smoky caesar salad
smoky caesar salad

Smoky Caesar Salad

Controversial or quintessential, anchovy-based Caesar salad dressing. This deeply savory variation includes manchego cheese, marcona almonds, and a touch of smoky paprika. This dressing blends up quickly and keeps for 1 week, refrigerated.

Prep Time: 5 minutes

Cook Time: 0 minutes
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Recipe Rundown

Can you guess where the Caesar salad originated?

Caesar salad with marcona almonds and manchego cheese
Caesar salad with manchego cheese and marcona almonds

According to legend, it can be traced back to Tijuana, Mexico in 1924 by an Italian American immigrant named Caesar Cardini. Get this. The salad was prepared table-side in a giant wooden bowl (swoon).

rolling the romaine leaves in a wooden bowl with caesar dressing
gently coating the romaine

Cardini aimed to create a light and refreshing experience, so they hand rolled each romaine leaf into the dressing, serving it whole, to be eaten by hand. Who doesn’t secretly love eating with their hands?

Now, perhaps you’ve never made Caesar dressing before. It’s so ubiquitous – I know. But here’s the thing: you will forever be at a loss as to why the Caesar is truly magnificent if you assume the commercialized dressings are as good as it gets.

Recipe Rundown

Star Ingredient: Caesar dressing
Function: cooling
Tastes: salty, tangy, savory (nutty)
Textures: crisp
Ease: easy
Method: emulsion, plus authentic whole leaf roll technique
Wisdom: Anchovy packs a strong punch that demands ice cold crisp romaine to offset the intensity.

food processor with egg yolk, anchovy, smoked paprika, and salt
anchovy fillets, egg yolk, smoked paprika, salt

How to make the smoky caesar dressing

This remarkably simple variation includes anchovies, arguably the most important ingredient – plus lime juice, manchego cheese, Spanish (Marcona) almonds, and a touch of smoky paprika. The dressing blends up quickly in a food processor.

Just be prepared to add the olive oil last. You want the blades turning as you steadily pour. Be sure to pour very slowly for the best creamy texture.

Tip: If you really detest anchovies, you could use Worcestershire sauce. This is actually a traditional component of Caesar salad dressing.

caesar salad with marcona almonds and croutons
garnish with croutons or marcona almonds and extra cheese

If you’re expecting a mild Caesar dressing, this is so not it. With such a deeply flavorful dressing, a light coating goes a long way. Oh – and definitely tell me if you decide to eat this with your hands.

In case you want something else smoky, here’s one of my favorite salads – smoked salmon salad with lemon dill dressing.

Caesar salad

Smoky Caesar Salad

Controversial or quintessential, anchovy-based Caesar salad dressing. This deeply savory variation includes manchego cheese, marcona almonds, and a touch of smoky paprika. This dressing blends up quickly and keeps for 1 week, refrigerated.
4.67 from 3 votes
Print Pin Rate
Course: Salad
Cuisine: American
Keyword: caesar, manchego, marcona almonds, salad
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 0 minutes
Total Time: 5 minutes
Servings: 4 people
Calories: 385kcal
Author: Chef Sara Furcini


  • food processor or blender


  • 1 head romaine
  • 3 cloves garlic smashed
  • 2 fillets anchovies
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 1/2 tsp smoked paprika
  • 2 tbsp fresh lime juice from 1 lime
  • 3/4 tsp salt
  • black pepper
  • 1/2 cup olive oil extra virgin
  • 1/4 cup manchego cheese plus extra for serving
  • 1/2 cup croutons optional
  • 1/4 cup marcona almonds (roasted) optional


  • Submerge the romaine to remove any sand. Lift the lettuce and refrigerate for at least 1 hour so it's nice and crisp.
  • Place the garlic, anchovies, egg yolk, paprika, lime juice, salt, and a sprinkle of black pepper in a food processor fitted with a metal blade. Turn it on low and slowly pour a steady stream of olive oil. Blend until smooth.
  • Pour the dressing into a large bowl and grate 1/4 cup of manchego cheese into the dressing. Gently roll the indivual romaine leaves into the dressing to lightly coat.
  • Arrange the leaves on a platter and lavish with extra manchego, chopped marcona almonds, or croutons.


Variations: To make the dressing without the egg, add an additional tablespoon of the oil. You can make the dressing with 1 tablespoon worcestershire sauce in place of the anchovies for a vegetarian version.
Equipment: While you can make the dressing in a blender, the food processor is better because you can macerate the ingredients and slowly incorporate the oil while it runs.
If you want to hand whisk the dressing, use the wide flat part of your knife to smash the anchovies and garlic down. Scrape firmly to form a paste.
While this salad is intended to be eaten by hand, you can chop the romaine into bite sized pieces if you prefer.


Calories: 385kcal | Carbohydrates: 12g | Protein: 7g | Fat: 36g | Saturated Fat: 6g | Cholesterol: 58mg | Sodium: 523mg | Potassium: 459mg | Fiber: 5g | Sugar: 2g | Vitamin A: 13860IU | Vitamin C: 9.2mg | Calcium: 166mg | Iron: 2.4mg

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