Best Caesar Salad Dressing
August 18, 2013 6:22 PM   Subscribe

What bottled Caesar salad dressing should I buy at the grocery store to most closely approximate the awesome Caesar salads I get at good restaurants?

At good Italian restaurants, there is amazing dressing on the Caesar salad. Like, use-it-instead-of-olive-oil-as-a-dip-for-the-bread amazing. It's creamy and salty and anchovy-y in the best possible way. I would like to purchase, at my local grocery store (Giant in DC, if that matters, though I can also get to a Whole Foods, Trader Joes, Safeway or Harris Teeter if that's the right answer) a dressing that is as close as possible to that experience. I do not care whether it is healthy in any way, and I specifically do not want low fat. I've bought a couple of bottles of dressing (Kraft, Whole Foods 365, Newman's Own), and they're fine, but not sublime. I figured I'd query all of you before going out and buying 15 bottles of salad dressing for a home taste test.

(No, I am not interested, for purposes of this question, in making my own dressing. I want something I can buy in a bottle and keep in my fridge for a couple of months so that it's there when I need it with no special effort required.)
posted by decathecting to Food & Drink (23 answers total) 18 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: Cardini's is my favorite.
posted by pyjammy at 6:36 PM on August 18, 2013 [5 favorites]

Best answer: Have you tried Cardini's? It claims to be the "original" because Caesar Cardini invented the dressing/salad. I like it with a little extra garlic added, but it's a decent effort.
posted by The Wrong Kind of Cheese at 6:36 PM on August 18, 2013

Not sure which Kraft kind you tried, but I've found Kraft "asiago caesar" in the small refrigerated bottle to be just about as close as I've found to restaurant-style. It's a bit cheesy, but it is delicious!!
posted by hasna at 6:36 PM on August 18, 2013 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Few can be as good as restaurant because you need the fresh eggy realness. The best packaged kind I've had comes in the Et Tu salad kits, but you only get a packet and not a bottle. Cardini's is the original and comes in a bottle, and Ken's is also decent, but none are as good as I want them to be.
posted by dayintoday at 6:37 PM on August 18, 2013 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Yeah, Cardini's is probably the closest store-bought. You might try blending some fresh-made mayo to get the right consistency, but at that point, make it from scratch.
posted by notsnot at 6:46 PM on August 18, 2013

My personal favorite is the La Madeleine Caesar- it's a chain of "French" cafes and it looks like they have DC locations. They also sell it in grocery stores, or at least they do in Dallas and New Orleans.
posted by MadamM at 7:01 PM on August 18, 2013

Best answer: Another vote for Cardini's, but I would definitely try Girard's (in the triangular bottle.) I haven't had their Caesar but their Champagne dressing is my absolute favorite bottled dressing and I bet the Caesar is good.
posted by Room 641-A at 7:19 PM on August 18, 2013

I am a fan of Drew's Romano Caesar (3rd item down on this page). Tastes the closest to when I used to make Caesar salad dressing from scratch myself. Actuallly, all dressings I've tasted from Drew's are excellent.
posted by Ardea alba at 8:00 PM on August 18, 2013

Best answer: Yet another vote for Cardini's. I just moved, and now I'm trying to find a grocery store nearby with it. It's really good.
posted by Precision at 8:29 PM on August 18, 2013

I'm sorry I can't be more specific, but there's a (local I think?) brand they sell at the Whole Foods near GWU that is divine. It has a wax seal and might be called something like Caroline's?
posted by charmcityblues at 8:33 PM on August 18, 2013

Ken's "Creamy Caesar" is the one we keep around the house, and it is the best we've tried. Still not nearly the same as fresh.
posted by wnissen at 8:40 PM on August 18, 2013

Also, if you have a favorite restaurant version they'd probably be willing to sell you a certain quantity.
posted by Room 641-A at 8:57 PM on August 18, 2013

Ken's Creamy Caesar is the only Caesar dressing I think comes close to the good stuff you get in restaurants. (In fact, I've worked in restaurants that use Ken's.) It's not as good as fresh, no, but it also somehow manages to lack that oily sheen and overly mayonnaise-y taste that all the other bottled dressings I've tried have.

Cardini's is a decent 2nd, but still has some of that that fake/bottled/oily taste to it.

There's also a brand of bottled (actually they come in something that looks more like a jar than a bottle) salad dressings that I've found in the refrigerated section of some grocery stores, and while I've never tried their Caesar, I've been impressed with their ranch and blue cheese. I'd definitely give their Caesar a try if I were going to buy some pre-made. I'm sorry I don't recall the brand name, though.
posted by rhiannonstone at 10:15 PM on August 18, 2013 [1 favorite]

If it happens to be available in your store: Virginia's "Live a Little" Real Caesar. If you don't like anchovies forget I ever said that. Cardini's is second, by a length.
posted by jet_silver at 10:52 PM on August 18, 2013

If it's not too much like making it yourself, a squeeze of fresh lemon juice will amp up any good bottled Caesar dressing.
posted by halfbuckaroo at 4:06 AM on August 19, 2013 [1 favorite]

Renee's caesar dressing with a squeeze of lemon is our go-to caesar dressing. I think this is what rhiannonstone is referring to - Renee's is sold in the refrigerated salad section of grocery stores. They have a number of gluten free options in their other dressings (not the caesar, sadly) if that's of interest.
posted by Cyrie at 7:01 AM on August 19, 2013

I looked up the Renee's and that's not the one I'm thinking of. But it helped point me in the right direction, to the brand I was talking about: T. Marzetti.
posted by rhiannonstone at 7:48 AM on August 19, 2013

Newman's Own Creamy Caesar is really good. Wayyyy better than Cardini's.
posted by rabbitrabbit at 9:02 AM on August 19, 2013

Kens Creamy Caesar. Just, for the love of god, do not read the calorie count or ingredients.
posted by fontophilic at 6:33 AM on August 20, 2013

Best answer: There are two acceptable answers:


Girard's -- the one in the triangular bottle.

You can dress up bottled Caesar with anchovy filets (get the kind that come in oil in a little springtop jar, they keep forever), lemon wedges, fresly ground pepper, and freshly grated parm (ideally using a microplane or similar rasp). Although, honestly, making it from scratch isn't that much more effort.
posted by snuffleupagus at 6:38 AM on August 24, 2013

The "bottle style" refrigerated brands I can think of are:

-Bob's Big Boy (amazing Blue Cheese, Ranch and Thousand, but I don't think they make caesar)

-Lite House (bleech, avoid)

--Marie's (I'm not a fan -- but you might want to taste test their creamy ceasar since you're after that texture)

-Marzetti's -- they also distribute Girard's which I prefer to theirs.

I haven't tried their Caesar, but I generally like Brianna's dressings, especially their vinaigrette.
posted by snuffleupagus at 6:42 AM on August 24, 2013

Response by poster: Well, I just bought the Cardini's and it's close. Maybe as close as it's possible to get. What I really need, and I think I've found, is just something to have in the fridge, ready to go, so that I'm more likely to eat the bagged salad I buy with the best of intentions, rather than the TV dinners that often seem like a better idea. And I think this is pretty close. Thanks to all who answered.
posted by decathecting at 2:15 PM on August 24, 2013

Response by poster: (BTW, I also tried the Newman's Own a while back, and didn't like it. Might try a few of the other recommended brands when I run out of this one...)
posted by decathecting at 2:16 PM on August 24, 2013

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