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Dairy-Free Caesar Dressing

Updated: Dec 4, 2023

All the savory flavors of the Caesar dressing you love, now deliciously dairy free!

Dairy-Free Caesar Dressing

For the printable recipe click here.

​​Monsters love Caesar

I'm not going to go into the history or origins of traditional Caesar dressing--though, if you're curious, here's a great article on the subject from Food and Wine.

What I will say is that Monsters love Caesar. The deliciously creamy dressing is full of salty, savory goodness like umami-rich parmesan cheese. The problem for some of my monsters, however, is that some of them don't do so well with dairy. Of course we've tried many a commercially-available dairy-free Caesar dressing, but we've never been very impressed with what we've found at the grocery store.

So we set out to make our own homemade dressing with simple ingredients and as much classic Caesar flavor as possible, and boy, did we do it!

Dairy-free Caesar dressing ingredients--what makes it creamy?

Similar to the process of making mayo, classic Caesar dressing gets its creamy texture from egg yolks emulsifying oil with an acidic liquid--in this case, fresh lemon juice. This recipe uses one raw egg yolk. Because the egg yolk is raw, it is important to use the freshest eggs you can find. If you are pregnant or have concerns about using raw eggs, you may want to use pasteurized eggs, which are heated gently in their shells just enough to kill off harmful bacteria without cooking the egg.

It is also important to note that, while this creamy homemade Caesar salad dressing contains no dairy products, it is not a vegan Caesar salad dressing due to the egg yolk.

Another emulsifier in the dressing is mustard. I prefer the stone-ground, whole grain variety, but a smooth Dijon mustard would work as well.

Dairy-Free Caesar Dressing

All that umami!

Traditional Caesar salad dressing is known for its rich and complex umami flavor.

Part of that umami comes from the parmesan, which we will be leaving out. In its place we'll add a little nutritional yeast, which has a bit of a cheesy flavor and is full of healthful B vitamins.

The other main source of umami flavor comes from what many consider the secret ingredient of classic Caesar salad dressing: anchovies!

Some recipes (possibly including the original) just contain Worcestershire sauce, which is made with anchovies, while some contain anchovy paste. Some recipes contain both. A good dash of fish sauce would be another alternative. If this whole anchovy concept has you running scared, don't worry: the briny flavor is salty and savory without being overly assertive in the fishiness department.

Our recipe opts for whole anchovy filets, jarred in olive oil. We call for 4-6 filets, depending on preference. If you prefer to have an extra-anchovy-full experience, you can add 4 to begin with; then reserve 2 to be added at the very end and blended just enough to chop, leaving larger chunks of anchovy in the creamy dressing. The anchovies make this delicious dressing the perfect choice to serve on Christmas Eve for a Feast of 7 Fishes.

Dairy-Free Caesar Dressing

The best tools for the job

I like to make this dressing in a high-powered blender, such as a Vitamix. You could possibly use an immersion blender or food processor, but I haven't had great results with those options in the past for recipes like this.

If you have a Vitamix, this is a pretty easy Caesar dressing to make in two steps:

FIRST you will blend up all the ingredients EXCEPT the olive oil (and reserved anchovies if desired) until very smooth.

THEN, with the blender on low speed, you will VERY SLOWLY drip/drizzle in the olive oil. And I do mean slowly. If you dump it all in at once or do it too quickly, it might not emulsify properly, and you may end up with a greasy mess. You should take AT LEAST 3 minutes to add the oil. Maybe 5. Maybe do some calf raises while you add the oil and get a little workout in.

It may feel like forever, but when you think about it, 5 minutes to flawless homemade Caesar dressing is not too bad a deal.

What's next?

Once your delicious, dairy-free Caesar dressing is done, you can use it immediately or store it in an airtight container in the fridge for a week or so.

We think this dressing is particularly delicious with fresh or roasted red bell peppers and, of course, romaine lettuce, but the fun doesn't have to stop with salad and veggies!

Try tossing with Palmini and topping with sliced grilled chicken breast, and/or use as a baste/marinade for the chicken before grilling. Alternatively, try it as a dip for fried calamari or grilled or fried shrimp!

Dairy-Free Caesar Dressing

Here's what you'll need:

  • 1 raw egg yolk

  • 2 large fresh garlic cloves

  • ​4-6 anchovies (jarred in olive oil)

  • ​2 T whole grain mustard (such as Koops' Stone Ground)

  • 2 T nutritional yeast

  • 3 T lemon juice

  • 1 tsp kosher salt

  • 20 cranks black pepper

  • 1/4 tsp crushed red pepper flakes

  • 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil

Here's what you'll do:

  1. Combine all ingredients EXCEPT olive oil in a blender on high speed.

  2. With the mixer on low speed, SLOWLY (like over the course of 3-5 minutes) drip in the olive oil. Store in an airtight container in the fridge.

Dairy-Free Caesar Dressing

For the printable recipe click here.

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Hey Y'all!

I'm the Monster Momma.

I'm a Christ-follower, wife, mother to five sweet paleo monsters, writer, and

paleo food fiend.

Join me and my family on our paleo journey!

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