Fresh romaine lettuce, crunchy croutons, a little parmesan cheese, and a generous serving of Caesar salad dressing are all you need for a delicious and satisfying classic Caesar salad. While this salad isn't exactly packed with vegetables or high-fiber foods, it's an incredibly satisfying side salad or meal, especially if you add a serving of grilled chicken on top.
The type of Caesar dressing you use (and how much of it you're pouring on) can make a huge difference in the healthfulness of this salad. Just a small, two-tablespoon serving of Caesar dressing can add almost 200 calories to your day, along with 10-15% of the recommended amount of sodium and saturated fat. You can double that if you like your salads slathered in salad dressing.
Thankfully, not all Caesar dressings are made the same. We asked dietitians what their favorite Caesar dressings are to eat and recommend. After all, following a healthy diet doesn't mean giving up our favorite foods, just finding options that can easily fit our goals and still taste amazing!
How we chose the healthiest Caesar salad dressings
- More heart-healthy fats. Caesar dressing is notorious for its high saturated fat content from the egg yolks and parmesan cheese used. Most Caesar dressings get their creamy texture from emulsifying oil in egg yolk, contributing even more fat to this dressing. Depending on the type of oil used and amount, Caesar dressings can be high in heart-healthy fats like monounsaturated fat from avocado oil or extra virgin olive oil.
- Less sodium. From sea salt to preservatives, Caesar dressing can get its flavor and stable shelf life from a number of forms of sodium. A two-tablespoon serving can add up to 15% of your daily value of sodium, but as little as 7% if a healthier dressing is used.
- Consider calories. While we all need energy (calories) to fuel our days, just two tablespoons of Caesar dressing can add almost 200 calories to your meal. If you like to use a lot of dressing, choosing a lower-calorie option is a good choice to limit extra unneeded calories.
- Skip the added sugars. Choosing a salad dressing with less than 2 grams of added sugar can help keep your total added sugar consumption within the recommended 10% of calories.
Read on to discover the very best Caesar salad dressings, and for more options to top your bowl of greens, check out these 11 Healthiest Salad Dressings To Buy.
The 6 Best Caesar Salad Dressings
Best: Bolthouse Farms Caesar Dressing
"My go-to is Bolthouse Farms Caesar dressing since it's made with yogurt and is lighter than other varieties," says Jenna Gorham, RD, LN Founder of TheRDLink.com. This Caesar is free from artificial colors, preservatives, and flavors and also has 2 grams of protein from the yogurt and added whey protein concentrate.
Best: Primal Kitchen Caesar Dressing
"Primal Kitchen Caesar Dressing is made with high-quality ingredients like organic egg yolks, organic apple cider, and natural herbs," says Lauren Manaker MS, RDN, LD, a registered dietitian based in Charleston, SC, and partner with Primal Kitchen. "This avocado oil-based dressing is also sugar-free, and it is dairy and soy free too, helping those avoiding these ingredients enjoy a classic Caesar," Manaker adds.
With avocado oil as the number one ingredient, each serving has 8 grams of heart-healthy monounsaturated fat, which research has found can lower LDL cholesterol, reducing the risk of heart disease and stroke.
Best: Cardini's Caesar Dressing
"Cardini's Caesar dressing is the most delicious store-bought Caesar dressing, says Katie Schimmelpfenning, RD, a registered dietitian and Founder of Eat Swim Win. Each serving has only 8% of the DV for sodium and no added sugars, making it a low-sodium and low-sugar option to add to your salad. "Two tablespoons has 15 grams of fat, which helps to make a plain romaine salad much more satisfying," adds Schimmelpfenning.
Best: Marzetti Simply Creamy Caesar
Marzetti Simply Creamy Caesar is made primarily with buttermilk as well as soybean oil for a creamy finish that only has four total grams of fat and one gram of saturated fat. With the low saturated fat, only 11% of the DV for sodium, and just 50 calories, this is one of the healthiest Caesar dressings that still has the creamy texture you'd expect.
Best: Gotham Greens Vegan Caesar Dressing
Gotham Greens' Vegan Caesar Dressing is a vegan Caesar dressing option that has just 100 calories per serving and is made from soy puree and sunflower oil instead of eggs and dairy. "For those who love the flavor of Caesar dressing but want to avoid animal-based ingredients like anchovies, eggs, and dairy, this product is a fantastic vegan/vegetarian alternative," says Malina Malkani, MS, RDN, CDN owner of Malina Malkani Nutrition and author of Safe and Simple Food Allergy Prevention.
Best: Tessemae's Organic Creamy Caesar
The first ingredient in Tessemae's Organic Creamy Caesar Dressing is high oleic sunflower oil, a type of sunflower oil that's richest in monounsaturated fats with a lower percentage of omega-6 fatty acids. High oleic sunflower oil, and other oils with at least 70% oleic acid may reduce the risk of heart disease when used to replace saturated fat in the diet.
Tessemae's is also one of the lowest sodium choices on the list, with only 170 milligrams of sodium in each serving, or 7% of the recommended daily limit.
The 4 Worst Caesar Salad Dressings
Worst: Wish-Bone Creamy Caesar
Wish-Bone Creamy Caesar Dressing is one of the highest-sodium Caesar dressings on the market, with 340 milligrams of sodium in every serving. This adds 15% of the recommended daily limit of sodium to your day, and even more if you use more than the two-tablespoon serving size. And while you wouldn't expect to find gluten in a Caesar dressing, this one uses soy sauce, a sneaky gluten-containing ingredient that's not safe for people with celiac disease, explains Schimmelpfenning.
Worst: Marie's Caesar Dressing
"Marie's Caesar Dressing is one to avoid if you are watching calories and fat," says Michelle Rauch MS RDN, registered dietitian nutritionist for the Actors Fund Home in the NY/NJ Metro Area. While this Caesar dressing is lower in sodium than many options, a two-tablespoon serving has 16% of the recommended daily limit for saturated fat and 170 calories.
Worst: Ken's Steak House Creamy Caesar Dressing
"Ken's Steak House Creamy Caesar Salad Dressing contains high fructose corn syrup (HFCS), which is a highly processed sweetener that has been linked to obesity and other health problems," says Wan Na Chun, MPH, RD, CPT of One Pot Wellness. In addition to the use of HFCS, this Caesar dressing has 250 milligrams of sodium and 3 grams of saturated fat in each serving, over 10% of the recommended daily limit for each.
Worst: Brianna's Asiago Caesar Dressing
Just two tablespoons of Brianna's Asiago Caesar Dressing has 330 milligrams of sodium or 14% of the recommended daily limit. With canola oil as the first ingredient, this dressing adds a high amount of omega-6 fatty acids to your diet. While omega-6 fatty acids aren't necessarily bad, getting a higher proportion of omega-6 fatty acids to omega-3 fatty acids can lead to an increased risk of metabolic syndrome.
- Source: https://www.heart.org/en/healthy-living/healthy-eating/eat-smart/fats/monounsaturated-fats
- Source: https://www.fda.gov/food/cfsan-constituent-updates/fda-completes-review-qualified-health-claim-petition-oleic-acid-and-risk-coronary-heart-disease
- Source: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC9650245/