Caesar Salad

Classic Caesar Salad with romaine lettuce, homemade croutons, parmesan cheese, eggs and anchovies.

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Photography Credit: Elise Bauer

Do a little research into the background of the caesar salad and you’ll find that it is named not for some illustrious Roman emperor, but for Caesar Cardini, a Mexican chef working in Tijuana in the 1920s, who would dramatically serve it up table-side. (At least that’s how the story goes.)

Fast forward to this century and you have what is probably the most popular restaurant salad in the country, with plenty of variations around the theme of romaine lettuce, garlic, Parmesan, and croutons.

Caesar Salad

What follows is my friend Suzanne’s recipe, family size. I love Suzanne’s caesar salad, and have been a frequent guest at her house when it has happened to have been served (lucky!)

She makes her own croutons from scratch, from baguette slices that have been brushed with olive oil, toasted, and then roughly chopped. This she does while the garlic has been soaking in olive oil in the serving bowl, a great way to infuse the oil with garlic.

Caesar Salad Recipe

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  • Prep time: 30 minutes
  • Yield: Serves 4-6 for a main course or up to 8-12 for a side salad

If you have a concern about the raw eggs called for in this recipe, you can use pasteurized eggs, or you can coddle the eggs first by immersing them in boiling water for 1 minute, before cracking them open. If you don't have anchovies available, add a teaspoon of worcestershire sauce to the dressing.

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup high quality extra virgin olive oil
  • 4 cloves fresh garlic, peeled, smashed, then minced
  • 1 baguette, preferably a day old, sliced thin
  • 1/4 cup freshly juiced lemon juice (plus more to taste)
  • 4 ounces Parmesan cheese, grated
  • 1 teaspoon anchovy paste, or 1-2 anchovies, smashed and minced
  • 2 eggs
  • Freshly ground black pepper (1/4 teaspoon or to taste)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 4-6 small heads of romaine lettuce, rinsed, patted dry, wilted outer leaves discarded

Method

1 In a very large bowl, whisk together the olive oil and garlic. Let sit for half an hour.

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2 While the oil is sitting, make the croutons. Spread the baguette slices out over a baking sheet (may need to do in batches), lined with parchment paper or Silpat. Brush or spray with olive oil (or melted butter, or if you want garlicky croutons, dip pastry brush in the garlic infused oil you have sitting in step 1). Broil for a couple of minutes until the tops are lightly browned. (Note: do not walk away, these can easily go from browned to burnt.) Remove and let cool.

The steps up until this point can be made ahead.

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3 Add anchovies and eggs to the oil garlic mixture. Whisk until creamy. Add salt and pepper and 1/4 cup of lemon juice. Whisk in half of the Parmesan cheese. Taste, add more lemon juice to taste. The lemon should give an edge to the dressing, but not overwhelm it.

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4 Using your hands, tear off chunks of lettuce from the heads of lettuce (do not use a knife to cut). Add to the oil mixture and toss until coated. Add the rest of the Parmesan cheese, toss.

5 Coarsely chop the toasted bread and add (with the crumbs from the chopping) to the salad. Toss. Serve immediately.

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Caesar Salad

Links:

Ruhlman's chicken-fried pork belly caesar

Filipino Pantry Chicken Caesar Salad from Burnt Lumpia

Chicken Caesar Salad made with a buttermilk dressing, from Cafe Fernando

Caesar Salad Club Sandwich from Noble Pig

Caesar Salad with Shrimp from Lydia of The Perfect Pantry

Caesar Salad

Showing 4 of 25 Comments

  • Latha

    Delicious recipe. Made it as part of a weeknight dinner for the family. Paired it with whole wheat spaghetti and sauce. My husband and kids devoured it. This one’s a keeper!!!

  • Madhu

    My first attempt at Caesar salad and it was tasty! Subbed Worcestershire sauce and a stale loaf of garlic bread, toasted with garlic butter and chopped. I’m going to make and keep some garlicky olive oil for next time…Thank you for putting up the recipe with lovely pictures !

  • chefpaulo

    Elise,
    I concur with all above posters who use only the yolks. I recall this from childhood when Caesar salad was a novelty and to have it prepared tableside was a real treat.

    Regardless of Caesar’s (Cardini)original recipe, anchovies are a must in this house. And the Parmesan must be freshly shaved – no powdered blasphemy from a green cardboard shaker.

    CP

  • Daniele

    Thanks for this tasty hint. I had only eaten the MacDonald variety and never had done any research on the recipe (I was lazily thinking that the salad was named after being a rather “rich” salad…).

    A very simple, personal variation:

    – Mix Roman lettuce, grated carrot and pickles cut in small cubes
    – Dress with a vinaigrette of olive oil, apple vinegar and salt
    – Prepare a toasted sandwich with fontina cheese, cut it into small squares and toss upon the salad.

  • Hannah

    I have tried a few homemade Caesar Salad recipes and they have not turned out quite as good as I was hoping, so I am anxious to try this. Thank you for sharing.

    I have previously used the anchovy paste, but I’d like to use anchovies. I am not a big fish person, though, so when you say 1-2 anchovies smashed and minced, is it as simple as opening a can of anchovies and chopping them into bits, or do you use fresh anchovies, need to de-bone, etc.? Thanks for any advice.

    You open a can, pull out one or two skinny anchovy fillets, and chop them up. Put the open can with the remaining anchovies in a small plastic container, or cover them with plastic wrap, and store in the refrigerator until your next use. They will last for a couple months refrigerated because they are salt-cured and packed in oil. ~Elise

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