Gluten free, Dairy free Caesar salad

Diners at Tavern on the Green in New York

Back in the days before I went dairy and gluten free, I ate a lot of Caesar salads at various restaurants. My favorite was the one the Metro Wine Bar and Bistro in Oklahoma City served, although Juniors made a delicious one too. I like the Metro’s creamy salad dressing, and the way the chicken was grilled to perfection, crispy on the outside with a moist interior. I also adored the Metro’s famous bread and the croutons they must have made from it.

Then, gluten freedom came and soon after dairy liberty. Now, when I eat out  at a restaurant, I often feel like the management is saying, “No croutons for you!!!”

No Parmesan either by the way. Half the time management also considers eggs dairy (although they aren’t), and so they won’t let me have a good salad dressing based upon eggs. I question. I cajole. The other night at Charleston’s I was told the dressing I love on their menu, champagne vinaigrette, is not gluten free. Say what!?! I still am not sure I believe them on this, and when I asked the manager what ingredient wasn’t gluten free, and he said he’d have to go back and look at the label. He never did. Before you think I’m unreasonable, it was a Monday, and they weren’t busy. His solution? The little bottles of oil and red wine vinegar which looked like they’d sat in the back for a hundred years.

No dressing for you either.

So, a few years ago, when my boys would go to their weekly, Tuesday Boy Scout meeting, the girls and I worked to perfect the best gluten and dairy free Caesar salad ever. After many good tries, we’ve finally done it, and because I want to share the yummy goodness with you, the recipe below is set to serve five or six people (because the boys figured out what we were up to, and demanded some.)

Gluten and Dairy Free Caesar Salad


Two heads of romaine lettuce or one bag of romaine hearts rinsed and torn into pieces. We use our collapsible salad spinner to rinse.

Three Udi’s Gluten Free Bagels (Multigrain), chopped up and placed so that they lay flat in a metal pan of 4 Tbsp. olive oil and 4 Tbsp. Earth Balance Spread melted. (Yes, it’s a lot of fat, but how many croutons are you going to eat? Never mind, don’t answer that.) Before placing in a 425 degree oven, toss the croutons with Penzey’s Fox Point Seasoning (this is crucial.) Toast the croutons until brown tossing them a few times until evenly golden.

Five chicken breasts (preferably from decent chickens which haven’t been locked up in a darkened chicken house their entire lives.) Sprinkle these with the Fox Point Seasoning also. Grill the chicken outside on your grill. It’s too hot to really cook indoors. You can also put the croutons on the top shelf of your gas grill and cook them that way too.

Now, if you can have dairy, and if you can, I am so jealous, buy shaved Parmesan or a block and shave it yourself. Use Cardini’s Original Caesar Dressing. It’s dog-gone good.

For those of us who are dairy free, here is my dressing.

4 Tbsp. Hellman’s mayonnaise (or another great brand)

2 Tbsp. Japanese seasoned rice vinegar (which is lightly tart and a bit sweet) If you want a sweeter dressing (I don’t, but you might), use a white balsamic in place of the Japanese vinegar. This is enough dressing for two people, but once everyone discovered how good homemade dressing is, they all asked for it. Cardini’s just sits lonely in the back of the fridge.

A sprinkle of Fox Point seasoning

A sprinkle of pepper

Mix with a whisk.

Slice the now delicious chicken and mix it all together. Get ready for yum.

Oh, and I don’t have a picture because we ate . . . every . . . last . . . bite.


  1. Angie Halten says:

    Can’t wait to try your caesar salad recipe, along with my teriyaki chicken on top – yum!

  2. karen says:

    Sounds delish… even at 9 in the morning! I try to eat wheat free, but seem to be okay with other glutens. Can you eat oats? I think they are glutenous…
    I don’t eat alot of the “whites’…White flour, sugar, rice, crisco, milk, oh the list goes on! lol
    I give you a lot of credit Dee, its so hard especially when eating out.
    I seem to be bringing a small cooler everywhere I go
    Do you get Fox Point seasoning at the regular grocers?

    1. Dee Nash says:

      Hi Karen, I can eat oats so long as they haven’t been mixed with gluten. I buy Bob’s Red Mill #gf oats. The type of gluten in oats is okay for me. Some celiacs can’t even eat oats either. I eat sugar. I shouldn’t but I do. Thanks for the credit. I do eat out, but I don’t always enjoy it. Love Thai food as that is one which doesn’t have a lot of gluten, but you must watch out for the oyster sauce.

      It is easier to eat at home. :)) Oh, Fox Point must be bought at Penzey’s. McCormick has a similar blend, and I believe it is also gluten free.

  3. Lisa at Greenbow says:

    This sounds so yummy. I could probably due with a little less gluten especially if it tastes as yummy as this sounds.

    1. Dee Nash says:

      Hi Lisa, Thanks so much. It’s a great recipe. I love Caesar salad and now all the gluten free dairy free folks can too.

  4. Love your dairy-free dressing recipe. I just wish I could find a dairy-free mayo that didn’t contain soy. I stay away from soy because it affects estrogen levels, and once I started taking bioidentical hormones, I didn’t want to mess up a thing!

    Love the photo of Tavern on Green; been there once; luckily got there years before they closed.

    Thanks so much for all your hard gluten-free work!

    1. Dee Nash says:

      Carla, I think Spectrum mayonnaise has no soy. Doe that help?

      We went to Tavern on the Green the year before it closed and was torn down. I loved that place. So original and so charming. Thanks for stopping by.

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