An unfussy recipe for the classic Caesar Salad. Our Caesar Salad recipe can be made with our outstanding homemade Caesar salad dressing or semi-homemade dressing. And it’s topped off with perfectly crunchy croutons. Use whatever greens you like and play around with adding fresh herbs and crunchy veggies. 

Where does Caesar Salad Get Its name?

Caesar Cardini was an American-Italian restauranteur, chef and hotel owner and is largely known for creating th Caesar Salad. He opened and ran many restaurants in and around the San Diego area, including Hotel Caesar in Tijuana Mexico (where he could avoid prohibition laws) where the original Caesar Salad was born. 

Surprisingly, the original Caesar salad did not contain anchovies. It instead got all of it’s umami flavor from Worcestershire sauce.  

Why This Recipe Works

Caesar salad is absolutely delicious in its simplicity. What does Caesar salad taste like? It’s the perfect harmony of fresh and savory. If there’s one thing to know about Caesar salad—it’s that it’s loaded with savory umami flavors and it will always quench a craving. 

Our goal was to create the best Caesar salad recipe without being fussy about it. So we kept the prep simple and the salad straightforward. Here’s what makes up the perfect Caesar salad: tender greens, crunchy croutons, and creamy Caesar dressing, that’s it. 

This Caesar Salad is light and satisfying, making it the perfect lunch or dinner.

anchovy paste, Dijon, salt, pepper, worcestershire and lemon zest in a small glass bowl with whisked egg yolks


Caesar Dressing

We have two recipes for you to choose from. Our Simple Caesar Dressing is a classic from-scratch Caesar Dressing made with egg yolk, anchovy (or anchovy paste), Dijon mustard, garlic, fresh lemon juice, Parmesan cheese, and Worcestershire sauce. It will absolutely blow people away.

For a less fussy option, try our Quick & Easy Caesar Dressing that uses mayonnaise as a shortcut. You’ll be glad to hear you don’t have to drag out your blender or food processor for this one either.

You can also use your favorite store-bought dressing if you prefer. 


We love our homemade croutons here, but feel free to grab some from your local bakery or market as a shortcut. Croutons are classic in Caesar Salad—the loud crunch is addictive. 

We share all our tips for making homemade croutons in this article. And since we do things healthyish around here, we always opt for a local whole-wheat loaf to make our croutons with. (Gotta get that fiber!)


We are head over heels for little gem lettuce. It has tiny ripples in the leaves which hold on to the dressing, making every bite absolutely delicious. If you can’t find little gem, try a large head of Romaine or hearts of Romaine.

caesar salad in a glass jar with a wooden spoon set in it

What About the Raw Egg?

Traditional Caesar salad dressing is made with a raw egg yolk. The beauty of egg yolks is they are expert emulsifiers—making them ideal for creating creamy dressings like Caesar dressing (and homemade mayonnaise). 

If you’re worried about the food safety of it all, there are some things to consider. First, it’s extremely uncommon to get salmonella from raw eggs nowadays. For added caution, 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.

Test Kitchen tip: Make it Your Own

Use this Caesar Salad recipe as a guide. Play around with the type of greens you use. Make a Kale Caesar Salad, or an Arugula Caesar Salad. Add thin snowy shreds of grated Parmesan cheese or whole anchovies over top. Swap the croutons for toasty breadcrumbs. The world if your anchovy, ehem, oyster! 

Salad Recipes to Try 

  • Our Green Goddess Salad is another one of my favorites. It also pairs well with salmon.
  • Our Lemon Arugula Salad is another showstopper thanks to a crunchy nut topping.
  • If you’re looking for another entree-style salad, check out our Tuna Niçoise. It’s perfect for weeknights as well. 
caesar salad with croutons in a large white bowl with two serving spoons set in it


Try some other methods of cooking the salmon for this recipe. 

  • Try our Salmon Caesar Salad—it’s a great way to turn this savory salad into a full meal.
  • Use our recipe for blackened fish as a guide and make a blackened fish caesar salad.
  • You could also add pan-seared shrimp or pan-seared chicken to this salad for a boost of protein.
  • Feel free to add shaved Parmesan to the salad as well.
  • Top the salad with our Crispy Baked Chicken Cutlets! A quick bake in the oven, and the pounded chicken breasts come out crispy and juicy. 


If I want to make this gluten-free, what do you recommend I substitute the croutons with?

Well for starters, you could use gluten-free bread. If you’re looking for an alternative to croutons altogether, go for some slices or chunks of English cucumber or thinly sliced celery.

If I can’t find little gem lettuce, what should I use instead?

Use a big head of romaine lettuce and chop it into bite-sized pieces.

Do I have to use anchovies?

Just a couple of anchovies or a dash of anchovy paste in the dressing adds the perfect amount of umami. The dressing doesn’t taste fishy at all—just rich with flavor. If you must skip the anchovies, increase the amount of Worcestershire used from 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce to two.

Is caesar salad healthy?

We think so! The dressing can be heavy, but you just need a light drizzle to coat quite a bit of lettuce leaves. Caesar salad can be fairly high in sodium a moderate in cholesterol. But everything in moderation, yea? Add a crispy chicken cutlet for some added protein and you’ve got a complete meal!

Simple Caesar Salad

5 from 1 vote
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Total Time 25 minutes
Yield 4 servings
Category Salad/Side dish
Cuisine American


The best Caesar salad recipe is just a whisk and a toss away! Reminiscent of the tableside salads so beloved at steakhouses (so Caesar Cardini of us), this recipe is simple and unfussy, with only the most essential components.


  • 1 recipe homemade Caesar dressing semi-homemade Caesar dressing, or purchased caesar dressing
  • ½ pound (8 ounces) whole-grain bakery bread, torn into 1-inch pieces
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • Kosher salt and black pepper
  • 2 (5-ounce) containers Little Gem lettuce, leaves separated, (about 8 cups) or 2 head hearts of romaine


  • Prepare Caesar Dressing or Semi-Homemade Caesar Dressing according to recipe instructions. Refrigerate until ready to use.
    oil getting whisked into a yellow mixture in a clear class bowl
  • Heat oven 350ºF (177ºC). Toss bread and oil to coat on a large baking sheet; season with ½ teaspoon kosher salt and ½ teaspoon pepper.
  • Spread bread cubes into an even layer.
    chunks of bread on a baking sheet
  • Toast croutons until deeply golden brown, crispy on the outside and slightly chewy on the inside, 15–20 minutes, tossing occasionally.
  • Let cool completely.
  • In a large bowl, toss salad with a heavy drizzle of Caesar dressing; season lightly with salt and pepper.
  • Sprinkle croutons over top and season with cracked pepper; serve immediately with more dressing on the side.


If you can’t find little gem lettuce, substitute with a big head of romaine.
Store leftover caesar dressing in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 1 week.


Serving: 1/4 recipeCalories: 312kcalCarbohydrates: 29gProtein: 7gFat: 18gSaturated Fat: 3gCholesterol: 60mgSodium: 475mgFiber: 7gSugar: 6g
Like this? Leave a comment below!I love hearing from you and I want to hear how it went with this recipe! Leave a comment and rating below, then share on social media @zestfulkitchen and #zestfulkitchen!
caesar salad in a large white bowl with two serving spoons set in it

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About The Author

Lauren Grant is a professional culinary food scientist, food writer, recipe developer, and food photographer. Lauren is a previous magazine editor and test kitchen developer and has had work published in major national publications including Diabetic Living Magazine, Midwest Living Magazine, Cuisine at Home Magazine,,, and more.

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