Recipe Review

Stock Your Fridge with This Creamy Caesar Dressing (It’s Shockingly Easy to Make)

published Dec 13, 2021
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Credit: Photo: Joe Lingeman; Food Styling: Jesse Szewczyk

This recipe is part of Kitchn 100 — the hundred recipes you need right now. Check out all of the amazing dishes, from Kitchn and beyond, here.

According to J. Kenji López-Alt, “anchovies are essential to the modern idea and current taste memory of a Caesar salad.” I’m not sure I completely agree (to each their own, right?), but in his version of Caesar salad, he certainly doesn’t hold back. In fact, he recommends you use up to six (!) anchovies when preparing the dressing. How could I not try it out as part of our Caesar salad showdown?

López-Alt uses Julia Child’s recipe as a guide for his own, but the anchovies aren’t the only place he strays from the original. He also uses a raw egg yolk and a combination of olive and canola oils in his dressing, and instead of assembling it table-side, he whips it together in a food processor or with an immersion blender.

His croutons also intrigued me. He tosses bread cubes in garlic-infused oil, and showers them with Parmesan cheese while they bake. Would this be my new go-to Caesar salad recipe? Here’s my honest review.

Credit: Photo: Joe Lingeman; Food Styling: Jesse Szewczyk

How to Make Serious Eats’ The Best Caesar Salad

You’ll start by whisking minced garlic into olive oil for about 30 seconds. Press the garlic oil through a fine mesh strainer, reserving the solids. Cut hearty bread into 3/4-inch pieces and toss to coat in the garlic oil. Toss the bread cubes in grated Parmesan cheese and spread onto a large baking sheet. Bake until the bread turns into pale golden-brown, then toss with more Parmesan and let cool.

Combine 1 egg yolk with lemon juice, 2 to 6 anchovies (I chose 6), Worcestershire sauce, the reserved pressed garlic, and grated Parmesan in the bowl of a food processor. With the processor running, slowly drizzle in canola oil until an emulsion forms. Transfer the mixture to a mixing bowl, then whisk in extra-virgin olive oil. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Wash romaine hearts and tear into large pieces. Toss with a few tablespoons of the dressing. Once coated, add in most of the croutons and more grated Parm. Toss the salad again, then top with the remaining croutons and cheese.

Credit: Amelia Rampe

My Honest Review of Serious Eats’ Caesar Salad

This was a delicious version of Caesar salad. I love anchovies, and appreciated the punched-up flavors they gave the dressing. Even with the full amount of anchovies, I actually found the dressing to be quite balanced.

The dressing texture is much thicker than Julia Child’s version, and clings nicely to the lettuce. Plus, I think making the dressing in the food processor is a great idea. It makes building the salad easy, especially if you’re enjoying this salad for a weekday lunch or dinner. Having dressing on hand instead of making it fresh a la minute is a piece of modern flair I can definitely get down with. I would make this dressing again and keep it stored in my fridge for the week. 

The croutons were intensely flavorful and savory, but they kind of stole the show, drawing attention away from the elegant flavors and textures and giving the salad a steakhouse vibe. I would absolutely make these croutons again, but maybe not for this salad.

Kenji states that he thinks Julia would “lick her plate clean” if she tried his recipe, and I think he’s correct! I loved this salad and its punched-up flavors, but for me it couldn’t beat the delicate balance of flavors and textures of Julia Child’s original version.

Credit: Photo: Joe Lingeman Food Styling: Jesse Szewczyk

If You’re Make Serious Eats’ Caesar Salad, a Few Tips

  1. Prep the lettuce before you start. Make sure you have all your lettuce cleaned, washed, and dried before you begin. This is easy to do in advance: Simply wash and store in the fridge.
  2. Adjust the anchovies to your liking. If you’re looking to have a Caesar dressing on hand, make this one. Simply adjust the amount of anchovies to your liking and use your best olive oil, and you’ll be rewarded with a simple, delicious dressing.

Overall rating: 9.5/10

Have you tried Serious Eats’ Caesar salad recipe? Let us know in the comments!