Best Grilled Caesar Salads

By Ann Fulton

Cool, crisp romaine is quickly seared and then brushed with a classic, creamy Caesar dressing for salad that's destined to become a family and entertaining favorite. For a complete meal, grill salmon, shrimp, chicken, or steak to serve alongside.
Jump to Recipe

Cool, crisp romaine is quickly seared and then brushed with a classic, creamy Caesar dressing for salad that is sure to become a family and entertaining favorite. For a complete meal, grill salmon, shrimp, chicken, or steak to serve alongside.

 

This is a recipe I lean on when I want a meal that feels effortless yet really delivers.

Equally perfect for weeknight dinners and casual entertaining, these Caesar salads sear to perfection in mere minutes.

The goal is two-part: We’re aiming for a hint of caramelization and smoky grill flavor on the outside while maintaining the romaine’s cool interior crunch.

We accomplish this through a very quick stint on a flaming hot grill. Think of it as searing the flat side of the romaine without cooking below the surface.  

The result is a lovely counterbalance of warm and cool, crisp and creamy. The grilled Caesars are a little showy – restaurant worthy for sure – but couldn’t be easier.    

Essentially a side dish, the grilled Caesar salads morph into an entree when rounded out with a protein. Depending on mood, this could be seafood, chicken, or steak.

Sautéed mushrooms or grilled portobellos are a fantastic complement for plant-based eaters – and also a delicious add-on for those who do like meat. 

The creamy dressing captures the classic Caesar flavor with ingredients you are likely to have on hand. Conveniently, it can be made in advance, and leftover dressing will keep for a couple of weeks in the refrigerator, making repeat salads incredibly easy. 

Traditional croutons (store-bought or these Parmesan Croutons) are a fitting topper. For a stellar upgrade, however, my family will choose Polenta Croutons every time.

(Warning: The polenta croutons are likely to be plucked off the baking sheet before they make it to the salad. Guard them!)

Buying Tip: Hearts of romaine are ideal for this recipe. The outer leaves of the full heads tend to be looser and softer. The heart is simply the interior leaves, which are more compact, sweeter, and crisper, making them better suited to the grill. When buying, look for crisp-looking leaves that aren’t wilted, feel heavy for their size, and are free of cracks and dark spots.

For easy weeknight meals and truly effortless entertaining, serve the versatile grilled Caesar salads alongside any of the following:

And don’t forget the croutons!

Look for large, compact heads of romaine and cut them in half. If the heads are slender, I slice a thin layer off one side to create a flat side (for good contact with the grill), using almost the whole head rather than halving.

Look for large, compact heads of romaine and cut them in half. If the heads are slender, I slice a thin layer off one side to create a flat side (for good contact with the grill), using almost the whole head rather than halving.

The romaine can be cut and refrigerated several hours prior to grilling. You want it to be cold when going on the grill. Wait to season with salt until just before grilling (after is fine too), as this could draw moisture from the lettuce, which would reduce the sear.

The romaine can be cut and refrigerated several hours prior to grilling. You want it to be COLD when going on the HOT grill. Wait to season with salt until just before grilling (after is fine too), as salt draws moisture from the lettuce, which reduces the sear. Freshly ground pepper may be added before or after grilling.

Classic Caesar salad dressing - with no raw egg or anchovies - is quick and easy to make and tastes amazing with shredded Brussels sprouts and kale as well as romaine. (And you can add anchovies if you wish!)

You could purchase a creamy Caesar dressing, but I highly recommend my homemade recipe because it delivers the classic flavor and creaminess that truly elevate this salad. It’s also easy to make, egg-free, and no blender or food processor is needed.

Dressing tip: Using a pastry brush will allow you to evenly apply the thick dressing and work it down into the crevices. I like to start with a light coating and serve additional on the side so people can add more if they like.

A quick sear on a HOT grill is all that's needed before removing to a platter and brushing on the classic creamy Caesar dressing.

A quick sear on a HOT grill is all that’s needed before removing to a platter and brushing on the classic creamy Caesar dressing. 

Cool, crisp romaine is quickly seared and then brushed with a classic, creamy Caesar dressing for salad that's destined to become a family and entertaining favorite. For a complete meal, grill salmon, shrimp, chicken, or steak to serve alongside.

Easy, delicious, and customizable are the words that come to mind when I think of these grilled Caesar salads. Among my family and friends, the salads have been hit with kids and adults alike. 

The grilled Caesar salads are pictured here with Perfectly Grilled Shrimp, Parmesan Croutons, and Polenta Fries. Or go with a streamlined approach and top the salads with Polenta Croutons! 

I’d love to know if you try this recipe. Leave a comment, rate it, and don’t forget to tag a photo @fountainavenuekitchen on Instagram and Facebook. Your feedback is always appreciated.

Grilled Caesar Salads
Prep Time: 12 minutes (which includes time to make the dressing)
Cook Time: 3 minutes
Total Time: 15 minutes
Yield: 4 servings (easy to make as few or many as needed)
Cool, crisp romaine is quickly seared and then brushed with a classic, creamy Caesar dressing for salad that's destined to become a family and entertaining favorite. For a complete meal, grill salmon, shrimp, chicken, or steak to serve alongside.
Ingredients
  • 2 large heads of romaine lettuce, cut in half lengthwise (see notes)
  • Olive or avocado oil or spray
  • Kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper
  • Classic Caesar Salad Dressing or your favorite creamy store-bought Caesar dressing
  • Optional for serving: Parmesan Croutons (or your favorite store-bought) or Polenta Croutons; halved or quartered cherry tomatoes; anchovies; shredded Parmesan cheese
  • For a complete meal: grilled chicken, salmon, steak, shrimp, seared tofu, sautéed mushrooms and/or roasted chickpeas
Instructions

Before you start: The goal is to quickly sear the surface of the romaine while keeping it crisp. A HOT grill will make this happen. It’s also best to put the romaine on the grill when it’s cold from the fridge. This helps achieve the lightly seared surface with an interior that’s still crisp and cool.

Advance prep: You may cut the romaine up to two hours in advance. I often place it on a platter and refrigerate, uncovered, and then lightly spray with oil just before grilling. If prepping in advance, do not salt, as the salt will draw out moisture, making it difficult to get a good, quick sear on the grill.

When ready to eat: Preheat the grill to high. Lightly brush both sides of the romaine halves with olive or avocado oil or lightly spray with an oil mister. You may season with some salt and pepper now or wait to do it upon serving.
Place the romaine, cut side down, on the hot (uncovered) grill for 1-2 minutes or until lightly charred in spots. Flip, and grill for another minute. Watch closely; the outside of the lettuce should be golden in places (a few charred spots are fine) while the insides are still cool and crisp.
Remove from the grill and sprinkle with salt and pepper if you did not do this earlier. Evenly brush the cut sides of each romaine half with dressing – I go light, just a tablespoon or so, and then serve with additional dressing on the side for people to add more if they like. Also, I often use a pastry brush, which makes it easy to work the dressing into the crevices. Sprinkle with croutons and optional toppings of choice.

For a complete meal, add grilled chicken, salmon, shrimp, or steak. Seared tofu and/or sautéed mushrooms are great vegetarian options. For those who enjoy, mushrooms offer a lovely addition along with any of seafood and meat options.

Notes & Tips

What if the hearts of romaine aren’t very big? Large hearts of romaine work well; you want to have two substantial portions when halved. If they are slender, I use one whole heart per serving, slicing a thin layer from one side to make a flat surface for the grill.

Discard any limp or blemished outer lettuce leaves and cut off a thin sliver of the root end if browned. Just be sure to leave the stem end intact so the lettuce holds together.

Mix it up: Grilled Caesars are also delicious with Parmesan peppercorn dressing.

Leftovers? While the salads are best served immediately, we have refrigerated leftovers and enjoyed the next day. In this case, enjoy cold from the fridge rather than reheating.

More On YouTube More on Instagram
Tried this recipe?Post a picture on instagram and we will repost it! Mention @fountainavenuekitchen or tag #fountainavenuekitchen!
The Fountain Avenue Kitchen https://fountainavenuekitchen.com/

Leave a Reply

Make it? Rate the recipe:

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *