Salads are often a go-to meal for anyone trying to eat healthy, but they can quickly turn into a sugar and calorie trap. Caesar salads are no exception—in fact, they’re one of the biggest offenders. Piles of crunchy croutons, chunks of Parmesan cheese, and a heavy ladle of dressing may make it taste uber delicious, but as with many indulgent meals, the ubiquitous salad can leave you feeling not so great.
Fortunately, a few small kitchen hacks will have you—and your body—screaming, “Hail, Caesar!” And don’t worry, these seven Caesar salad recipes don’t skimp on taste.
1. Crowd-Pleasing Vegan Caesar Salad
Creamy dressings don’t have to contain mayo. This vegan recipe uses blended cashews for a dressing that tastes rich but is easier on the gut. We love the roasted chickpea croutons and mock Parmesan cheese made with nuts and seeds. Hello, healthy fats; buh-bye, mayo with a side of lettuce.
2. Grilled Avocado and Romaine Caesar Salad
Grilling romaine is a seriously underrated salad trick. Not only does it look beautiful, but grilling also adds a smoky flavor that pairs perfectly with the tartness of Caesar dressing. This recipe steps it up a notch by grilling the avocado too. No grill? No problem. Using a grill pan works wonders and takes much less time.
3. Kale Caesar Salad
Another genius mayo stand-in: Greek yogurt. This dressing is as close to classic Caesar as it gets but packs extra protein and even more flavor. We also love the added fiber and texture from mixing kale with romaine. To make it gluten-free, use toasted chickpeas or nuts in place of the croutons.
4. Skinny Lemon Garlic Shrimp Caesar Salad
This recipe is the triple threat of low-carb Caesars: It has bacon, avocado, and soft-boiled eggs. (It even has a touch of mayo.) Full of healthy fats and protein, it’s the perfect dish if you’re looking for a salad main course. To lighten it a touch, opt for turkey bacon and skip the croutons.
5. Shaved Brussels Sprout Caesar Salad
Meet our favorite lettuceless salad. This dish uses shaved Brussels sprouts and parsley for the leaves and an egg-based dressing to bind it all together. Paleo, dairy-free, and gluten-free, it’s the perfect Caesar side dish for anyone sticking to a specific diet. To make it a bit more filling (and flavorful), add turkey bacon bits or sliced chicken.
6. Mexican Chipotle Chicken Caesar Salad
We love Mexican spins on pretty much anything. Avocado, cotija cheese, toasted pumpkin seeds, lime dressing… what’s not to love about this light, refreshing version? If you’re not in the mood for chicken, substitute any lean protein (black beans are a great vegetarian option) and feel free to roast instead of grill.
7. Grilled Salmon Caesar Salad
If you’re looking to get a lot of life out of your salmon, buy a larger piece and experiment with all kinds of toppings. We love the recipe as is, but it also tastes great with avocado, toasted nuts, roasted potatoes, farro, or quinoa. It’s a great meal to make on Sunday and eat for days.