Traditional Caesar Salad Dressing from Scratch
Caesar salad is probably my all-time favorite way to start a meal at any steakhouse (besides a dirty martini). 🙂 I just can’t get enough of the crispy romaine lettuce, the copious amounts of Parmesan, the crunchy croutons, and of course … the decadent, creamy Caesar dressing.
This recipe for Caesar dressing is made completely from scratch. So, in case you’re wondering, that does mean raw egg yolk is used in it. Caesar is essentially a mayonnaise, because it is an emulsification of egg and oil … so using raw egg is totally necessary if you want it to be authentically traditional! I promise you it’s delicious, and as long as your egg is fresh, it will not harm you.
However, if you’re looking for a Caesar dressing that doesn’t use egg, be sure to check out my Greek Yogurt Caesar dressing recipe! It uses Greek yogurt and mayonnaise, and comes together in no time!
This particular recipe is not the off-white mayonnaise color that you typically see in thick, jarred Caesar dressings. This homemade version is rich yellow/brown, because we are using a good amount Worcestershire and anchovy paste. Once you toss the dressing with crispy romaine, you won’t even notice the color! I always top my Caesar salads with an ample amount of delicious Parmesan Reggiano, which also brightens it up (and packs in even more flavor!)
Ingredients for this Small Batch Classic Caesar Dressing:
- Egg Yolk
- Anchovy Paste
- Pressed Garlic or Garlic Paste (I’ll show you how to make this!)
- Kosher Salt (I always use Diamond brand) & Freshly Cracked Black Pepper
- Dijon Mustard
- Parmesan Reggiano
- Extra Virgin Olive Oil
- Red Wine Vinegar
- Lemon Juice
Tips for Making the Best Caesar Dressing for Two:
- Use pressed garlic OR make a garlic paste. We want the garlic to spread throughout the dressing, rather than just stirred in as tiny little chunks of minced garlic. Raw garlic can have a spicy bite to it, so I like to tame it down a little bit by using a garlic press OR making a “paste”. If you don’t have a garlic press, making the paste is super easy to do! Mince fresh garlic, then sprinkle a pinch of kosher salt directly onto it. Use the blade of your knife to slowly (and very carefully) drag the minced garlic and salt across a cutting board, smashing them into each other as you drag the knife. Continue doing this for a few minutes, or until the garlic eventually breaks down and forms a paste. (SEE BELOW FOR PHOTOS!)
- Use really good Parmesan! If you read many of my recipes, you’ll see that this is a repeat “tip”. It’s seriously that important! Good parmesan can be slightly expensive, but it’s so worth it, and your recipes are so worth it! I actually buy a huge wedge of Parmesan from Costco, because the bulk pricing is way more affordable. And while I do use it quite often, it will keep in the refrigerator for 6-8 weeks in the refrigerator. However, almost every major grocery store with a cheese section will have much smaller portions of Parmesan available, too!
- Slowly drizzle in the olive oil, and vigorously whisk it into the rest of the ingredients. Whisking olive oil into the egg yolk (and other ingredients) creates an emulsification, which is a fancy way of saying “mixing two ingredients that wouldn’t normally combine”. Egg is made up of water, and water and oil don’t agree. By slowly drizzling the oil into the egg yolk, it forces them to combine and creates the luxurious, creamy texture of Caesar dressing. Sloooowly adding the olive oil (just a few drops at a time) is key, and continuously whisking is also key. It’s an easy step, I promise!
- If you have time, let the dressing refrigerate for 30 minutes to an hour before serving. You know how certain food always tastes better leftover? That’s because as it sits in the refrigerator, the ingredients (and flavors) have a chance to really blend together. This is also true for Caesar dressing! It’s really delicious as soon as you make it, but it’s even better if it gets to sit for a while before serving! Alternatively, you can make this up to three days in advance and let it refrigerate before using.
How to Make a Garlic Paste:
How to make Caesar Dressing from Scratch:
Here’s a step-by-step guide to hopefully help you make the best Caesar dressing you can!
- Combine the egg yolk, pressed garlic (or garlic paste), and anchovy paste. Whisk to fully combine.
- Stir in the Dijon mustard and Worcestershire, and whisk to combine.
- Stir in the Parmesan cheese until fully blended.
- Slowly drizzle in the olive oil, whisking continuously as you pour it in. Be patient with this step, and just do a few drops of olive oil at a time. We want it to evenly mix in with the egg yolk, so adding too much oil at once would overwhelm the mixture.
- Stir in red wine vinegar, lemon juice, and lemon zest* (optional). Taste the dressing, then season with salt and freshly cracked pepper as needed.
- Serve right away, or refrigerate for up to three days!
*I originally added lemon zest to this recipe, and highly recommend doing so if you like a little extra lemon flavor on food. However, I removed it from the final recipe because it isn’t entirely necessary. If you do add it, add 1/2 teaspoon, up to 1 teaspoon depending on your taste preference!
Caesar salad is a perfect way to start off any steak night menu at home, or to have as dinner! I love to top mine with either grilled chicken or grilled shrimp, extra Parmesan, and crunchy croutons. If you want a unique take on croutons, this recipe for toasted croissant croutons is really easy and good!
Basic croutons are relatively easy to make, too. Just cut some crusty bread into cubes, toss them with olive oil, salt, pepper, garlic powder, and oregano, and bake them at 425 F for about 15 minutes. Feel free to toss them halfway through baking to make sure they crisp up evenly, too. An easy breakdown of these measurements would be:
- 1 cup cubed bread
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- Pinch of salt and pepper
- 1/4 teaspoon each of garlic powder and oregano
Pairing Caesar salad with pasta is another delicious combination, and I have the following pasta recipes that I particularly love!
Other Caesar Salad Pairing Options:
If you make this Caesar dressing and love it, I would love for you to let me know in the comments below! Or feel free to tag me on Instagram so I can see your awesome salads! And as always, I am reachable via email if you have any specific questions!
Steakhouse Caesar Dressing for Two
- 2 cloves pressed Garlic (or paste*)
- Kosher Salt
- 1 small Egg Yolk
- 1 tsp. Anchovy Paste
- 1 Tbsp. Dijon Mustard
- 2 tsp. Worcestershire Sauce
- 1/4 cup finely grated Parmesan
- 3 tbsp. Extra Virgin Olive Oil
- 1 tsp. Red Wine Vinegar
- 1 tsp. Lemon Juice
- Freshly Cracked Black Pepper
- Whisk the egg yolk, anchovy paste, and garlic together in a bowl.
- Stir in the Worcestershire and Dijon mustard.
- Stir in the Parmesan until fully combined.
- Slowly whisk in the olive oil, a few drops at a time. Whisk in each addition until fully combined.
- Stir in red wine vinegar, lemon juice, and lemon zest** (if using).
- Taste, and season with salt and pepper.
- If possible, refrigerate the dressing for an hour before serving! Otherwise, toss dressing with crunchy chopped romaine, then top with croutons, extra parmesan cheese, and freshly cracked pepper!