Dad’s Classic Caesar Salad – Forget what comes in a bottle from the grocery store! This is the real deal. Made with fresh garlic, capers, dijon, and, yes, anchovies, this classic Caesar salad is packed with gorgeous flavor. I can promise you one thing: you won’t be able to go back to the faux version!
This might just be the most nostalgic recipe I have in my repertoire. This is one of the first recipes I actually learned to make as a kid. I remember getting so excited when I saw my dad in the kitchen with a head of romaine lettuce and the big wooden “Caesar Salad Bowl” pulled down from the top of the fridge.
This recipe was passed down from a table-side chef at a restaurant where the Caesar salad was so damn good, my dad just had to ask for the recipe. We would pull all the stops on Caesar salad night. We’d rub freshly cracked pepper all over the wooden bowl to create an aroma, cover the whole ordeal in fresh parmesan cheese; it was glorious.
Click “Jump to the Recipe” at the top of the page or keep on scrolling for ingredient amounts and the full recipe instructions. Below I have substitutions and answers to questions you may have!
- Capers – Ever seen these before? Capers are a small bud, pickled in salt and vinegar. Their flavor is similar to mustard and black pepper. They’re a must for classic Caesar.
- Garlic – Fresh is best. If you just have jarred garlic handy, you can use it.
- Anchovy paste – You can mash up some canned anchovies instead. Leave them out if you prefer! I know not everyone will love the strong flavor. If you do, add a bit of salt to the dressing.
- Pepper – Freshly cracked will make a big difference! I promise.
- Dijon – Smooth is best. I don’t suggest using yellow mustard in its place.
- Mayonnaise – Make sure to get a really mild-flavored mayonnaise. Avoid the “mayonnaise dressing” styles. They have a strong flavor and added sugar – not ideal for this recipe.
- Extra virgin olive oil – Get yourself a good quality olive oil for your salad. Avocado oil is another great option if you like the flavor.
- Egg yolk – This will bind all the ingredients together. Use an extra tbsp of mayonnaise if you don’t want to use raw egg.
- Salad – A classic Caesar salad will need romaine lettuce, croutons, and freshly shaved parmesan cheese.
How to make classic caesar salad
- Start the dressing: Add the capers and garlic to a mixing bowl. Mash them together with a fork until a paste has formed. Mix in the anchovy paste, pepper, dijon, mayonnaise, and egg yolk.
- Finish dressing: While whisking, slowly pour the olive oil into the bowl. Continue to whisk until everything is well combined and silky.
- Mix the salad: Tear the lettuce into bite-sized pieces. Toss with the dressing and top with croutons and freshly shaved parmesan cheese. Serve with lemon wedges.
All about anchovies
I know that anchovies can be a big turn-off for Caesar salad fans! You can absolutely leave them out if you’re not a fan. You may need to add a bit of salt to the dressing, but you will not be missing out on much more than that if you don’t like the flavor of anchovy.
They essentially bring some depth and umami to the dressing. At the end of the day, it’s your salad, and it’s your rules. Some Caesar salad purists might scoff at an anchovy-less dressing, but who cares, right? Some of us love it, some of us don’t, and that’s that.
How to store leftover caesar salad
If you anticipate leftovers, I suggest leaving the dressing on the side and tossing each individual portion as you enjoy it. The lettuce will get soggy and a bit unpleasant stored with dressing.
To keep chopped or ripped romaine lettuce fresh, line a freezer bag or airtight container with paper towel. Add the lettuce to the receptacle, seal, and store in the fridge for 7-10 days.
Your dressing will keep for up to 1 week stored in an airtight container in the fridge.
Did you love this easy recipe? Try these:
- Pico de Gallo
- Greek Salad
- Chopped Salad
- 20 Salad Recipes that will Blow Your Mind!
- Watermelon and Feta Salad
Dad’s Classic Caesar Salad
For the Dressing
- 1 tsp capers*
- 2 cloves garlic
- 1/4 tsp anchovy paste optional
- 1 tsp pepper freshly cracked
- 1 tbsp dijon mustard smooth
- 2 tbsp mayonnaise
- 1 egg yolk
- 1/2 cup olive oil
For the Salad
- 1 head romaine lettuce
- croutons optional
- parmesan cheese optional
- lemon wedges optional
- Add the capers and garlic to a mixing bowl. Mash them together with a fork until a paste has formed. Mix in the anchovy paste, pepper, dijon, mayonnaise, and egg yolk.
- While whisking vigorously, slowly pour the olive oil into the bowl. Continue to whisk until everything is well combined and silky.
- Tear the lettuce into bite-sized pieces. Toss with the dressing and top with croutons and freshly shaved parmesan cheese. Serve with lemon wedges.