Is Caesar Salad Healthy? Here’s What a Nutritionist Says

There’s good news and bad news…

Is Caesar salad healthy?: a closeup of a bowl of Caesar salad
EyeWolf/Getty Images

Croutons, Parmesan and a creamy, garlicky dressing: These are the things salad dreams are made of—if you’re talking about salad royalty, aka the Caesar. If it’s on the menu, we’re ordering it, and if it’s not, we’re eating somewhere else. (Just kidding…kind of.) This got us wondering, is Caesar salad healthy? So, we asked a nutritionist if the dish is too good to be true. Spoiler, it’s not quite the answer we wanted to hear. (But there’s some good news, too.)

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Meet the Expert

Lori Barrett, RDN, is a registered dietician nutritionist with over 25 years of experience. She specializes in working with clients who have concerns with weight management, as well as overall health and wellness goals, diabetes, heart health and woman’s issues from pregnancy to menopause.

Is Caesar Salad Healthy?

“Sad to say, an entrée sized Caesar salad might not be as healthy a choice as we thought it would be,” says Lori Barrett, RDN. As she explains, that’s largely because of the high sodium and fat content. The exact nutritional content varies depending on where your Caesar is coming from, but Barrett cites The Cheesecake Factory’s entrée Caesar salad as an example:

  • 1,270 calories
  • 112g fat
  • 1630mg sodium

“That’s a high-calorie, high-fat, high-sodium entrée,” she explains. “Over 80 percent of the calories are coming from fat. We are at 70 percent of our sodium intake for the day, if you follow the American Heart Association’s recommendation of staying under 2,300 milligrams daily.” (Oof, there goes our Caesar-and-French-fries lunch.) The culprits? Unfortunately, it’s the good stuff: fried croutons, egg yolk in the dressing and copious amounts of Parmesan.

But there are some benefits, too: “The base of romaine lettuce is a good source of fiber, along with vitamins A, C and K,” Barrett explains, “and it provides a source of hydration along with being low in calories.” As for the dressing, she points out that there’s heart-healthy, antioxidant-containing olive oil, vitamin C from lemon juice and omega-3 fatty acids from the anchovies. The trick to enjoying your salad and making it work to your advantage is to maximize on the nutrients you can add.

is caesar salad healthy bowl of chickpea caesar salad
Katherine Gillen

How Can a Caesar Salad Be Made Healthier?

Caesar salad enthusiasts, we see you. Not all hope is lost. “We can make some simple changes to make Caesar salad healthier,” says Barrett. And here’s how:

  • The dressing. “Start by using the dressing sparingly, getting it on the side or using a ‘light’ version instead.”
  • The croutons. “Adding whole grain croutons that are baked instead of fried would add more grains to our meal and lower the fat content.”
  • The cheese. “Use parmesan cheese sparingly to reduce the sodium and fat.”
  • The roughage. “Adding more vegetables like cucumbers, peppers and tomatoes will increase our fiber and nutrients.”

Of course, making your Caesar salad at home is as good a start as any, because you can control what goes into it. We like adding plant-based protein in the form of roasted chickpeas and thinning out our dressing to make a little go a longer way while keeping the creamy texture.


Senior Food Editor

Katherine Gillen is PureWow’s senior food editor. She’s a writer, recipe developer and food stylist with a degree in culinary arts and professional experience in New York City...