overhead of cajun shrimp kale caesar with toppings on a plate

cajun shrimp kale caesar salad {keto + dairy-free}

There’s nothing like a classic caesar salad, and this cajun shrimp kale caesar is a zesty and healthier take on a traditional caesar recipe. Chopped kale replaces romaine lettuce; parmesan is optional (to keep this dairy-free), and the high-fat dressing with a base of egg yolk and olive oil, is totally keto-friendly. It has a cajun-style kick that pairs perfectly with some seasoned, pan-fried shrimp. If you didn’t think a keto salad was possible, this one will certainly change your mind! As long as you’re generous with that cajun caesar dressing. 😉

is caesar salad dressing keto friendly?

I’ve seen many variations of caesar salad dressings (recipes and store-bought) that claim to be low-carb or keto friendly. The truth is, they might be sugar-free or have zero carbs, but that doesn’t make them healthy. I always, always, always read the ingredient list. And almost always, store-bought dressings are made with unhealthy, highly processed oils that are high in omega-6 and pro-inflammatory.

The fat in this keto caesar salad dressing- from olive oil, egg yolks and coconut milk- is much healthier! This one’s a keto version of a traditional caesar salad dressing which is made with raw egg yolks. Once you whip in the olive oil, you’re essentially creating your own, olive oil mayonnaise. It’s easy and good for you, and if you want a more classic caesar, simply leave out the cajun spices and tomato paste.

overhead of raw cajun shrimp for kale caesar salad

how to make cajun shrimp kale caesar salad

I love this kale caesar recipe, but I’ll be honest, it’s not necessarily quick. There’s a bit of chopping involved for both the dressing and the salad (plus some recommended kale massaging!) and a few different steps to the process. This is more of a no-rush, Saturday night dinner type of salad, if you’re okay with turning on some music or a podcast, and chopping away. 🙂 Here’s a quick run-down of the steps involved, but be sure to scroll down to see the full recipe!

  1. Make the keto caesar salad dressing (can be done up to three days in advance).
  2. Wash, dry and de-rib the kale. Slice it into thin ribbons, then cut crosswise to make smaller pieces. Drizzle on some olive oil and massage it into the kale for a few minutes to help tenderize it.
  3. Slice the radishes and avocado and set aside. You can mix the keto caesar dressing into the salad at this time and chill it in the fridge, or wait until serving. (I like to mix the dressing in ahead of time to make the kale softer).
  4. Prep the shrimp by peeling, washing (and de-veining, if you choose). Arrange them on a baking sheet and sprinkle them with cajun seasoning. Pan-fry the shrimp in a skillet with olive oil, for about 2-3 minutes on each side.
  5. Assemble the salad by placing 4-5 of the cajun shrimp on top of each kale caesar serving. Top with avocado, toasted cajun sunflower seeds, or parmesan (optional- see recipe below), and more dressing. 🙂
keto caesar salad dressing being poured onto kale caesar salad

keto caesar salad: a healthier take

This kale caesar is a healthier, nutrient-dense version of a classic caesar salad, made even tastier with cajun-seasoned shrimp! It’s the perfect keto caesar- the dressing is high in healthy fat, the kale and radish is low-carb, and the shrimp provides a little protein.

to make cajun-seasoned sunflower seeds

I like to top this caesar with toasted, cajun-seasoned sunflower seeds. To make them, toss about a cup of sunflower seeds in a little olive oil, sprinkle on about 2 teaspoons of cajun seasoning, and toast at 400°F for about five minutes.

I hope you enjoy this keto caesar salad recipe! It’s filling and flavorful and seems just fitting for a relaxed, weekend dinner.

cajun shrimp caesar salad in a serving bowl with toppings

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overhead of cajun shrimp kale caesar with toppings on a plate

cajun shrimp kale caesar salad {keto + dairy-free}

Yield: 4

This kale caesar salad with spicy, cajun shrimp is full of big flavor and healthy fats. The perfect keto caesar salad with a little kick! It's dairy-free, gluten-free, and low-carb.

Ingredients

keto cajun caesar dressing

  • 2 flat anchovy fillets
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 egg yolks (large)
  • 2 teaspoons dijon mustard
  • 1 teaspoon tomato paste
  • 1 teaspoon fresh parsley, chopped
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cayenne
  • 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • 1 cup olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar* 
  • 1/4 cup canned, full-fat coconut milk
  • 1/2 teaspoon horseradish (optional)

kale caesar salad

  • 1 bunch kale
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil 
  • 3-4 radishes
  • 1 avocado
  • 1 pound large, wild-caught shrimp (peeled and de-veined)
  • 1 tablespoon cajun seasoning
  • optional salad toppings like toasted sunflower seeds, parmesan, or a squeeze of fresh lemon juice

Instructions

keto cajun caesar dressing

  1. Chop the anchovy fillets really small, until they're similar in size to the minced garlic.
  2. Place the minced garlic and anchovies in a bowl, and whisk in the egg yolks. Add dijon, tomato paste, lemon juice, parsley, cayenne, and salt and pepper. Stir until it's combined.
  3. Slowly drizzle in the olive oil as you whisk it into the mixture. It should begin to thicken.
  4. Stir in the coconut milk (optjonal, but it adds creaminess), vinegar, and horseradish (optional).
  5. Taste and adjust, adding more salt and pepper or cayenne if needed, or more coconut milk if it's too salty. The saltiness will vary depending on the anchovies.
  6. Serve or chill in the refrigerator while you prepare the keto caesar salad.

kale caesar salad

  1. Wash, dry and de-rib the kale. Cut it into thin ribbons, then cut crosswise to make them smaller.
  2. Drizzle about 1 tablespoon onto the cut kale and massage it in for about 3 minutes to tenderize the leaves.
  3. Slice the radishes and avocado. Set aside.
  4. Toss the salad into the cajun caesar dressing and chill in the fridge (this will also help soften the kale).
  5. In a large skillet, heat the remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil over medium heat.
  6. Place the shrimp on a plate or baking sheet and sprinkle with cajun seasoning. Dredge the shrimp through the excess seasoning to coat the other side.
  7. Fry the shrimp in the skillet for about 2-3 minutes per side, until they're pink and fully-cooked. Set aside.
  8. To serve, place 3-4 shrimp on top of a serving of kale caesar salad, then top with toasted sunflower seeds, parmesan (optional), or a squeeze of fresh lemon juice.

Notes

The apple cider vinegar isn't absolutely necessary but helps cut the slight bitter taste of the olive oil. If you don't have vinegar, you can add an extra tablespoon of lemon juice.

This salad will refrigerate well. Leftovers will keep for up to one day.

Nutrition information includes the entire recipe for the caesar salad dressing. You'll most likely have leftover dressing, so keep in mind the nutrition information will be lower than the estimate provided here.

Nutrition Information:
Yield: 4 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 750Total Fat: 67gSaturated Fat: 12.1gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 54.9gCholesterol: 275mgSodium: 280mgCarbohydrates: 12.7gNet Carbohydrates: 7gFiber: 5.7gSugar: 2.7gProtein: 29.3g

This nutritional information is approximate and is provided for convenience as a courtesy.

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