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Vegetarian Caesar Salad

This delicious vegetarian Caesar salad recipe is a quick, easy, and high-protein lunch. Here, it’s served with a mouth-wateringly-good breaded tofu filet instead of the chicken and croutons, with crispy green salad, an easy homemade dressing, and shavings of vegetarian-friendly parmesan (ready in 15 minutes).

an overhead shot of this vegetaran caesar salad in a bowl, topped with breaded tofu and with a side of oven fries. All topped with grated hard cheese.

The tofu used in this recipe is similar to what I did with my viral vegan marry me pasta recipe – but with less spice, so that the breaded part can take the place of the usual croutons in a caesar salad! If you want to do the tofu and add in some croutons, go ahead!

For more gorgeous summer salad inspiration, try this vegan-friendly Greek pasta salad, this popular smoked tofu and sweet potato salad, or this chickpea salad.

Ingredient Notes

The exact quantities of the ingredients you need for this recipe are included in the recipe card at the bottom of this post. Here, I’ve added a few notes on the ingredients you need, plus a few potential substitutions you could make if you can’t eat/find a certain ingredient.

  • Tofu: To replace the chicken in a traditional caesar salad, this recipe uses tofu, which is a great plant-based source of protein.
  • Breadcrumbs: This recipe involves breading the tofu in panko breadcrumbs and frying until perfectly golden and crispy. It combines the “chicken” and “crouton” elements of a caesar salad for this crispy vegetarian caesar salad. You could just use un-breaded tofu or vegetarian chicken and add croutons if you prefer, but I highly recommend trying it this way!
  • Lettuce: The best lettuce for a caesar salad is romaine lettuce. You could also add arugula (rocket) and iceberg lettuce to add some variety to your caesar salad.
  • Cheese: A caesar salad will traditionally use Parmesan cheese, which is not always suitable for vegetarians. Either find a vegetarian-friendly Parmesan cheese or use Pecorino, which is a very similar alternative.
  • Dressing: A traditional caesar salad dressing contains anchovies and Worcester sauce, neither of which are vegetarian! So I’ve altered the ingredients to include mayonnaise, lemon juice (to replace the anchovies), garlic, dijon mustard, seasoning, hard cheese, olive oil, seasoning, and water (see image below).
vegetarian caesar salad ingredient shot: mayonnaise, garlic, dijon mustard, lemon juice, hard cheese, olive oil, salt and pepper

Variations & Substitutions

Potential substitutions that would also work for this recipe include:

  • Swapping out the tofu for fake chicken, or even chickpeas. Alternatively, you could omit the tofu entirely but be aware this will mean the salad is much lower in protein.
  • Add croutons to the salad – I omitted this as the tofu is already breaded, but you could opt for croutons too!
  • Chop your salad and add it to wraps or rolls for a more filling lunch!
an overhead shot of this vegetaran caesar salad in a bowl, topped with breaded tofu and with a side of oven fries. All topped with grated hard cheese.

How To Make This Vegetarian Caesar Salad Recipe

Again, the exact step-by-step instructions and ingredient quantities will be in the recipe card at the bottom of this page. 

Below is an overview of making this recipe, plus some process shots to help you visualize how this recipe should turn out.

Step 1) Make The Dressing

In a glass jar or bowl, combine your mayonnaise, dijon mustard, minced garlic, grated cheese, lemon juice, olive oil, seasonings, and water. Shake well to combine, adding a splash more water until well blended and smooth.

I like to place my dressing in the fridge to keep it cold while I prepare the rest of the ingredients.

Step 2) Bread & Fry Your Tofu

In one bowl, combine the milk and corn flour, and then in another bowl, combine the panko breadcrumbs and seasonings.

Slice your tofu lengthways to resemble “chicken breast” the most – think almost a square/large rectangle filet shape.

Dip the tofu in the wet batter first, then in the breadcrumb mixture, flipping it to ensure it’s breaded on all sides.

Heat your oil in a frying pan, then add the tofu and fry it for 2-3 minutes on each side until it’s crispy and golden brown. Remove and place on a chopping board, and pat with a paper towel to remove any excess oil. 

Slice the tofu into strips.

Step 3) Chop Your Lettuce

Wash and chop your lettuce, cucumber, and any other salad vegetables you want to use. 

Step 4) Mix The Salad

Add the lettuce and salad to a mixing bowl and pour over the dressing, using tongs or salad spoons to gently mix and coat the salad in the dressing.

Portion the salad into your bowls, and top with the tofu, shaved hard cheese, and a sprinkle of flaky salt.

Top Tips \ Chef’s Notes

  • You can cook your tofu in the air fryer instead of frying it, but make sure you brush it with oil before cooking to get that beautiful golden crust!
  • You cannot beat a caesar salad paired with a side of crispy oven fries! You can see that I’ve gone for that option in the pictures – simply throw your fries in the oven or air fryer before you begin cooking.
  • For a lower-fat dressing, halve the quantity of mayonnaise and add in some Greek yogurt for a lighter dressing.

Storage

This salad is best served immediately after you’ve tossed the lettuce with the dressing. If you’d like to make your caesar salad ahead or meal prep, I’d recommend keeping the dressing separate until you’re ready to dress your salad and eat.

an overhead shot of this vegetaran caesar salad in a bowl, topped with breaded tofu and with a side of oven fries. All topped with grated hard cheese.

How To Serve

This vegetarian caesar salad is best served as is, with a side of crispy oven fries and a glass of ice-cold Diet Coke or even a crisp white wine! 

You could serve a small portion as a side salad along with your main meal, or even put the salad in a wrap or sandwich for a more portable lunch!

FAQs

Can I make the salad vegan?

Yes, use vegan mayonnaise, and vegan Parmesan cheese to make sure this recipe is suitable for a vegan diet!

What type of lettuce should I use?

Romaine lettuce is traditional for Caesar salad, but you can use other greens like kale or a mix of baby greens.

How do I store leftovers?

Store components separately: keep the dressing in an airtight container in the fridge, the tofu in an airtight container, and the lettuce in a sealed bag or container. Assemble just before serving to keep everything fresh.

The breaded tofu can be eaten hot or cold so it’s your choice – you could just reheat the tofu in the oven before assembling if you prefer.

Can I prepare the salad in advance?

You can prepare the dressing and croutons in advance. However, it’s best to assemble the salad just before serving to maintain the crispness of the lettuce and croutons.

How long does homemade Caesar dressing last?

Homemade Caesar dressing can last up to one week in the refrigerator if stored in an airtight container.

Vegetarian Caesar Salad

Vegetarian Caesar Salad

Yield: 2 portions
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 6 minutes
Total Time: 16 minutes

This quick and easy vegetarian caesar salad is, in a word, divine. Topped with golden breaded tofu and a side of fries for the perfect summer lunch.

Ingredients

  • 1 head of romaine lettuce, sliced
  • ½ cucumber, sliced and quartered
  • 200g tofu, sliced into 4 rectangles
  • 5tbsp panko breadcrumbs
  • ½ cup milk
  • 1 tbsp cornflour
  • 1 tsp Italian herbs
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp black pepper
  • 1 tbsp nutritional yeast
  • 3 tbsp olive oil

For the dressing:

  • ½ cup mayonnaise
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • ¼ cup grated vegetarian parmesan cheese
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp dijon mustard
  • 2 tbsp water

Instructions

  1. Cook your oven-fries according to the package instructions (or cook them in the air fryer). While they’re cooking, you can make the caesar salad.
  2. To make the dressing, combine all the ingredients in a glass jar or large bowl. I like to place the dressing in the fridge to keep it cold while I make the other components of the salad.
  3. Drain your tofu and pat it dry, gently squeezing the tofu to remove as much excess water as possible. Slice the tofu lengthways into 4 rectangle shapes (resembling a chicken breast!).
  4. Combine the milk and cornflour on a plate, and then add the panko breadcrumbs, Italian herbs, nutritional yeast, and seasoning on another.
  5. Dredge the tofu in the wet batter, and then the breadcrumbs.
  6. Heat the oil in a frying pan and fry the tofu for 2-3 minutes on each side until golden brown and crispy.
  7. Remove the filets from a pan and rest on a sheet of kitchen towel to remove any excess oil. Then, slice the breaded tofu into strips.
  8. Wash and shred your romaine lettuce and slice your cucumber, then add both to a bowl with the caesar salad dressing, tossing it to coat fully.
  9. Portion out the salad into bowls, then top with your sliced tofu filets, more vegetarian parmesan, a sprinkle of flaky sea salt, and the cooked fries on the side.
  10. Perfect served with a crisp white wine or an ice-cold diet Coke!

Notes

If you’d like to bake the tofu rather than fry it, you definitely can. Just spray the breaded tofu with oil and either bake in the oven for 20 - 25 minutes or cook in the air fryer for 10 - 15 minutes, flipping halfway through.

If you would like to make your salad ahead of time, I would recommend keeping the dressing separate, and pouring it over when you’re ready to eat to keep the lettuce crispy.

Nutrition Information:
Yield: 2 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 995Total Fat: 87gSaturated Fat: 15gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 69gCholesterol: 39mgSodium: 2000mgCarbohydrates: 35gFiber: 11gSugar: 10gProtein: 25g

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