Caesar salad holds legendary status and is perhaps one of the best-known salads in the world. It is the perfect balance between crunchy vegetables, croutons, anchovies, and a delicious dressing.
But do all Caesar dressings have anchovies? Anchovies can commonly be found in many salad dressings. Interestingly, anchovies weren’t a part of this salad when it was first created but later iterations almost always included anchovies. Thankfully, you can also find many dressings without anchovies in them.
Despite its critical acclaim, many people dislike the use of anchovies in this salad because of its overpowering flavor, while others just don’t like the thought of having “meat” or “emulsified fish” in their salad.
Read below to learn more about the various types of Caesar salad dressings and the use and replacements of anchovies in this delicious side dish.
Classic Caesar Dressing
The origins of the Caesar salad can be attributed to Caesar Cardini, an Italian immigrant, and restaurateur and his brother Alex Cardini.
They first came up with this combination of veggies and toasted bread because of a shortage of supplies due to the heavy inflow of customers during a holiday rush on the 4th of July, 1924.
Cardini famously tossed this salad in person for his customers to add a bit of dramatic flair and to make up for the lack of ingredients by making a fresh salad right at their tables.
This stroke of genius worked as everyone who had it loved the combination and flavor of the salad.
The original recipe by Cardini did not contain anchovies. There are differing accounts of this tale but Cardini himself said that he despised the use of anchovies in his salad and preferred to use Worcestershire sauce instead.
Anchovies have a salty flavor and can be particularly noticeable when they are cured or marinated before adding to the salad. They lend a distinct umami flavor that many love but equally dislike as well.
Historically, Caesar salad was first served without any additional dressing on top.
This made Caesar salad one of the healthiest options to have outside of a home kitchen as many other salads usually contained meat, cheese, and other nutritionally heavy ingredients.
Over time, the humble Caesar salad started to evolve as well. Many restaurants served their own version of this classic salad either with chopped anchovies, grilled chicken, or even pieces of beef steak.
Then, in 1950, Cardini started to sell his version of Caesar dressing called “Caesar Cardini’s”.
Cardini also trademarked “The Original Caesar Dressing” to set his product apart from the others. This dressing has had many variations over the years but the basic ingredients are:
- Anchovy paste
- Lemon juice
- Dijon mustard
- Worcestershire sauce
- Freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
- Freshly ground black pepper
These ingredients made the base for the Caesar salad dressing. As you probably noticed, this version includes anchovies, even though ironically Cardini was initially against using anchovies to make the dressing.
The fact is that anchovies add a rounded umami-laden flavor to the salad and this is especially important now since our tastebuds have been conditioned to enjoy savory and flavor-packed food.
Caesar Dressing Without Anchovies
Of course, this doesn’t mean that you can’t get rid of anchovies altogether! Many brands sell this dressing without including anchovies or Worcestershire sauce.
The mere thought of having blended fish in a salad is enough to make people gag. On the other hand, some also think of it as an extremely novel combination of protein in a sauce.
One thing is for sure though, there is a sizeable chunk of the population that does not enjoy anchovies, as is evident by the number of dressing alternatives you can find in supermarkets.
Ironically, even though Caesar salad is supposed to be vegan, many vegetarians can not enjoy this salad because of its profuse use of cheese, eggs, and anchovies.
Sure, you can get rid of the large egg chunks, cheese, and even anchovies from the salad but what about the dressing?
Worcestershire Sauce And Anchovies
The problem is that even if brands do not use anchovies in their dressing, they will substitute the flavor using Worcestershire sauce.
Worcestershire sauce is made with cured anchovies. That’s right; even if you think you’re having a sauce without fish in it, you would be wrong!
Back in the day, many people used to think of dressings with Worcestershire sauce to be a better alternative.
The reality is that even though Worcestershire sauce may have just an essence of fish, it still lends the same umami flavor to the salad.
The 5 Best Caesar Salad Dressings Without Anchovies
If you truly want to opt for something free of anchovies, you have to go even deeper into the ingredients list. Don’t worry though, we’ve got you covered!
Here are five Caesar salad dressings that do not contain anchovies.
1. BRIANNAS Asiago Caesar Salad Dressing
This Caesar salad dressing is made for people who dislike anchovies.
It is quite unfortunate that the original Cardini’s brand does not make a dressing for its namesake salad without anchovies.
Thankfully, we have options like this to enjoy Caesar salad as it’s meant to be!
This sauce contains Worcestershire sauce but the sub-ingredients of the sauce are mentioned at the back of the bottle.
It seems that that the Worcestershire sauce used in this dressing is made without anchovies.
This is great! Since many will be able to enjoy the umami flavors of the dressing without the addition of any fish meat. It is truly a great option for all types of vegans. It is also gluten-free, nut-free, and has low-fructose corn syrup too.
2. Fody Foods Vegan Caesar Salad Dressing
This is another great choice for people who want to enjoy their Caesar salad without anchovies.
When tossing the salad, all you have to do is add this dressing to the top along with croutons to give the salad a restaurant-like flavor.
You won’t believe how delicious this dressing is even without the addition of anchovies or other meat-based umami flavorings.
This dressing is also great for people that have IBS symptoms as it is free of any onion or garlic. It is designed to bring back the healthy variety of Caesar salads and we are here for it!
3. Primal Kitchen Avocado Oil-Based Caesar Dressing
Just like the others on our list, this dressing does not contain anchovies and borrows flavors from organic and healthy ingredients.
It is the perfect way to enjoy not just a Caesar salad but a range of foods like French fries, sandwiches, and even fried chicken.
This dressing is specifically made for people who are looking to get the most health benefits out of their salad.
As mentioned, Caesar salad has become but a distant memory of what it once was so it is truly great to find a brand that brings the focus back to the roots of this delicious and nutritious salad.
4. Hidden Valley Original Caesar Salad Dressing
While this isn’t a vegan-friendly dressing, it is an excellent option for people who are looking to ditch anchovies.
This sauce is made using high-quality ingredients and is also gluten-free.
The consistency of this dressing is noteworthy as it perfectly blends with the veggies without becoming too runny.
This characteristic also makes it a great dip too!
5. ORGANICVILLE Organic Non-Dairy Caesar Dressing
Ogranicville is known for making organic and plant-based sauces and dressing alternatives.
This product checks all the boxes when it comes to a healthy Caesar salad dressing. It is free of any high fructose corn syrup, anchovies, and other harmful additives.
If you have been looking for a healthy alternative to the classic Cardini’s dressing then we recommend that you start here.
This dressing will fit your dietary needs and will also prove to be a superior tasting product when used in Caesar salads.
Now that you know about the various alternatives of Caesar dressings without anchovies, here are a few questions we thought you might have had after going through our recommendations!
Can ranch dressing be used in Caesar Salads?
Yes, ranch dressing can be used as an alternative to Caesar salad. However, it is worth noting that ranch sauce has more calories than Caesar dressing but at the same time Caesar salads are known to have a higher sodium content.
If you are looking for an alternative then yes, ranch dressing will work great but just make sure that you use it in moderation to keep the health benefits of the salad intact.
Can Caesar salad be stored after adding dressing?
Yes, Caesar salad can be stored in the fridge even after you add the dressing to it. Just shift the leftover salad in an airtight container and store it in the fridge at 40°F. The salad will remain edible and fresh for 2-3 days.
You may also discard and add a fresh batch of croutons to the salad if they become soggy to give your leftover salad an even fresher taste!
Can you make homemade Caesar salad dressing?
Yes. Caesar salad dressings can be made at home using simple ingredients without including anchovies or Worcestershire sauce.
It may also be healthier to use homemade sauce than to opt for store-bought dressings that may contain harmful additives. You can create a large batch in advance and store it in the fridge for later use too.
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