This might be the best grilled caesar salad you’ve ever had. I’m bringing all the smoke with layers of crispy grilled romaine, homemade smoky Caesar dressing, and crusty charred croutons. The only thing not hitting the grill is a load of parmesan thrown on top of this instant summer classic.
This grilled caesar salad changed my whole attitude toward the caesar salad category. As a kid, I use to despise those complimentary caesars salads with the limp iceberg lettuce and dry AF croutons. It wasn’t until I got older and started eating at better restaurants that I began to embrace and experiment with caesar salads.
So far, I’ve got a history of success experimenting with fruit and veg grills – ie. Grilled Watermelon Pizza and Grilled Peach Panini. And this grilled caesar experiment also paid in flavor dividends. There’s a smokiness in the romaine, in the croutons, even in the dressing and it all surprisingly pairs well with the creamy, nutty, naturally tangy flavor of the caesar. All Hail Caesar!
- Romaine Hearts: You’ll need 4 heads of romaine hearts for this dish. If you’ve never tried grilled lettuce, you’re in for a treat. Grilling romaine lettuce transforms it by infusing a beautiful caramelized smoky flavor.
- Parmesan Cheese: Grated parmesan cheese is an essential component of any Caesar salad. I recommend using fresh parmesan if you can, but pre-shredded parmesan would also work fine.
- Crusty Bread: Grab 4 slices of your favorite crusty white bread like French bread or sourdough. Day-old bread works best for homemade croutons that are nice and crunchy. Alternatively, you can use store-bought croutons.
- Olive Oil: Not only is olive oil a must for the creamy dressing, it’ll also come in handy for helping to caramelize the croutons and grilled romaine.
- Mayonnaise: You can use regular or light mayonnaise for the Caesar dressing.
- Dijon Mustard: This adds a delicious tangy flavor that compliments the savory and smoky flavors of the dressing.
- Fresh Lemon Juice: Fresh lemon juice brightens up the whole dish and enhances the flavors of the Caesar dressing.
- Anchovy Paste: This is a staple ingredient in any Caesar salad dressing recipe that adds tons of savory umami flavors. You could also use canned anchovies in place of the anchovy paste.
How to Make Grilled Caesar Dressing
The grilled Caesar salad dressing recipe that we pair with this dish is what takes it over the top. This creamy dressing is rich, savory, smoky, tangy, and absolutely delicious. You can use a store-bought version if you choose, but I highly recommend giving this grilled Caesar dressing a chance if you want the best-tasting salad.
To make this homemade Caesar dressing, start by combining all dressing ingredients except for the olive oil in a blender. Blend on low and slowly pour in the olive oil while the blender is running, until fully emulsified. Then, transfer the dressing to an airtight container and refrigerate until ready to use.
Best Grilled Caesar Salad Recipe
This grilled romaine Caesar salad is not only delicious, but it’s also easier to make than you might think. All you have to do is follow the steps below to impress your friends and family at your next backyard BBQ!
Step 1: Prepare the Grill
Clean and oil the grill grates. Prepare a charcoal or gas grill fire for direct grilling over medium heat (350°F). For the lemons, add sugar to a small plate and dip the cut sides of the lemons into the sugar. Lightly brush all sides of the bread slices and romaine with olive oil.
Step 2: Make Grilled Romaine, Croutons, & Lemons
Place the romaine hearts, lemons, and bread slices (cut side down) on the grill over direct heat and cook approximately 2-5 minutes per side.
Pay close attention to each item as temperatures may vary across the grill and each item may cook at different times. Once you’ve achieved your desired char (we’re shooting for lightly charred here), remove from the grill.
Tear bread into bite-size pieces and place in a bowl. Drizzle with 1-2 tablespoons of olive oil and season with salt and pepper, then toss to coat.
Step 3: Assemble Grilled Caesar Salad
To a serving platter, add your grilled romaine. Layer with grated parmesan cheese, croutons, and drizzle the smoky Caesar dressing on top. Serve and individually squeeze grilled lemon juice on top, if desired.
Expert Tips and Recipe Variations
Here are some of my top tips and variations to help you make the best grilled romaine Caesar salad:
- For the best results, grilled salads should be served right away while crisp. If you wait too long to serve the dish, you might wind up with soggy romaine hearts.
- Make sure to oil the grill grates in addition to the romaine lettuce to prevent the leaves from sticking to your grill.
- To ensure that you get really nice grill marks on your grilled romaine, make sure your lettuce is completely dry before adding it to the hot grill.
- If you’re looking to save time, you can use your favorite store-bought Caesar dressing and croutons instead of making your own at home.
- You can turn this dish into a complete meal by adding grilled meats like grilled chicken, steak, or salmon.
- Options for additional toppings include crispy bacon, chopped tomatoes, grilled lemon slices, and cracked black pepper.
Grilled Caesar Salad FAQs
Below you can find the answers to some of the most common questions about this grilled romaine Caesar salad recipe:
How to grill romaine lettuce?
Start by slicing your romaine hearts in half lengthwise; this will give you a flat surface to lay on the grill. Make sure your grill grates are clean and brush them with a little oil. Lightly brush or spray olive oil onto both sides of the romaine lettuce, then season with salt and pepper.
Place the flat cut side of the lettuce onto a medium-high heat grill for about 3 minutes. Flip lettuce over and cook for about a minute or two. You want the lettuce to get a little charred, infusing it with smoky flavor and leaving beautiful grill marks.
Can you use another lettuce?
In my experience, romaine hearts are the best lettuce for grilling because of their size and sturdier leaves. You should be able to find romaine lettuce at your local grocery store, but if you need a substitution you can try using radicchio or endive lettuce instead.
What if you don’t have a grill?
If you don’t have an outdoor grill, you can grill romaine lettuce on an indoor electric grill or on the stovetop in a grill pan over medium-high heat.
More Delicious Summer Grilling Recipes
If you loved this grilled salad recipe, here are more tasty grilled summer salads you are going to love:
- Grilled Avocado & Carne Asada Salad
- Grilled Potato Salad
- Grilled Elote Salad (Mexican Street Corn)
- Grilled Peach Salad with Goat Cheese
Now it’s your turn!
So fire up your grill and give this grilled caesar salad a try. It’s the perfect way to celebrate summer, impress your guests, or just make your everyday dinner that much more special. I would highly recommend giving it five stars if you make it. Be sure to take a photo and tag @meikoandthedish on Instagram too! Enjoy!
Salad + Croutons
- 4 heads romaine hearts sliced lengthwise
- 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese grated
- 4 3/4-inch-thick slices crusty white bread
- ¼ cup olive oil + extra for croutons
- ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
- ¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Grilled Lemons (optional)
- 2 lemons cut in half (optional)
- 1 tablespoon sugar (optional)
Smoky Caesar Dressing
- ½ cup mayonnaise
- 1 tablespoon dijon mustard
- 1 tablespoon anchovy paste
- ¼ cup Parmesan cheese grated
- 1 clove garlic minced
- 1 teaspoon lemon zest ½ lemon
- 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice ½ lemon
- ½ teaspoon hickory liquid smoke
- 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt
- ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- ¼ cup olive oil
- Combine all ingredients except oil into a blender and blend on low. While running gradually pour in olive oil until emulsified. Refrigerate until ready to use.
Grilled Romaine, Croutons & Lemons
- Clean and oil cooking grate. Prepare a charcoal or gas grill fire for direct grilling over medium heat (350°F).
- [Optional Prep For Grilled Lemons] Add sugar to a small plate and dip the cut sides of the lemons into the sugar.
- Lightly brush all sides of the bread slices and romaine with olive oil. Place the romaine hearts, lemons, and bread slices (cut side down) on the grill on direct heat and cook approximately 2-5 minutes per side. Pay close attention to each item as temperatures may vary across the grill and each item may cook at different times. Once you achieved your desired char and color r remove from the grill.
- Tear bread into bite-size pieces and place in a bowl. Drizzle with 1-2 tablespoons olive oil, salt, and pepper, and toss to coat.
- To a severing platter add grilled romaine. Layer with Parmesan cheese, croutons, and drizzle smoky Ceasar dressing on top. Serve and individually squeeze grilled lemon juice on top, if prepared.
*Nutrition information is a rough estimate.
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