This Homemade Caesar Salad is loaded with flavor but quick and easy enough to make on even the busiest weekdays! Kids and adults will love it!
Caesar Salad, and specifically Caesar Salad Dressing, was one of those things that I just didn't have a reliable recipe for until recently. For years I kept trying recipe after recipe, never finding one I wanted to make more than once or twice.
I just couldn't find a recipe that my family and I loved. That could be largely due to the fact that Mr. Dreamboat and I don't really see eye-to-eye on what makes a great salad dressing.
He hates mustard with a passion (in his defense, mustard is just about the ONLY thing he doesn't like), and I love to put at least a little mustard in most salad dressings I make.
But a few months ago, I found a caesar salad secret weapon. Something I could add to my caesar salad dressing to add a punch of umami flavor, without having to add a bunch of extra work. Something I already always have on hand in my pantry.
Fish sauce. The same fish sauce you use in your favorite Vietnamese or Thai recipes. Red Boat is my favorite.
It's not uncommon for caesar salad dressing to have anchovies, but you usually need to mince them, or turn them into a paste. Plus you might not always have them on hand. But fish sauce is quick and easy to use, and it's easy to always keep in your pantry.
Once I had this secret ingredient as my starting point, I was able to tweak the recipe to make it comply with my high expectations, and get Mr. Dreamboat to say "actually, this is pretty good even with a little mustard".
How to make the Best Ever Caesar Salad:
Making a really great caesar salad starts with a really great caesar salad dressing. The two most important features of caesar salad dressing to me are flavor and texture.
I want the flavors of my caesar dressing to be balanced. I want there to be lots of flavor, but not too garlicky, and not too sour.
For texture, I want the dressing to be thick and creamy enough to coat the leaves without leaving a puddle in the bottom of the bowl. I don't want it so thick that it feels like I'm eating my lettuce just coated with mayonnaise.
Caesar Salad Dressing Ingredients:
- lemon juice
- apple cider vinegar
- fish sauce
- dijon mustard
- freshly ground black pepper
- olive oil
- grated Parmesan cheese
Keep in mind that the recipe below makes enough dressing for about 3 salads, or enough to dress approximately 6 romaine hearts, depending on how much dressing you use on your salad.
Caesar Salad Variations:
There are lots of ingredient swaps and additions to make to your salad to help it fit with your preferences. Here are some ideas to help get you started.
- To make your dressing extra thick and creamy, try increasing the amount of mayonnaise in the recipe to ⅔ or ¾ of a cup.
- If you want to add a spicy kick to your caesar salad, add a pinch of cayenne pepper or a few shakes of hot sauce to your dressing.
- If you like your dressing to be very garlicky, add an extra clove of garlic.
- To make your salad gluten-free, low-carb, or keto, try swapping the croutons for Cheese Crisps (the Parmesan flavor will pair especially well with Caesar salad)
- If you want to add a little bit of smoky flavor, add a few slices of crumbled cooked bacon to your salad.
- If you want your salad to be a complete meal, add some cooked meat or tofu to your salad.
Want more salad recipes?
Caesar Salad Nutrition Notes:
Note that the recipe for the salad dressing below will make approximately 3 portions of salad, with each portion serving 4 people as a side, depending on how heavily you like to dress your lettuce. Store the leftover dressing in an airtight container in the fridge for up to a week.
If you need your salad to be gluten-free, skip the croutons or be sure to use gluten-free croutons in your salad (or use gluten-free bread to make homemade croutons).
Best Ever Caesar Salad
Caesar Salad Dressing
- 2 romaine hearts
- ½ cup croutons Use Gluten-Free croutons, or skip croutons to make this salad Gluten-Free
- ¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese
Caesar Salad Dressing
- Add the garlic, lemon juice, apple cider vinegar, fish sauce, mustard, and pepper to a small bowl, large measuring cup, blender, or mini food processor. Whisk vigorously, blend, or process until uniform. Add the mayonnaise and blend again. Very slowly drizzle in the olive oil while continuing to blend, until all the oil is incorporated. Stir in the Parmesan. Refrigerate in a tightly sealed jar or bottle until ready to use, up to one week. Shake or stir before using.
- Tear the romaine into bite-sized pieces. Rinse and dry it well using a salad spinner. Transfer the dried lettuce into a large salad bowl.
- Add the croutons and Parmesan to the bowl with the lettuce, as well as about ⅓ of the above Caesar salad dressing (about ½ cup). Toss the salad so that all the leaves are coated with dressing. Serve immediately.
Nutrition Disclaimer: I try my best to make sure the nutrition information I provide is accurate to provide you with the best information possible. However, due to ingredient discrepancies and other factors, the above nutrition information should be considered an estimation only.