Healthy Vegan Caesar Dressing Recipe
What’s yummier than a creamy, tangy, vegan Caesar salad dressing? Made with hemp hearts, not cashew nuts, and with no added oils, this healthy vegan Caesar dressing recipe takes just 5 minutes to make, with 6 simple ingredients (not including salt and pepper!). Amazing with a classic romaine or kale Caesar salad or even a slaw!
I could eat salads everyday. but I’ve got to be honest: I never liked traditional Caesar salads.
The anchovies in a classic Caesar dressing were a no-go, obviously, because I went vegetarian in my teens. And I’ve always wanted more from my salads than just romaine and croutons. As a plant-based and gut health-focused registered dietitian, I’m always trying to incorporate more plants into my diet, so if it’s a salad, give me VEG! I’ll take my bread in sandwich form, thanks! Well, unless it’s a Panzanella salad (for which I will gladly overlook my bread-in-salad disdain because I am not a monster).
But a vegan Caesar salad, with plenty of tang, hearty greens, and maybe a bit of crunch? Well, I can’t get enough.
I could eat a kale Caesar every day of my life and be a verrrry happy human. So I thought it was high time I make you my favourite creamy, tangy, dairy free Caesar salad dressing.
Is Caesar dressing vegan?
Unfortunately for plant-based folks, classic Caesar salad dressing is not. The popular sauce gets its creaminess from an emulsion of egg yolk and parmesan cheese. The parmesan and the anchovies give it plenty of umami too. But these animal products are not actually necessary for a delish dressing. Yep, you can make a Caesar dressing that’s vegan!
There are a lot of different plant-based ways to create a creamy base for a dairy-free Caesar dressing: I’ve seen recipes made from cashews, hummus, tahini and even mayo. To make a vegan Caesar dressing that’s oil free, I use hemp hearts to achieve a similar creamy texture and nutritional yeast for the umami. I’ve used sunflower seeds before, an idea that comes from another vegan salad dressing recipe I like to make, but the hemp hearts really work for this plant-based Caesar dressing.
There are more ideas for plant-based dressings in my newest Good For Your Gut cookbook, which is especially useful if you’re interested in what types of dressings can aid our gut health!
Can I make vegan Caesar dressing nut free?
You bet. I didn’t use nuts in this one. Instead, I use hemp hearts as the base because I’ll take any excuse to add these nutrient-dense super seeds into my day. Responsible for making this dressing extra creamy, hemp hearts have the added benefit of belonging in the category of iron-rich foods. So for everyone asking about how to increase iron intake on a plant-based diet, this is THE dressing for you.
Hemp hearts blend up surprisingly well, even if you don’t have a high speed blender — and they require zero soaking. So, all you need to do is blend them up with the rest of the ingredients and in a few minutes, you’ve got dinner! Or a side dish, however you want to rock it.
What are hemp hearts?
Hemp hearts come from the shelled seeds of the hemp plant, Cannabis sativa, but contain no THC or CBD. These highly nutritious, soft round centres have a mildly nutty flavour and are rich in two essential fatty acids that help fight inflammation: alpha-linolenic acid (omega-3) and linoleic acid (omega-6). They also contain great levels of vitamin E and many minerals (think: phosphorus, potassium, sodium, magnesium, sulfur, calcium, iron and zinc!)
How to make vegan Caesar dressing with no cashews?
As I mentioned above, this recipe doesn’t use cashews like many other vegan Caesar dressings do. And it comes together in just 5 minutes with 6 basic ingredients you probably already have in your pantry:
- Lemons: fresh lemon juice adds a fresh tangy acidity to the dressing and brightens the flavours.
- Hemp hearts: hemp creates plenty of creaminess with a slight green + grassy flavour note
- Dijon mustard: rich and creamy, Dijon adds tang and helps emulsify the dressing
- Nutritional yeast: adds plenty of umami ‘cheesiness’
- Garlic powder: to keep the vampires away and create a rich flavour
- Maple syrup (or sugar!): just a tiny bit to balance out the flavours and bring it all together
All you’re going to do is place the ingredients in a bullet or blending jar (no soaking!), add a bit of water, salt and pepper and blend until smooth. Easy peasy.
How to make a vegan caesar dressing without capers?
I see a lot of vegan Caesar salad dressings with capers in them. This can add an extra tangy note to mimic the original, which some like, but may not be everyone’s cup of tea! So in my recipe I keep it simple with just those 6 basic ingredients: lemon juice, hemp hearts, nutritional yeast, Dijon mustard, garlic powder, and some maple syrup. But adding a tad more salt and an extra squeeze of lemon juice might give your dressing that additional kick found in capers! IF that’s what you’re looking for 😉
Ways to use this vegan Caesar salad dressing
I love using this dressing for a kale caesar. Just massage the dressing into washed and torn kale leaves. Massaging the dressing into the kale leaves ensures it’s well-coated and helps soften the kale to make it more pleasant to chew. Add some roasted chickpeas for extra protein + crunch! Tired of salads? Try it the following ways too!
- Use it in your potato salad or pasta salad!
- Drizzle it over grilled or roasted vegetables or some crispy baked tofu
- Add it to a wrap or sandwich
- Use as a dip for freshly-chopped seasonal veggies!
More Vegan Dressing Recipes
- My potato salad has an amazing Avocado Ranch Dressing
- The creamy Ginger Cashew Dressing on my snap pea salad is amazing
- You’ll want to drink this Ginger Sesame Dressing from the spoon
- Lemon tahini vinaigrette more your thing?
Healthy Vegan Caesar Dressing
- 6 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice, about 2 lemons
- ⅓ cup hemp hearts, (learn about the benefits of hemp hearts!)
- 3 tablespoons nutritional yeast
- 2 tablespoons water
- 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1 teaspoon maple syrup, or pure cane sugar
- freshly cracked pepper, to taste
- Immersion blender or small blender
- Place the lemon juice, hemp, nutritional yeast, water, Dijon, salt, garlic powder, maple syrup and pepper in a blending cup or bullet. Blend 1-2 minutes until smooth. Taste, and adjust salt and pepper as you like.
23 Comments on “Healthy Vegan Caesar Dressing Recipe”
Oh wow! Try this and you will LOVE it!
Thank you so much Marla, I’m so glad you enjoyed it 🙂
I’m slowly changing my diet to plant food. Originally I’ve been eating keto to lose a few pounds. But I’ve been worry about all the fat I’ve been eating, that can’t be good for you. So, I decided to convert to low carb but plant based. I try to eat more greens and not soo much starchy vegetable.
That’s a biggie! You might find that some one-on-one time with a dietitian would really help get you settled on a path that feels doable and healthy on your terms. In terms of general advice to get you started, I would do exactly that: bring in all the non-starchy vegetables first, to aim for 50% of your plate as vegetables for some plant power! Then, transfer your fats over to plant fats like avocado, olives and nuts and nut butters. Then start exploring swapping in your plant proteins like tempeh, tofu, and legumes in place of meats. Best of luck!!
I am wondering about adding anchovy paste into the dressing. I know the paste makes it not vegan, but I am curious if you or anyone thinks it may work. Some of my favourite recipes have it and it adds a wonderful flavour. Thanks for any suggestions.
Good Q! I have to admit that I’m probably the worst person to ask as I have never cooked with anchovy 😉 However, what I can offer is try making it as is, then if you wish, try adding 1/2 the normal amount of anchovy that other recipes usually call for to account for the other salty/umami elements already in the dressing. Let me know how it goes!
Instead of anchovies I often blend capers into my caesar recipe to add that additional salty/umami flavour but keep it vegan.
Thank you so much for your quick reply Desiree.
Wow! That’s the first recipe that I found actually tasted identical to caesar dressing (from what I remember!). Thank you!
YAAAAAAAY! That is high praise, Aimeeleih. I am so glad you like it (I’m addicted!!)
Love this dressing!! Easy to make and so delicious. The first night we had it on a typical Caesar-type salad but have used the leftovers all week on different creations. It added a nice ‘zing’ to both salads and on grilled veggies. This will be on a regular rotation in our household. Thanks Desiree!
Amazing! I am so glad you like it Susan. It’s always feels like such as win when you can make something in five minutes that really tastes great.
This is delicious! I forgot I had it though, and now its a week in the fridge. is the 2-days a hard rule? I hate to waste it but am weird about things going off. LOL. thanks!
Not a hard and fast rule…it’s a ‘best buy’ suggestion for sure. Because there are no animal ingredients, it will go off less readily than a traditional dressing so use your best judgement 🙂
⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ I made this dressing on a huge salad for my dad today for lunch because caesar dressing is one of his most favs. He loved it! He shouted in the other room, “ OMG, this dressing should get 10 stars… it is phenomenal!” So there is my Dad’s report, Desiree. He wanted ALL of the dressing on his salad which is why I didn’t get to try it today. 😳 I did dip my finger in it and really liked it. I put this salad on very bold tasting lettuces that could stand up to the umami flavor of the dressing (organic baby arugula, organic baby kale, organic baby spinach, organic cucumbers, organic grape tomatoes, avocadoes, organic cannelini beans, wild albacore tuna, and hard boiled eggs). We will try it the other ways that you listed above. It is always nice to get new ideas!
We are a family who eats fish, eggs, and diary ( minus cow’s milk) however, we are extremely open minded and will eat delicious food of any kind, no matter if it is vegan, vegetarian, etc. Desiree you have made my family much healthier with your plant -based recipes!
This is a great dressing to substitute for anchovies and probably more likely one that we will use because it is quick to make and we always have the ingredients on hand. 🙂
10 Stars!?! Ha ha, I am so glad your dad liked it. Winning over classic Caesar lovers is tough…so this is high praise indeed 🙂 Thanks for all of your support Jordanna.
P.S. I forgot to mention I added more cruciferous veg to my dad’s salad besides the organic arugula and kale ( lots of crunchy, organic cauliflower) and the dressing made it all very enjoyable!
Hope that these five stars show up on my below review!
Obsessed with this dressing!
YAY! I am too 🙂
I added Nori (sea algae).
Next time I will cut some of the vinegar and Dijon down a bit, it was quite bitter. I added some Veganaise to help with that.
This dressing is everything! It’s well balanced and just so fresh! I just had to try it and it did not disappoint. I added roasted chickpeas to my kale Cesar and was perfect.
Roasted chickpeas are SO good on a caesar, so glad you enjoyed the dressing!