Caesar Salad

published Jul 8, 2024
Caesar Salad Recipe
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overhead shot of caesar salad in a large salad bowl, topped with parmesan cheese, with some of it missing from the bowl
Credit: Photo: Alex Lepe; Food Styling: Spencer Richards

Look, we’ve all eaten Caesar salads before. Some of them are good, some of them are … less than good. With a salad as seemingly simple as the Caesar (it’s just lettuce, dressing, croutons, and cheese), it’s all about balance and assembly.

For me, the crouton size is pretty pivotal. Have you ever had a salad with croutons that are too big or too hard to enjoy with any of the other ingredients? They might as well not be there at all! I think the platonic ideal is a torn (not cut!) 1/2-inch-sized crouton. It’s big enough that it doesn’t get lost, but small enough that it fits on your fork with everything else and doesn’t get too firm. The rough edges transform into crispy, craggy edges in the oven when tossed with olive oil, garlic, and a little Parm. 

For the dressing, I like to go classic with emulsified egg yolks and olive oil as the base. I’m not going to whip this by hand, so I like to use a blender or this immersion blender method. And while I know the blender heat and lemon juice do technically cook the egg yolks, I won’t be hurt if you substitute a little mayo in their place if that’s your preference.

This recipe isn’t trying to reinvent the Caesar salad — we all know it’s already great. Instead, it leans on simple techniques and key ingredients with a delicious payoff. You’ll want to make it over and over again.

Why You’ll Love It

  • Anchovies bring the flavor. It’s not fishy, I swear! Caesar dressing is what anchovies do best, bringing an extra oomph of flavor and richness to the dressing that can’t be replaced.
  • It’s all about the homemade croutons. These perfectly sized croutons come together on the sheet pan and cook in about 10 minutes, but they pack in so much crunch and garlicky flavor.
Credit: Photo: Alex Lepe; Food Styling: Spencer Richards

Key Ingredients in Caesar Salad

  • Bread: The best Caesar has homemade croutons. Tear the bread into rough pieces for extra-crispy craggy edges.
  • Lemon: The acidity in the juice is a nice balance to the saltiness of the anchovies and Parmesan cheese.
  • Anchovies: If you’re not sure about anchovies, give them a try here. They’re essential to the salty, umami-rich flavor. I like Ortiz, Merro, and Agostino Recca.
  • Eggs: Pasteurized egg yolks emulsify with the olive oil in the dressing to create a rich, creamy texture. The citric acid in the lemon and heat from the blender work to cook the yolks while blending.
  • Worcestershire sauce: Boost the flavor with this umami-rich sauce.
  • Parmesan: This gives the dressing a rich, creamy texture. You can grate your own or use store-bought. When making Caesar dressing, I personally prefer the consistency when I grate my own. 
  • Romaine lettuce: This crunchy lettuce is a classic base for Caesar salad. Opt for the hearts rather than the whole heads — they’re more flavorful and have a smoother, more pleasant texture than the outer leaves.

How to Make Caesar Salad

  1. Make the croutons. Tear sourdough or ciabatta into rough 1/2-inch pieces. Toss with grated garlic, olive oil, and a little grated Parmesan cheese. Bake until golden-brown and crispy.
  2. Make the dressing. Combine lemon juice, anchovies, egg yolks, garlic, Worcestershire sauce, Dijon mustard, and pepper in a blender. With the blender running on high speed, slowly stream in olive oil until thick and creamy. Transfer to a bowl and stir in some Parmesan.
  3. Assemble the salad. In a large bowl, combine chopped romaine lettuce, Parmesan, dressing, and half of the croutons. Toss to evenly coat. Garnish with remaining croutons and more Parmesan.

Helpful Swaps

Storage and Make-Ahead Tips 

The dressing can be made up to 1 day ahead and refrigerated in an airtight container. Whisk before using if it separates at all. Taste and add a little squeeze of lemon juice if you need to perk things up a bit.

What to Serve with Caesar Salad

More Caesars to Try

Caesar Salad Recipe

It’s a classic for a reason.

Prep time 15 minutes

Cook time 10 minutes to 15 minutes

Serves 4

Nutritional Info

Ingredients

For the croutons:

  • 1/3

    medium loaf sourdough boule or ciabatta bread (about 5 ounces)

  • 2

    cloves garlic

  • 3 tablespoons

    extra-virgin olive oil

  • 2 tablespoons

    grated Parmesan cheese

  • Kosher salt

  • Freshly ground black pepper

For the dressing and assembly:

  • 1

    medium lemon

  • 4

    anchovy fillets packed in oil, drained

  • 2

    large egg yolks, preferably pasteurized

  • 1

    clove garlic

  • 1 teaspoon

    Worcestershire sauce

  • 3/4 teaspoon

    Dijon mustard

  • 1/2 teaspoon

    freshly ground black pepper, plus more as needed

  • 1/2 cup

    extra-virgin olive oil

  • Kosher salt

  • 1 ounce

    Parmesan cheese (about 2/3 cup finely grated or 1/2 cup store-bought grated), divided

  • 2

    medium romaine lettuce hearts (about 8 ounces total)

Instructions

Make the croutons:

  1. Arrange a rack in the middle of the oven and heat the oven to 350ºF.

  2. Cut 1/3 medium loaf sourdough or ciabatta bread into 1-inch-thick slices. Tear the bread into rough 1/2-inch pieces (about 3 cups) and place on a rimmed baking sheet. Finely grate 2 garlic cloves into a small bowl. Add 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil and 2 tablespoons grated Parmesan, and stir to combine. Drizzle over the bread, toss to combine, and spread into a single layer. Season lightly with kosher salt and black pepper.

  3. Bake until lightly golden-brown and crisp, 10 to 15 minutes. Meanwhile, make the dressing.

Make the dressing:

  1. Juice 1 medium lemon until you have 2 tablespoons. Place the lemon juice, 4 anchovy fillets, 2 large egg yolks, 1 garlic clove, 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce, 3/4 teaspoon Dijon mustard, and 1/2 teaspoon black pepper in a blender. Blend on high speed until smooth, about 15 seconds.

  2. With the blender on high speed, very slowly stream in 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil and blend until creamy and completely emulsified, about 90 seconds total. (To avoid splatter, you can partially cover the opening with a kitchen towel.) Pour the dressing into a small bowl. Taste and season with kosher salt and more black pepper as needed.

  3. Finely grate 1 ounce Parmesan cheese on a Microplane (about 2/3 cup), or measure out 1/2 cup store-bought grated. Add 2 tablespoons of the grated cheese to the dressing and stir to combine.

  4. Halve 2 medium romaine lettuce heart lengthwise, then cut crosswise into 1-inch-thick strips (about 8 cups). Alternatively, cut the leaves from the core and separate, leaving them whole. Place in a large bowl.

  5. Add about 2/3 of the dressing (1/2 cup) and toss to coat. Add half of the remaining Parmesan and half of the croutons. Toss to evenly distribute. Taste and toss with more dressing as needed. Transfer to a serving plate. Garnish with remaining croutons and Parmesan. Finish with a few cracks of black pepper.

Recipe Notes

Substitutions: You can replace the egg yolks with 2 tablespoons mayonnaise.

Make ahead: The dressing can be made up to 1 day ahead and refrigerated in an airtight container. Whisk before using.