This Creamy Tahini Caesar Dressing is the only vegan caesar recipe out there that has rich umami satisfaction, tons of flavor and can be made in just 5 minutes! Simply pour this creamy tahini dressing over some crisp romaine lettuce or little gems for a classic Caesar salad with a healthy twist.
This post has been updated from the original posted October 5, 2019
If you’re looking for a delicious and healthy alternative to traditional caesar salad dressing…you know, something lighter than those weightier dressings, I’ve got just the recipe for you! This creamy dressing is made without any animal products like raw eggs, parmesan cheese or anchovies you find in traditional caesar dressing…AND, it’s one of the most flavorful dressings out there.
I’m not a huge fan of store-bought dressings. They are often made with heavily processed vegetable oils, preservatives and too much added sodium. You can make your own salad dressings, like this easy tahini caesar in just 5 minutes with a few simple ingredients.
- Tahini: Tahini is made by grinding sesame seeds. Find a brand that has just one ingredient, sesame seeds. They’re loaded with calcium and healthy fats. Mix your jar thoroughly, for a naturally creamy tahini with uniform texture before you first use it.
- Lemon: Use the whole fruit for lemon zest and fresh lemon juice.
- GARLIC: Use fresh garlic, if possible, for a super tasting garlicky dressing. You can substitute with garlic powder if needed.
- CAPERS: Traditional Caesar Salad is made with anchovies. If you don’t like the texture of anchovies or if you’re vegan, capers will give you a briny dressing with no gritty texture. Capers are rich in umami satisfaction…you’ll use the brine and the actual capers. Even if you don’t like capers, you’ll love the end result…..especially if you choose the blended variation.
- Nutritional yeast: This one ingredient takes this dairy-free Caesar Dressing and makes you think there must be parmesan cheese in it. The nutritional yeast mixes beautifully into the dressing to create the perfect flavor and texture of classic caesar dressing.
- Mustard: Egg-free caesar dressing gets some color from the dijon mustard. Also, with a no-oil and no mayo dressing, the mustard helps the dressing to emulsify and become thick and creamy without needing the egg yolk.
- Maple syrup: Optional….I like just a splash to offer a subtle sweetness to balance the lip smacking pungency of the caper brine.
What is Tahini?
Tahini is made by grinding sesame seeds into an oily paste. Tahini can be found using raw or roasted ground sesame seeds. Some brands use hulled and some un hulled sesame seeds. Read the labels and look for a brand that has just one ingredient, sesame seeds.
Some separation may occur in your jar of tahini. Unopened jars of tahini should be stored upside down in your pantry upside down, to make them easier to mix when opened. When you first open a jar, be sure to mix, mix and mix some more. You’ll want to fully incorporate any separated oil into the solid part to create a smooth sesame seed paste. Keep stirring until the entire jar has a uniform texture.
Classic Caesar Salad Dressing is usually made with olive oil, and sometimes with processed vegetable oil or mayo. Tahini is a healthier choice than adding oil to dressing. Tahini is a great substitution because it provides healthy fats without the need for additional oil and also a creaminess that make up for the lack of eggs.
Health benefits of tahini:
- Calcium: a great non-dairy source of calcium. Good for strong bones and blood transport.
- Protein: Tahini contains more protein than dairy milk and most nuts.
- Healthy Fats: Good for brain health and changing the ratio of good/bad cholesterol.
- Good source of anti-oxidants and vitamin C that help fight inflammation.
- Iron: tahini is a good source of plant-based iron.
How to make Tahini Caesar Dressing
Make it with a whisk
- Pour tahini into a small bowl. Zest lemon and garlic over bowl with tahini.
- Juice lemon over the bowl and add the caper juice and water. Whisk. Whisk some more. Keep whisking until dressing has emulsified.
- Chop 2 Tablespoons capers until they resemble a paste. Mash in some of the nutritional yeast into the paste and then dump the paste into the tahini mixture.
- Add in dijon mustard, into the bowl and whisk again.
- Freshly grind black pepper into the dressing and some crushed red pepper. Mix well.
- Taste for seasoning, adding a bit more caper brine if a saltier flavor is preferred or a bit more lemon juice for some tang.
Make it with an immersion blender
- Gather tahini, mustard, capers, caper juice, water, nutritional yeast and freshly ground black pepper in a tall container.
- Use a microplane to zest the lemon and garlic over the container.
- Juice the lemon directly into the jar.
- Blend until creamy. If too thick, add water 1 Tablespoon at a time until desired consistency is achieved.
- Taste for seasoning. Add another splash of caper juice, some crushed red pepper or additional nutritional yeast to taste.
How to Store
- Store in an airtight container in the fridge for 2 weeks.
- I like to use a mason jar with wide mouth so the immersion blender fits right in and I can store it in the same jar in the fridge.
- Freeze: use freezer safe containers, it will last 3 months. Thaw in the fridge or at room temperature. Whisk well before using.
Debra’s Pro Tips
- Short on time? Skip chopping the capers and mix them in whole.
- If your dressing thickens up in the fridge, whisk in 1-2 Tablespoons water….or pour it into your jar and shake vigorously.
- FULLY mix your jar of tahini before using in any recipes.
- Store tahini at room temperature for best results.
- Sometimes tahini will seize up when mixed with liquid…that’s OK. Just keep mixing. As more liquid is added and the dressing emulsifies it won’t be so pasty.
- This is a great dressing for crudites. If you want your family to eat more veggies, give them an incredibly delicious dipping sauce.
What to serve with Caesar Salad Dressing?
- Go simple…fill a large bowl with some little gem lettuces, pour on just enough dressing to moisten. Bam. Done. Tahini Caesar Salad in under 10 minutes. Get fancy and throw on some homemade croutons or garbanzo beans.
- Wraps: Layers of lettuce, sprouts, beans, shredded cabbage with a drizzle of tahini caesar dressing.
- Make some spring rolls and use the vegan caesar as a dipping sauce.
- White Bean Burgers taste great with this creamy tahini dressing slather on top.
- A batch of vegan sandwich rolls is the basis to build your favorite sammie with a shmear of this creamy vegan caesar.
- Buddha Bowls: Build a better bowl with grains, greens, cooked and raw veggies….and some caesar dressing.
- OH…..and the most obvious choice: use this yummy dressing to make a Caesar Salad! This Vegan Kale Caesar has crispy roasted chickpeas in place of croutons….more YUM!
Vegan Caesar FAQs
Classic Caesar Salad Dressing is made with parmesan cheese. It’s possible to make dairy-free caesar dressing with a combination of nutritional yeast and tahini that will have an authentic caesar salad taste without any dairy.
Vegan caesar is often made with tofu or cashews. I like this creamy tahini caesar made with tahini and capers, lots of lemon, some fresh garlic and a bit of nutritional yeast to keep it dairy-free and still kinda cheesy.
Capers are immature buds, plucked from a small bush that’s native to the Middle East. They add a floral, tangy, and salty flavor to dishes that resembles sea food, but they’re vegan.
Not all bottled salad dressing is gluten-free. It’s best to read labels carefully. Homemade caesar dressing means you control the ingredients. There is no gluten in this dressing. It’s thick from the tahini and mustard, plus the ground up capers so it’s also grain-free.
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Creamy Tahini Caesar Dressing Recipe
- 2-3 teaspoons capers
- ⅓ cup tahini
- 1 lemon zested and juiced
- 2 cloves garlic zested
- 1 Tablespoon dijon mustard
- 2 Tablespoons nutritional yeast
- ¼ cup water
- 3 teaspoons caper brining juice
- ½ teaspoon black pepper
- crushed red pepper to taste
- Optional: 1 teaspoon maple syrup
Immersion Blender Directions
- Place all ingredients into tall cup or container wide enough to fit immersion blender.
- Blend until smooth and creamy. Taste for seasoning. Add more nutritional yeast or caper juice, a splash of maple syrup or some crushed red pepper.
Whisk by hand method
- Pour tahini into a small bowl. Zest lemon and garlic into bowl. Squeeze juice from lemon and add caper juice. Whisk. Add water slowly and keep whisking until dressing begins to emulsify.
- Chop 2 teaspoons capers until they resemble a paste, add to dressing along with mustard, nutritional yeast and black pepper.
- Taste for seasoning. Add a splash of maple syrup and some red pepper flakes, if desired. Whisk well. For a more briny dressing, add in a few whole capers. If too thick, add another tablespoon or two of water.