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The Best Caesar Salad Dressing Recipe (that is also Dairy-Free)

What do you do when you need to eat dairy-free, but crave creaminess? You blend, you soak, you purée- nuts & nut milks, all manner of coconut, avocados, et al, and that gives you a whole panoply of options for sauces, curries, soups, smoothies, drizzles & garnishes. But what about coming up with a recipe for a dairy-free cheesy, creamy Caesar salad dressing?

My thought was to start with nutritional yeast as a replacement for the parmesan cheese. As vegans* have long known, not only does (fortified) nutritional yeast pack nutritional punch with loads of B-vitamins and 3 grams of protein per tablespoon, but it also deliciously approximates the sharp, tangy, umami-laden flavor of many cheeses, including cheddar or parmesan. Combined here with a few tablespoons of mayo (in place of raw egg yolk) and slowly drizzled-in olive oil, the emulsified final product is a thick and creamy dressing that completely satisfies my cheesy, creamy cravings.

I like my Caesar dressing heady with flavor, so to amp it up I've included a healthy dose of fresh lemon juice for tartness (and I always add another squeeze when I am mixing the dressing with the romaine leaves for extra brightness), lots of garlic (yes, 8 LARGE cloves!) and black pepper, and anchovy and worcestershire sauce for depth of flavor (read: umami). Also essential to this salad are croutons; I made mine with gluten free bread, tossed with olive oil, a sprinkling of garlic powder and more nutritional yeast, salt and pepper, and baked at 350 for 15-20 minutes or until golden and crisp.

*This dressing is not vegan, though can be easily modified: omit the anchovies, substitute a vegan worcestershire sauce and increase to 2 t., and substitute a vegan mayo in place of regular mayo

(Dairy-Free) Caesar Salad Dressing

Gluten free, dairy free

Makes about 2 cups

(Dairy-Free) Caesar Salad


3 T. mayo

1 T. dijon mustard

1 t. worcestershire sauce

8 large cloves garlic

10 anchovies

1/2 c. lemon juice (plus more for mixing lettuce with dressing)

1/3 cup (fortified) nutritional yeast

1 t. salt

1/2 t. fresh cracked xccblack pepper (plus more for garnish)

1 cup mild olive oil (or a 3:1 mixture of olive oil to grapeseed or canola oil if the olive oil you have is strongly-flavored)


In a food processor, mix all ingredients except oil until well-blended, scraping down the sides once or twice for uniformity. Through the top feeder tube, very slowly drizzle in the oil while blending. Taste for seasoning. Transfer to a container and refrigerate for up to 2 weeks.

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