Long live the Caesar Salad! With a homemade Caesar Salad Dressing, this one will rival that of any great restaurant! Add chicken to make a meal, or serve it straight up the classic way.
For a lighter dressing option, try this mayo-free Caesar salad dressing – it’s incredible!
I’m going to call it – Caesar salad is a pain to make, calling for an inordinate amount of pots and pans to be dirtied in the name of just one salad.
- Food processor for the dressing – and the mayo makes it all greasy which is a pain to clean (or hogs an enormous amount of dishwasher space)
- Baking tray for the croutons
- Skillet for the bacon
- Cutting board
- Giant bowl to toss the salad – you’ve really gotta toss with abundance when using creamy dressing, can’t do it in the serving bowl
- Serving bowl
All that for ONE salad.
And yet, we do it. Because it’s worth it!! Especially the creamy dressing!
What goes in Caesar Salad
There’s all sorts of variations around, but the classic is made with:
- cos lettuce (aka romaine) – or iceberg will do in a pinch!
- crispy bacon
- croutons – garlic croutons, at that!
- Caesar Salad Dressing
- parmesan cheese, for finishing
With the rich dressing, I find that even a “plain” Caesar salad is filling enough as it is to have as a meal. But a common addition, which you often find on the menu of bistros, is chicken and egg. Adds protein and makes it even more satisfying – so I’ve included these are optional in the recipe below!
Homemade Caesar salad dressing recipe
If you’ve never tried homemade Caesar Salad Dressing before, you’re in for a real treat. It is absolutely sensational, and not even the poshest gourmet store can compare to a fresh homemade one.
The secret ingredient is anchovy. I know some people might scrunch up their faces at the thought of anchovy in a dressing, but seriously! It is the secret ingredient that will turn a “pretty good” dressing into a restaurant quality one!
Oh and PS. If you’ve had and loved Caesar Salad when eating out, you ate anchovies. So stop the nose scrunching!!
What goes in Caesar Salad
Here’s what you need:
How to make Caesar Salad
And here’s how to make it. (I already forewarned you – LOTS of washing up. TOTALLY worth it!)
Wondering if Caesar salad is healthy? Yes…and no!
Before we go any further – this might be a salad, but let me banish any misconception in your mind that Caesar salad is healthy. Fat in the dressing and the bacon.
But you know what? Calorie content aside, at least I’m getting lots of greens into my system, right??
Or put it this way – a giant bowl of Caesar Salad might have the same calories as a creamy pasta, but it’s got a whole lot more nutrition in it!
LOW CAL version!!
Just in case you’re reading all this but dreading the calorie count you’ll see when you scroll down to the recipe – DON’T WORRY! Here’s a (much) lower calorie Yogurt Caesar Salad Dressing.
All the flavour, but made with a yogurt base instead of mayonnaise so it won’t have that same rich mouthfeel. But still creamy, same depth of flavour – and a whole lot healthier!
Can you even tell that this is the low fat version?? NOPE!
And after all of that, all those pots and pans you’ve dirtied – you get to munch your way through one of the greatest salads ever invented.
That fresh crisp lettuce. The crunchy garlic croutons. The salty pops of bacon. And that creamy homemade Caesar Salad Dressing.
Caesar Salad might take time to make, but it is worth every single second. Really, truly, cross my heart. – Nagi x
Watch how to make it
Caesar Salad – with homemade Caesar Salad Dressing
Makes more Dressing than you need, but hard to make less (unless you have a small food processor) and also good to have more rather than less because people LOVE the dressing! I usually use around 2/3. Keep leftovers 3 days – use for dressing or dunking veg.
Add chicken to make a meal, or serve it straight up the classic way.
- 1 cup mayonnaise (Hellman’s or S&W Whole Egg) (Note 1)
- 1/2 tsp garlic , finely minced (use garlic press, if you can)
- 2 anchovy fillets or 3/4 tsp Anchovy paste (Note 2)
- 2 tbsp fresh lemon juice
- 1 tsp Dijon mustard
- 1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
- 1/2 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese , or 1/3 cup store bought grated parmesan cheese (Note 3)
- 3 – 4 tbsp milk (to adjust consistency)
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 1/4 tsp Black pepper
- 2 – 3 slices white bread , 2/3″ / 1.5cm thick (Note 4)
- 1 garlic , cut in half
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 150g / 5oz streaky bacon , cooked and chopped
- 10 cups cos / romaine lettuce , chopped, wash & dried (1 large, 2 medium, 3 small) (Note 5)
- Freshly grated parmesan , for garnish
Optional Extras – Chicken & Egg
- 2 – 4 eggs , cooked to your taste, peeled and halved
- 500g / 1lb chicken breast fillets (2 pieces)
- 1/2 tsp EACH salt and pepper
- 1 tbsp olive oil
Whizz all ingredients in food processor until smooth, starting with 3 tbsp milk.
Taste and adjust salt and pepper as desired, and use milk to get the dressing to the desired consistency. (Note 6)
Set aside for 20 minutes+ to allow flavours to develop.
Place bacon into a cold skillet (no oil), then turn onto medium high. Cook until golden, turn, cook other side until golden. Remove onto paper towels, cool, then chop.
Preheat oven to 180°C/350°F.
Toast bread in the toaster for 1 minute (or oven for 2 minutes each side) until surface is dried but not browned.,
Rub both sides of each piece of bread with the cut side of the garlic (Note 7).
Remove crust from bread (optional) and cut into cubes – around 1.5 cups. Drizzle with 1 – 2 tbsp olive oil, sprinkle with salt, then bake until golden, shaking the tray once. Sandwich bread will take around 7 minutes, sourdough and similar breads take 12 – 15 min.
Place lettuce in bowl with 1/2 the Dressing. Toss well, taste, then decide if you want more Dressing.
Transfer to serving bowl. (Top with chicken and egg if using) Scatter over with bacon and croutons. Sprinkle with parmesan and serve!
OPTIONAL EXTRAS – Chicken & Egg
Eggs: Place the eggs in a saucepan and cover with water. Place over medium high heat and bring to simmer. Once the water is simmering, turn down to medium (gentle simmer) and cook for 3 min (for soft centres), 4 min for firm yolks and 6 min for hard boiled. Remove eggs, run under cold water for 15 sec then leave submerged in a bowl of cold tap water for 5 min. Peel then set aside. (Note 6)
Chicken: Either pound the chicken to about 1.2cm/ 1/2″ even thickness, or slice each breast in half horizontally. Sprinkle both sides with salt and pepper. Use bacon fat remaining in skillet. Cook first side for 5 min, turn then cook the other side for 2 min. Remove, cover loosely with foil and rest for 5 min. Cut into slices.
2. Anchovy fillets are key to achieve a true restaurant quality flavour. You can’t taste it, but it’s the seasoning for the sauce so if you skip it, you’ll need to add more salt. Use the dark brown anchovy fillets in oil that come in a jar or can in the canned fish aisle of supermarkets, not the white anchovy fillets that are brined in vinegar, not oil, that are typically sold at delis, not prepackaged (served on antipasto platters).
- Best / just as good – 3/4 tsp anchovy paste
- Next best – 1 tsp of fish sauce (yes really
- OK – extra 1/4 cup parmesan plus pinch of salt
3. Parmesan – Store bought pre-grated parmesan is denser than freshly grated which is why you don’t need as much. It won’t whizz up as smoothly either, but personally it doesn’t bother me.
4. Croutons – you want enough bread to make 1.5 cups croutons (on the generous side, but no one wants to run out!). Use plain, normal sandwich bread or make your own – use this dead easy Artisan Bread or if you’re out of yeast, this No Yeast Sandwich Bread.
5. Lettuce – iceberg is also great. Make sure you wash lettuce well in advance to let it dry properly. Dressing won’t coat wet lettuce so make sure it’s dried! I usually chop, wash then dry using a spinner.
Chop into whatever size suits you for eating. I use small cos lettuce and just chop 2 cm / 2/3″ strips. For large ones, peel leaves off, stack and chop.
6. Dressing – Don’t thin the dressing too much, otherwise it won’t cling to the lettuce. You can whizz it up in a blender or use a stick blender too!
7. Croutons – The purpose of this step is to add garlic flavour to the croutons. I prefer not to toss the croutons in minced garlic because the garlic burns before the croutons turn golden.
8. Storage – After tossing in Dressing, salad is good for around 20 minutes (longer than the usual leafy salads), then after that the lettuce starts getting soft. Best to dress just before serving – if taking somewhere, take all components separately.
Dressing will keep 3 to 4 days – seems to get better with time!
8. Nutrition per serving assuming 5 servings as a side dish (no egg or chicken) with 2/3 of the Dressing used (which I think is enough, but because Caesar Salad Dressing is so good, I always like to make a bit more just in case).
Originally published May 2016. Brand new video added, process steps and new photos – as well as an update on Life of Dozer!
Life of Dozer
Dozer munching on his greens…
And from the original time I published this recipe:
No photobombing by Dozer today because a) he didn’t realise there was chicken and bacon in the salad; and b) he was having a good snooze after a rather active session at Bayview….