This Vegetarian Caesar Salad recipe with crispy romaine lettuce and crunchy croutons tossed with creamy vegetarian caesar dressing makes a delicious healthy side dish or dinner. It is easy, delicious, full of flavor, and can be made vegan too!
I am sharing how to make Vegetarian Caesar salad from scratch along with the best vegetarian caesar salad dressing made without anchovies, Worcestershire sauce, or eggs.
Caesar Salad is one of my favorite salads of all time. The combination of crispy lettuce and crunchy croutons tossed in a smooth creamy dressing is just the way I like my salads. Plus it is so easy to make, highly customizable, and pairs well with everything!!
If you are a vegetarian or don't eat eggs, then you probably haven't tasted Caesar salad yet. And you are truly missing out!! But not anymore!!
Here is my vegetarian take on the classic caesar salad. It's simple, quick and so delicious! Once you try it, it's going to be your favorite salad too!
What is Caesar Salad?
Caesar salad is a delicious green salad made with romaine lettuce, croutons, and parmesan cheese tossed in a creamy dressing.
It was invented by a restaurateur named Caesar Cardini in his restaurant Caesar’s in Mexico Tijuana.
It was July 4th, 1924, and he had a hungry crowd to feed while he was running low on supplies. So he grabbed what he could find in his pantry and fridge and put together a quick simple salad and the rest is history! It's undoubtedly one of the most delicious and famous salads of all.
But did you know Caesar salad is not vegetarian? The authentic Caesar salad dressing contains eggs, anchovies (fish), and Worcestershire sauce (which also contains anchovies).
This salad is too delicious to miss so here is my vegetarian version of the Caesar salad dressing which is made without eggs, anchovies, or Worcestershire sauce just for you. It's creamy, umami, and extremely flavorful!
Lettuce - Romaine lettuce is the traditional green and also the best lettuce to use in Caesar salad but you can also use other greens in combination like arugula, spinach, kale. I typically use a head or two of romaine lettuce and cut it into pieces but you can also use the store-bought pre-washed kind when in pinch.
Croutons – you can use homemade croutons which you can make several days ahead or use your favorite store-bought ones.
Parmesan cheese - added some fresh shaved or shredded parmesan
Caesar Salad dressing – homemade caesar dressing is best and this is what we will need to make the Vegetarian caesar dressing.
- Mayonnaise: This is a creamy caesar dressing so for the base I have used a combination of mayonnaise and sour cream. I like the slight tang of sour cream and the balance it provides to the mayo. But you can use just mayo too. If you want to keep it eggless, opt for eggless mayo. For a healthier, light Caesar salad dressing, go with greek yogurt as the base.
- Olive Oil: I have used extra virgin olive oil, you can use regular olive oil too.
- Garlic: Little goes a long way here, one clove of garlic adds lots of flavor to this Caesar salad.
- Lemon Juice: Use freshly squeezed lemon juice for the best flavor. It adds a nice tangy flavor to the salad.
- Dijon Mustard: This is the emulsifying agent that binds the dressing together and also makes it creamy and delicious.
- Parmesan Cheese: Use finely shredded parmesan cheese. It adds a savory salty element and also makes the dressing creamy.
- Red Wine Vinegar: It adds a sharp punch of acidity. You can skip it if not available.
- Seasoning: you will need just the basics, salt, and freshly cracked black pepper. Use salt with caution since several other ingredients are already salty, with salt taste and add.
- Water - use as required to thin out the dressing to a drizzle consistency.
- In addition, you can also blend in some capers to replace the anchovy's taste. I have skipped it as the dressing is good just as is.
Please refer to the recipe card for exact measurements of ingredients.
How To Make Vegetarian Caesar Salad (Step by Step Method)
Making Vegetarian Caesar Dressing
1 and 2 - In a bowl, add all the ingredients for a caesar dressing.
3 and 4. - Whisk until well combined. Creamy caesar salad dressing is ready! Store it refrigerated until ready to use.
Prep the Lettuce
5 - First, cut the top wilted part of the lettuce. Discard it. Throw away the outermost layer of lettuce if it looks spoiled or spotted.
6 - Now make 4-5 slits lengthwise all around the lettuce.
7 and 8 - Chop the lettuce into bite-sized pieces starting from the leafy end and moving towards the core end. Discard the core end.
9 - Place the chopped lettuce in a colander or a salad spinner. I am using a salad spinner here. Fill with cold water and add salt to it. Leave the greens in cold salted water for 1-2 mins. It helps draw out many bugs. Rinse gently.
10 - Drain the water completely, and repeat the rinse cycle if needed depending on how dirty the lettuce is.
11 - Now dry the lettuce thoroughly. I like to use my salad spinner for this. Alternately you can also spread the washed drained lettuce leaves on a paper towel and /or blot or pat dry with a paper towel.
12 - The lettuce is now ready to use or store.
Making Caesar Salad
13- Add the clean, dry lettuce to a large serving bowl.
14 - Sprinkle generously with shredded parmesan cheese and crunchy croutons.
15 - Drizzle in the veg caesar dressing.
16 - Toss gently until lettuce is evenly coated.
Creamy Vegetarian Caesar Salad is ready! Serve topped with more parmesan shavings, and croutons (and their crumbs), and enjoy!!.
There are many varieties of caesar salad available but the most common is Chicken Caesar salad. To make it, just add some fried or grilled and succulent chicken strips to this salad. Or wrap it in a tortilla to make a delicious Chicken Caesar salad wrap.
Similarly, you can also serve this salad topped with grilled shrimp or grilled fish.
To increase the nutritional value, mix in other greens like chopped kale, spinach, and arugula with romaine lettuce.
Another way to make this salad nutrient rich is to add more veggies (fresh or roasted) to this salad.
To make it a full balanced meal, add whole grains like cooked quinoa, brown rice, and barley or cooked pasta to make it a caesar pasta salad (adjust the dressing accordingly).
Last but not least, add avocado to the salad and dressing to make it even more creamy.
Caesar salad is an excellent option for meal prep or for parties and potlucks since you can make it ahead of time.
To make it ahead of time, prep all the ingredients but keep them separate. When it's time to eat, just toss everything together and serve.
Croutons - You can make the croutons for about a week in advance and store them airtight at room temperature.
Dressing - This creamy veg caesar dressing can be made 4-5 days before and stored airtight, refrigerated.
Lettuce - You can prep the lettuce a week in advance and store it in the fridge.
To store lettuce, line a large container and line it with a paper towel. Add the lettuce leaves, and layer with a paper towel in between if required. And cover the top with another paper towel. This helps absorb any excess moisture and keeps the lettuce fresh and crisp for 7-8 days.
Tossed Caesar salad is best served immediately as the croutons and lettuce will get soggy with time due to the dressing. Any leftovers can be stored in the fridge airtight but are best eaten at the earliest.
For crispy lettuce, wash, dry, and store in the fridge wrapped in a paper towel in an airtight container. Lettuce prepped and stored the right way can last up to a week or more. You can use store-bought prepped lettuce if you are in a pinch.
Ensure your lettuce leaves are completely dry before using as it would make the dressing runny.
Dressing can be made ahead and stored in the fridge for up to a week.
For the dressing base, I prefer to use a combination of mayonnaise and sour cream as I like the taste balance sour cream adds to mayo. But you can use all mayo too.
Use eggless mayo to make eggless caesar dressing and vegan mayo and cheese for vegan dressing. For a healthier and lighter Caeser salad dressing, use Greek yogurt.
For the dressing, use fresh lemon juice and garlic for the best flavor.
You can add as much or little dressing in your salad per preference.
Don't throw away the crumbs from croutons. Add it to the salad, it makes it even more delicious!
To make ahead, prep the lettuce, croutons, and dressing and store them separately. Mix just before serving.
Frequently Asked Questions
To Make caesar salad gluten-free, replace croutons with gluten-free croutons.
To make this salad vegan, replace the cheese and mayo with vegan cheese and vegan mayo. Also, make sure the bread used for making croutons is vegan. The rest of the recipe remains the same.
Pasta To Pair With Caesar Salad
Hope you enjoy this Vegetarian Caesar Salad recipe !! If you give this recipe a try, please rate by clicking stars ⭐️ on the recipe card. Thank you ❤️! You can also follow me on Facebook and Instagram to see what’s cooking in my kitchen!!
Vegetarian Caesar Salad
- 2 tablespoons mayonnaise see notes
- 2 tablespoons sour cream see notes
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 2-3 tablespoon Parmesan cheese finely grated, or parmigiana reggiano
- 1 clove garlic minced
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
- 1 teaspoon red wine vinegar optional
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- ¼-½ teaspoon black pepper freshly cracked, adjust to taste
- 2-3 tablespoons water or as required to adjust the consistency
- 2 heads romaine lettuce
- 1 cup croutons or as per preference
- Parmesan cheese shaved or grated
Make Vegetarian Caesar Salad Dressing
- In a bowl, add all the ingredients mentioned for caesar dressing.
- Whisk until well combined. creamy caesar salad dressing is ready! Keep aside and store refrigerated until ready to use.
Prepare the Lettuce
- First, cut the top wilted part of the lettuce. Discard it. Throw away the outermost layer of lettuce if it looks spoiled or spotted.
- Now make 4-5 slits lengthwise all around the lettuce. Chop the lettuce into bite-sized pieces starting from the leafy end and moving towards the core end. Discard the core end.
- Place the chopped lettuce in a colander or a salad spinner. Fill with cold water and add salt to it. Leave the greens in cold salted water for 1-2 mins. It helps draw out many bugs. Rinse gently.
- Drain the water completely, and repeat the rinse cycle if needed depending on how dirty the lettuce is.
- Now dry the lettuce thoroughly using salad spinner. Alternately you can also spread the washed drained lettuce leaves on a paper towel and /or blot or pat dry with a paper towel.
- The lettuce is now ready to use or store.
Make Vegetarian Caesar Salad
- Add the clean, dry, chopped lettuce to a large serving bowl along with grated or shredded parmesan cheese and crunchy croutons.
- Drizzle in the veg caesar dressing. Toss gently until lettuce is evenly coated.
- Creamy Vegetarian Caesar Salad is ready! Serve immediately on its own or as a side dish with your favorite protein, pasta, soup, or sandwich.
Update Notes: This post was originally published on Oct 3, 2012, but was republished with, step-by-step instructions, new photos, tips, and a video in September of 2022.