Today, we are going back to the basics and recreating the original Caesar salad with the homemade dressing. Crispy, tangy, and oh-so delicious!
Disclaimer: Please note, no actual original Caesar salad recipe has been used. This salad recipe has been recreated by using the information from online sources, personal knowledge and experience.
The brief history of Caesar salad
Trying to get to the true original recipe, I had to collect the bits from different sources, and articles, including the comments of those who actually tried the salad in the famous Caesar’s Restaurant, in Tijuana, Mexico.
That’s where the salad was first created in 1920 by Caesar Cardini. He was an Italian restaurateur, who moved from the United States to Mexico to avoid the restrictions of Prohibition.
Some debate, that the salad might have been created by his brother, Alex Cardini, who named it first “Aviator Salad”.
It is worth mentioning that to this day at Caesar’s Restaurant, the salad, and the dressing is still prepared table side. The dressing is made with coddled egg yolks, lime juice, Worcester sauce, olive oil, fresh garlic, and Dijon mustard.
Then, the whole romaine leaves are tossed in the dressing and served with extra Parmesan cheese and a single crostini on top. I hope, one day to visit it myself and try the most original Caesar Salad.
BBC Travel has a great article, where you can read about the beautiful preparation performance of the original salad and it also explains why the classic recipe used lime juice instead of lemon.
Yes, the first-ever Caesar salad was made with lime juice (not lemon) and there were no anchovies added to the dressing (only the Worcestershire sauce). I actually believe it because in Mexico, lime is more common than lemon.
You can find the ingredients’ quantities in the recipe card below.
Romain lettuce: you have to use whole leaves. I usually buy a head of romaine head and separate them by leaves.
Parmesan cheese: you will need some for the dressing and extra for the salad.
Baguette: original recipe serves it with a single crostini instead of croutons. But you can also make cubed croutons using any time of bread.
Olive oil: extra virgin olive oil for the dressing and to make the crostini.
Garlic: fresh garlic is used for the dressing and to make the crostini.
Egg yolk: I use briefly boiled eggs for safety. The yolk needs to remain runny. If you do not like runny yolks, I have the mayo-based Caesar dressing recipe you will like.
Lime juice: I am using lime juice as it was the original version. You can also use lemon juice or a combination of both.
Dijon mustard and Worcestershire sauce: these two condiments are for the dressing. You can also use anchovies paste instead of Worcestershire sauce, as it used to be added by preference. The chef believed that the anchovies flavor is way too strong for this salad.
First, follow this step-by-step direction to prepare all the necessary ingredients to make the salad:
Preheat oven to 400°F. Line a baking dish with parchment paper. Slice the baguette thinly and place it on parchment paper. Drizzle it with some olive oil and sprinkle with some salt. Bake for about 8 minutes or until crispy, flipping them once.
Cut off and discard the stem. Separate the lettuce head into leaves and place them in a bowl with cold water. Gently swirl the water with your hands to get rid of any dirt. Remove the leaves and place them on a towel to dry.
Raw egg yolk
Unless you see “pasteurized” on a cardboard, the store-bought eggs have not been through the pasteurizing process.
You can easily do it by yourself by placing the egg in a pot with cold water and heat it until it reaches 140°F. Keep the egg in hot water for 3 minutes to kill any possible bacteria on a shell. The water needs to maintain 140°F all time. You will need a kitchen thermometer for this process.
If you do not have a thermometer, you can coddle the egg (my favorite method). I describe how to do it below.
Bring water to a gentle boil. Slowly place a whole egg in boiling water and simmer on the lowest heat for 2-3 minutes. The whites will slightly cook. But you need only the running yolk for the dressing.
Place the egg in cold water after pasteurizing or coddling to stop the cooking process. Crack the egg and scoop the running yolk out. If the yolk cooks slightly you can use it to make the dressing.
How to make original Caesar dressing
Once you have your egg pasteurized or coddled, it’s time to make the dressing. It is surprisingly very easy and takes only a few minutes:
- Step 1: I am making the dressing in a large enough bowl to toss the whole salad. In a large bowl, add grated or finely chopped garlic clove, the juice of half of the lime (or lemon), Dijon mustard, and Worcestershire sauce. Mix it well with a whisk.
- Step 2. Now add the coddled egg yolk and mix it well egg until one consistency.
- Step 3. Add ⅓ cup of grated Parmesan cheese and whisk it again to incorporate the cheese.
- Step 4. After that, slowly pour the olive oil while keep whisking the dressing. Because of grated Parmesan, it might stay crumbly as it should.
Tossing and plating
Once you made the dressing, add washed and dried whole lettuce leaves to the large bowl.
Use clean hands or 2 wooden spoons to toss the salad until the leaves are evenly coated with the dressing.
Prepare two plates. Using tongs, divide the salad between the plates and arrange it neatly in a mound. Spoon the leftover dressing form the bottom of the bowl and drizzle it on top if desired.
Add one crostini on top of the salad. Then, sprinkle extra Parmesan and black pepper to taste. Serve immediately!
Do not forget
It is not recommended to consume raw eggs. Handle and cook raw eggs properly to avoid the risk of Salmonella. In my opinion, coddling is the safest method to make the original Caesar dressing.
- Serving: the classic Caesar is made with whole romaine leaves, so it should be served with a fork and a knife. It is also a great idea to offer some extra Parmesan and black pepper.
- Make ahead: you can store washed romaine leaves for up to 3-4 days. Wrap them in a paper towel and store them in an airtight container in the fridge. The homemade dressing with raw eggs should be made right before serving. The mayo-based dressing will remain fresh for 3-4 days in the fridge.
- Tossing: tossing has been an important step in making original Caesar salad. It helps to coat the leaves evenly with the dressing. You can use clean hands or wooden spatulas to toss the salad.
Other Caesar salad recipes
Caesar salad is one of the most famous salads in the world. It is not a surprise that after the original recipe, you can find a lot of other delicious variations of this salad:
Original Caesar Salad Recipe
- 1 large bowl
- measuring spoons
- 1 tongs
- 1 ea romaine heart, leaves separated
- 2-4 slices baguette
- 1 Tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
- 2 pinches salt
- 2 teaspoon extra grated Parmesan for serving
- black pepper for serving
- 1 ea egg yolk, coddled
- ⅓ cup extra virgin olive oil
- ⅓ cup grated Parmesan
- 1 ea fresh garlic clove, grated or finely diced.
- ½ ea lime or lemon
- 2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
- ½ teaspoon Dijon mustard
- Preheat oven to 400°F. Line a baking pan with parchment paper. Place sliced baguette on a prepared pan. Drizzle the bread with olive oil and sprinkle wit some salt. Bake for about 8 minutes or until crispy, flipping them once.
- Wash and dry separated romaine leaves. Add whole romaine leaves to the large bowl with the dressing. Toss the salad using 2 wooden spoons until well coated.
- Divide the leaves between two plates. Add one crostini on top of each salad. Sprinkle with more grated Parmesan and freshly cracked black pepper to taste. Serve immediately.
- For safety, I always coddle or at least pasteurize the egg. Bring water to a gentle boil in a small saucer pan. Carefully, submerge the whole egg and let it boil on the lowest heat for 2 minutes. Remove the egg and place it under cold water to spot the cooking process.
- In a large bowl, add one grated garlic clove, the juice of ½ lime juice, 2 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce, ½ teaspoon Dijon mustard. Whisk well to combine. Crack the coddled egg and scoop out the running yolk. Add yolk and ⅓ cup grated Parmesan to the bowl. Whisk again. While whisking continuously, slowly pour ⅓ cup olive oil. The dressing is ready.
- you can chop the romaine leaves if you prefer.
- use lime or lemon juice.
- you can quickly pasteurize the egg, by microwaving it for about 40-45 minutes.
- the nutrition facts are for informational purposes only.