The Best Homemade Caesar Salad
This really is the best homemade Caesar salad! With romaine lettuce, Parmesan cheese, homemade croutons and a simple creamy homemade dressing.
I’ve been obsessed with Caesar salads for years— I’m serving them with dinner several nights a week and I’m ordering them whenever we eat out. I’m always on the lookout for the very best!
And I believe I’ve unlocked the best homemade Caesar salad recipe. It’s fairly authentic (yes, there’s anchovy in the dressing), but still quick, easy, and approachable. Make this salad a part of your regular salad routine at home, I know you’re going to love it!
What makes up a Caesar Salad?
Caesar salads are simple, but incredible when done right. There are 4 components to a true Caesar salad:
- Romaine lettuce. You can tear it or cut it, though uniform pieces make for easier eating.
- Croutons. Store-bought works, but homemade is preferred! And not that difficult, I’ll tell you how to do it.
- Parmesan cheese. You can use grated, shredded or shaved. Though, buying a whole block or wedge of cheese and grating it yourself yields the best flavor.
- Caesar dressing. Once again, homemade is so much better than bottled. Make a large batch and have it on hand for salads throughout the week.
How to make Caesar salad dressing
Making a homemade dressing is key to a fabulous Caesar salad at home. And thankfully, it’s EASY! Here’s what you’ll need to make homemade Caesar salad dressing (full recipe below):
- Anchovy paste
- Fresh lemon juice
- Fresh minced garlic (or garlic powder in a pinch)
- Dijon or whole grain mustard
- Worcestershire sauce
- Salt and pepper
I use mayo in place of emulsifying raw eggs and olive oil, as the traditional recipe instructs. This version whisks together effortlessly in just a matter of seconds, plus you don’t have to worry about using raw eggs.
If using anchovies makes you nervous, it shouldn’t! Anchovies give the dressing its distinct flavor, and using paste from a tube eliminates any unpleasantness. Look for it in a well-stocked grocery store along with the artisan pasta sauces and garnishes, or along with the canned meat. If you can’t find paste, you can also finely chop canned anchovy filets.
Caesar salad FAQs
Can I make the dressing without anchovies? A simple google search will provide you with plenty of recipes that don’t use anchovies, but I’ll argue that they’re not quite the same! Anchovies will provide the signature flavor that can’t be replaced. And one $5 tube of anchovy paste from the grocery store will make dozens of delicious salads. It’s worth it!
What bread should I use for the croutons? Use any bread you like! Any French, sourdough or artisan loaf from a bakery or the grocery store will be great, but a simple loaf of white sandwich bread will make for delicious croutons too.
Can this salad be made ahead? All components can be made ahead of time. Store chopped washed lettuce, parmesan cheese, and prepared Caesar dressing the fridge for several days or more. Prepared croutons can be stored at room temperature for a few days, or even frozen for a month or more. Combine all salad ingredients just before serving.
Can I turn this salad into a main dish? Absolutely! Add chicken, salmon or steak to make this a light main dish.
Shop tools for this recipe
This recipe was originally published May 2018.
The Best Homemade Caesar Salad
- 3 cups torn bread cubes , about half of a small loaf
- 2-3 tablespoons olive oil
- Heavy pinch of salt
- 1/4 cup mayonnaise
- 1 clove of garlic , minced
- 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
- 1 teaspoon anchovy paste
- 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
- 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
- 1/2 teaspoon coarse salt
- 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
- 1 head romaine lettuce , washed and torn or chopped into bite-sized pieces
- 1/3 cup Parmesan cheese , grated, shaved or shredded
Make the croutons:
- Preheat oven to 375°F.
- Drizzle bread cubes with enough olive oil so they are all very lightly coated. Toss and add salt.
- Spread out onto a sheet pan and bake until edges turn brown, 7-10 minutes. Keep a close eye on them so they don't burn, stir and toss them as needed.
- Set aside while you prepare the rest of the salad. Can be made several days in advance and stored in an airtight container.
Make the dressing:
- Whisk together all ingredients.
- Store in the fridge until ready to use. Can be made at least 1 week in advance.
Assemble the salad:
- In a large bowl, toss the lettuce with enough dressing to lightly coat the leaves (or to your preference). You may not need all of the dressing.
- Add half of the croutons and Parmesan cheese and toss again.
- Top with remaining croutons and cheese and serve immediately.