Classic Caesar salad dressing is deeply debated. A quick search on the internet will lead you to over one-million recipes, each of them different. Some claim the classic doesn't contain anchovies. There are recipes without egg yolks, and dressings made from tofu and even mayonnaise, but none of these are the best Caesar salad dressing. The best Caesar salad dressing starts with anchovies and garlic, and it creates an emulsion with raw egg yolks, mustard, and two types of oil. The best Caesar salad dressing is deceptively simple and delectable — and this is it.
Don't Fight the Anchovies
What is it about these teeny fish that scares so many cooks? Canned anchovies pack a punch of flavor for being relatively inexpensive and readily available. They also keep almost forever, which makes them a worthy addition to any pantry. While some food historians note that Worcestershire sauce may have been the original source of briny, meaty flavor in classic Caesar salad, it's hard to fight the lure of anchovies in this classic dressing; oil-packed anchovies are best.
Weigh In: How Do You Feel About Anchovies?
Love the Yolk
I love every form of egg yolk — sunny-side up, soft-boiled, and poached eggs make my heart flutter, but I recognize that many cooks are nervous about raw egg yolks. Sure, you can use super-fresh eggs from a reputable source (local chickens would be ideal), but those aren't always easy to find. If the idea of raw egg yolk makes you uncomfortable, look for pasteurized whole eggs at your local grocery store. Pasteurized eggs have been heated briefly to kill off bacteria, but otherwise resemble any other egg.
Get the Facts: What You Should Know About Food Safety and Eggs
Use Not One, but Two Oils
When making a classic vinaigrette, using straight olive oil is highly recommended — extra-virgin, if we are being specific. You'll truly enjoy the nuance of the oil when it has nothing but the vinegar to compete with. But that's not the case with Caesar dressing, which has garlic, additional fat from the egg yolk, and even the Parmesan cheese at the end to mask the flavor of a really nice olive oil.
For this dressing, we're using a small amount of olive oil (again, extra-virgin is really wonderful, but not required) and then finishing with a neutral oil of your choice. Vegetable oil is called for below, but you can easily use grapeseed, canola, or any other neutral oil instead.
How To Make the Best Caesar Dressing
What You Need
1 (2-ounce) can oil-packed anchovy fillets, drained
2 cloves garlic, coarsely chopped
3 large egg yolks
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
2 tablespoons lemon juice
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 tablespoons finely grated Parmesan cheese
Freshly ground black pepper
Chef's knife and cutting board
Medium mixing bowl
Measuring cups and spoons
- Make an anchovy-garlic paste: Mince the anchovies and garlic together until the mixture is mostly smooth and the garlic is minced, about 3 minutes; set aside.
- Whisk the egg yolks: Whisk the egg yolks together in a medium bowl until smooth.
- Add the mustard: Whisk in the mustard until just combined.
- Add the anchovy-garlic paste: Whisk in the anchovy-garlic mixture.
- Whisk in the lemon juice: While whisking, pour in the lemon juice, then whisk until smooth.
- Whisk in the olive oil: While whisking, stream in the olive oil to create a thick emulsion. Once all of the olive oil is added, whisk for another minute to thicken.
- Finish with vegetable oil: Continue whisking and slowly stream in the vegetable oil. Again, once all of the vegetable oil is added, whisk for another minute to thicken.
- Season and serve: Whisk in the Parmesan cheese. Taste and season with black pepper as needed. Serve immediately.
- Storage: Leftover dressing can be stored in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 1 day. Let sit out for 10 minutes and whisk again.