Caesar Salad is a classic salad with distinct flavors that everyone recognizes at first bite. This Caesar salad recipe has homemade croutons and a creamy Caesar dressing that your whole family will love.
I really don’t think I’ve ever met anyone who doesn’t enjoy a classic Caesar salad. It’s creamy, rich, and a very flavorful salad that has only a few simple ingredients.
Grocery stores all over the country have bags of premade salads and salad kits but they will never taste as good as homemade. (Or, be as fresh as homemade.) The kits are very easy and convenient but they only taste okay. When you take in considerations that homemade Caesar salad only takes about 30 minutes, it’s 100% worth it to make your own.
Since the salad only contains Romaine lettuce, Caesar dressing, croutons, and shaved Parmesan cheese, it’s important to make each ingredient count. The best dressing and croutons will make this whole salad a delightful experience for your taste buds.
Caesar Salad Recipe
- Italian Bread – If you can’t get your hands on an Italian loaf, you can try other breads from the bakery like French baguette or sourdough bread. Just make sure not to get pre-cut or it will be sliced too thin!
- Olive Oil – Olive oil adds a deep, rich flavor to the bread. If you have to substitute it, try using avocado oil.
- Italian Seasoning – Make your own by combining equal parts of oregano, thyme, basil, rosemary and sage.
- Garlic Powder
Don’t buy pre-sliced bread for croutons or it will be sliced too thin.
Caesar Dressing Recipe:
- Garlic Cloves
- Mayonnaise – choose your favorite brand of mayonnaise, just don’t mix light or fat free.
- Dijon Mustard – Be sure to use Dijon mustard, not classic yellow mustard. Dijon mustard is thicker and has a vastly different flavor.
- Worcestershire Sauce
- White Wine Vinegar – you can substitute apple cider vinegar or sherry vinegar if needed.
- Olive Oil – try to pick lighter tasting olive oil so it’s not overwhelming.
- Lemon – The freshly squeezed juice of one ripe lemon will add the perfect balance of acidic flavor to this tangy dressing.
- Parmesan Cheese – choose freshly grated parmesan cheese or block!
- Salt – Do not add too much! The other ingredients like mayonnaise, Parmesan, and anchovy paste already provide a good amount of salt.
- Cracked Black Pepper
- Anchovy Paste – You can also use 2 anchovy filets. If you’re a bit queasy around fish, I recommend using the paste over the filets.
Caesar Salad Ingredients:
- Romaine Lettuce – At the store, reach for a large head of Romaine lettuce that has leaves that are firm, dark green, and have no soft or discolored spots.
- Parmesan Cheese For the best flavor and texture, skip the grated powdery stuff in a plastic bottle and shave a block of Parmesan.
HOW TO MAKE CAESAR SALAD
MAKE THE CROUTONS
1. Cut the bread. Cut the Italian bread into 1 inch cubes. It’s okay if they’re not all perfectly equal! Slightly mismatched croutons just give it more character.
2. Toss the cubes. In a large bowl, toss the freshly cut bread cubes with the olive oil, Italian seasoning, garlic powder, and salt. Mix it all together until the bread cubes are fully coated.
3. Bake. The croutons only need about 10-15 minutes in the oven. Remove them from the heat once they’re a nice golden brown color.
Peek in on croutons while baking because some breads will darken faster than others.
MAKE THE CAESAR DRESSING
1. Combine the ingredients. Add all of the ingredients except for the olive oil into your food processor. Then, slowly pulse to combine them.
2. Add olive oil. Carefully drizzle the olive oil through the opening at the top of the food processor as the ingredients are mixed together.
You can stop the processor once the ingredients are smooth, lump free, and fully combined.
ASSEMBLE THE CAESAR SALAD
1. Prepare the Romaine lettuce. Wash the lettuce first, making sure it’s nice and clean before chopping it up. Then, cut off the white bottom and slice the lettuce leaves into strips.
2. Add the dressing. Pour a desired amount of the dressing over the greens.
3. Toss. Here’s the fun part! If you have little ones around the house, they’ll probably love helping you out with this step.
Add as much dressing and Parmesan as you’d like and store the rest in the refrigerator.
4. Serve. Top your salads off with homemade croutons and more shaved Parmesan cheese and enjoy!
Where did caesar salad originate?
This is one of my favorite culinary fun facts! Surprisingly, the salad didn’t originate in Italy, but in Mexico! Restaurateur and Italian immigrant Caesar Cardini is credited with creating this incredible dish in 1924.
What are some ways to shake up this recipe?
As much as I love this classic recipe, sometimes it’s fun to switch it up a bit! For a more powerful punch of vitamins, try tossing in some fresh kale along with the Romaine or use just kale.
Need a bit more protein? No problem! As you probably already know, grilled chicken is the tastiest way to elevate this recipe. If you like seafood, seared shrimp and scallops will be wonderful in a Caesar salad.
How long will the dressing last?
Store your homemade Caesar dressing in a covered container in the fridge. I like to use mason jars. It will keep fresh for at least seven days.
Do homemade croutons need to be refrigerated?
Actually, you shouldn’t store them in the fridge at all. Store your homemade croutons in a plastic zip-top bag at room temperature. Remove as much air out of the bag as possible and seal after each time you open the bag.
MORE SALAD RECIPES TO TRY
Greek Chicken Salad is another great light salad recipe with homemade dressing.
Much like in this salad, Ranch dressing is another timeless classic that the whole family loves.
If you want something with a hint of sweetness in your salad, try this Apple Vinaigrette.
If you made any of my recipes and shared them on Instagram, make sure to tag me @willcookforsmiles and #willcookforsmiles so I can see all the things you tried!
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Caesar Salad and Dressing Recipe
- 4 oz Italian bread sliced and cubed
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 2 tsp Italian seasoning
- 1/2 tsp garlic powder
- 2 garlic cloves
- 1/2 cup mayonnaise
- 1 tbsp Dijon mustard
- 1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
- 1 tbsp white wine vinegar
- 1/3 cup olive oil
- 1 lemon – juice only
- 1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
- cracked black pepper
- 1 tsp anchovy paste or 2 anchovy fillets
For Caesar Salad:
- 1 large head of Romaine lettuce
- 1/2 cup shaved Parmesan cheese
- croutons from above
- dressing from above
- Preheat the oven to 375°
- Cut the bread into cubes that are about an 1-inch in size.
- Toss bread cubes with olive oil, Italian seasoning, garlic powder, and salt in a mixing bowl until evenly coated.
- Spread the bread cubes on a baking sheet and try not to crowd them. Bake for about 10-15 minutes, until nicely golden brown. Take out and set aside.
- Combine all ingredients except the olive oil in the food processor.
- Start to pulse the ingredients and slowly drizzle in olive oil through the opening at the top. When it's all smooth, turn off the food processor and scrape sides and bottom of the bowl if needed.
- Wash and dry Romaine lettuce. Cut off the white bottom and slice lettuce leaves into thin strips.
- Toss lettuce with as much dressing as you would like and shaved Parmesan cheese.
- Divide the salad among the serving dishes and top it off with croutons.
Storing Caesar Dressing:
- Store your homemade Caesar dressing in a covered container in the fridge. I like to use mason jars. It will keep fresh for at least seven days.
Storing Homemade Croutons:
- Store your homemade croutons in a plastic zip-top bag at room temperature. Remove as much air out of the bag as possible and seal after each time you open the bag.