The Best Homemade Caesar Salad

5 from 5 votes
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Make a restaurant-quality classic Caesar salad with crisp romaine lettuce, parmesan cheese, a rich and creamy homemade dressing, and crunchy flavor-packed homemade croutons!

Homemade Caesar salad in a large serving bowl

A classic Caesar salad has been around since the 1920s (from Tijuana, Mexico) and has become a restaurant staple across the globe. I’ve even picked up pre-prepared Caesar salad “packs” once or twice. But did you know you can make an easy Caesar salad recipe at home that tastes just as good (if not better) than its restaurant counterpart with surprisingly little effort?

A classic Caesar salad is one of the simplest yet most satisfying green salads. It combines crisp romaine lettuce with a rich, creamy garlic-parmesan dressing, salty-savory parmesan shavings, and crunchy garlic croutons. The result is packed with flavor and creamy goodness, making a satisfying, crowd-pleasing appetizer, side, or main.

What makes it so special? I would argue that it’s the combination of everything in the salad. However, it’s the homemade salad dressing that really blows me away. I’ve made one simple “cheat” to avoid dealing with raw eggs by using fully emulsified mayonnaise instead.

Homemade Caesar salad in a large serving bowl

When combined with ingredients like garlic, parmesan, Worcestershire sauce/lemon juice, extra-virgin olive oil, and anchovies (yes, they’re a must for the very best flavor – and it won’t taste fishy at all!) – it is super creamy and packed with complex flavors that have everyone returning for seconds!

What Is in a Caesar Salad?

Only a few simple Caesar salad ingredients are required to pull together the BEST Caesar salad recipe.

  • Romaine lettuce: Use fresh, crisp romaine lettuce. Iceberg lettuce will work in a pinch – the key is for it to be super crisp.
  • Caesar dressing: Homemade is infinitely better than store-bought. It’s rich, creamy, savory, tangy, and super umami-packed. Plus, it requires just 7 ingredients.
  • Parmesan cheese: I prefer to use good-quality Parmigiano Reggiano straight from a block, though you can purchase grated/shaved parmesan if preferred in a pinch. With the parmesan in the dressing, this helps bring all the flavors together.
  • Croutons: To tie the whole salad together, croutons add a crunchy element that complements the crisp and creamy textures well. Once again, I highly recommend making homemade croutons for the best results (soft inside, crisp outside, and packed with flavor). However, store-bought croutons will work in an absolute pinch.
Ingredients for Caesar salad

How to Toast the Bread

Making croutons (click the link for the full method and notes) is so much simpler than you’d think.

Preheat the oven to 350°F/175ºC and toss the oil and seasonings in a large bowl, mixing well.

Cube the bread into ½ or ¾ inch pieces, then chuck them into the bowl and toss well to evenly coat.

Spread them across a baking sheet and bake in the oven for 15-20 minutes, flipping once halfway. They’re ready when they’re golden brown and crisp.

Homemade coutons on a baking tray

If you want to toss them with parmesan, do so now while they’re still warm. Then leave them to cool entirely before using, as they’ll continue to crisp up as they do.

How to Make the Creamy Dressing

Making homemade creamy Caesar dressing (click the link for the full recipe post) requires a few minutes of your time.

Combine all the dressing ingredients in a food processor (or use an immersion blender) and process until smooth and creamy. Pause to scrape down the sides as needed.

Drizzle in water until it’s the correct consistency (slowly flows off a spoon), taste, adjust seasonings if necessary, and enjoy.

Homemade caesar dressing in a jar

For a better flavor, prepare it 30-60 minutes before serving to allow the flavors to meld.

Since the croutons need cooling anyway, I usually prepare the dressing just after putting them in the oven, then leave it to “marinate” until the croutons are cooled.

How to Make Caesar Salad

  1. First, if you haven’t already, prepare the croutons and dressing. Remember to leave time (about an hour) for the croutons to cool down and the dressing flavors to meld.
  2. Then, slice the romaine lettuce into 1-inch wide pieces (wash it before or after cutting – I prefer after – then pat dry with paper towels). Transfer the lettuce to a large salad bowl.
  3. Shave the parmesan with a vegetable/potato peeler. I like to use a combination of shaved and finely shredded parmesan.
  4. Add the dressing and use tongs to toss the two ingredients until the leaves are evenly coated.
  5. Add the parmesan and croutons, toss once more, and enjoy!

Optionally garnish with some freshly cracked black pepper and/or lemon wedges.

Steps for making Caesar salad

What Goes with Caesar Salad?

  • Protein: Make this easy salad recipe into a more complete meal with the addition of a protein (either in or alongside the salad). Options include:
  • Soup: I particularly like serving it alongside light tomato-based and/or brothy soups as well as roasted cauliflower soup.
  • Pasta: Although this salad is quite creamy, it’s still fairly light and pairs well with pasta dishes.
  • Bread: Double up on bread with a side of garlic bread or focaccia (especially if serving the homemade salad alongside soup or pasta).
  • Vegetables: Load up on extra nutrients with grilled or roasted veggies like broccoli, asparagus, bell peppers, zucchini, corn on the cob, grilled lettuce, etc.

You can also turn the salad into a Caesar salad wrap by loading it with chicken or another protein in a tortilla wrap.

Mixing Caesar salad in a large bowl

More Simple Salad Recipes

If you try this Caesar salad recipe, let me know how it goes in the comments below. I’d appreciate a recipe card rating and would love to see your recipe recreations – tag me on Instagram @Alphafoodie!

The Best Homemade Caesar Salad

5 from 5 votes
By: Samira
Make a restaurant-quality classic Caesar salad with crisp romaine lettuce, parmesan cheese, a rich and creamy homemade dressing, and crunchy flavor-packed homemade croutons!
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 30 minutes
Servings: 2

Ingredients 
 

  • 2 heads romaine lettuce or Iceberg
  • 1/2 cup caesar salad dressing see below for homemade
  • 1/2 cup croutons homemade (see below) are best
  • 1/4 cup parmesan cheese high-quality lie Parmigiano Reggiano – shavings, gratings, or both.

For the Caesar dressing

  • 1/3 cup mayonnaise full-fat works best
  • 0.7 oz parmesan cheese 1/3 cups grated; Parmigiano Reggiano works best OR a 50/50 Parmesan and Pecorino Romano
  • 1.5 Tbsp olive oil or another neutral oil
  • 1/4 tsp minced garlic
  • 1 anchovy filet or 1/4 tsp anchovy paste
  • 1/8 tsp pepper
  • water 1 Tbsp or so to thin the sauce
  • sea salt only if needed since the anchovies are salty

For the croutons

  • 1/4 baguette only needed about 1/2 cup cubed pieces, OR ciabatta, or sourdough/other bread
  • 2 tsp olive oil or another neutral oil
  • 1/4 tsp minced garlic
  • 1/4 tsp Italian seasoning or oregano, thyme, or rosemary (fresh or dried)
  • 1/8 tsp sea salt
  • 1/8 tsp black pepper
  • 0.2 oz parmesan cheese 1 Tbsp or so grated, optional; OR nutritional yeast

Instructions 

Make the Croutons

  • Preheat the oven to 350°F/175ºC and toss the oil and seasonings in a large bowl, mixing well.
  • Cube the bread into ½ or ¾ inch pieces, then chuck them into the bowl and toss well to evenly coat.
  • Spread them across a baking tray and bake in the oven for 15-20 minutes, flipping once halfway. They're ready when they're golden brown and crisp.
  • If you want to toss them with parmesan, do so now while they're still warm. Then leave them to cool entirely before using, as they’ll continue to crisp up as they do.

Make the Creamy Dressing

  • Combine all the dressing ingredients in a food processor (or use an immersion blender) and process until smooth and creamy. Pause to scrape down the sides as needed.
  • Drizzle in water until it's the correct consistency (slowly flows off a spoon), taste, adjust seasonings if necessary, and enjoy.
    For a better flavor, prepare it 30-60 minutes before serving to allow the flavors to meld.

Assemble the Caesar Salad

  • Slice the romaine lettuce into 1-inch wide pieces (wash it before or after cutting – I prefer after – then pat dry with paper towels). Transfer the lettuce to a large salad bowl.
  • Shave the parmesan with a vegetable/potato peeler. I like to use a combination of shaved and finely shredded parmesan.
  • Add the dressing and use tongs to toss the two ingredients until the leaves are evenly coated.
  • Add the parmesan and croutons, toss once more, and enjoy!
    Optionally garnish with some freshly cracked black pepper and/or lemon wedges.

Storage Instructions

  • You can prepare all the separate elements (dressing, croutons, and chopped lettuce) 2-3 days in advance and store them separately in airtight containers (keep the croutons at room temperature).
    Once assembled, enjoy the salad immediately, before the croutons become soggy.

Video

Notes

  • Use fresh ingredients: i.e., fresh, crisp lettuce, freshly grated parmesan, homemade fresh croutons and dressing, etc., for the best flavor.
  • For the crispest salad: Use the inner romaine lettuce leaves and leave them to chill in the refrigerator until it comes time to assemble the salad.
  • Tweak the flavors: After preparing the salad dressing, give it a taste and adjust any of the ingredients to your liking for your desired flavor profile. Even better, allow the flavors to meld for 30-60 minutes before tasting and adjusting.
  • Toss the salad well: The key is to toss the dressing and lettuce leaves thoroughly so every single bite is well coated.
  • Add croutons when serving: They’ll become soggy when left to sit in the salad.
  • Adding ingredients: Make a heartier salad with protein (like chicken, shrimp, steak, or tofu), crumbled bacon bits, creamy avocado, roasted or grilled veggies, etc.
Check the blog post for serving recommendations!
Course: Appetizer, Main, Salad, Side
Cuisine: American
Freezer friendly: No
Shelf life: 2-3 Days

Nutrition

Calories: 510kcal, Carbohydrates: 29g, Protein: 14g, Fat: 40g, Saturated Fat: 8g, Polyunsaturated Fat: 21g, Monounsaturated Fat: 9g, Cholesterol: 32mg, Sodium: 1027mg, Potassium: 1585mg, Fiber: 14g, Sugar: 9g, Vitamin A: 54644IU, Vitamin C: 25mg, Calcium: 391mg, Iron: 7mg

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

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