Why Make Your Own Salad Dressing
If youve taken the time to make a big healthy salad chock full of fresh veggies, you dont want to ruin it with a salad dressing with questionable ingredients. Making your own is the best way to ensure your salad dressing is fresh and nutritious.
These are just a few of the reasons you should set aside a few minutes to make your own salad dressing:
- Store bought salad dressings usually have a lot of refined sugar.
- To make salad dressing shelf-stable, manufacturers have to use chemical preservatives.
- Salad dressing can be high in bad fats and calories.
- When you make your own salad dressing, you know it was made with fresh ingredients.
- These homemade dressings taste way better!
- Its cheaper to make your own.
- You can make salad dressing to fit any eating plan gluten-free, paleo, keto, Whole30 and more!
Ingredients In Homemade Salad Dressings
Your ingredients will vary depending on what kind of homemade salad dressing recipes you want to make. I like to keep several different kinds on hand at all times. Then I have choices for any dish I want to make and can accommodate my guests.
Most of what you need for homemade salad dressings is probably in your pantry already. But here are the ingredients you want to keep on hand to be able to put a great tasting salad dressing together in no time!
- Canola oil
- Standard seasonings like salt, pepper and parsley
Healthy & Creamy Avocado Lime Dressing
This dressing is nothing short of dreamy! My Healthy & Creamy Avocado Lime Dressing features all the flavors of guacamole but in a healthy salad dressing package. If you love avocado, lime, and cilantro… this is for you.
Serve this dressing with any salad or even as a drizzle on top of tacos. It’s also great with my Vegetarian Taco Salad.
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What About Homemade Salad Dressing
I hope you arent getting the idea that all salad dressings are bad. Or that you have to eat your lettuce and carrots like rabbits do, completely undressed. In addition to some clean brands and varieties of organic commercial dressings, theres always homemade. Not only can you control all the ingredients, but theyre much cheaper than store-bought, and fresher, too.
But even though youre probably not adding your own red dye #40 or MSG, a lot of homemade dressings still use oil as one of the first two ingredients. After all, the simplest dressing of all is called oil and vinegar. And it turns out, that might not be the healthiest option either.
How To Make My Everyday Oil
There is a reason this salad dressing is my go-to, it’s super simple! Just add the lemon juice, dijon mustard, nutritional yeast, and agave or maple syrup to a jar or bowl, and shake it, or whisk it up! I like to use these small jars, but you can also use a leftover jam jar. Pour over your favourite salad greens or store in the fridge to use later.
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How Long Can You Store Them
These homemade salad dressing will last for two months in the refrigerator. That means you can always have a few on hand. Just as you would buy a few varieties at the store, make several flavors and rotate to keep your salads fresh.
If you use just oil and vinegar in your dressing, it will be shelf stable. The vinegar is acidic enough to keep it fresh. However, if there are any fresh ingredients like garlic, dairy products or fresh herbs, it should be refrigerated.
Make Your Own Salad Dressing
Dressing being poored into a glass pitcher
Bottled salad dressings are my pet peeve — the majority of them are full of sodium, sugar and other preservatives. Whether you like a vinaigrette or the creamy stuff, you only need a few simple ingredients to make some yourself.
There are endless rows of bottled dressings at the grocery store. Depending on the kind, they are usually high in fat, sugar or both — and they all have too much sodium. You may think its wise to opt for the lower-calorie offerings but light and low-fat dressings often have even more sugar to make up for the lack of flavor.
To ensure you’re getting real ingredients, homemade is the way to go, but watch those portions. A vinaigrette may seem lighter but most are made predominantly from oils, which offer heart-healthy but unavoidable calories. Keep serving sizes to a tablespoon. You can store most homemade dressings in the fridge for up to a week .
A Simple Vinaigrette
Just join some sort of acid, oil and flavorings and — ta-da! — you have salad dressing! You can use vinegar or citrus juice for your acid. For oil, choose extra virgin olive oil if you want some olive flavor or canola or grapeseed oil if you want something neutral. Turn up the flavor with minced shallot or garlic, fresh or dried herbs, cumin, paprika or mustard — all those add minimal calories. Try orange juice, honey, jam or maple syrup for a touch of sweetness.
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Healthy Homemade Salad Dressing
You just can’t beat the fresh flavor of a Healthy Homemade Salad Dressing. They are surprisingly simple to make and taste so much better than most bottled salad dressings. Plus you can control the ingredients and make them as healthy, sugar free, low carb, and low calorie as you’d like!
I’ve been making and posting healthy salad dressings on Running in a Skirt for years and wanted to give y’all a place where you could easily find them all in one place. In all, I’ve created 15 healthy salad dressing recipes covering a huge spectrum of tastes and cuisines. There is something for everyone!
I’ve got the basics covered like a Healthy Greek Yogurt Ranch, Healthy Greek Salad Dressing, Greek Yogurt Caesar Dressing, and Healthy Red Wine Vinaigrette. You’ll also find some unique options like an Apple Cider Vinaigrette and Creamy Thai Peanut Dressing.
In fact, I feel like this is the ultimate resource to making your own healthy homemade salad dressings!
Low Calorie Salad Dressing Recipes
On top of being healthy, these salad dressings are all low calorie salad dressing recipes that are much healthier than the bottle! I used less oil and no sugar to make these dressings healthy. In my creamy dressings like my Ranch, Ceasar, and Poppyseed I used a base of greek yogurt so they would still taste amazingly creamy AND have some health benefits.
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Creamy Jalapeo Lime Dressing
Raise your hand if you love the versatility of beans. White beans give this healthy dressing some texture, as well as protein and fiber. The healthy fat in the avocado not only gives it creaminess but will also help the dressing stick to your greens a bit better. Swap a bell pepper in place of jalapeno if you want to skip the spice its still delicious!
Healthy Homemade Salad Dressings
Healthy homemade salad dressing recipes that are super easy to make from a basic balsamic vinaigrette to peanut, honey mustard and cilantro lime. All dressings are gluten-free, vegan-friendly and paleo-friendly.
Regular readers know that I could practically live on salads because I love them so much. Theyre such an easy option for healthy eating because you can literally toss a protein and healthy fat over a bed of greens with a ton of veggies or a whole grain and youve got yourself a delicious meal.
And honestly salads are all about the toppings! Yes, the greens are important, but if you have a ton of flavorful toppings you might not even need a dressing. A drizzle of good balsamic vinegar, a scoop of hummus or even hot sauce will do the trick. Yes, I know it sounds crazy, but I put hot sauce on everything even salad.
That said, there are definitely times when Im in the mood for a salad with actual dressing. For times like this I like to whip out one of my homemade salad dressing recipes. The six Im sharing are my go-tos. I make them all the time, but theyve never really been featured on the blog because theyre all hidden within different salad recipes. Now theyre all are in one spot for easy reference.
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Why Use Mason Jars
Mason jars are perfect for making homemade salad dressings.
With them being glass, you dont have to worry about any nasty chemicals leaking into your food from unsafe plastics.
They are easy to wash and reuse. Buy a few and they will last for years! They’re also dishwasher safe.
If you buy the mason jars with a wide mouth, you can even get a utensil down in the jar!
Plus, the ring and lid seal tightly, making you confident about giving the dressing a good shake before serving.
How To Make Healthy Homemade Salad Dressing:
I have full instructions for each salad dressing recipe in my individual recipes but here’s a basic idea on how to make them.
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Healthy Red Wine Vinegar Dressing
Here’s another classic salad dressing you need to have in your recipe book. My Healthy Red Wine Vinegar Dressing is a bit heavier on the vinegar to keep the calorie count lower. It gets lots of flavor from lemon and more herbs.
Serve in almost any salad where you’d use a vinegarette. It’s also the perfect addition to my Mediterranean Quinoa Salad.
Healthy Salad Dressing Recipes You Should Make At Home
Whenever I tell someone I love healthy food, the first thing they inevitably ask me is if I eat salad all day. Heres the truth for you: I actually dont really like salad that much. I am definitely not one of those people who grab a mixing bowl from the cabinet, dump in a bunch of greens, and happily go to town. I am not a rabbit, and I dont enjoy eating like one.
For me, for a salad to be good, it has to be something substantial. It has to have a great mix of flavors, textures, and really good dressing. I love veggies, but lets call a spade a spadeveggies can be boring-tastic if you dont do something to spice them up a little bit. And a good salad dressing goes a looooooong way to making veggies exciting .
Salad dressings are super easy to make at home, and I think learning how to make your favorite dressing in your own kitchen is a super useful skill to have. Itll save you tons of cash. The markup on bottled salad dressings is CRAZYmost of them you can make for pennies on the dollar.
You can completely control the ingredients. Have you ever cruised the salad dressing aisle and checked ingredient lists? There are definitely some cleaner options out there, but many of them are packed with artificial colors, flavors, and more sugar and salt than is really necessary.
Good for: All kinds of salads, dipping veggies, dipping pizza , honestly, dipping anything.
Good for: Taco salads, marinating shrimp or chicken for tacos, bean salads.
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The Chipotle Or Buffalo Ranch Variation
I just looked it up and no joke Hidden Valley sells 12 variations of their ranch dressing.
Thats the beauty of a creamy ranch! Throw in a few spices and it completely transforms the experience.
Chipotle and Buffalo ranch are two of my favorite variations, both of which make it into the regular with my family.
How to Use It:
These variations are great for throwing on a Mexican-style salad or used as dipping sauces.
Use the same ranch recipe from #2 above, only add in additional flavors:
- In the blender, add
- After blending, stir in 1-3 tsp of Franks Red Hot sauce. Amount will vary depending on your taste.
Why We Love This Recipe
There’s no shortage of oil-free salad dressing recipes on the blog, but what I didn’t have yet was a vinaigrette-style dressing.
I was planning a new healthy pasta salad recipe and really wanted to create an oil-free dressing that would capture the nostalgic aromas and flavors of the quick and easy pasta salads I grew up with. You probably know exactly what I’m talking about, the dish that always made an appearance at potlucks and parties, with olives, pasta, a few veggies, and bottled vinaigrette.
Aquafaba was the only ingredient I could think of that might possibly work as a replacement for oil while keeping the appearance of a vinaigrette. And holy moly, y’all. It totally works!
Aquafaba keeps the dressing emulsified without the need for gums or anything weird like you find in store-bought dressings. And it’s SO perfect on pasta salad!
But before you get too excited….
Don’t expect fat-free Italian dressing to taste exactly like a dressing made with heaps of oil because, well, that’s just impossible. Our brains and tongues love fat, and a dressing with zero fat and less than 20 calories just can’t compete with biology. BUT if you enjoy healthy dressings and sauces as much as I do, this oil-free dressing is totally going to win you over!
It’s lemon-y, tangy, zesty, just salty enough, SO fresh, and it totally captures the classic Italian dressing vibe.
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The Verdict On Salad Dressings
Dressings add flavor and moisture to salads. But store-bought brands and restaurant salad dressings may not always be very healthy. Even homemade dressings may contain a lot of oil, which has its own set of issues. If youre unsure of what to put on a salad, try out oil alternatives at home. And experiment with some of these oil free salad dressings. And ultimately, keep eating salads full of veggies, nuts, seeds, beans, and other whole plant foods.
Creamy Vegan Caesar Dressing
Caesar dressing instantly takes me back to my childhood. It was the salad I ordered most often, mostly because of the creamy dressing and crunchy croutons.
But while most vegan Caesar dressings are loaded with oil and vegan mayo, theres a simple way to make it oil-free, and its actually really tasty.
How to Use It:
I tend to stick with the classic Caesar salad: Romain lettuce, vegan parm, and croutons. While not the most nutritious salad, you really cant go wrong with a Caesar.
- 1/2 Tbsp soy or vegan Worcestershire sauce
- 1/2 tsp of lemon zest
- 2 tsp capers, mashed with a bit of juice
- 1 tsp maple syrup
- salt and pepper to taste
In a blender combine all the ingredients except for the lemon zest, capers, and salt and pepper. Blend until youve reached the desired thickness.
In a bowl, empty the dressing from the blender and mix in the remaining ingredients.
The dressing will stay good in the fridge for 4-5 days but will thicken over time, so you may need to add in more water.
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Olive Gardens Signature Italian
The second dressing, Olive Gardens Signature Italian, is slightly cleaner, but is still full of problematic ingredients:
Again, we see soybean oil, sugar, eggs, and dairy products , and that sneaky natural flavor. Oh yes, and the vinegar is white vinegar, most of which comes from GMO corn.
Both dressings contain dairy, which is high in heart-attack promoting saturated fat. Dairy also contains the protein casein, which has been shown to stimulate cancer development in rodents, increase the risk of heart disease, and may contribute to immune dysregulation and digestive problems. Additionally, most of the worlds human population lacks the genetic adaptation to digest lactose, the primary milk sugar.
And check out the sodium contents of the two dressings. Just two tablespoons of ranch give you 260 milligrams of sodium, while the same amount of Italian delivers a whopping 540 mg. Just that little bit of Italian dressing uses up a fourth to a third of your total healthy sodium allowance. Whats the problem with excess sodium? Too much salt in the diet causes high blood pressure, heart disease, kidney disease, and can lead to type 2 diabetes.
Why You Might Want To Make Oil Free Salad Dressings
One of the main health benefits of a salad is a very high nutrient to calorie ratio. A pound of raw greens, for example, contains around 100 calories. For a visual, the large plastic clamshell containers of mixed greens at the supermarket weigh one pound. You would be hard-pressed to eat that entire container all at once, especially if you added some carrot shreds and sliced red onion, cucumber, and radish for variety and texture. A more realistic portion of that mixed green salad is a quarter-pound, which would, after adding in some bonus veggies, yield around 60 calories. So far, so good.
Now add your oil-based salad dressing. Lets stick to the serving size of two tablespoons just for the sake of argument. A serving of dressing thats 50% oil would, therefore, include one tablespoon of oil, which contains 120 calories. Suddenly your 60 calorie salad is now a 180 calorie salad. And two-thirds of the calories are coming from the oil in the dressing. So while your eyes can fool you into thinking that youre eating a large salad with a little bit of dressing, your metabolism is actually dealing with a large amount of dressing with a small side of salad.
Oil is theres no way around it a highly processed food. Its had all of the fiber, protein, and most of the phytonutrients removed from whatever it was made from, creating a product that is pretty far from what nature intended.
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