There is not a single person who would say no to a caesar salad. Even people that despise salads love the fresh, crunchy, creamy goodness that is a caesar salad(probably because there aren’t a lot of veggies in it)! It’s served with pasta, pizza, soup, garlic bread, you name it. It basically goes with everything!
But a classic caesar salad is packed with animal products. From the creamy dressing to the grated parmesan cheese, bacon bits, and buttery croutons, a classic caesar salad is far from vegan. But it doesn’t have to be! It’s incredibly easy to make a vegan caesar salad that even salad-haters will love (and they probably won’t even realize it’s vegan).
What is in a caesar salad?
The classic caesar salad was invented by an Italian man named Cesare Cardini and served at his restaurant, Caeser’s, in Tijuana, Mexico. The base of a caesar salad is simple: romaine lettuce and croutons. But what really makes the salad special is the dressing.
The traditional recipe for the dressing is made from olive oil, eggs, garlic, lemon juice, anchovies/Worcestershire sauce, black pepper, and parmesan cheese. Not many vegan ingredients there! It’s then garnished with shaved parmesan and bacon bits.
How can you make a caesar salad vegan?
So, you love the delicious taste and simplicity of a caesar salad, but you want to eliminate the animal products. Luckily with a few swaps, you can create this vegan caesar salad recipe, entirely egg, meat, and dairy-free!
The base of a caesar salad itself is typically vegan, with only romaine lettuce and croutons. Some people make their croutons with butter, but we think they are even better with olive oil anyway! It’s super easy to make vegan croutons. All you need to do is rip up some bread that’s past its prime, toss in olive oil and seasonings like pepper, salt, oregano, and rosemary, and bake until crispy! You can even store them for up to 2 weeks in a sealed container so you can make this recipe multiple times!
You can also use chickpeas in place of the croutons if you’re gluten-free or want to add more protein to the dish. Roasting chickpeas in the oven will make them crispy and crunchy, and when correctly seasoned, they can be a tasty addition to your vegan caesar salad.
Next is the vegan caesar salad dressing. The dressing is the most involved aspect of the recipe. You’ll see some recipes made using cashews for the base of the dressing to make it extra creamy. But you can achieve the same result much easier using vegan mayonnaise.
The key when replicating this dressing is to achieve the perfect flavor profile with just the right amount of zest, salt, sweetness, garlic, and creaminess. In order to do this, we use vegan mayonnaise, vinegar, olive oil, soy sauce, lemon juice, crushed garlic, Dijon mustard, maple syrup, and nutritional yeast. It’s a lot of ingredients, but once you make up a batch, you can store it in your fridge to use at a later date.
And last, but not least, is the vegan caesar salad toppings. Typically, you would garnish a caesar salad with shaved parmesan and bacon bits.
But in this vegan version, we use vegan parmesan and All Y’alls Black Pepper and Sea Salt Jerky. These ingredients are super accessible, with vegan parmesan available at most grocery stores and health food stores and vegan jerky available both in-store or online! The vegan jerky provides an extra texture to the salad, and the smokiness perfectly balances out the creaminess and acidity of the dressing.
What can you serve with a vegan caesar salad?
This vegan caesar salad recipe is great to pair with just about any dish. It’s incredibly versatile, so it’s a great option to take to a potluck or barbeque. Because of its Italian origins, it’s commonly served alongside pasta, pizza, soups, or bread. Some of our favorite recipes to pair with this vegan caesar salad include:
Vegan Caesar Salad Recipe
For the croutons
- 1/2 loaf bread ripped into small chunks
- 1/8 cup olive oil
- 1 tsp Italian seasoning
- ½ tsp garlic powder
- ½ tsp sea salt
- ¼ tsp black pepper
For the salad
- 3 heads of romaine lettuce roughly chopped (approx. 10 cups)
For the dressing
- ¼ cup vegan mayonnaise
- 2 tsp Dijon mustard
- 1 clove of crushed garlic
- 3 tbsp lemon juice
- 1 tsp of soy sauce/tamari
- 1 tbsp nutritional yeast
- ½ cup olive oil
- 1 tsp maple syrup
- Salt and pepper
For the toppings
- All Y’alls Black Pepper & Sea Salt Jerky add as much as you’d like!
- 2 tbsp of grated vegan parmesan
- The first step is to make your croutons. Preheat your oven to 375°F.
- Put your chunks of bread into a bowl and add the olive oil and seasoning. Toss until all the pieces are well-coated.
- Spread the pieces of bread onto a baking sheet covered in parchment paper and put them into the oven.
- Bake until golden and crispy (approximately 15 minutes).
- While those are baking, we will make the vegan caesar salad dressing so that the flavors have a chance to meld together. Simply add all the ingredients into a blender or use an immersion blender to mix them together. Then set aside.
- Rinse and roughly chop your romaine lettuce.
- Place the lettuce into a large bowl, add your dressing and toss until fully coated.
- Add in the croutons, vegan parmesan, and All Y’alls Black Pepper & Sea Salt Jerky and lightly toss again to incorporate.
- Serve and top with a few extra sprinkles of parmesan and strips of jerky.
- Enjoy your fresh, crisp, and delicious vegan caesar salad.