We’re Sprinkling This Umami-Packed Caesar Dust on *All* of Our Snacks

This tangy-savory Caesar seasoning blend comes together in under 10 minutes, and is great dusted over just about everything. Sprinkle it over popcorn or hard-boiled eggs. Pour it into a bag of kettle chips and give it a shake, or toss with sturdy veggies before roasting.

Side view of caesar dust in jar
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An extremely underappreciated food category is dust. The nacho cheese dust you lick off your fingers after you polish off a bag of Doritos. The cinnamon-sugar dust that coats the pads of your thumbs after you’ve enjoyed some mall pretzel bites. In college, when I was craving homemade Indian food, my friend would serve me up dosas with her mom's homemade gunpowder, or podi—a dry powder made from lentils and spices—that you could sprinkle with abandon over just about anything.   

Overhead view of caesar dust on eggs
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If you’re a dust-lover like I am, might I suggest trying out Caesar dust at home? The tangy-savory craveability of our favorite salad is begging to meet the finger licking–good quality of our favorite snack foods. This recipe for Caesar dust accomplishes just this. Plus it comes together in just a few minutes with only six main ingredients that, if not in your pantry already, are available at most large supermarkets. 

Overhead view of popcorn with caesar dust
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Each ingredient does some serious heavy lifting in standing in for the flavor pillars of a classic Caesar dressing. They're all also shelf-stable, pantry-friendly ingredients that make the wonders of Caesar dust available to you any time the craving strikes. Some are obvious: Garlic powder and mustard powder stand in for raw garlic and prepared mustard. But in the pursuit of a shelf-stable Caesar, some ingredients are creative interpretations (that are pretty spot-on flavor-wise). Here's a look at some of the key ingredients that make up this culinary dust:

Overhead view of ingredients
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  • Seaweed snacks: Instead of anchovies, seaweed snacks are blitzed in a spice grinder to bring that same hit of salinity and umami. A small 10-gram snack-size package with pre-cut sheets is what we’re looking for, but if you can’t find it, one whole sheet of toasted seaweed cut into squares—roughly 3-x3-inches, just small enough to fit into your spice grinder—will work just as well. It’s important to take the time to blitz your seaweed snacks in a spice grinder. You don’t need a fine powder, but because the snacks often have quite a bit of oil, it may clump and stick to the walls of your spice grinder. Work in batches—three seems to do the trick—thoroughly scraping out the inside of the spice grinder when you’re done for any residual flakes. Visible flecks (the pulverized seaweed should be somewhere between the size of sesame seeds and oats) of sparkly seaweed in the blend are actually what we’re going for. Think of the speckles of green as a little nod to the absent romaine of a classic Caesar salad. 
  • Parmesan cheese powder and nutritional yeast: Shelf-stable Parmesan cheese, like the kind you can find in shakers at your favorite pizza joint, makes this Caesar dust hold up at room temperature for up to two weeks. (Look for it in the pasta aisle at your grocery store; Kraft Grated Parmesan Cheese is one widely available brand). While using both Parmesan and nutritional yeast may seem like a redundancy—both the cheese and nooch provide a savory, cheesy backbone to the Caesar powder—here, nooch brings an additional malty, almost fatty savoriness that accomplishes what egg yolks do in a classic Caesar dressing.
  • Lemon pepper seasoning: Store-bought, prepared lemon pepper spice blend—the wild card—brings a citrusy tang, thanks to its dehydrated lemon zest and citric acid that mimics the flavor and acidity of lemon juice. 

The possibilities for this dust are limitless: Sprinkle over popcorn or hard-boiled eggs. Pour into a bag of kettle chips and give it a shake. Toss sturdy veggies like potatoes, peppers, or squash with oil and a sprinkling of Caesar dust before roasting. Season rice or buttered noodles. Or, go meta: crisp up Caesar dust–coated chickpeas in the oven or air fryer to use as a crunchy topping for your next Caesar salad. You’ll find that once you have a stockpile of Caesar dust, you’ll look for an excuse to add it to just about anything—and lick your fingers afterward.

Overhead view of popcorn dust
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Open package of seaweed snacks, and cut the sheets in half. In three batches, blend the seaweed in an electric spice grinder until they are small flakes. Pour into a small bowl.

Two image collage of breaking up seaweed
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To the small bowl, add Parmesan cheese powder, nutritional yeast, lemon pepper seasoning, garlic powder, and mustard powder. Mix well, using a fork. Use the tines of the fork to break up clumps, and fluff until the powder is well-combined and the texture of coarse sand. Taste and adjust salt, as needed. 

two image collage of ingredients before and after being mixed
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Special Equipment

Spice Grinder

Notes

1 teaspoon (4g) anchovy powder can be substituted for the seaweed snacks. If using the anchovy powder, omit the salt. Note the total yield when substituting with anchovy powder will be reduced by about half.

When purchasing seaweed snacks, make sure to buy plain, toasted, and salted seaweed—stay away from strong flavors like wasabi or sesame.

This recipe can be easily halved, or doubled as needed.

Make-Ahead and Storage

Caesar Dust can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for two weeks, or two months in the freezer.