Classic Caesar Salad with Homemade Dressing

Classic Caesar Chicken with Homemade Dressing. The dish is topped with grilled chicken, bacon, anchovies, and a boiled egg.

This classic Caesar salad is easier than you think, and packed full of flavour, while protein makes this humble salad a complete meal. The original recipe is little more than lettuce, croutons, and a mayonnaise-based dressing. Yet, its simplicity hasn’t stopped it from dominating salad menus across the world.

Cardini’s Classic Caesar Salad

The all-American classic Caesar salad originated in Mexico, Tijuana to be precise. But it does have American roots in the form of an American restaurateur called Caesar Cardini. The story goes that Cardini operated south of the border to attract American diners escaping San Francisco’s, and America’s, weird 1920s prohibition laws. These laws forbid, not only drinking alcohol at mealtimes, but at all times.

Cardini’s restaurant succeeded in attracting numerous Americans. So much so that the now-famous Caesar salad was born from dire necessity. When one celebratory 4th July service depleted the restaurant’s stock, the quick-thinking restauranteur threw together what little ingredients were left, and thus, the Caesar salad was born.  

This bare necessity dish also gave way to the idea of serving a classic Caesar salad tableside, as making the dressing in front of the customer added excitement and theatre to an otherwise boring dish. This tradition still survives to this day in restaurants across America.

It’s a great origin story for such a simple salad, but there’s still debate over who created the dish as Cardini’s brother and almost every other of his employees at the time. Whatever the truth, the basic salad is a modern delight.

Ingredients for a Classic Caesar Salad

Cos Lettuce

Or Romaine Lettuce. Regardless of the name, it’s the same variety. In most supermarkets, they’re sold as hearts of romaine lettuce with the softer outer leaves removed. The leaves left behind are crunchier, slightly bitter ones.


The word crouton derives from the French word croute which means “crust.” Traditionally, it meant sliced baguettes drizzled with oil and baked until golden. Now, it refers to all manner of baked bread products used to garnish soups and stews.

You can cheat and use shop brought croutons which are available with numerous different seasonings. However, making them is easier and gives you a greater sense of control over flavour. Here I’ve opted for a Mediterranean-inspired flavour profile with olive oil, sea salt, garlic, and rosemary. This is a classic Italian combination used to flavour Foccacia.


Chicken, bacon, and eggs from the classic American base as found in other classic American recipes such as the club sandwich. However, they work here to turn a classic Caesar salad into a complete protein-packed meal. The chicken can be served hot or cold, but I find it works best, still warm having rested for a few minutes while getting the rest of the Salad together.

Classic Caesar Salad Dressing

Anchovies have become synonymous with the classic Caesar salad, but they slowly crept into the dressing as it moved north across the United States. Lemon juice is another common modern ingredient, but the original recipe used lime juice. This makes a lot of sense as lime juice is also synonymous with Mexican cooking where the salad originated. The original recipe also used coddled eggs, which are similar to poached eggs, but modern recipes used a mayonnaise-based sauce and boiled eggs.

To make the dressing, we’re using a pestle and mortar to pound the garlic and anchovy into a thick paste. The result is a strong flavourful paste which breaks apart as it’s mixed into the mayonnaise. The parmesan needs to be finely grated as it will make the sauce thick and lumpy if it’s too coarse. However, the sauce itself shouldn’t be too smooth and should have a thicker consistency. If you don’t have a pestle and mortar you can finely chop the garlic and anchovy or blitz it all in a food processor.

Classic Caesar Salad with Chicken and Homemade Caesar Dressing

This classic Caesar salad is easier than you think, and packed full of flavour, while protein makes this humble salad a complete meal. The original recipe is little more than lettuce, croutons, and a mayonnaise-based dressing. Yet, its simplicity hasn’t stopped it from dominating salad menus across the world.
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 16 minutes
Cooling 30 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 6 minutes
Course Salad
Cuisine American
Servings 4


  • Equipment
  • Mixing Bowl
  • Griddle Pan
  • Saucepan
  • Pestle & Mortar


For The Chicken

  • 2 Boneless and Skinless Chicken Breasts
  • 30 ml Olive Oil
  • Salt / Cracked Black Pepper to taste.

For the Croutons

  • 1 Small Ciabatta Loaf
  • 40 ml Olive Oil
  • 3 Garlic Cloves Crushed
  • 1 Tbsp Rosemary Leaves Chopped

For The Dressing

  • 3 Anchovies Fillets in Olive Oil Drained
  • 1 Garlic Clove Peeled
  • 6 Tbsp Mayo
  • 25 Parmesan Grated or Pecorino
  • Juice from ½ Lemon
  • 1 Tsp Worcestershire Sauce
  • Salt / Black Pepper Tio Taste

To Build

  • 2 Heads of Romaine Chopped
  • 12 Anchovy Fillets in Oil Drained
  • 8 Rashers of Streaky Bacon
  • 4 Boiled Eggs


  • To make the chicken, place a chicken breast between two layers of cling film and lightly bash with a rolling pin or meat hammer. When flattened to a centimetre in thickness season with salt and pepper. Heat a large griddle pan over a medium high heat. Griddle the chicken breasts for 7-8 minutes on either side until cooked through. Set aside to cool, or chill, if preferred.
  • For the croutons, pre-heat the oven to 200c. Lightly tear the ciabatta into rough chunks and toss into a bowl with the olive oil, salt, pepper, rosemary, and garlic. Mix everything together so the ciabatta is evenly coated. Line a baking tray with parchment and lay the uncooked Croutons in a single layer. Bake the croutons in the centre of a preheated oven. Cook for 8-10 minutes until golden brown. Then, turn the croutons, and bake again for another 8-10minites.
  • For the dressing, pound the garlic, and anchovies with a pestle and mortar until a paste forms. Combine with the other ingredients and season to taste. The Dressing may be quite thick so add a splash of water to reach the desired consistency.
  • Bring a pan of water to the boil and cook the eggs for 4-6 minutes for a soft to medium boiled egg.
  • Heat a griddle pan and grill the bacon until crispy.
  • To build the salad, toss the leaves with the dressing. Top the salad with there other finishing ingredients and serve.
Keyword chicken, Classics, healthy, protein, Summer

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