A classic Caesar salad recipe uses only seven ingredients, and the key to any good salad is the freshness of the ingredients used. In the case of a Caesar salad recipe, fresh lettuce – romaine is preferred to iceberg – and a homemade Caesar dressing go a long way to enhance the flavor and overall taste of your salad.
While there are many brands of Caesar dressing, like Marie’s Creamy Caesar, making your own version using the key Caesar dressing ingredients will taste just as good as any store-bought variety.
Caesar Salad Recipe Ingredients
The main ingredient that makes for a tasty Caesar dressing recipe is anchovies. The essential flavor imparted by using anchovy filets or anchovy paste, which is easier when it comes to preparation, is what makes the classic Caesar dressing ingredients come together for the taste you know and love. Along with the tanginess and saltiness of the anchovies, the garlic, salt, egg yolk (to thicken), acidity from freshly squeezed lemon juice, Dijon mustard and oil are all the ingredients that go into a classic Caesar dressing recipe.
While today there are many variations on the classic Caesar salad recipe, the most common version of this salad that you’ll find in most restaurants is a chicken Caesar salad, made by garnishing a Caesar salad recipe with pieces of grilled, or sometimes even blackened, chicken strips.
Classic Caesar Dressing Recipe
Total Time: 15 minutes | Prep Time: 10 minutes | Serves: 1 cup
- 1 medium egg yolk
- 2 small cloves garlic, crushed
- 3/4 teaspoon Dijon mustard
- 2 tablespoons lemon juice, freshly squeezed
- 1/4 cup extra-light olive oil
- 1 teaspoon anchovy paste
- 1/4 cup Parmesan, freshly grated
- 3/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon black pepper, freshly ground
- Whisk together the egg yolk, garlic, mustard and lemon juice in a medium-size bowl until well incorporated.
- Carefully pour in olive oil, one drop at a time, while constantly whisking until the mixture begins to thicken and turns glossy. This is a stable emulsion between the egg and olive oil.
- Once an emulsion is formed, you can begin to add the oil a few drops at a time, while still whisking until the mixture begins to resemble mayonnaise.
- If the mixture is too thick, dilute it with a drop or two of water until it reaches the desired consistency.
- Add the anchovy paste and Parmesan cheese and gently whisk to combine.
- Season to taste with salt and pepper.
- Serve immediately or transfer to an airtight jar.
The dressing, if refrigerated, will keep fresh for up to one week.
Vegetable oil works just as well in this homemade Caesar dressing. Instead of constantly whisking, you can also use a hand blender or mixer to drizzle the oil into the egg yolk mixture to make the mayonnaise.
Variations for Homemade Caesar Dressing Ingredients
Depending on your palate, homemade Caesar dressing can be thickened the traditional way using egg yolk as a thickener. But if you don’t want to consume uncooked eggs, variations on the Caesar dressing ingredients include using mayonnaise in place of the oil and egg yolk. Though a chicken Caesar salad may be popular and filling, simply leaving it out makes for an equally tasty salad.
It’s also possible to sub chicken with a mock meat like the Garden Meatless Chick’n Strips. And, not all Caesar dressing recipes need to use anchovies to achieve tanginess. A vegan version of this recipe can be made using vegan mayonnaise and capers soaked in their brine as a substitute for anchovies – they provide a similar salty ocean flavor.