There are few salad dressings as savoy or universal as Caesar dressing. This is our favorite homemade recipe for the ultra-creamy dressing that goes with just about anything. Our healthyish version relies on extra-virgin olive oil instead of neutral oils which add little to no flavor or health benefits. Plus, it’s so much better than store bought!
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Why This Recipe Works
This recipe starts with the most important ingredient—anchovy. And we load it up with just enough to it make itself known without overpowering the other flavors. We then use lots of lemon (zest and juice), a bit of garlic and extra-virgin olive oil. Because if a dressing isn’t made with evoo, we don’t want it.
The base of the dressing is an emulsification of egg yolk and oil—that’s traditional. You’re basically making homemade mayonnaise. And then finally, the cherry on top is a good amount of grated parmesan which thickens the dressing and makes it even more savory.
And if you aren’t pumped about making homemade mayonnaise yourself, we’ve got a semi-homemade recipe that’s just for you.
Ingredients in This Dressing
Anchovy is what sets Caesar dressing apart from all others. It simply adds depth and savoriness without making it taste “fishy.”
For this homemade Caesar dressing, we prefer to mince whole anchovies into a paste. For a quick, less-fussy option, use anchovy paste. Look for anchovies in the tinned fish aisle next to the sardines and tuna.
Two large egg yolks are needed for this dressing. Use eggs labeled as “large.” Reserve the egg whites for your morning scramble or use them in a cocktail.
Dijon, like the egg yolks, Dijon acts as an emulsifier. However, we’re using such a small amount that in this context it’s a flavor-booster. Dijon is classic in Caesar dressing and adds a nice spicy-heat in the background.
Think of Worcestershire as the English cousin to soy sauce or fish sauce. It’s an umami-bomb made with fermented onions and garlic, cured anchovies, molasses, tamarind paste, and a handful of spices. Just a dash of Worcestershire goes a long way. If you don’t have any on hand, you can use soy sauce, though Worcestershire is best here.
We love a lot of lemon in our Caesar dressing which is why we use both lemon zest and juice. You have to be careful with how much liquid you add to an emulsified dressing, too much and you can break the emulsion. To saturate the lemon flavor without adding too much liquid, we rely on lemon zest which adds flavor but no extra liquid.
As we always say, if it isn’t fresh, we don’t want it! You just need 1 medium clove, and even better, we’re grating it instead of mincing, which is way less work.
We love a mild extra-virgin olive oil here for it’s health benefits and flavor. If you want a more mild-flavored dressing simply opt for olive oil. We don’t recommend using vegetable oil or canola oil as they’re bland and not as healthy. Feel free to use a combination of oils if you prefer.
Grated Parmesan is what you’re looking for here. You can use pre-grated or freshly grated, either work well. Just steer clear of shredded as it doesn’t mix into the dressing as well.
Test Kitchen Tips
- Drizzle the oil into the egg yolk mixture at a slower rate than you think you need to. This will help the emulsification process and won’t force oil into the mixture too quickly. Start adding the oil drop by drop at first, once the mixture has started to thicken and it forms a ribbon when whisked, you can increase the oil drizzle to a thin stream.
- This dressing requires a lot of whisking. To make the process easier, set the bowl on a damp kitchen rag or towel, this will hold the bowl in place while you vigorously whisk.
- Store the dressing in an airtight container in the refrigerator. We prefer to use a glass container for this dressing because glass doesn’t hold onto potent flavors (aka anchovy).
How to Use this Dressing
- Make our Salmon Caesar Salad—it’s the ideal weeknight din!
- Toss chopped romaine with a hearty drizzle of this Caesar Dressing. Finish with parsley, shreds of Parm and some black pepper. Add homemade croutons for a classic Caesar Salad.
- Serve as a veggie dip with your favorite raw veggies for snacking on.
- Use in place of mayo on sandwiches. We love to turn our crispy chicken cutlets into a sandwich with this Caesar dressing and some romaine on a brioche bun.
- Swap your favorite burger sauce out for this Caesar Dressing and make a Caesar Turkey Burger.
Homemade Dressing Recipes
- For a quicker, semi-homemade version of this recipe, try our Easy Caesar Dressing.
- This Green Goddess Dressing recipe is easily one of our favorite dressing recipes to date. It’s of course delicious drizzled over a big green salad, but we also serve it as a dip alongside a platter of crudité.
- If you love a classic, you’ll love our Healthy Blue Cheese Dressing. It’s made with Greek yogurt so you know it’s uber creamy and packed with flavor!
- Our Healthy Dill Ranch is another delicious take on a classic dressing recipe. We love drizzling it over green beans!
We recommend storing it in the refrigerator in a glass container with a tight fitting lid.
Homemade Caesar dressing will last up to 1 week in the refrigerator.
If the oil separates it means you have a broken emulsion. When you notice the oil separating, or not incorporating into the other ingredients, stop adding oil and whisk vigorously to reincorporate. Once the mixture comes back together, you can resume adding the oil drop by drop.
Sure, if you aren’t a fan of anchovies you can leave them out. If you aren’t sure, I encourage you to at least try it with anchovy paste. It’s easy to use and very convenient.
It’s extremely uncommon to get salmonella from raw eggs nowadays but here are a few things to keep in mind. When cracking the egg and separating the yolk from the white, try to avoid the exterior of the egg touching the interior. You can also use pasteurize the eggs if that makes you more comfortable.
Simple Homemade Caesar Salad Dressing
- 3 anchovies, or 1 teaspoon anchovy paste
- 2 large egg yolks
- 1 ½ teaspoons Dijon mustard
- 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
- Kosher salt and black pepper
- 1 lemon, zested and juiced
- 1 medium clove garlic, grated
- ½ cup mild extra-virgin olive oil
- ¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese
- Mince anchovies, then using the side of a chefs knife, mash into a paste.
- Set a medium bowl on a damp kitchen rag or towel to hold it steady.
- Add pasted anchovies, yolks, 1 ½ teaspoons Dijon, 1 teaspoon Worcestershire, ½ teaspoon each kosher salt and black pepper, and ½ teaspoon lemon zest. Grate in 1 clove garlic.
- Whisk together until smooth.
- While whisking constantly and slowly stream in oil, starting drop by drop at first, then eventually by a very thin stream until all of the oil is emulsified. If the mixture ever starts to break, stop adding oil and whisk vigorously to bring back together before adding more oil.
- Add 3 tablespoons lemon juice, a tablespoon at a time, whisking after each addition. Whisk in Parmesan.
- Season with additional pepper to taste.