How many calories in a small portion of Caesar salad?

Quick Answer

A small portion of Caesar salad contains approximately 150-300 calories depending on the exact ingredients and amounts. A typical small Caesar salad with romaine lettuce, croutons, Parmesan cheese and Caesar dressing contains around 250 calories. The calories come mainly from the dressing and croutons. Using light dressing and going easy on the croutons can reduce the calories in a small Caesar salad.

Calories in Common Caesar Salad Ingredients

The number of calories in a Caesar salad depends on the specific ingredients and serving sizes. Here are the calories for common Caesar salad ingredients:

Romaine Lettuce

– 1 cup shredded romaine lettuce: 8 calories

Romaine lettuce is very low in calories, providing only about 5-10 calories per cup raw. The lettuce itself contributes minimal calories to a Caesar salad.


– 2 tablespoons croutons: 60 calories

Croutons can add a significant amount of calories due to their high carb content from the bread. A small handful of croutons contains about 60 calories.

Parmesan Cheese

– 2 tablespoons grated Parmesan: 60 calories

– 1 ounce shredded Parmesan: 111 calories

Parmesan cheese packs a lot of calories into a small amount due to its high fat content. Just 2 tablespoons of grated Parmesan adds 60 calories.

Caesar Dressing

– 2 tablespoons regular Caesar dressing: 90 calories

– 2 tablespoons light Caesar dressing: 45 calories

Caesar salad dressing is generally the highest calorie ingredient in the salad due to being oil-based. Regular Caesar dressing has about 90 calories for 2 tablespoons, while light has about half.


– 3 ounces grilled chicken breast: 110 calories

Many Caesar salads contain grilled chicken breast for extra protein. A 3 ounce portion of chicken breast has about 110 calories.

Calories in a Small Caesar Salad

Adding up the calories in a typical small Caesar salad:

– 1 cup romaine lettuce: 10 calories
– 2 tablespoons croutons: 60 calories
– 2 tablespoons Parmesan: 60 calories
– 2 tablespoons Caesar dressing: 90 calories

Total calories: 220

This breakdown equals a typical small side Caesar salad with dressing containing approximately 220 calories.

The calories can be reduced by using light dressing (45 calories for 2 tablespoons) and going easy on high-calorie ingredients like croutons and cheese.

Here is a table showing the calories for small and large Caesar salads with different dressing and topping options:

Caesar Salad Calories
Small (1 cup lettuce, 2 tbsp light dressing, 2 tbsp croutons, 2 tbsp Parmesan) 170
Small (1 cup lettuce, 2 tbsp regular dressing, 2 tbsp croutons, 2 tbsp Parmesan) 220
Large (2 cup lettuce, 4 tbsp light dressing, 4 tbsp croutons, 4 tbsp Parmesan, 3 oz chicken) 385
Large (2 cup lettuce, 4 tbsp regular dressing, 4 tbsp croutons, 4 tbsp Parmesan, 3 oz chicken) 445

As shown, a larger Caesar salad with chicken can contain 400-450 calories depending on ingredients. Sticking with light dressing and reasonable amounts of high-calorie toppings keeps the calories down in a portion of Caesar salad.

Ways to Reduce Calories in Caesar Salad

Here are some tips for lowering the calories in a Caesar salad:

Use Romaine Lettuce

Romaine lettuce has very minimal calories – only about 10 calories per cup shredded. Using romaine as the base of your salad keeps it low calorie. Other greens like kale and spinach are also very low calorie salad options.

Use Light Dressing

Opt for light Caesar dressing instead of regular. Light dressing cuts the calories in half, saving about 45 calories per 2 tablespoon serving.

Go Easy on Croutons

Croutons are one of the highest calorie items topping a Caesar salad due to their carbs and fat. Reduce the amount of croutons to limit calories, or omit them completely to save 60 calories per 2 tablespoon serving.

Use Parmesan Sparingly

Parmesan cheese packs a lot of calories into a small amount. Sprinkle lightly rather than heavily layering to cut back on calories. Swap in a lower calorie cheese like feta or use less than the full 2 tablespoon serving.

Choose Grilled or Roasted Chicken

If adding chicken, opt for grilled or roasted instead of fried. Grilled chicken breast has about 110 calories for 3 ounces compared to around 220 calories for fried chicken.

Use Low Calorie Protein

Instead of higher calorie meats, add plant-based protein like chickpeas or edamame. These will add nutrition without all the extra calories of animal proteins.

Avoid Bacon and Creamy Add-Ins

Ingredients like bacon bits, creamy dressing, and buttery croutons significantly increase the calories. Stick to lighter, healthier ingredients in your salad.

Ask for Dressing on the Side

Getting dressing on the side allows you to control how much you use. Drizzle lightly rather than having it pre-tossed.

Nutrition Facts for Caesar Salad

Here are the full nutrition facts for a typical small Caesar salad in a 220 calorie 3 cup serving:

Calories: 220
Fat: 16g
Carbs: 12g
Protein: 8g

A Caesar salad provides a good amount of fat primarily from the Parmesan cheese and dressing. It also contains some protein especially when topped with ingredients like chicken or chickpeas.

Caesar salad has vitamins and minerals including:

– Vitamin A – 15% Daily Value
– Vitamin C – 10% DV
– Vitamin K – 55% DV
– Calcium – 10% DV
– Iron – 6% DV

Romaine lettuce provides vitamin A, vitamin K, and folate. Cheese adds more calcium and vitamin B12.

Overall, a Caesar salad can be a nutritious part of a balanced diet when made with healthy ingredients and reasonable portions. The combination of vegetables, lean protein, cheese, and healthy fats makes it more nutrient-dense than some other salad options. Just be mindful of portions and high calorie add-ins.

Healthy Caesar Salad Recipe Ideas

Here are some ideas for healthy Caesar salad recipes:

Greek Caesar Salad

Romaine lettuce, light dressing, feta cheese, kalamata olives, cucumbers, chickpeas, roasted red peppers, lemon juice

Chicken Caesar Wrap

Romaine, light dressing, chicken, Parmesan, whole wheat wrap

Salmon Caesar Salad

Romaine, light dressing, grilled salmon, croutons, Parmesan, black pepper

Kale Caesar Salad

Kale, light dressing, parmesan, toasted pumpkin seeds

Grilled Chicken Caesar Salad

Romaine, grilled chicken, light dressing, croutons, Parmesan

Shrimp Caesar Salad

Romaine, shrimp, light dressing, Parmesan, lemon wedges


A small Caesar salad with light dressing contains approximately 150-300 calories depending on serving sizes. Sticking to modest amounts of high-calorie ingredients like regular dressing, croutons and cheese keeps calories down. Choosing grilled chicken or plant proteins is lower calorie than fried chicken or bacon. With healthy preparation, a Caesar salad can be a nutritious lower calorie option for a side salad or entree salad. Use fresh veggie ingredients, reasonable portions and lighter dressings for the healthiest Caesar salad option.

Leave a Comment