This vegan Caesar salad is a healthy plant-based version of the classic. It is made with a tangy and savory vegan Caesar salad dressing that everyone will love. Top it with homemade croutons and roasted chickpeas for a delicious salad fit for an emperor.
This vegan Caesar salad recipe captures all the flavor of the traditional version. It is so flavorful that no one will realize it's vegan!
Origin of Caesar Salad
The Caesar salad was invented by an Italian-American restaurant owner, Caesar Cardini, in Tijuana, Mexico. Despite its name hinting at Rome, this culinary creation has its roots in Mexico's busy town. This special salad emerged in the 1920s, and its creation was specifically dated to the Fourth of July in 1924. But it's not just any salad – it's a unique blend of flavors and textures. Even though Cardini was low on supplies in his restaurant, he used his creativity to mix lettuce, garlic, croutons, and boiled eggs with a homemade dressing of olive oil, Worcestershire sauce, and lemon juice.
Today, we're giving the classic Caesar salad a new twist. Our version is all plant-based. It's still as crunchy and flavorful as the original, but now it's even better for you.
Even though we're using different ingredients in this vegan recipe, you won't notice any change in the taste. Making this new version is just as easy as the original Caesar salad that Cardini created.
Are traditional Caesar salads vegan or vegetarian?
Traditional Caesar salads aren't vegan or vegetarian due to ingredients like anchovies, Parmesan cheese, egg yolk, and Worcestershire sauce, all of which are derived from animals.
However, this plant-based Caesar salad recipe uses delicious replacements for the usual ingredients, and guess what? It tastes like the classic Caesar salad we all know and love but without animal products.
Why you'll love this recipe
It's worth saying again - no one will know it's vegan unless you tell them! It's that good.
This healthy version is lower in fat and calories than the traditional salad but still has all the flavor. It has crisp romaine lettuce, drizzled with a delicious vegan Caesar dressing that is so good, and topped with croutons and roasted chickpeas. You can also top it with your favorite plant-based protein for a robust meal.
Nutrient-rich - Often featuring nutrient-dense ingredients, the vegan Caesar salad can be a great source of vitamins, minerals, and plant-based protein.
Accessible to many diets - Whether you're vegan, vegetarian, lactose intolerant, or an omnivore simply trying to eat more plant-based meals, this salad fits various dietary needs without sacrificing taste. To make gluten-free, just make the croutons gluten-free.
This recipe makes about one and a half cups of Caesar dressing, enough for a large salad. It's great for dinner parties or potlucks. However, you can store the dressing in an airtight container in the fridge and use it for smaller salads.
This salad fits seamlessly into any occasion and is great for summer barbecues and brunch gatherings.
Simple to meal prep - make this recipe with just a few ingredients for the week ahead.
Creamy and satisfying texture - With ingredients like blended cashews, the dressing achieves a creamy and luxurious texture that's super satisfying.
Stored in an airtight container, it remains fresh in your fridge for a week, ready to elevate any salad immediately.
Ingredients for vegan Caesar dressing
At the heart of this salad is the dressing. To make the vegan dressing, you will need the following:
- cashews - creamy base that replaces the dairy, giving the dressing its smooth and luxurious texture
- miso - replaces anchovies to provide the savory, umami flavor, while also contributing to the dressing's creamy texture.
- lemon juice - adds a bright, tangy flavor
- capers -add a briny, salty kick
- Dijon mustard - adds a lively dimension to the dressing
- garlic - gives a robust and pungent flavor that's key to the dressing's character
- nori flakes - provide a subtle seafood-like flavor that emulates the taste of anchovies. The easiest way to get the ½ teaspoon of nori for this recipe is to cut off a square inch corner of a nori sheet and throw it in the blender with the other ingredients
- salt and pepper
- water - thins the consistency of the dressing as needed
To make the vegan Caesar dressing, blend the ingredients together until smooth, adjusting the consistency with more or less water.
Salad ingredient overview
Now you can easily assemble this 4 ingredient plant-based Caesar salad.
After cutting up and washing the lettuce, pour the desired amount of dressing onto your lettuce, and then add the croutons and chickpeas.
Top Tip for the best vegan Caesar salad
Submerge your chopped romaine lettuce in a bath of cold water, letting it soak for about 30 minutes. This process revives the leaves, making them crispier and plumper like professional chefs do in their kitchens. This hydration technique is particularly useful when dealing with pre-chopped romaine that's lost some vigor.
In the realm of salads, Caesar is undeniably a classic. But what if we dare to step out of tradition? Check out the options below:
Kale Caesar salad - Kale is a hearty, nutrient-packed green that could be a fantastic substitute for romaine. Its robust texture matches the creamy Caesar dressing, and its slightly bitter flavor profile offers a delightful contrast. Plus, kale is a powerhouse of vitamins A, C, and K, and a good source of fiber, which can boost your overall health and wellness.
Arugula Caesar salad - Its peppery notes could add an unexpected zing to your Caesar salad, making every bite an exciting experience. Nutrition-wise, arugula is rich in calcium, potassium, folate, and Vitamin K.
Spinach Caesar salad - With its soft leaves and slightly sweet flavor, spinach could be another excellent substitute for Romaine lettuce. It's high in iron, calcium, and vitamins A and C, making your Caesar salad a hidden source of essential nutrients.
Add a vegan, nut-based Parmesan.
Add extra veggies like cherry tomatoes, cucumbers, or bell peppers to make your salad more colorful and nutritious.
Croutons could be swapped with toasted nuts for an extra crunch and a protein boost.
For extra protein in your salad, add some store- bought Daring "chicken" or add baked tofu or tempeh.
Other related recipes:
The classic Caesar salad is usually made with anchovy paste, raw egg yolk, salt and pepper, and lots of oil, making it high in fat and cholesterol. This vegan Caesar salad, on the other hand, is made with healthy ingredients like vegan cashews, lemon juice, and Dijon mustard. However, since cashews are high in calories, eat in moderation.
If you have a nut allergy, you can substitute cashews with sunflower seeds or silken tofu to achieve the creamy texture in the dressing.
Typically, homemade Caesar dressing can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to a week.
Feel free to get creative with additions like avocado or grilled tofu.
This Caesar is gluten-free just make sure the croutons are also gluten-free.
You can prepare the dressing and other components in advance. Just be sure to dress the salad right before serving to maintain the lettuce's crispness.
Preparing the lettuce
- romaine lettuce (chop, rinse, and dry; combine with kale for variety)
- 1 cup raw cashews (soaked for ~4 hours; alternatively, use raw sun flower seeds ~140g)
- 2 tablespoons miso
- 2 tablespoons lemon juice (juice from 1 lemon )
- 1 tablespoon capers (heaping tablespoon with a teaspoon of the brine)
- 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
- 1-2 cloves garlic
- ½ teaspoon nori flakes (optional; see post for more info)
- ½ teaspoon salt (to taste)
- ¼ teaspoon black pepper
- ½ cup water (add additional water to get to a consistency you like)
- Soak cashews for about 4 hours until plump and a little soft. If you have a high-speed blender, there is no need to soak.
- Prepare the romaine lettuce you plan to consume by cutting it into bite-sized portions and thoroughly washing it. Dry it using either a salad spinner or a clean towel.
- Drain the soaked cashews.
- In a blender or food processor, combine the dressing ingredients. Blend until smooth.
- If the dressing is too thick, add more water, 1 tablespoon at a time, until you reach your desired consistency.
- Dress the lettuce. Toss them together until the salad is evenly coated.
- Add croutons, roasted chickpeas, and/or a protein of your choice.
Store dressing in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to one week.
- Prep Time: 10 minutes
- Category: appetizer, brunch, lunch, salad
- Cuisine: American
- Diet: Vegan
- Calories: 108
- Sugar: 1
- Sodium: 368
- Fat: 8
- Saturated Fat: 1
- Carbohydrates: 8
- Fiber: 1
- Protein: 4
Keywords: dairy-free sauce, easy salad, egg-free, plant based salad, vegan salad, chickpeas