grated parmesan cheese OR Parmigiano Reggiano gives the croutons the delicious salty flavor.
- Rosemary– Fresh herbs like rosemary or thyme will greatly enhance the croutons!
For the Caesar salad
- Romaine lettuce– Rough chopped romaine lettuce hearts is all that is needed to create an ultra crispy salad base.
- Parmesan cheese– Shaved parmesan cheese tops the Caesar salad and gives it even more flavor.
- Cracked pepper– Top your salad with a pinch of fresh cracked black pepper- it’s so delicious!
You can easily make this Caesar salad ahead of time! Make the Caesar dressing ahead of time and store it in an airtight container in the fridge until you are ready to eat. You can make the croutons ahead of time, too! Since croutons are meant to be dry and crispy, they keep really well! Just place them in an airtight container on the counter until you are ready to use them. Easy, right?
I do not recommend combining the Caesar dressing and romaine lettuce until you are ready to eat. Keep the ingredients separate until you would like to make it and eat it in the same day. Salad with dressing gets soggy if it’s left in the fridge for more than a day.
Caesar salad dressing can last for 1 week in the fridge. Pour the Caesar dressing into an airtight container (I use Mason Jars) and simply place it in the fridge until you are ready to eat!
Caesar dressing is gluten free, it does not contain any grains. Caesar salad can be made gluten free if the croutons are left out OR gluten free croutons are used.
Make it your own
Now, this is just the beginning of a Caesar salad. This Caesar salad recipe is (mostly) traditional, but I have a few great recommendations on how to make this your own!
You can make the croutons many different ways. You can toss them in butter instead of olive oil, or even use browned butter! Tossing the bread in Italian seasoning or Herbs De Provence is always a solid way to create delicious croutons.
You can also add a bunch of different ingredients to make load this Caesar salad up! Here are a few of my favorites!
- Pepperoncinis– I love the spicy flavor pepperoncinis have, it goes so well with the creamy and savory Caesar dressing.
- Whole anchovies– Just a few whole anchovies can really enhance any Caesar salad!
- Radishes– The peppery bite and crunchiness of radishes go so well with this salad!
- Cucumbers- Cucumbers + Caesar dressing = Tru Love 4Eva
- Protein– Chicken, salmon, or shrimp can easily be added to this Caesar dressing.
- Vegetarian protein– Chickpeas, tofu, or tempeh are perfect choices to add to the Caesar salad.
It’s all about the greens
Don’t just stop at romaine lettuce, grill it! Grilled romaine lettuce is another common way to enjoy Caesar salad and it adds so much flavor!
You can also use any greens that you like. Arugula, purple kale, spinach- all of it works well with Caesar dressing. There really isn’t a vegetable that has met Caesar dressing and didn’t like it.
How to prepare Caesar salad
- Make the croutons. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Slice the baguette in half, then slice 1/4 inch slices. Toss the bread slices in a bowl, then drizzle with olive oil. Keep tossing the bread until everything is well combined. Lay the bread slices on a parchment paper lined baking sheet. Sprinkle the bread with cheese, garlic, and fresh herbs. Add a pinch of salt to taste. Bake the croutons for 8 minutes, or until crispy.
- Make the Caesar dressing. Combine the mayo, anchovy paste (or whole chopped anchovies), garlic, lemon juice, Worcestershire sauce, dijon mustard, cheese, salt and pepper in a bowl. Whisk the mixture until it is smooth. Set it to the side.
- Prepare the salad. Chop the romaine hearts into bite size pieces. Toss the romaine lettuce in a large bowl, then drizzle it with Caesar dressing. Toss the salad until everything is coated in the dressing. Plate the salad into individual bowls, then top with shaved parmesan cheese, cracked pepper, and the homemade croutons. Mangia!
What to serve with a Caesar salad
- Olive and herb focaccia is made quicker than the traditional recipe with a few easy adjustments. This Italian bread is full of fresh herbs, cured olives, and tons of flavor!
- Crusty French Bread Rolls are chewy, crusty, and soft and fluffy on the inside. These rolls are so delicious when they are hot out of the oven and are the perfect staple on your dinner table!
- Every good dinner starts with these Rosemary Garlic Dinner Rolls. The smell of fresh rosemary and warm bread will be so enticing, it’s hard to wait for them to cool!
- Rhode Island-style calamari is battered in a flour mixture, deep-fried to crispy perfection, then tossed with butter, garlic, cherry pepper, and pepperoncini.
- This quick side dish results in crispy pan fried broccoli florets that are equally healthy and addicting! Robust olive oil and raw garlic adds a perfect touch of flavor.
- 1 cup mayonnaise
- 1 tbsp lemon juice
- 2 garlic cloves finely chopped
- 1 tsp anchovy paste or 4 whole anchovies, chopped
- 1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
- 1 tsp dijon mustard
- 1/4 cup Parmigiano Reggiano grated
- 1/4 tsp each of salt and pepper
For the croutons
- 1/2 crusty baguette halved, sliced to 1/4 inch slices
- 3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- 3 tbsp Parmigiano Reggiano grated
- 2 garlic cloves finely chopped
- 2 tsp fresh rosemary finely chopped
For the Caesar salad
- 2 romaine lettuce hearts chopped to bite size pieces
- 1/4 cup shaved parmesan or Parmigiano Reggiano
- 1/4 tsp cracked pepper
- Make the croutons. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Slice the baguette in half lengthwise, then slice 1/4 inch pieces. Toss the bread in a bowl with the olive oil, then mix until the bread is well coated. Lay the bread on a parchment paper lined baking sheet. Sprinkle the bread with cheese, garlic, and fresh rosemary. Bake the croutons for 8 minutes. Remove them from the oven and set it to the side.
- Make the Caesar salad dressing. Combine the mayonnaise, anchovy paste, garlic, lemon juice, dijon mustard, Worcestershire sauce, salt, and pepper in a bowl. Whisk until the mixture is creamy. Set it to the side.
- Make the Caesar salad. Chop the romaine lettuce hearts, then place them in a bowl. Drizzle the lettuce with Caesar dressing, then toss until everything is well coated. Plate the salad in individual bowls, then top with homemade croutons, cracked pepper, and parmesan shavings. Mangia!
Nutrition values are estimates, for exact values consult a nutritionist.