Why You Should Avoid Serving Caesar Salad Dressing On The Side

The Caesar salad is a classic. Traditionally consisting of romaine lettuce, Parmesan cheese, croutons, and a creamy dressing (typically made with lemon juice, olive oil, egg, garlic, Parmesan cheese, anchovies, and Worcestershire sauce). As with any popular dish, there are also many variations of the Caesar salad out there, including whether to include the polarizing anchovies, protein additions such as chicken, shrimp, or salmon, and what kind of croutons to use.

One thing that you should avoid doing, no matter what variation of Caesar salad you're making, is to serve the salad with the dressing on the side. The creamy dressing is an integral part of a Caesar salad, and getting a bite with all the flavors and textures — the crispy romaine, crunchy crouton, and creamy dressing bursting with flavor — is a reason for the salad's popularity. And the only way to achieve that is to properly dress the salad before serving, so that the dressing has a chance to coat every part of the salad. Even Nancy Silverton's deconstructed and Michelin-approved Caesar salad comes with romaine lettuce that's been dressed beforehand.

How to properly dress a Caesar salad

There are different ways to dress a salad, depending on the thickness of the dressing you're using. For a thick and creamy dressing like Caesar, you want to dress your base greens (in this case romaine) first before adding in the other ingredients and giving everything a quick toss before serving.

You can use a store-bought dressing to save time, but to really elevate the flavor of your Caesar salad, it's best to make your own dressing from scratch and to make it at least a day in advance so the flavors have time to really meld together and intensify in the refrigerator overnight. The beauty of making your own dressing is you can customize the ingredients to your taste. Don't like anchovies? Don't add them. Want a lighter and healthier dressing without sacrificing the creaminess? Try swapping out olive oil and egg yolk for Greek yogurt. Don't want to use raw eggs? Swap in tahini instead. Whatever you decide on for your dressing, just be sure to serve your Caesar salad immediately after dressing it.