Is Caesar dressing gluten-free, or dairy-free? No! But, hold on to your salad forks, folks because this 5-minute creamy Caesar salad dressing is! An easy Caesar dressing without anchovies or gluten making it perfect for plant-based beginners and seasoned vegans alike. Our crowd-pleasing tahini Caesar dressing pairs beautifully with gluten-free chickpea croutons. Trust us, these crispy spiced chickpeas are a game-changer, taking your Caesar salad to new, healthy heights.
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- Creating a Gluten-Free Ceaser Salad and Dressing without Anchovies
- 🙋🏽♀️Is Caesar Dressing Gluten-Free or Dairy-Free?
- 👪Why your family will love this recipe
- 🧠Brain Benefits
- ⏲️ Time-Saving Tip
- 🥬Simple Ingredients
- 💡Recipe Tips & Tricks
- 👩🏽🍳How to Make Gluten-Free Ceaser Dressing Without Anchovies
- 🌿Substitutions & Variations
- 🥣Make this next…
- 📖 Recipe
Creating a Gluten-Free Ceaser Salad and Dressing without Anchovies
As a plant-based and gluten-free mama, I had to find a way for my husband (a die-hard Caesar salad lover) and me to enjoy the flavors of creamy Caesar dressing at home. So, I'll let you in on a little secret from my past.
I spent 7 years working at an Italian restaurant, learning about food, cooking, and people. But I also discovered the shocking truth about how croutons are made – hello, butter and oil overload! As someone sensitive to oil (and gluten), I had to say bye-bye to those greasy bread bites. That's when I knew I not only had to veganize this dish, but also find a crispy companion for my vegan Caesar salad dressing.
These chickpea croutons not only make this recipe gluten-free but also boost its protein content, creating a well-balanced meal (for those of you who know this blog, you know that's what I am all about!). Spiced with paprika and cumin, and caramelized with maple syrup, these chickpeas add the perfect touch of sweetness and flavor to the salad.
And here's a bonus: you can use these versatile chickpeas in Buddha bowls, as a soup topping, or even in a creamy pasta dish. We love to top it with our vegan alfredo veggie-loaded pasta, or our comforting one-pot noddle soup. Let us know what your favorite way to eat them is! Enjoy!
🙋🏽♀️Is Caesar Dressing Gluten-Free or Dairy-Free?
The answer to the question might surprise you! Traditional Caesar salad dressing is typically not gluten-free, dairy-free, or even vegetarian. That's because most classic Caesar dressing recipes contain dairy in the form of Parmesan cheese, anchovy paste, and gluten found in Worcestershire sauce. The gluten in most Worcestershire sauces comes from the malt vinegar which is derived from barley, a gluten-containing grain. The anchovy paste, a fish sauce makes this classic salad not suitable for vegans.
But don't fret! Romaine calm and Caesar the day with this vegan dressing instead (hehe, sorry I couldn't resist). Our recipe offers a fantastic vegan option for Caesar dressing that's both gluten-free, dairy-free, AND nut-free! We've replaced the Worcestershire sauce with gluten-free ingredients and used sesame tahini to create a creamy dressing without the need for dairy. To keep the recipe vegan-friendly, we've also made this caesar dressing without anchovies. Instead, we added capers for a delightful briny touch. So, go ahead and enjoy this healthy and tasty alternative that caters to your family's dietary needs and preferences!
Pro tip: Friendly reminder to always double-check for a gluten-containing ingredient if you pick up store-bought varieties. Dressings and sauces are common gluten hideouts. Better safe than sorry, right? I personally like to make my own homemade dressings for this exact reason, plus it is way cheaper and more delicious!
👪Why your family will love this recipe
This homemade caesar dressing recipe is our favorite salad for a reason! We love it because it is packed with flavors that both the kids and the adults love! And with a 5-minute prep, it also tackles the challenges that we busy moms face every day... time!
Here's why this recipe is perfect for families:
- Versatile and customizable: Easily adapt this recipe to suit your family's preferences by adding or swapping out ingredients. Try adding grilled veggies, tofu, or avocado to give your salad a personal twist or to have it as a meal.
- Quick and easy: In just a few simple steps, you'll have a delicious and nutritious meal on the table – perfect for those hectic weeknights.
- Allergy-friendly: Gluten-free, dairy-free, and nut-free – this recipe caters to various dietary restrictions, making mealtime stress-free for everyone.
- Kid-approved: With crispy chickpea croutons and a creamy, tangy dressing, this salad is sure to win over even the pickiest of eaters.
- Nutrient-rich: This healthy caesar dressing and gluten-free salad doesn't skimp on the good stuff – it's loaded with vitamins, minerals, and plant-based protein to support your family's brain health and overall well-being.
- Fun bonding activity: Get the kids involved in the kitchen! This recipe offers opportunities for little hands to help, like tearing up lettuce, stirring chickpeas, or assembling the salad. Make meal prep a family affair and create lasting memories together.
Nourishing your family's minds is just as important as filling their bellies. Let's dive into the brain-boosting benefits of tahini and chickpeas, the superstar ingredients in this delicious vegan Caesar salad.
- Healthy Fats, Tahini Power: Tahini, made from ground sesame seeds, is rich in healthy fats and essential nutrients like magnesium and zinc, both of which play a crucial role in cognitive function and overall brain health. (1).
- Folate Brain Boost: Chickpeas are a great source of plant-based protein, fiber, and B vitamins such as folate. Folate is vital for proper brain function and the synthesis of neurotransmitters like serotonin, which helps regulate mood (2).
- Antioxidant Advantage: Both tahini and chickpeas contain antioxidants that help protect the brain from oxidative stress, which can contribute to age-related cognitive decline. Including these ingredients in your diet can support long-term brain health (3).
⏲️ Time-Saving Tip
- Chickpea Fiesta: Double up the chickpea crouton recipe and store half in an airtight container for future use. You'll have a ready-to-go crunchy topping for salads, bowls, or pasta dishes – saving you precious minutes on those busy days.
- Dressing for Success: Make a larger batch of the vegan Caesar salad dressing and refrigerate it in a sealed container. You'll have a versatile, delicious dressing on hand for multiple meals, cutting down on your prep time throughout the week.
Get ready to toss up a delightfully delicious Caesar dressing with some fresh ingredients! Here's a quick list of the main ingredients and why they're rocking our salad world:
- Canned Chickpeas: Crispy, crunchy, and gluten-free – the crouton alternative of your dreams!
- Fresh Lemon Juice: A tangy twist that'll make your taste buds dance. Add in some lemon zest if you are a lemon lover.
- Olive oil: Our heart-healthy friend that helps everything come together.
- Fresh Garlic Cloves: Adds a pop of flavor and helps to balance out the sauce. You can use garlic powder for a milder kick.
- Soy Sauce: For that finger-licking umami flavor, without the added sugar.
- Sesame Tahini: The ingredient that helps make this a dairy-free Caesar dressing. Creamy goodness without dairy or nuts - it's a miracle!
- Capers: Capers add the best flavor! They are little bursts of salty, briny excitement in every bite. And the perfect sub for making Caesar dressing without anchovies!
- Dijon Mustard: Sharp and sassy, adding the perfect zing to our dressing.
- Fresh Romaine Lettuce, Radishes, and Green Onions: The fresh and fabulous trio that brings this salad to life!
Who knew healthy could taste so good?
💡Recipe Tips & Tricks
After making this salad so many times I thought I would share some of the tips I have learned. We all love the contrast of the warm and crispy chickpeas to the fresh cold lettuce best!
- The Perfect Timing: When making the crispy chickpea croutons, try timing them so they're finished just before serving the salad. That way, you'll ensure that they are at their crispiest and most delicious when you toss them with the rest of the salad ingredients.
- Dressed to Impress: Add in a small amount of dressing at a time, gently tossing as you go to evenly coat the lettuce. This way, you can avoid soggy lettuce. This will also help you get better leftovers as well!
- Best Caesar Dressing: We all want a creamy flavorful in a good Caesar salad right? So, when making your Caesar dressing without anchovies, be sure to blend the ingredients for longer to achieve that creamy texture. You can also add a touch of water to smooth it out.
👩🏽🍳How to Make Gluten-Free Ceaser Dressing Without Anchovies
Step 1: Chickpea Party Prep
First, give your canned chickpeas a good rinse and drain to freshen them up. Then, in a bowl, mix together the chickpeas, soy sauce, maple syrup, oil, and lemon. Give it a good stir to make sure those chickpeas are coated in flavor!
Step 2: Crispy Chickpea Tango
Next, heat a medium skillet or cast iron pan over medium-high heat. Add the chickpeas and let them cook for 5 minutes. Stir often to prevent burning.
After the 5 minutes, sprinkle in the paprika and cumin, and let the dance continue until all the liquid has been absorbed and the chickpeas are crispy (about 15 minutes).
Pro tip: If you have way too much liquid and it is not absorbing use a paper towel and oven mitt to soak up some of the excess.
Step 3: Blend It Like a Boss
Meanwhile, gather all the Caesar salad dressing ingredients and toss them all into a small blender (you can also use a food processor). Blend for 1 minute or less if you want the capers to be chunky. For a smoother, creamy texture, let it blend until fully combined.
Pro tip: You can use an immersion blender or Vitamix for this step.
Step 4: Prep Your Salad
Finally, prep your veggies, chop up the lettuce, and slice the radishes, and green onions. Add them to a large bowl and now your salad base is ready to be dressed to impress!
Step 5: Assemble
Finally, pour the creamy caesar dressing recipe over the lettuce and veggies and top with the crispy chickpea croutons. If you made your salad ahead of time, wait to assemble it before you are ready to enjoy it. See the storage sections for how to store this recipe.
There you have it - a simple and fun guide to creating a mouthwatering easy caesar dressing recipe that's perfect for busy moms! Enjoy!
🌿Substitutions & Variations
Variations on the classic:
I love recipes that can be used in various ways because it makes those weeknight dinners that much easier. Make a big batch and then add a new topping each week. This is exactly why we love this easy salad and creamy caesar dressing without anchovies!
Here are some ideas with some tasty ingredients to switch things up:
- Wrap it up! Because this Caeser salad is more of a well-balanced recipe (loaded with veggies, healthy fats, and protein), it is the perfect filling for your next burrito or taco. Add it to a warm tortilla shell with some vegan mayo and roll it up!
- Protein Power-Up: For an extra protein punch, throw in some grilled tofu or tempeh.
- Veggie Boost: toss in some cherry tomatoes, fresh herbs, cucumber slices, or shredded carrots. The more, the merrier!
- Avocado Dream: add a heart-healthy twist by adding some avocado slices or even blending a ripe avocado into the dressing.
If you're looking to make adjustments to the recipe to meet specific dietary needs or preferences, here are some easy substitutions:
- Soy-Free: Replace soy sauce with coconut aminos or tamari to make this gluten-free dressing suitable for those on a soy-free diet.
- Seed-Free: If you can't have sesame tahini, try using sunflower seed butter as an alternative, still packed with nutrients.
- Caper-free: When making a caesar dressing without anchovies, the caper brine take on the role of creating that savory umami flavor found in traditional caesar salad. So it is not recommended to replace this ingredient. You can experiment with olives or vegan worcestershire sauce if you want but it will change the flavor of this classic caesar salad.
- Traditional Twist: If you're not on a dairy-free diet and want a more traditional Caesar dressing, you can swap out the tahini for mayonnaise and add some grated Parmesan cheese. Alternatively, look for vegan parmesan cheese or add some nutritional yeast for the extra cheesy flavor.
- Garlic cloves: Fresh garlic helps balance out the creaminess and make this a more flavorful dressing. But it also gives it a bit of a kick, if you have little ones at home or need a milder taste then you can use garlic powder or onion powder instead.
Fridge Storage: If you've already dressed the salad and have leftovers, store them in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 1-2 days. Keep in mind that the lettuce may become a bit wilted, but the flavors will still be delicious.
Make-Ahead Tips: If you are making this salad ahead of time, store each item separately to maintain the optimal freshened and crispness.
- Dressing: Store the dressing in an airtight container, like a mason jar, in the refrigerator for up to 5 days. The flavors will continue to develop, making it even more delectable over time!
- Veggies: Store the chopped lettuce, sliced radishes, and green onions separately in airtight containers or resealable bags in the fridge for up to 3 days.
- Chickpeas: To maintain their crunchiness, store the cooked chickpeas in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 3 days.
Freezing: If you'd like to keep the dressing even longer, it can be frozen for up to 2 months! Just remember to thaw it in the fridge before using, and give it a good stir to recombine the ingredients.
NOTE: Freezing the dressed salad is not recommended, as the lettuce may become too wilted and lose its crisp texture when thawed. It's best to store leftovers in the fridge and enjoy them within a day or two.
Typically, traditional Caesar dressing contains dairy in the form of Parmesan cheese, and some versions may also include gluten from Worcestershire sauce or croutons. However, our vegan Caesar salad dressing recipe is both gluten-free and dairy-free, making it suitable for those with dietary restrictions or preferences.
The chickpea croutons in this recipe are a fantastic source of plant-based protein, but if you'd like to increase the protein content even further, you can add some marinated tofu, tempeh, or your favorite plant-based protein. Grilled or baked chicken could also be an option if your family includes meat-eaters.
Most traditional Caesar dressings are actually not gluten-free because they contain Worcestershire sauce often made with malt vinegar (derived from barley). Additionally, the croutons used in Caesar salads typically contain gluten. But not to worry because for this recipe we've replaced the Worcestershire sauce with gluten-free ingredients and used crispy chickpeas instead of bread croutons to make it suitable for those following a gluten-free diet.
🥣Make this next…
I hope you love this gluten-free salad and easy caesar salad dressing as much as we go! If you are looking for another gluten-free salad or easy vegan recipe be sure to check out these:
Easy Gluten-Free Caesar Salad Dressing (Without Anchovies)
- 1 ½ cups cooked chickpeas or 1 can
- 2 tablespoon soy sauce
- 1 tablespoon sesame oil or olive oil
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
- 2 teaspoon ground cumin
Vegan Caesar Dressing
- ¼ cup lemon juice
- ⅓ cup sesame tahini
- 2 garlic cloves (sub with garlic powder)
- ¼ cup water
- 3 tablespoon capers chopped
- 1 tablespoon maple syrup
- 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 2 heads romaine lettuce washed and chopped
- 10 radishes sliced
- 3 stalks green onions washed and sliced
Cook the chickpeas:
- Rinse and drain your chickpeas and add them to a large mixing bowl. Then add in the soy sauce, maple syrup, oil, and lemon. Give it a good stir to make sure those chickpeas are coated in flavor!
- Next, heat a medium skillet or cast iron pan over medium-high heat. Add the chickpeas and let them cook for 5 minutes. Stir often to prevent burning.
- After the 5 minutes, sprinkle in the paprika and cumin, and continue cooking until most of the liquid has been absorbed and the chickpeas are crispy (about 15 minutes).
Make the sauce:
- Gather all the Caesar salad dressing ingredients and toss them all into a small blender, Vitamix or food processor. Blend for 1 minute or less if you want the capers to be chunky. For a smoother, creamier texture, let it blend until fully combined.
Chop the veg and assemble
- Prep your veggies by chopping up the lettuce, and sliceing the radishes, and green onions. Add them to a large bowl and now your salad base is ready to be dressed to impress!
- Finally, pour the creamy caesar salad dressing over the lettuce and veggies and top with the crispy chickpea croutons. If you made your salad ahead of time, wait to assemble it before you are ready to enjoy it. See the storage sections for how to store this recipe.
- Vink, R., & Nechifor, M. (2011). Magnesium in the Central Nervous System. University of Adelaide Press.
- Tolmunen, T., Voutilainen, S., Hintikka, J., Rissanen, T., Tanskanen, A., Viinamäki, H., ... & Salonen, J. T. (2004). Dietary folate and the risk of depression in Finnish middle-aged men: a prospective follow-up study. Psychotherapy and psychosomatics, 73(6), 334-339.)
- Pulido, R., Bravo, L., & Saura-Calixto, F. (2000). Antioxidant activity of dietary polyphenols as determined by a modified ferric reducing/antioxidant power assay. Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, 48(8), 3396-3402