Kale Caesar Salad with Creamy Parmesan Dressing

Note the kale is rather sturdy so you can make this a couple hours in advance.

Pro tip: because ciabatta bread has big holes it makes great croutons! Light and airy.

  • Prep time: 20 minutes
  • Cook time: 15 minutes
  • Yield: Serves 6 to 8



  • 6 cups of 1-inch diced rustic bread (ciabatta or Italian loaf)
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 clove garlic, minced (about 1 teaspoon)
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper


  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 1 1/2 Tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon white wine vinegar (can sub apple cider vinegar)
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/3 cup grated Parmesan (use vegetarian Parmesan for vegetarian option)
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper


  • 8 cups kale leaves (lightly packed), ribs removed and leaves torn into bite-size pieces
  • 2 large head romaine lettuce hearts, cut in half lengthwise, and then cut in half again lengthwise, then cut crosswise on a diagonal, to 1-inch wide strips
  • 4 Tbsp grated Parmesan


1 Toast croutons: Preheat oven to 400°F (200°C). Spread bread cubes out in a single layer on a rimmed baking sheet. Place in oven and bake until golden brown, about 8 to 10 minutes. Remove from oven. Toss while still warm in a bowl with olive oil, garlic, salt and pepper.

2 Make vinaigrette: Place the vinaigrette ingredients into a blender or food processor. Purée until smooth.

3 Assemble salad: Place the chopped kale and romaine leaves into a large bowl. Add the dressing and massage with your (clean) hands until the salad is well dressed. (Massaging the kale with your hands helps soften the leaves.) Alternatively, dress the salad and let it sit for an hour or two, allowing time for the dressing to soften the sturdy kale.

Add the croutons and the Parmesan cheese.

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  • Jenny S.

    We made this last night as a side to our homemade pizza. I ate it with my omelette this morning, again, and at lunch, again! I had a similar salad on a fabulous trip to Dry Creek Valley, CA and have craved it since. This satisfied my craving, and it was EASY! I shared your recipe already, and will make this again and again. Thank you!


  • Emily

    My family and I cannot get enough of this salad! Admittedly we eat some version of this once a week at a minimum. Many thanks!


  • M. M.

    Does parmesan cheese get blended in with the vinaigrette ingredients or is it only sprinkled on at the end?

    • Elise Bauer

      Hi M.M. The parmesan gets blended with the rest of the vinaigrette ingredients as mentioned in the recipe.

      • M. M.

        Thanks, Elise, for the quick response. I guess it was the “add the croutons and the parmesan” line at the end that got me. ‘Making this tonight to have with a grilled steak; can’t wait! Thanks again.

  • Dawn

    I saved this recipe when you first posted it. I finally just made it today. The dressing is AMAZING!! Thank you for such a great recipe with a nice, light dressing. A staple recipe in my files now. :)


  • Leeann

    I’ve made this twice already, and I just have to tell any doubters: this is a WINNER. I really can’t believe the dressing doesn’t contain egg (the consistency is just right), and somehow it still has the umami delivered by the (missing) anchovy! I’m extremely gluten-sensitive, so I used Udi’s gluten free bread for the croutons (followed the same directions as given for the with-gluten bread), and I was surprised at how awesome the croutons were, too. A wonderful addition to my repertoire – thank you, Elise!


  • Susan

    If you want a little of that briny flavor that anchovies lend to the dressing, just toss a few kalamata or other salty olives into the salad dressing before tossing the dressing into the salad greens. I leave the olives in the salad as a bonus find for the lucky eaters who get one!

  • Naomi

    dressing is wonderful!

  • Jaxon Burgess

    Of course, no sooner do I post this than I notice the link to your more traditional Caesar salad – sorry!

    • Elise Bauer

      Hi Jaxon, the traditional Caesar is great! Some people though do object to the raw eggs, for valid reasons. What I like about this salad is that it can hold up well for an outdoor picnic both because of the kale and because there is no egg in the dressing.

  • Jaxon Burgess

    I always love your take on food, Elise, and I’m sure this is a really good salad and I’m going to try it. But it raises the question – without egg and at least Worcestershire sauce, which is largely made from anchovy, can it really be called a Caesar? Those ingredients are sort of what make it a Caesar, as opposed to a Parmesan cream dressing.

    Either way, the history of the Caesar salad is quite interesting:

    I never had the pleasure of eating at the Cardinis’ restaurants in either San Diego, where I lived, or Tijuana, but I have had the Caesar at another restaurant famous for it since the late ’40s, Lawry’s Prime Rib in L.A., and it was excellent. This is the same restaurant where the Rose Bowl teams traditionally eat every year the night before the game, at an event now called “The Beef Bowl”.

  • Liz

    I love the salad. Thanks so much and have a fun, but safe weekend!

  • tata

    i still think your caesar salad recipe is the best i’ve ever tasted. even when i order at restaurants, it’s just not as good!