15 Simple Salad Dressings You Can Make at Home

You'll never buy bottled again.

January 15, 2016
caesar salad dressing
1/16 Thinkstock

Between the heavy dressings and the thick vinaigrettes, it's no wonder that a single serving of a salad, covered in a store-bought marinade can set you back a couple hundred calories. 

If you thought you were eating healthy (hey, vegetables!), the reality shows otherwise. 

Instead of going for any of those bottled varieties, do homemade, and pick the best types of dressings. That way, you can identify all the ingredients, and enjoy a new flavor in as little as two minutes. Check out these 15 homemade salad dressing recipes for inspiration: 

cilantro pear vinaigrette
2/16 Mitch Mandel
Cilantro-Pear Vinaigrette

Stuck in a repetitive rut and always reach for olive oil any time you make a dressing or marinade? One of the simplest ways to mix up the flavor and nutrition profile of any dressing is by switching up the oils. Some of the most flavorful (and healthiest) options include avocado, walnut, flax, and safflower. For this one, we stick with EVOO, but the cilantro and pear will give it a brand new profile for your taste buds. 

Cilantro-Pear Vinaigrette
(Makes 4 servings)

Ingredients:
1/2 cup cilantro leaves
1 small pear, cored and quartered
1 clove garlic, peeled
Juice of 1 lemon
2 Tablespoons white wine vinegar
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil

Directions:
Puree the cilantro, pear, garlic, lemon juice, and vinegar in a blender until smooth. On low speed, drizzle in the olive oil and blend to emulsify.

Serve immediately or store covered in the refrigerator for up to 4 days. Shake to redistribute if settling occurs.

Adapted from Eat Clean, Stay Lean

citrus vinaigrette
3/16 Mitch Mandel
Citrus Vinaigrette

Drizzle this dressing over grilled fish, shrimp, or chicken for a bright flavor.

Citrus Vinaigrette
(Makes about 1 cup)

Ingredients:
6 Tablespoons red wine vinegar
1/4 cup lemon juice
1/4 cup orange juice
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
2 Tablespoons Dijon mustard
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper

Directions:
In a jar with a lid, mi x together the vinegar, lemon and orange juices, and oil. Add the mustard, salt, and pepper. Cover with the lid and shake well before serving.

Refrigerate any leftover dressing for 3 to 5 days.

Adapted from The Healthy You Diet

herbed mustard vinaigrette
4/16 Thinkstock
Herbed Mustard Vinaigrette

This is a good basic dressing that's delicious on mixed greens (a.k.a. plant nachos), steamed asparagus, and boiled potatoes. Change the flavor by adding minced shallot or garlic or substituting lemon juice for the vinegar.

Herbed Mustard Vinaigrette
(Makes 12 1-Tablespoon servings)
Per serving: 59 calories, 0 g protein, 0 g carbohydrates, 6 g fat, 0 mg cholesterol, 100 mg sodium, 0 g dietary fiber

Ingredients:
1/4 cup vegetable broth
2 Tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
2 Tablespoons red wine vinegar
4 teaspoons Dijon mustard
1 1/2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/3 cup olive oil

Directions:
Place the broth, parsley, vinegar, mustard, thyme, salt, and pepper in a medium bowl. Whisk until well blended. Whisk in the oil in a slow, steady stream. Transfer to a small jar and refrigerate until ready to serve.

This dressing will keep for 4 to 5 days in the refrigerator.

Adapted from The Sugar Solution Cookbook

italian vinaigrette
5/16 Mitch Mandel
Italian Vinaigrette

Red wine vinegar gives this dressing a bit of bite. Spoon it over salads and grilled vegetables.

Italian Vinaigrette
(Makes about 3/4 cup)

Ingredients:
6 Tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
6 Tablespoons red wine vinegar
2 Tablespoons lemon juice
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
2 teaspoons minced garlic
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper

Directions:
In a jar with a lid, mix together the oil, vinegar, and lemon juice. Add the mustard, garlic, salt, and pepper. Cover with the lid and shake well before serving.

Refrigerate any leftover dressing for 3 to 5 days.

Adapted from The Healthy You Diet

buttermilk dressing
6/16 Thinkstock
Cool Buttermilk Dressing

This dressing is delicious on crisp lettuces, tomato salads, or cucumber and onion salads with a few sliced beets added. It is also a tasty complement to oven-fried fish.

Cool Buttermilk Dressing
(Makes 10 2-Tablespoon servings)
Per serving: 25 calories, 1 g protein, 2 g carbohydrates, 1 g fat, 0 mg cholesterol, 120 mg sodium, 0 g dietary fiber

Ingredients:
1 cup buttermilk
1/4 cup light mayonnaise
2 Tablespoons snipped fresh dill
1 clove garlic, crushed through a press
1/4 teaspoon grated lemon peel
1 Tablespoon lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon grainy mustard
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Directions:
In a medium bowl, whisk together the buttermilk, mayonnaise, dill, garlic, lemon peel, lemon juice, mustard, salt, and pepper until well blended. Transfer to a small jar and refrigerate until ready to serve.

Adapted from The Sugar Solution Cookbook

maple hazelnut vinaigrette
7/16 Mitch Mandel
Maple-Hazelnut Vinaigrette

Like other nut oils, a small amount of hazelnut oil adds a distinct flavor to dressings.

Maple-Hazelnut Vinaigrette
(Makes 1/2 cup)

Ingredients:
1/4 cuphazelnuts
3 Tablespoons hazelnut oil or extra-virgin olive oil
2 Tablespoons apple cider vinegar
2 Tablespoons pure maple syrup
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard 
1 teaspoon grated lemon peel
1 clove garlic, chopped
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper

Directions:
In a blender or food processor, combine the hazelnuts, oil, vinegar, maple syrup, mustard, lemon peel, garlic, salt, and pepper. Blend or process just until coarse.

Refrigerate any leftover dressing for 3 to 5 days. Shake well before serving.

Adapted from The Healthy You Diet

thousand island dressing
8/16 Thinkstock
A Few Less Than a Thousand Islands Dressing

This is a low-cal twist on a high-cal favorite. Serve it on iceberg lettuce wedges, sprinkled with shreds of red cabbage and carrots for fiber. It's also delicious with broiled shrimp.

A Few Less Than a Thousand Islands Dressing
(Makes 16 1-Tablespoon servings)
Per serving: 24 calories, 0 g protein, 3 g carbohydrates, 1 g fat, 0 mg cholesterol, 105 mg sodium, 0 g dietary fiber

Ingredients:
1/2 cup light mayonnaise
1/4 cup fat-free sour cream
1/4 cup medium-spicy chunky salsa
2 Tablespoons dill pickle relish
2 Tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1 Tablespoon tomato paste
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Directions:
Place the mayonnaise, sour cream, salsa, relish, vinegar, tomato paste, salt, and pepper in a medium bowl. Whisk until blended. Transfer to a small jar and refrigerate until ready to serve.

Adapted from The Sugar Solution Cookbook

walnut vinaigrette
9/16 Mitch Mandel
Walnut Vinaigrette

Drizzle this dressing with its little bits of walnuts over roasted or steamed vegetables, such as carrots and Brussels sprouts.

Walnut Vinaigrette
(Makes 1/2 cup)

Ingredients:
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 cup walnut pieces
2 Tablespoons apple cider vinegar
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon grated orange peel
1 clove garlic, chopped
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper

Directions:
In a blender or mini food processor, combine the oil, walnuts, vinegar, mustard, orange peel, garlic, salt, and pepper. Blend or process just until coarse.

Refrigerate any leftover dressing for 3 to 5 days. Shake well before serving.

Adapted from The Healthy You Diet

green goddess salad dressing
10/16 Mitch Mandel
Green Goddess Dressing

This dressing, invented in the 1920s, is a California classic. Here, canola-based mayonnaise stands in as a MUFA in place of cholesterol-rich regular mayonnaise.

Green Goddess Dressing
(Makes 4 servings)

Ingredients:
1/2 cup low-fat plain yogurt
1/4 cup canola mayonnaise
1/4 cup fresh Italian parsley, chopped
2 scallions, coarsely chopped
1 clove garlic
1 Tablespoon white wine vinegar
1 tablespoon chopped fresh tarragon
1/8 teaspoon salt

Directions:
Combine the yogurt, mayonnaise, parsley, scallions, garlic, vinegar, tarragon, and salt in a blender or a food processor fitted with a metal blade. Process until smooth.

Adapted from Flat Belly Diet! Cookbook

creamy avocado dressing
11/16 Mitch Mandel
Creamy Avocado Dressing

You'll never buy bottled creamy dressing again after tasting this super simple avocado dressing, which adds rich flavor to everyday salads without actually using any cream. It's also delicious added to pasta salads.

Creamy Avocado Dressing
(Makes 1 cup)
Per serving: 42 calories, 3 g carbs, 2 g fiber, 1 g protein, 4 g total fat, 0.5 g saturated fat, 75 mg sodium

Ingredients:
1 avocado
1/2 cup water
Juice of 1 lemon
1/4 cup fresh cilantro leaves
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground cumin (optional)
1 small clove garlic

Directions:
In a blender, combine the avocado, water, lemon juice, cilantro, salt, cumin (if using), and garlic. Blend until smooth, adding more water by the tablespoon, as necessary, to thin to desired consistency.

Adapted from Runner's World Meals on the Run

spicy miso salad dressing
12/16 Mitch Mandel
Spicy Miso Dressing

This dressing gets a kick from the combination of wasabi and fresh ginger. It's delicious on sturdy salad greens, as well as Asian noodles. For an extra-spicy dressing, add an additional tablespoon wasabi powder, or to taste.

Spicy Miso Dressing
(Makes a generous 1/2 cup)
Per serving: 71 calories, 10 g carbs, 1 g fiber, 1 g protein, 4 g total fat, 0.5 g saturated fat, 531 mg sodium

Ingredients:
1 Tablespoon wasabi powder
2 Tablespoons water
2 Tablespoons white (shiro) miso paste
1/4 cup lime juice (about 2 limes)
1 Tablespoon toasted sesame oil
1 Tablespoon honey
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon grated fresh ginger or ground ginger

Directions:
In a medium bowl, stir together the wasabi powder and water to form a paste. Stir in the miso.

Whisk in the lime juice, sesame oil, honey, salt, and ginger until smooth. 

Adapted from Runner's World Meals on the Run

poppy seed salad dressing
13/16 Thinkstock
Lemon–Poppy Seed Dressing

This dressing is great with chopped kale salads, in chicken wraps, or as a marinade. Combine:

Lemon–Poppy Seed Dressing
(Makes 4-6 servings)

Ingredients:
1/4 cup white rice vinegar
2 Tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 Tablespoons plain Greek yogurt (0%)
1 Tablespoon honey
1 fresh lemon, squeezed
2 teaspoons poppy seeds
1 teaspoon sea salt
2 packets stevia

Directions:
Combine all ingredients and serve atop any vegetable salad. 

Adapted from Tone It Up

caesar salad dressing
14/16 Thinkstock
Caesar Salad Dressing

This calorie-loaded classic has often received a bad rep from nutritionists, but this homemade take slashes the bad-for-you parts by a mile. 

Caesar Salad Dressing
(Makes 6 servings)
Per serving: 65 calories, 5 g fat, 284 mg sodium, 1 g carbohydrates, 0 g dietary fiber, 3 g protein

Ingredients:
6 Tablespoons olive-oil mayonnaise
3 Tablespoons lemon juice
2 Tablespoons water
6 anchovy fillets, mashed, or 2 teaspoons anchovy paste
1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese

Directions:
Combine all ingredients together in medium bowl and stir until uniform. Best served with romaine or radicchio, sliced mushrooms and asparagus. 

Can be refrigerated for up to one month. 

Adapted from Guy Gourmet

tomato carrot salad dressing
15/16 Thinkstock
Spicy Tomato-Carrot Dressing

It's so easy to make fresh dressings that there's really no reason to ever buy a bottle. We toss lettuce with just a bit of dressing, but how much dressing you choose to use is really a matter of taste. Start with 2 tablespoons of dressing for each 4 cups of lettuce. 

Spicy Tomato-Carrot Dressing
(Makes 1 1/2 cups)

Ingredients:
1/2 cup plus 1 Tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
2 Tablespoons minced onion
1/3 cup thinly sliced carrot
1 cup chopped tomato
1/2 cup carrot juice
3 Tablespoons red wine vinegar
1/2 teaspoon chipotle chile powder
1/2 teaspoon coarse (kosher) salt

Directions:
1. In a small skillet, heat 1 tablespoon of the oil over medium heat. Add the onion and carrot and cook for 5 minutes, stirring frequently, until the carrot starts to soften. Add the tomato and carrot juice, cover, and simmer for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the carrot is very tender. 

2. Transfer to a blender along with the remaining 1/2 cup oil, and the vinegar, chipotle powder, and salt and puree until smooth. 

Adapted from The Beekman 1802 Heirloom Vegetable Cookbook

blackberry dressing
16/16 Mitch Mandel
Blackberry Dressing

Fruit makes a surprising and tasty addition to salad dressing. One cup of antioxidant‐packed blackberries contains 8 grams of fiber and a wealth of manganese, a mineral necessary for healthy connective tissue.

Blackberry Dressing
(Makes 4 servings)
Per serving: 81 calories, 5 g carbs, 1 g fiber, 0 g protein, 7 g total fat, 1 g saturated fat, 1 mg sodium

Ingredients:
1/2 cup frozen blackberries, thawed
2 Tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 Tablespoon balsamic vinegar
1 teaspoon honey handful of fresh mint

Directions:
In a blender, combine the blackberries, oil, vinegar, honey, and mint. Blend for 1 minute, or until well mixed. Drizzle over any salad.

Adapted from The Runner's World Cookbook

See Next
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
Tags: saladRecipes