This tasty plant-based twist on a classic Caesar salad is perfect for a filling, healthy, and flavorful lunch! Made with tender kale, crunchy croutons, and savory tempeh, this recipe is so satisfying!

Save This Recipe Form

Want to save this recipe?

Share your email below & we'll send it to you! Plus, you'll get new recipes from us every week!

I’ve been hooked on Caesar flavors lately and I’ve been making this vegan Caesar dressing on repeat. I love how it’s creamy and garlicky with just the right amount of tang — and it’s made from cashews so I feel good about drizzling it on my salads and veggies! I’ve also been really loving kale, partly because it’s so hearty but also because I’ve found that it’s quite a bit cheaper than romaine. While I’ve been loving these salads, I knew I needed to find a way to add some protein so they would keep me full. That’s when I turned to tempeh!

tempeh in a bowl

What is Tempeh?

Tempeh, like tofu, is made from fermented soybeans. But I like it better than than tofu because you don’t have to spend time draining or pressing it. Plus, the texture is more firm, so if you’ve ever been turned off by the texture of tofu, give tempeh a try! It is an excellent source of plant-based protein. Three ounces of tempeh contains 16g of protein and just 140 calories.

tempeh in a pan

How to Prepare Tempeh

I whisk together the marinade and then toss the tempeh until it’s coated. (If you have time, you can let it sit in the marinade for a while, but it’s not mandatory.) Then I simply pan-fry it in a little bit of oil until it’s dark brown and just slightly crispy.

kale massaged

How to Make Vegan Caesar Dressing

It’s easy to make this dressing! Just add everything to a high-speed blender and blend until smooth. I recommend soaking the cashews ahead of time if you can. If you don’t have time to soak the cashews for long, just add them to a cup of boiling water and let them sit for a few minutes while you prepare the rest of the salad. Then blend the cashews with the dressing ingredients.

Vegan Caesar

How to Make Cashew Dressing without a Blender

I have a Vitamix, which is an amazing blender, but it’s also a significant investment. I’ve been playing around with ways to make this dressing even if you don’t have a powerful blender — and I found an amazingly simple solution: cashew butter. It’s so simple! Since the cashews are already blended into a creamy consistency, it’s easy to mix the cashew butter with the remaining ingredients, even if you only have a whisk! I’ll admit that the dressing isn’t quite as rich and creamy, so I’d recommend blending cashews in a high-speed blender, if possible. But the cashew butter is a great option if you’re cooking without a blender.

Tips & Tricks

The recipe for this salad may look a bit long, since there is a recipe for the dressing, the croutons, and the tempeh. If you want to save some time, you can use store-bought dressing or croutons. You can also make any of these components ahead of time, even the tempeh! You can eat the tempeh cold or just reheat it in a skillet for a few minutes to warm it up.

Be sure to massage the kale with the dressing for the best texture. This helps soften the leaves so they’re more tender.

clock clock iconcutlery cutlery iconflag flag iconfolder folder iconinstagram instagram iconpinterest pinterest iconfacebook facebook iconprint print iconsquares squares iconheart heart iconheart solid heart solid icon
Vegan Caesar Salad

The Best Vegan Caesar Salad

5 Stars 4 Stars 3 Stars 2 Stars 1 Star 5 from 1 review
  • Author: Liz Thomson
  • Prep Time: 15 minutes
  • Cook Time: 30 minutes
  • Total Time: 45 minutes
  • Yield: Serves 4
  • Category: Salad
  • Method: Stovetop and Oven
  • Cuisine: American
  • Diet: Vegan


Units Scale

For the tempeh:

  • 3 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon maple syrup
  • 1 teaspoon vegan Worcestershire sauce
  • 8oz tempeh, thinly sliced
  • 2 teaspoons avocado oil
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil or olive oil spray

For the croutons:

  • 2 slices whole wheat bread or sourdough bread (about 2 cups cubed)
  • 2 teaspoons olive oil or olive oil spray
  • 1/8 tsp of garlic powder
  • 1/8 tsp of onion powder
  • Pinch of salt

For the salad & dressing:

  • 1/2 cup cashews, soaked for 6 hours (see note for a shortcut)
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar
  • 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3 tablespoons water (plus more if needed)
  • 1 bunch of kale (about 8 cups) chopped, stems removed


For the tempeh:

  1. In a large shallow bowl, whisk together the soy sauce, maple syrup, and Worcestershire sauce.
  2. Add the tempeh and use a spatula to gently coat it with the marinade. Let it sit for 5-10 minutes.
  3. Heat the oil in a pan over medium heat and spread the tempeh in a single layer.
  4. Cook for 5-7 minutes over medium heat and let it brown before flipping to the other side.
  5. Cook on the other side for another 3-5 minutes until brown on both sides.

For the croutons:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Toss the bread in a large bowl and drizzle with olive oil. You can also use an olive oil spray, which makes it easier to get an even coating.
  3. Spread in a single layer onto a large baking sheet.
  4. Sprinkle with garlic powder, onion powder, and salt.
  5. Bake for 8 minutes, then flip and continue to bake until golden brown.

For the Dressing:

  1. In a blender or food processor, combine the cashews, olive oil, lemon juice, balsamic vinegar, garlic powder, salt, and water.
  2. Blend for 30 seconds, then scrape down the sides and continue to blend.
  3. Add more water if needed. Add salt to taste.

To assemble the salad:

  1. Massage the kale with the dressing, then divide into bowls.
  2. Top it with croutons and tempeh.