This Caesar Salad is the real deal, just like what you’d get from a high-quality restaurant. With homemade Caesar dressing, fresh croutons, and shavings of parmigiano reggiano, it’s easy to prepare and so delicious. You can even make it the main meal by adding this lemony Grilled Chicken Breast.
A good quality Caesar salad is one of my favorite things ever to eat.
It’s understandably one of the most popular salads at restaurants around the world, but I can’t even remember the last time I ordered it when dining out, simply because it’s so easy to do yourself.
In this post, I’m going to share a few tricks for an amazing salad using classic ingredients. These tricks are things that you may not even think about, like making sure the romaine is super cold and crisp.
It isn’t just about the ingredients you’re using, as factors like temperature can make such a big difference in how refreshing and enjoyable the salad is. Follow these tips for the absolute best homemade caesar salad recipe!
Tips for Best Results
Make sure the lettuce isn’t wet – Wash and dry the romaine well in advance, then keep it chilled in the fridge. Nothing ruins a salad more than wet greens, because it totally waters down the rich dressing. Spin dry the romaine in a salad spinner, then let it air dry, or if you’re in a rush, dry further with a towel until you no longer see any water droplets on the surface.
Chill everything – Chill the fresh lettuce, chill the bowl, chill everything you can for the absolute best caesar salad you’ve ever had. It’s a bit extra, but wow does it taste amazing when the salad is really cold.
Get the dressing right – No storebought caesar dressing will ever compare to freshly made, because they’re missing the freshness factor. Follow my recipe for Caesar Dressing and then be generous with it.
I’ve seen some Caesar Salad recipes on the internet that call for a “half-scratch” caesar dressing using mayonnaise as a shortcut, but personally I don’t see the point to this.
The flavor isn’t quite right, and for an amazing Caesar salad, I think it’s 100% mandatory to make a homemade caesar dressing from scratch. Since mayonnaise typically uses the whole egg, the egg white can make the dressing taste too eggy.
Instead, follow this Caesar Dressing recipe, where we whip the creamy dressing fresh, from scratch, using a proper olive oil, lemon juice, parmesan cheese, fresh cloves of garlic, black pepper, Dijon mustard, anchovy paste, and raw egg yolks (this yields a richer result than using whole raw eggs).
I made a whole separate post with directions so you can see all the photos from start to finish.
Trust me, it is worth your while for an amazing homemade caesar salad.
An awesome Caesar Salad will also include fresh, homemade croutons, made with a great-quality bread.
The problem with storebought croutons is they have no moisture to them, because they must have a long shelf life.
Fortunately, homemade croutons are really easy to make, and you can use slightly old bread cubes. Follow this post for how to make Croutons, and know that you can use that formula for adding crunchy croutons to any type of salad, not just Caesar. I’ve included instructions for making them on the stovetop or in the oven on a rimmed baking sheet.
When you’re ready to bring everything together, make sure you’re using pre-washed and thoroughly chilled romaine hearts. In order to have chilled and ready romaine, I cut and wash it when I get home, spin and towel dry it, then store it in the fridge. Romaine hearts are sturdy, and actually keep surprisingly well after being washed.
The other benefit to this is you know the romaine is going to be dry when you’re ready to use it. Watery greens can easily ruin a salad because the water dilutes the dressing, so you want the greens to be as dry as possible. If you’re in a rush, you can also soak romaine in ice water to chill it, but you have to quickly dry it, toss, and serve.
Right before you’re ready to serve, toss the crisp romaine lettuce with the creamy caesar salad dressing and the golden brown, crispy croutons in a large salad bowl:
Be generous with the dressing, and taste a piece of lettuce to make sure you’ve used the right amount.
At the table, I get out a piece of 24-month aged Parmigiano Reggiano cheese, along with a peeler:
I then like to shave pieces of cheese right on top using a vegetable peeler, because admittedly I like a bit of fanfare at the table.
If you prefer, you can toss the cheese with the salad, and you can also grate it finely with a microplane if you prefer a lighter texture. This is one of those cases where there’s no right or wrong, just preference. But extra cheese always makes for a good salad!
If you really love anchovies, you can also add some extra anchovy fillets for garnish.
Or, add sliced chicken breasts to make it a full meal. This Grilled Chicken Breast pairs beautifully.
How to Serve It
Assuming you’ve gone through all the work of chilling everything well, you’ll really want to make sure to serve the Caesar Salad right away! Sometimes I’ll add a pinch of salt on top, a quality one like Maldon.
Recipe Tips and FAQ
Once coated in the dressing, this won’t keep well for very long. The max you’ll be able to store it is for one day in the fridge, in an airtight container, before it gets too wilted.
The only other green that I like with the Caesar flavor profile is kale, particularly lacinato kale (which also goes by the names dino kale and tuscan kale). See my recipe for Kale Caesar Salad.
- Chop the romaine into pieces, about 2 inches in length. You may also keep the leaves whole for serving, if desired.
- Place the lettuce into a large mixing bowl, and quickly toss with the dressing and croutons. Add more dressing if desired (it should be generously coated, and when you taste a piece, the dressing should be prominent).
- Plate the salad into two bowls, then add the shaved parmigiano reggiano on top. Serve immediately while still cold, and enjoy!
Nutrition is estimated using a food database and is only intended to be used as a guideline for informational purposes.
Post updated in January 2019. Originally posted October 2011.