Mayfair Salad Dressing – Better than Caesar


Mayfair Salad
Mayfair Salad Dressing has long been a favorite in St.Louis where it was the house salad dressing for the Mafair Hotel.  Think of it as a better version of Caesar dressing.  It is thick and creamy, encasing the ingredients so every bite includes the dressing.

When Mike and I were very young (read that very, very young) and first married we would buy a pint of the salad dressing and eats salads all week long.  We thought we had gone to heaven.

The Mayfair Hotel was built in 1925 and was known as the hotel of movie stars, visiting presidents and anyone wanting to be treated like royalty.  It was a hotel in the grand style where wishes were anticipated and luxury was afforded to everyone who came. The hotel was added to the National Register of Historic Places on September 17, 1979.

It is thought that Chef Fred Bangerter created the dressing around 1935.  While the original Mayfair Salad Dressing was built on the base of homemade mayonnaise, I altered it slightly to use purchased mayonnaise to avoid the raw eggs.  I am happy to say, it is not only easier to make, but it’s safer to eat. 

Celery is used as a natural thickener for the salad dressing.  Anchovies provide the unmistakable flavor of Caesar dressing.  Don’t be put off by the large amount of black pepper and do use the coarse ground pepper.  It is important to rinse the anchovies in hot water before incorporating them so they don’t become overly prominent in the finished dressing.

The original salad consisted of romaine lettuce (very luxurious at the time), ham, swiss cheese, and croutons.  I have included two other versions, one of which uses leftover turkey.  I have also included a recipe to make croutons fresh.  They taste so much better than store bought.  They can be made days ahead and stored in an airtight container to be used whenever.

This  Mayfair Salad dressing will keep for a week in the refrigerator.  It never lasts that long in my house.

Thank you for your indulgence as I shared some of my favorite savory recipes.  In case you thought I abandoned my baking and pastries, I have some wonderful desserts as well as a savory cheesecake for your holiday entertaining coming up in the next few weeks

Happy Thanksgiving to all.  Have a wonderful holiday.

Mayfair Salad Dressing

1 cup coarsely chopped celery
1 large clove garlic
1/4 cup coarsely chopped onion
2 ounces canned anchovies rinsed in hot water*
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon coarse black pepper
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 1/2 cup prepared mayonnaise

*Anchovies come in a 2 ounce can.  They come flat for rolled.  I use the flat but it doesn’t really matter.

Place all but the mayonnaise in a food processor bowl. Process to puree.  Add 1/3 of the mayonnaise called for; process.  Whisk in remaining mayonnaise by hand.

Store for a maximum of 7 days in the refrigerator.

Yield:  2 1/2 cups


8 cups stale bread cut into 3/4×3/4 inch dice
1/3 to 1/2 cup canola or olive oil
1 1/2 tablespoons dried basil
1 1/2 tablespoons dried thyme
1 1/2 tablespoons dried oregano

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.

Toss the bread cubes with the oil.  Make sure they are all coated.  Mix the dried herbs and add half of them to the cubes; toss.  Add the remaining herbs and toss to coat evenly.  Place 1/2 of the cubes on each of the sheets.   Bake for 8 to 10 minutes until golden brown.  Cool.  Store in an airtight container for 1 week at room temperature or freeze for several months.

Original Mayfair Salad Dressing

I am leaving the amount of each ingredient up to you depending upon the number of salads and the amount of each ingredient.

Romaine lettuce
1/4″ Julienne of ham
1/4″ julienne of swiss cheese
Croutons from above
Mayfair Salad Dressing

BLT Salad Assembly

Romaine lettuce
Roma tomatoes
8 to 10 slices of good bacon (preferably applewood smoked), cooked and crumbled
Croutons as desired from above
Mayfair salad dressing

Pick over lettuce.  Juice tomatoes by slicing off tops and cutting in half.  Squeeze halves to release juice and seeds.   Cut into medium dice.  Toss all ingredients together just before serving.

To Make Ahead:  Cook and crumble bacon several hours ahead.  Prepare tomatoes and refrigerate them.

Club Salad with Mayfair Salad Dressing

Make the BLT as above and add 1/4″ julienne of turkey,

The perfect accompaniment to any of these salads is the Wine and Cheese Baguettes 


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16 thoughts on “Mayfair Salad Dressing – Better than Caesar

  1. Jean Heys

    Looks like a yummy salad dressing – I can’t wait to try it and have put anchovies on my shopping list. Just a nit-picky detail though, and apologies if it causes offence: Caeser should be Caesar :)

      1. Jean Heys

        So I headed for the grocery store today with visions of anchovies dancing in my head and !! couldn’t find them!! Looked everywhere – canned fish, Italian foods, spices, International foods, pickles etc. etc. and finally returned to where I started and encountered a lovely man restocking canned tuna and sardines. When I asked him, he wasn’t at all surprised and led me across the (very large) store to the fresh fish department where a refrigerated case holds pickled herrings and tins of anchovies as well as anchovy paste. Apparently a while back regulations in Ontario changed and anchovies – tinned and paste – must be refrigerated and most people have trouble finding them. I tell this little story in hopes that others may find it useful. Now I’m off to make salad dressing.

  2. Nancy S

    Agree with everyone…move over class is Caesar.
    I used a few celery leaves because I love them.
    Serving it tonight with escarole.
    Thank you for the recipe.

  3. Flo

    Hi Helen,
    I have always loved this dressing, too. Had it on a Wedge salad a few months ago, really yummy. I am working in Alaska now and don’t have access to a lot of ingredients but I am definitely going to look for going anchovies when I go to the grocery store tomorrow.
    One of my co-workers is an excellent baker and I gave her your recipe for Lemon meringue cake. She made it a few weeks later and brought a piece for me at work. She said she had to hide it in the fridge so her family wouldn’t eat it! Just thought I’d let you know that you have fans in Southwest Alaska. H
    Have a great Thanksgiving.

    1. hfletcher Post author

      Hi Flo, I hope you find the anchovies. Thank you so much for sharing the Lemon Meringue Cake. I am so happy everyone loved it. It has become one of my favorites and the meringue between the layers does it. Love having readers in Alaska. Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours.

  4. Lynette Pruett

    I am so happy that you have posted this salad dressing recipe and salad suggestions for using it! One of my favorite salad dressings is Caesar, and I’ve made it, but I know that your recipe will be tastier than any other I’ve tried! And thanks for this and the other savory recipes you’ve been sharing because at this time of year, entertaining is the name of the game, and we need some savory to balance the sweet!
    When my husband and I were first married (also a very, very long time ago!), we used to go window shopping as our entertainment. We hardly ever bought anything, but had fun nevertheless. I wish we’d had the good sense to have searched out a fine restaurant in our city and had a special treat to remember those time, as do you and Mike. However, we have other special memories of those times…I made my first napoleons to celebrate an early anniversary when we didn’t have money to go out to dinner!

    1. hfletcher Post author

      Hi Lynette – my first blog was savory. I used it to practice for this one. I love cooking and baking which is why I pulled out some savory to share this month. You were far more adventuresome than I when first starting out. I was not inclined toward the kitchen. I found my love for the kitchen because we liked to entertain and in those days, dinner parties were the way to go. But to attempt a Napolean at that time wasn’t even a thought. Good for you. Happy Thanksgiving to you and your family.

  5. Irene Peek

    Thank you for these terrific recipes. I, too, am “anchovy phobic”. But I understand what they add to a recipe. I plan to use a tiny amount of anchovy paste, the kind that comes in tubes and is sold at most grocery stores. I’ll keep adding small amounts until I think I detect the taste and then will stop. I’ll let you know how it turns out. Thanks and Happy Thanksgiving!

    1. hfletcher Post author

      Anchovies are key to his dressing so there is nothing I can suggest. If you leave them out, the dressing will be bland. My suggestion is to find another dressing – Green Goddess? I can tell you I do not like anchovies either but I love this dressing. If you rinse them in hot water, they become an undertone and not the dominant flavor.

  6. mybobba1

    Oh my, I have been making this dressing for too many years, also put it on baked potatoes, use it as a dip with veggies, or just eat it with a spoon! I just found out Vince sr. died,, so sorry to hear, we were friends since hischool. This dressing, Russ dressing from old Busch’s grove, andcaesars dressing are my go to as my best old faithful dressing, and of course oldies thousand island and green goddess. Does that date me? Lived in the best of times.

    1. hfletcher Post author

      I agree with all the uses. This is our favorite salad dressing by far. I don’t mind being dated and if anyone who asks if I would like to relive my youth, I always tell them, “only if I can take everything I know now back with me.” I have learned so much about myself and so many other things along the way that I am happy to be who I am, how old I am.

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