While you might think the classic Caesar salad is Italian, it's not; it's actually a Mexican salad. And Caesar salad has a very famous (and delicious) salad dressing. So here is the the best homemade Mexican Caesar salad dressing recipe. I've made it for ages and everyone loves it. I hope you will too.
This homemade Caesar salad dressing is creamy, rich, and won't disappoint. Make it as thick or thin as you prefer. While it's terrific on Romaine lettuce leaves for the classic Caesar, it works well on other lettuces too. And drizzle it over steamed vegetables. Homemade beats a bottle.
Chef's Tip: Remember the lettuce and dressing rule: sturdy leaves for sturdy, creamier dressing, light dressing (like fluid vinaigrettes) for light and softer leaves.
I use olive oil, lemon for acidity, Dijon mustard for a little sharp flavor, plus a raw egg yolk to support the emulsification. Parmesan cheese adds salty richness, and a little worcestershire and balsamic for depth of flavor.
The debatable ingredient for many is anchovy, but please read below!
Here's what you need. See recipe card for quantities.
- Fresh squeezed lemon juice
- Egg yolk (raw or pasteurized, notes below)
- Dijon mustard
- Anchovy paste in a tube (optional)
- Garlic clove
- Balsamic vinegar
- Worcestershire sauce
- Extra virgin olive oil (note below)
- Finely grated real Parmesan cheese (or Mexican Cotija)
- 1 pinch sea salt
- 1 pinch white pepper or black pepper
Ingredient Tips and Notes
If using raw egg yolk gives you concern, look for pasteurized eggs at your market. They've been heated to 140°F for a specific time to kill any potential salmonella bacteria. Personally, I use raw egg yolk and have never had a problem.
For the food safety rules and who is at risk consuming raw egg yolk, read here. They say 1 in 20,000 eggs have the bacteria but do what is safest for your family.
If you are not in the risk categories, you should be safe as long as your eggs are fresh, clean and not cracked. Check eggs over when buying, before using, and refrigerate as you get home. Do not leave them or store them on the counter.
One more tip - only buy eggs from a refrigerated case.
What Kind of Oil?
Use extra-virgin olive oil. Pass on vegetable oil, canola oil, or grapeseed oil. Olive oil contributes fantastic flavor, but it's also a natural, healthy fat.
Vegetable oil? No way. If you have it and are health-focused, throw it out. It's generally genetically modified soy oil and industrially produced with chemicals. And seed oils are not better; they are all pro-inflammatory.
Anchovy or Not?
While anchovy filet is traditionally used in Caesar dressing (or on top of the salad), I use anchovy paste in a tube. If the thought of fishy anchovies makes you gag (me too), try the tube stuff. Trust me.
There is no fishy taste in the dressing. It adds a subtle richness and depth that would be missed. But you can always skip it.
A blender makes it fast and creamy. No blender? Use an emulsion blender in a tall narrow container.
You can make it by hand but it might not be as creamy. Place the egg yolk, mustard and lemon juice in a medium bowl and whisk together until smooth.
Next, start very slowly streaming the oil into the bowl, whisking fast until the emulsion takes hold, then you can pour a little faster. Once all of the oil is incorporated and the dressing is thick, finish with the anchovy paste, worcestershire, balsamic, and cheese. Season with salt and pepper.
Place the lemon juice egg yolk, mustard, anchovy paste, garlic, vinegar, and Worcestershire sauce in a blender.
Puree on low speed for a few seconds to blend. With the blender top on and the center section removed, turn the power up and very slowly stream the oil into the blender until dressing is thick and creamy. I give it a few seconds at high speed at the end.
If the dressing is too thick, add either a little more lemon juice or warm water to make it the consistency you prefer.
Make it the morning of using or just before. Dressing may thicken as it sits in the refrigerator.
- Hate the thought of anchovies? Skip it. And skip for vegetarians.
- Instead of Parmesan cheese try Mexican Cotija. It's salty and crumbly so be careful with extra salt.
- Don't like olive oil? The only other oil I'd use is this. Organic, neutral tasting, refined for high heat, no chemical extraction, and usable in everyday cooking. Try half olive oil and and half this.
- Don't like Dijon? Use your favorite mustard, but it will taste different.
- Try using lime juice for lemon. Limes are more acidic.
- Too thick? Use water or more lemon juice.
- Can't get Romaine? Try kale leaves, arugula, spinach, or thinly sliced Napa cabbage.
Serving and Garnish Ideas
To make a Caesar salad, chop crisp Romaine lettuce crosswise into ribbons or chop into bite-size pieces and drizzle with the dressing. You can also buy hearts of Romaine, leave the leaves whole, and serve it as a salad to be cut up by the diner.
Add croutons and grated or shaved Parmesan. For a main dish salad, add grilled shrimp or chicken.
For a Mexican Twist
For a Mexican twist, use crumbled Cotija cheese, toasted pumpkin seeds, and chopped fresh cilantro. Add finely sliced red onions, corn kernels, or thin strips of bell peppers for color and creativity.
You could also crush tortilla chips over the top instead of croutons or make these homemade tortilla strips. Make it your own. I use homemade garlicky croutons.
Store dressing in a sealed jar or airtight container with lid. Keeps for 2 days because of the raw egg yolk.
In case you're curious, the Caesar salad was invented by Italian Chef Caesar Cardini at his Tijuana, Mexico, restaurant in the 1920's.
Homemade Mexican Caesar Salad Dressing
- 3 tablespoons fresh squeezed lemon juice
- 1 large egg yolk
- 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
- ½ teaspoon anchovy paste in a tube optional
- 1 garlic clove finely chopped
- 1 teaspoon worcestershire
- ½ teaspoon balsamic vinegar
- ½ cup extra virgin olive oil
- 2 tablespoon finely grated Parmesan cheese or Mexican Cotija
- 1 pinch sea salt
- 1 pinch white pepper
- Place the lemon juice egg yolk, mustard, anchovy paste, garlic, vinegar, and Worcestershire sauce in a blender and puree on lowest speed for a few seconds to blend.With the blender top on and the center top removed, slowly stream the oil into the blender until dressing is creamy and emulsified. Increase the speed as you go. Add the Parmesan and puree until creamy. If the dressing gets too thick, add either a little more lemon juice or warm water to make it the consistency you prefer. Taste and adjust the salt and pepper if desired.