Gluten free and dairy free Caesar salad dressing recipe

gluten free caesar salad with dressing

Believe it or not, Caesar salad was my kid’s favorite school lunch!

Running out of gluten-free and dairy-free lunch ideas for your kids’ lunchboxes? This can be a particular challenge when most traditional options revolve around bread and cheese. Of course you can always use gluten-free bread to make the traditional turkey or peanut butter and jelly, but why not think outside the standard lunch box fare and prepare a fresh salad? Children are often big fans of Caesar salad for the creamy dressing, pleasantly non-bitter romaine lettuce and the crunchy croutons. I love to use Easy Lunchboxes since it’s easy to keep everything separated; the croutons would be a bit mushy if I put them on in the morning!

I usually make this dressing with Parmesan cheese but have had a few people request a dairy-free version. I adapted this recipe, which is a fan favorite, by eliminating the cheese and adding the Dijon mustard. In my opinion, it’s almost identical. My family gave it the double thumbs up! If you want really traditional, you can top it with anchovies (a bit too fishy/salty for our tastes, though).

The recipes below give you an option of that beloved crunch and the creaminess you get from a restaurant Caesar salad without the use of wheat or dairy. I make the dressing with regular mayonnaise, which is made from egg and naturally dairy free, and the croutons I prepare from gluten-free sliced bread or baguette. With a few key ingredients on hand you’ll be surprised how easy it is to prepare!

Dairy-Free Caesar Salad Dressing (or dip)
1-2 garlic cloves, cut into 4-6 pieces
1/2 cup regular mayonnaise
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt or 1 teaspoon table salt
2-3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon ground pepper
1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard

Place all ingredients in a small food processor and blend for 1-2 minutes. Keep refrigerated until ready to use. Toss with crisp, romaine lettuce pieces, cucumber slices and shredded carrots. Optionally add 2-3 ounces of grilled chicken per person.

Gluten-Free Croutons
½ loaf gluten-free baguette bread, cubed, or about 6 slices gluten-free bread cut into cubes
2-3 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 teaspoon kosher or sea salt
1/4 teaspoon each ground black pepper, oregano, and thyme

Toss bread with olive oil and seasonings. Place on a baking sheet. Bake in a 400F oven until brown and crisp. Store covered at room temperature.

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9 Responses to Gluten free and dairy free Caesar salad dressing recipe

    Robin April 23, 2012 at 2:11 am #

    This dressing sounds delicious! I can’t wait to try it!

    I also wanted to thank you so much for taking the time to read Chelsea’s story and comment on my blog. It really means a lot to us!


    Robin (aka: Alabama Slacker Mama)

    The Family Chef April 23, 2012 at 4:11 pm #

    @Robin, thanks so much! I hope you will try it and then send another comment.

    I’m really glad I read it; it puts things in perspective. Thank you for being so honest.

    Take care!

    Anonymous June 15, 2012 at 4:25 pm #

    I am a vegan. Mayo is not dairy free.

    The Family Chef June 15, 2012 at 7:25 pm #

    Thank you for your comment! Although it is a common misconception that eggs are in the dairy family (think things made from cows), mayo does not contain dairy like milk, cheese, etc.

    Yes, you are correct that mayo is not vegan. There is a vegan mayo made from soy and not eggs called Veganaise. I have used it and it’s a great substitute.

    Cindy June 22, 2012 at 5:21 pm #

    What a great dressing recipe. Love the GF and dairy free! Perfect for us! 🙂 Happy to have connected 🙂 Cindy (vegetarian mamma)

    vickie mauro February 9, 2017 at 5:10 am #

    How much does your Caesar salad serves? I’m cooking for a party of 18.


  1. Healthy Lunch Challenge | - April 2, 2014

    […] make my Easy Caesar Dressing and keep it in the fridge for a few weeks (get the dairy-free version here). This way, it’s easy to grab whenever I need it. I will add other veggies like shredded carrots, […]

  2. Top 10 Tips for Packing School Lunches | Amy the Family ChefAmy the Family Chef - August 25, 2014

    […] basically synonymous with the sandwich, but there are many other options. Try hummus and crackers, Caesar salad with chicken (hold the croutons or make your own), a hard-boiled egg, cold pizza, sushi (stay away from the fake […]

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