bowl of caesar salad with croutons, bacon bits, parmesan cheese, and lemon slices, next to serving spoons and a bowl of bacon bits

CLASSIC CAESAR SALAD RECIPE

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Looking for the perfect recipe for a Caesar Salad? Dive into this easy and delicious guide to create a Caesar salad that’s crisp, creamy, and packed with flavour—your taste buds are already thanking you!

Those who don’t like caesar salads (do such people exist?!?!) sure as heck haven’t had one completely hungover. Don’t ask me why (or how I’ve ever even arrived at this conclusion) but there’s just something about a good recipe for a caesar salad that magically cures any and all of the bad decisions you made last night. Who would have thunk it? A salad?!

Perhaps it’s the creamy caesar dressing (that of course, you made yourself). Or maybe it’s how well the perfectly seasoned croutons pair with the crispy crumbled bacon. Or maybe, just maybe, it’s the freshly grated parmesan cheese sprinkled right on top. All I know is that every ingredient definitely brings its A-game to the party. Kinda like how you brought yours to the dancefloor last night! 😉

caesar salad with croutons, bacon, parmesan cheese and lemon slices in a bowl, small bowls of croutons, bacon bits and dressing in the background

Well, regardless of whether you’re trying to cure a bad hangover or just craving something classic, I know you’re going to love this homemade Caesar salad. You may as well just start patting yourself on the back now since you’re pretty much making every single component from scratch.

That’s right. Homemade dressing. Oven baked croutons. Crispy bacon bits. It’s all you, baby! And once you see just how easy it is to make a restaurant quality Caesar salad right at home, you’ll never want to buy it from the store again. Esssspecially when you’re too hungover to leave the house! 😉

WHAT YOU’LL NEED TO MAKE THIS RECIPE FOR CLASSIC CAESAR SALAD

ingredients for recipe for a caesar salad - romaine, croutons, bacon bits, black pepper, parmesan cheese, caesar dressing

These simple ingredients with a rich homemade Caesar dressing creates a classic, flavourful Caesar salad that’s satisfying, delicious, and capable of curing even the deadliest hangovers. TRUST. ME. Let’s discuss each one in a little bit more detail down below:

  • Romaine Lettuce: The traditional base for a recipe for a Caesar salad. Its sturdy, crisp leaves hold up well to the rich dressing and provide a satisfying crunch. Choose fresh, vibrant green romaine heads with no wilting or browning. Of course, if you don’t have any on hand, you can always substitute a different leafy green. Iceberg lettuce, leaf lettuce, spinach, kale, or arugula all make great alternatives.

  • Croutons: Add a delightful crunch and a contrasting texture to the salad. They also help to soak up and carry the flavour of the dressing. Use high-quality store-bought croutons or make your own for the best flavour. Personally, I love homemade croutons in this caesar salad recipe as they can be seasoned to your taste.

  • Parmesan Cheese: Adds a salty, nutty flavour and a creamy texture to the salad. It’s essential for that authentic Caesar taste. As always, use freshly grated or shaved Parmesan rather than pre-grated for the best flavour and texture. PRO TIP: Grate or shave the Parmesan fresh just before adding to the salad to maintain its flavour and texture.

  • Bacon Bits: Add a smoky, savoury flavour and a crunchy texture, complementing the other ingredients. You can use store-bought, if you prefer but why?! when they’re SO easy to make yourself at home. Use high-quality bacon for the best flavour and results. PRO TIP: Try my oven broiling bacon method and once the bacon is fully cooked, chop or crumble it into small pieces.

  • Caesar Dressing: Why, of course! The dressing is just as important as the salad itself, IMHO! Caesar dressing elevates the salad with its rich, creamy texture and deep, savoury flavours. It adds tangy brightness from lemon juice and mustard, umami and complexity from anchovies and Worcestershire sauce, and balanced seasoning. Making the dressing from scratch offers the ultimate control over flavours, ensuring each bite of your Caesar salad is a perfectly delicious experience. However, and although this pains me just a tad to say this, you can use store-bought caesar dressing instead, if you prefer.

    BUT you can find out how to whip up your own caesar dressing from scratch with simple and wholesome ingredients (in under 10 minutes, to boot!) HERE.

  • Black Pepper: Enhances the Caesar salad with its aromatic heat, depth of flavour, and visual appeal. Adding it just before serving maximizes its freshness and ensures the dressing is perfectly balanced. It may seem like an ingredient that doesn’t add much to the salad but trust me, it does. Fresh cracked black pepper works best in this recipe.
bowl of lettuce with croutons, parmesan, and bacon, bowl of white creamy dressing in the background

HOW TO MAKE A CAESAR SALAD FROM SCRATCH (KEY TIPS)

hand holding a fork with a crouton, piece of lettuce and bacon over a bowl of caesar salad

You can find full instructions for how to make this classic caesar salad recipe in the recipe card down below. But here are a few quick tips to keep in mind:

  • Use fresh, high-quality ingredients for best flavour and results. Opt for fresh, crisp romaine lettuce. Check for vibrant green leaves without any wilting or brown spots. Use good quality bacon and croutons (or make your own!).

  • Use freshly grated or shaved Parmesan cheese for the best flavour. Avoid pre-grated cheese as it often contains additives that can affect texture and taste.

  • Chop the romain into even, bite-sized pieces. This ensures that every mouthful has the perfect mix of lettuce, dressing, and toppings—no one wants a salad with big leafy chunks hogging all the flavour!

  • As simple as this one sounds, it’s definitely the most important: USE A SALAD SPINNER to dry the lettuce thoroughly. There seriously is NOTHING WORSE (not even big leafy chunks!!!) than getting a caesar salad with leaves that are still wet. This dilutes the dressing and causes it to slide off the lettuce instead of stick to it. I don’t send much of anything back when I go out to eat at a restaurant but you bet your ass I’ll be sending back a wet caesar salad if I ever get served one. Not to sound dramatic but, to me, it’s simply inexcusable to make and unbearable to eat.

  • For making homemade croutons: Use day-old bread like a baguette or ciabatta. They provide the best texture and flavour. Cut the croutons into small, uniform bite-size cubes so you can evenly distribute them throughout the salad.

  • For making homemade bacon bits: Cook the bacon until crispy, then drain on paper towels to remove excess grease. Crumble into small pieces for added flavour, texture, deliciousness, and crunch. I love cooking my bacon by broiling it in the oven and then chopping or crumbling it into small pieces.

  • For making homemade caesar dressing: Continuously taste your dressing as you prepare it. Adjust the lemon juice, garlic, anchovy, salt, and pepper to your preference to ensure a well-balanced flavour perfect for your salad. My easy homemade caesar dressing only takes about 10 minutes to whip up from start to finish!

  • Add dressing gradually to the romaine lettuce to avoid overdressing. Toss the salad gently to ensure even coating. EXTRA TIP: Add croutons, Parmesan, and any additional toppings like chicken or bacon bits after the lettuce is well-coated with dressing.

  • Make sure the ratios of all your ingredients are even and well-balanced. There should be enough croutons, bacon bits, lettuce, dressing, and parmesan cheese to evenly distribute all of the flavours over the salad and get a perfect bite every single time!

  • Serve immediately. Caesar salad is best served immediately after tossing to maintain the crispness of the lettuce and croutons. If you’re preparing the salad in advance, wait to toss it in the dressing until just before serving. It will quickly become soggy if you don’t. EXTRA TIP: Top with a sprinkle of freshly cracked black pepper and a few shavings of Parmesan cheese for an extra appealing finish.
side view of a caesar salad in a bowl with croutons, bacon bits, and parmesan cheese
FAQ

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

WHY DO THEY CALL IT A CAESAR SALAD?

The Caesar salad is named after its creator, Caesar Cardini, an Italian-born chef who owned restaurants in Mexico and the United States during the early 20th century. Legend has it that the salad was invented in 1924 by Caesar Cardini at his restaurant in Tijuana, Mexico.

The story goes that on the Fourth of July weekend, Cardini’s restaurant faced a sudden rush of customers, and in a moment of necessity, he whipped up a simple yet flavourful salad using the ingredients he had on hand: romaine lettuce, garlic, croutons, Parmesan cheese, olive oil, lemon juice, Worcestershire sauce, and raw egg.

The dish was tossed together tableside for a touch of theater and served with a flourish, delighting diners with its fresh flavours and satisfying crunch. The salad became an instant hit and quickly gained popularity, eventually becoming a classic dish enjoyed worldwide. Today, the Caesar salad remains a beloved staple on restaurant menus and kitchen tables alike, a testament to its enduring appeal and timeless flavour profile.

HOW DO YOU CUT ROMAINE LETTUCE FOR CAESAR SALAD?

To cut romaine lettuce for a Caesar salad, start by washing the lettuce thoroughly under cold running water to remove any dirt or debris. Then, pat the leaves dry with paper towels or spin them in a salad spinner (HIGHLY recommended) to remove excess moisture. Next, lay the lettuce leaves flat on a cutting board and use a sharp knife to slice off the tough bottom stem.

From there, stack several leaves on top of each other and cut the stacks into 3 even portions length-wise (vertically). Finally, cut the stacked vertical portions into even, bite-sized pieces starting from the stem, working your way upwards (horizontal cuts). This method ensures that each piece of lettuce is uniform and bite-size, making for a more enjoyable eating experience in your salad.

WHAT IS A SUBSTITUTE FOR ROMAINE LETTUCE IN A CAESAR SALAD?

While romaine lettuce is the traditional base for a Caesar salad, there are several substitutes you can use if you’re looking to change things up or if romaine lettuce isn’t available.

One popular alternative is kale, which offers a heartier texture and earthy flavour that pairs well with the rich Caesar dressing. Baby spinach is another option, providing a tender and mild base that complements the bold flavours of the dressing and toppings. For a crunchy twist, you could use thinly sliced Brussels sprouts or cabbage, which add a satisfying crunch and robust texture to the salad. Additionally, mixed greens or arugula can be used for a lighter, more delicate variation of the classic Caesar salad.

Ultimately, the choice of substitute depends on personal preference and availability, but each option offers a delicious and nutritious twist on this beloved dish.

HOW DO YOU KEEP CAESAR SALAD FRESH IN THE FRIDGE?

To keep Caesar salad fresh in the fridge, it’s important to store the components separately and assemble the salad just before serving. Start by storing the romaine lettuce, croutons, Parmesan cheese, and any additional toppings in separate airtight containers or resealable bags. Place the dressing in a separate container as well.

When ready to serve, assemble the salad by tossing the romaine lettuce with the dressing until evenly coated, then add the croutons, Parmesan cheese, and any other toppings. By storing the components separately and assembling the salad just before serving, you can prevent the lettuce from becoming soggy and the other ingredients from wilting or losing their crunch, ensuring a fresh and delicious Caesar salad every time.

caesar salad with lemon slices in a bowl, small ramekins in the background of bacon, cheese and dressing

LOVE CAESAR SALADS? THEN MY KALE CAESAR SALAD WITH CRISPY CHICKPEAS IS A MUST TRY!

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bowl of caesar salad with croutons, bacon bits, parmesan cheese, and lemon slices, next to serving spoons and a bowl of bacon bits

HOMEMADE CAESAR SALAD RECIPE

Yield: 4 Servings
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 15 minutes

Looking for the perfect recipe for a Caesar Salad? Dive into this easy and delicious guide to create a Caesar salad that’s crisp, creamy, and packed with flavour—your taste buds are already thanking you!

Ingredients

Instructions

  1. Tear or chop the romaine lettuce into bite-sized pieces. Ensure the lettuce is completely dry to avoid diluting the dressing.
    bowl of lettuce with a creamy yellow dressing on top
    bowl of chopped lettuce with a creamy dressing
  2. In a large salad bowl, add the romaine lettuce. Drizzle with the prepared Caesar dressing and toss gently to coat the leaves evenly. Add the croutons and crumbled bacon, then toss lightly again. Sprinkle the freshly grated Parmesan cheese over the salad. Add freshly ground black pepper to taste. Serve with lemon wedges, if desired.
    bowl of caesar salad with crouton, bacon, parmesan, and lemon slices

Notes

Try my oven broiled bacon for this recipe. When it's cooked, chop or crumble it into small pieces.

This recipe serves about 4-6 as a side salad or 2-3 as a main course.

Nutrition Information:
Yield: 4 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 557Total Fat: 46gSaturated Fat: 10gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 34gCholesterol: 51mgSodium: 1361mgCarbohydrates: 22gFiber: 8gSugar: 6gProtein: 16g

Nutrition is only an estimate and calculated using Nutritionix.

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