How to Make the Best Caesar Salad Recipe (2024)

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How to Make the Best Caesar Salad Recipe (1)

How to Prepare Great Caesar Salads

One of my favorite salads and one that I usually request when dining out is Caesar Salad. I remember dining at a couple of restaurants in New York City where they made the Caesar Salad table side with such flair and showmanship. Now you are lucky if they make the dressing from scratch.

What is a Caesar Salad?

A popular and classic Caesar salad typically consists of romaine lettuce, croutons, Parmesan cheese, lemon juice, olive oil, garlic, Worcestershire sauce, and black pepper. It is named after its creator, Caesar Cardini, an Italian-American chef.

The salad is prepared by tearing or cutting romaine lettuce leaves into bite-sized pieces and placing them in a bowl. The dressing is made by whisking together olive oil, lemon juice, minced garlic, Worcestershire sauce, and black pepper. The dressing is then drizzled over the lettuce, and the salad is tossed to ensure even distribution of the dressing.

Traditionally, Caesar salad is garnished with anchovies, but they are sometimes omitted or substituted with other ingredients for personal preference. Croutons, which are small, toasted bread cubes, are added to provide crunch and texture to the salad. Finally, the salad is topped with shaved or grated Parmesan cheese for additional flavor.

Caesar salad is often served as a side dish or a main course by adding grilled chicken, shrimp, or other protein sources. It has become a popular and widely enjoyed salad worldwide due to its simple yet delicious combination of ingredients.

History of the Caesar Salad

The Caesar salad has a fascinating history linked to its creator, Caesar Cardini. Here's a brief overview of the salad's origin story:

In 1924, Caesar Cardini, an Italian-American chef, owned a restaurant in Tijuana, Mexico, called Caesar's Place. It was a popular destination for Americans who wanted to enjoy alcoholic beverages during Prohibition in the United States. On July 4th of that year, the story goes that Cardini's restaurant was particularly busy with patrons.

Legend has it that on that day, the kitchen supplies were running low, and Cardini had to devise a dish using the available ingredients. He prepared a salad using romaine lettuce, garlic, croutons, Parmesan cheese, olive oil, lemon juice, Worcestershire sauce, and black pepper.

Cardini wanted to create a spectacle for the diners, so he prepared the salad tableside. He used the whole romaine lettuce leaves, coated them with the dressing, and tossed the salad using his hands. The salad was served as a whole leaf, which diners tore apart with utensils.

The salad was an instant hit, and its popularity grew as visitors to Tijuana spread the word about this unique creation. Cardini's Caesar salad gained attention, and soon it became a favorite among Hollywood celebrities and prominent figures, further enhancing its reputation.

Over time, the Caesar salad recipe was modified and adapted by different chefs and restaurants, leading to variations in the dressing and additional ingredients. Today, you can find many interpretations of the Caesar salad, ranging from the traditional version to versions with added ingredients like grilled chicken, bacon, or avocado.

Despite its evolution, the Caesar salad remains a classic and beloved dish enjoyed by people worldwide.

What Ingredients Are In the Salad?

The classic ingredients of a Caesar salad include:

  • Romaine lettuce: Crisp and sturdy lettuce leaves are typically used as the base of the salad.
  • Croutons: Small, toasted bread cubes provide crunch and texture. They can be made from regular bread or specifically seasoned for Caesar salads.
  • Parmesan cheese: Shaved or grated Parmesan cheese is sprinkled over the salad to add a savory and nutty flavor.
  • Caesar dressing: The dressing is a critical component of a Caesar salad. It typically consists of the following ingredients:
    • Olive oil: Provides richness and flavor.
    • Lemon juice: Adds tanginess and brightness to the dressing.
    • Garlic: Minced or finely chopped garlic adds a distinctive and pungent flavor.
    • Worcestershire sauce: Contributes a savory and slightly tangy taste.
    • Anchovies (optional): Traditional Caesar dressing includes mashed anchovies, or anchovy paste for a unique umami flavor. However, they can be omitted or substituted if desired.
    • Raw egg yolk
    • Black pepper: Ground black pepper adds a touch of spiciness.

Additional ingredients are sometimes incorporated into Caesar salads to enhance their flavor and make them heartier, such as:

  • Grilled chicken: Sliced or grilled chicken breast can be added to transform the salad into a main course.
  • Shrimp: Cooked and chilled shrimp can be added for a seafood twist.
  • Bacon: Crispy bacon bits or crumbled cooked bacon can provide smokiness and additional texture.
  • Avocado: Sliced or diced avocado adds creaminess and richness to the salad.

It's worth noting that variations of the Caesar salad may include other ingredients according to personal preference or regional adaptations.

What About Those Raw Eggs for Caesar Salad?

The raw egg yolk helps emulsify and thicken the dressing, giving it a creamy texture. However, due to concerns about food safety and the potential risk of salmonella from raw eggs, many modern recipes and variations of Caesar salad dressing use pasteurized eggs or omit the raw egg altogether.

Some recipes suggest using mayonnaise as a substitute for the raw egg yolk to achieve a similar creamy consistency.

If you choose to use raw eggs in your Caesar salad dressing, it's advisable to use fresh, high-quality eggs from a trusted source and handle them safely to minimize any potential health risks. Alternatively, you can explore various egg-free or pasteurized egg alternatives for the dressing if you have concerns about consuming raw eggs.

A coddled egg can also be used, giving the dressing a smoother, creamier texture. How does the Reluctant Gourmet coddle an egg?

Easy, bring a small pot of water to a fast boil and gently place the egg into it and cook for 60 seconds. Remove the egg from the water and cool off under cold water to stop the cooking process.

Commercial Dressings

You can buy a variety of bottled Caesar Salad dressings in your grocery store, even one with a photo of Chef Cardini on it, but none are as good as making it yourself.

The recipe below is not Cardini's original recipe but one that was given to me by a chef in New York City. You can also buy a variety of commercial croutons, but I highly recommend making your own.

It's easy and the taste is far better than any crouton you can purchase. You can store the croutons in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to one day.

How to Make the Best Caesar Salad Recipe (3)

📖 Recipe

How to Make the Best Caesar Salad Recipe (4)

Print Recipe

Caesar Salad Recipe

Prep Time30 minutes mins

Cook Time15 minutes mins

Total Time45 minutes mins

Course: Salad

Cuisine: American, Mexican

Servings: 4 servings


For the Croutons

  • 2 cloves garlic large
  • 1 pinch salt
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil virgin
  • 2 cups French baguette slices cut up into ½ inch cubes, white bread works too

For the Salad

  • 1 large egg
  • 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1 clove garlic crushed
  • 1 pinch salt
  • ½ teaspoon freshly ground pepper
  • teaspoons anchovy paste or 4 flat anchovies
  • 1 teaspoon capers
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • cup olive oil virgin
  • 2 heads romaine lettuce outer leaves removed
  • cup Parmesan cheese grated


For the Croutons

  • Combine garlic, oil, salt, and bread cubes in a bowl. Mix until cubes are coated evenly.

  • Spread the coated cubes onto a baking sheet and bake until the croutons are golden. This should take about 10 minutes.

For the Salad

  • Bring a pot of boiling water to boil, add egg and cook for just 60 seconds....NO MORE. This is coddling the egg.

    Remove the egg from the water and let it cool off. You can also run the egg under cold water to stop the cooking process.

  • Meanwhile, mix the Worcestershire sauce, lemon juice, garlic, salt & pepper, anchovy, mustard and capers in a bowl.

  • Crack the coddled egg and add to these ingredients. Whisk until smooth.

  • Now for the tricky part. Slowly add the oil in a steady stream while constantly whisking again until smooth.

    Reason: if you add the oil too quickly, the dressing will be separate and not emulsify.

To Serve

  • Tear the romaine lettuce into 1-2 inch pieces and add them to a large bowl (wooden if you have one).

  • Add half the dressing, toss, add remaining dressing, Parmesan cheese, and croutons and toss again.

  • Serve on chilled plates.

Some of My Favorite Salad Recipes

  • How to Make a Basic Orzo Salad
  • What Is Cowboy Caviar and How To Make at Home
  • Arugula Salad with Roasted Beets Pistachio and Goat Cheese Recipe
  • Grilled Radicchio and Corn Salad Recipe
  • Kale Salad with Lemon and Garlic Dressing Recipe
  • Cilantro Cole Slaw Recipe
  • All About Salad Greens
  • Sun-Dried Tomato Vinaigrette Recipe For Fish
How to Make the Best Caesar Salad Recipe (2024)


How to make salads that are actually good? ›

How to Make a Salad You'll Actually Want to Eat
  1. 1: Think Beyond Lettuce and Greens.
  2. 2: Add Heft with Grains and Nuts.
  3. 3: Add Beans or Other Proteins.
  4. 4: Make Your Own Homemade Salad Dressing.
  5. 5: Make it a Flavor Party.
Jan 18, 2024

How much lettuce for Caesar salad for 100? ›

For example, to prepare Caesar salad for a crowd of 100, start with about 20 pounds of romaine lettuce, which translates into 15 heads. A bunch of spinach (a rugged green that's good for summer salads) weighs about as much as a head of romaine.

What is normally comes with Caesar salad? ›

Caesar salad is made with romaine lettuce, croutons, Parmesan cheese, and Caesar dressing. The dressing is a mixture of olive oil, lemon juice, Worcestershire sauce, Dijon mustard, and garlic.

Why do restaurant salads taste better than homemade? ›

Restaurants salt their salads.

This resulted in every bite tasting vibrant and flavorful. "Season your salad just like you would anything else," Simpson said. "Salt is a big difference between salads at home and salads in a restaurant." This doesn't mean you have to make your salads salty!

What can I add to my salad to make it better? ›

Add one or more of these protein-rich foods to your salad:
  1. lean meat: chicken or turkey breast, lean steak.
  2. lower-fat cheese: light cheddar, Swiss, mozzarella, feta, goat cheese.
  3. legumes: kidney beans, lentils, chickpeas, white or black beans.
  4. eggs: hard boiled.
  5. soy products: cubed tofu, edamame.

How do restaurants make salads so crisp? ›

The Keys to Crisp Lettuce

Lettuce actually needs a good amount of airflow, in addition to a bit of moisture (but not too much!), in order to stay crisp. That's why restaurants store their lettuce in special perforated bins that allow for air circulation while it's held in the fridge.

Why does Caesar salad taste so good? ›

Pungent but not too strong, Caesar dressing comes together easily with a lineup of common ingredients—eggs and oil (or an even easier option, mayonnaise); garlic; lemon or white wine vinegar; a splash of Worcestershire; a dollop of Dijon; and ideally, a few anchovies.

Why is my Caesar salad soggy? ›

As mentioned, moisture tends to make salads go soggier even faster. That said, it's even quicker when the dressing is made up of acidic ingredients like vinegar or citrus—which, in most cases, they are. The acid in these ingredients can break down the cell structure of tender greens leading to their demise even faster.

Do you cut or tear romaine lettuce for Caesar salad? ›

This is may cause some controversy, but the best Caesar salad has cut (not torn) romaine lettuce. Cutting the lettuce keeps it colder than man-handling it does, plus it guarantees uniform pieces of lettuce that are easy to eat.

How many heads of romaine for salad? ›

If serving a protein and starch or veggie, one head of romaine is enough. However, if the salad is the meal, I'd make it from two heads of romaine.

How many cups is 2 heads of romaine lettuce? ›

How many cups in a head of romaine? Shredding or chopping an average head of romaine lettuce yields between 5 and 6 cups. The center heart typically yields 2 cups. Both weigh in at approximately 2.5 ounces per cup.

How many heads of romaine lettuce for 40 people? ›

To get 40 servings you need 8 to 12 heads. How many romaine lettuce leaves or head do I need to make the base of my salad? That's 300 calories, so I get enough calories. According to the nutrition facts, you'd have to eat approximately 3 heads of romaine lettuce to consume approximately 324 calories.

Which ingredient is not commonly found in a Caesar salad? ›

The ingredient typically not found in a classic Caesar salad is Iceberg lettuce. A traditional Caesar salad, made primarily of romaine lettuce, doesn't include iceberg lettuce. It may vary in different recipes.

What are the traditional ingredients in a Cobb salad? ›

Arrange the salad - on a large plate, layer the romaine with eggs, chicken, tomatoes, blue cheese, bacon and avocado. Drizzle everything with that classic cobb salad dressing and serve! Alternatively, equally divide all ingredients between serving plates and drizzle with dressing.

What is the original Caesar dressing made of? ›

Caesar dressing: The key component that gives the salad its distinctive taste. Traditional Caesar dressing is made from olive oil, egg yolk, Worcestershire sauce, anchovies, garlic, Dijon mustard, lemon juice, and black pepper.

What is classic Caesar dressing made of? ›

To make the dressing: Mash anchovy fillets and garlic in a large salad bowl. Add lemon juice, red wine vinegar, Dijon mustard, egg yolk, and Worcestershire sauce; whisk until smooth and creamy. Gradually stream in olive oil while whisking constantly. Season with salt and black pepper.

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