Say no thank you to store-bought salad dressings and hello to easy delicious homemade vinaigrettes and creamy dressings. Your salad bowl will be forever inspired and your taste buds will thank you when you try these salad dressing recipes!
This post contains affiliate links
Give us a bowl of fresh leafy greens and we’ll make you a different salad for every day of the week. Heck, we don’t even need greens to make a great salad. But one thing is for sure, you need a great homemade salad dressing recipe to take your salad to the next level.
From gourmet vinaigrettes like Cranberry Dressing, Kalamata Basil, and Carrot Ginger Dressing to classics like Caesar Salad Dressing, Ranch Dressing, Lemon Vinaigrette, French-inspired shallot vinaigrette with red wine vinegar, and our popular Apple Cider Vinaigrette too!
Once you’ve looked at all of these amazing salad dressing recipes, don’t forget to check out our featured recipe, number 25 on our list. This quick, 5-minute Orange Miso Salad Dressing is bursting with bright, fresh flavors, and whether you drizzle over a tasty Buddha bowl or dress some chopped cabbage or simple greens, it’s sure to turn any dish into a delight!
Expert Tips for Making Homemade Salad Dressing
Here is our guide to the essential elements for a delicious homemade salad dressing:
- First, you start with the acidic element. The acidic ingredient gives the dressing tanginess, brightness, or a sour taste.
- Sour is important to add to dressing because greens are inherently bitter (though to varying degrees) and sour balances bitter.
- Many dressings get their acidity from vinegar, like this cider vinegar dressing.
- There are of course other acidic ingredients used in dressings such as fruit juices, citrus, buttermilk, and yogurt.
- There certainly are dressings made without fat, but most have fat in them in equal or greater proportion to the acidic ingredient. The oil carries the flavors of the other ingredients and makes their flavors more pronounced (i.e. fat is flavor!)
- Oils, and oil emulsions like mayonnaise, and dairy fat (like sour cream) are the most common fats used. Nut butter and ground seeds (like tahini) are other less traditional fats used in dressing.
- From a nutritional standpoint, fat is important to help us absorb and digest nutrients in our salads and they also provide satiety. But at 120 calories per tablespoon of oil, we mustn’t go overboard with them.
- I try to keep the fat at about 50% or less of the total volume of dressing. Yogurt and buttermilk in creamy dressings and optional ingredients in both creamy dressings and vinaigrettes (see below) are ways to keep the fat ratio at 50% or less.
- I rarely make salad dressing without some form of allium in it. I try to keep things simple and not use more than one. And I like to use a light hand with whichever one I am using.
- In the case of this cider vinegar dressing, I used shallot. But some other examples of allium in dressing are garlic (and granulated garlic and roasted garlic), onion, and chive.
- This is not necessary, but in small amounts, allium adds so much to a dressing.
An emulsifier is an ingredient that makes oil and water hold together. These are useful in salad dressings because they keep the ingredients in suspension.
- The two most common emulsifiers in homemade salad dressings are mustard and egg yolk.
- I also am a fan of using my blender or mini prep to blend my dressings, which can make the temporary emulsions hold longer. See more below about blending techniques.
- FYI, commercially bottled dressings commonly use soy lecithin which is a soy-derived emulsifier.
- These are ingredients that are added to dressings like roasted tomatoes, cheese, peanut butter, fruit, pesto, and fresh herbs that make them flavorful and unique.
- Some optional ingredients like Greek Yogurt are all about making the dressing creamy and have a nice thick texture and mouth-feel. Try Greek Yogurt Ranch or Healthy Blue Cheese Dressing.
- Other optional ingredients, like chopped herbs, add a big punch of flavor. Others like tahini add flavor and creaminess!
- I find that I like to add a little bit of something sweet to a lot of my dressings. Again this in part has to do with the ratio of fat.
- Honey, maple syrup, and agave are great ways to add a balancing sweet note because they are already liquid.
- Naturally sweet fruits like raspberries can also do this very well. Sweetness is not required, so that’s why it falls into the optional category.
Healthy Tip: These optional ingredients can also help extend a dressing (increase the volume) without adding more fat.
Salt and Pepper
- If you use soy sauce, miso (see our featured recipe below), capers, fish sauce, or another salty ingredient you can get away without adding more salt or very little.
- Keep in mind that if you don’t have salt to balance the acidity, your dressing will seem too strong. This is especially important in lower-fat dressings that do not have bulking ingredients added.
- I am a huge pepper lover. I usually add pepper to my dressings and the salad too at the table.
- Consider the ingredients in your salad before you season. If you have Parmesan or feta in the salad, season the dressing lightly, then taste the salad once it is tossed, and add more salt if the salad needs it.
25 Salad Dressing Recipes
How Long Does Homemade Dressing Last?
In general homemade dressing can be kept in the refrigerator for 4 days and up to 1 week. Keep in a jar or sealed container. Make sure to check with the instructions and tips for the specific recipe you are using some will go bad more quickly than others. Shake well before using.
Do I have to refrigerate salad dressing?
Unless your dressing is made with only oil and vinegar, you should refrigerate it due to the inclusion of perishable ingredients such as garlic, herbs or dairy.
Additionally, while both oil and dried herbs, for example, are shelf stable on their own, when in combination they create conditions that can encourage the growth of botulism.
So we say, be safe and refrigerate your dressing!
What is the best way to store homemade salad dressing?
I usually store it in a wide mouth pint sized ball jar or half pint jam jar. You can also buy a reusable dressing cruet or bottle with a convenient pour top.
Why Did My Dressing Harden In the Fridge?
Olive oil based salad dressing will solidify in the refrigerator due to their high level of monounsaturated fats. If the dressing solidifies in the refrigerator, let it come to room temperature and then shake well. Alternatively you can bring it back to a liquid state by setting the jar of dressing in a bowl of warm tap water. Shake the jar every minute or two until the mixture is liquid again.
Thanks so much for reading! If you are new here, you may want to sign up for my email newsletter to get a free weekly menu plan and the latest recipes right to your inbox. If you make this recipe, please come back and leave a star rating and review. I would love to hear what you thought!
Happy Cooking! ~Katie
This 5-minute dressing will turn a bowl of chopped cabbage or simple fresh greens with garden veggies into a delight.
- 1 teaspoon orange zest
- 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed orange juice
- 2 tablespoon dark pure maple syrup
- 1 tablespoon white vinegar
- 1 tablespoon miso paste, preferably white miso
- 1 tablespoon reduced-sodium soy sauce or tamari
- 1/2 teaspoon granulated garlic
- 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
- 1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
- Whisk orange zest, orange juice, maple syrup, vinegar, miso, soy sauce or tamari, garlic, and pepper in a medium bowl.
- Whisk in oil.
To make ahead: store in the refrigerator for up to 4 days in a tightly sealed jar.
- Prep Time: 5 minutes
- Category: Dressing
- Method: Blended
Keywords: salad dressing recipes
About the Author
Katie Webster studied art and photography at Skidmore College and is a graduate of the New England Culinary Institute. She has been a professional recipe developer since 2001 when she first started working in the test kitchen at EatingWell magazine. Her recipes have been featured in numerous magazines including Shape, Fitness, Parents and several Edible Communities publications among others. Her cookbook, Maple Quirk Books was published in 2015. She launched Healthy Seasonal Recipes in 2009. She lives in Vermont with her husband, two teenage daughters and two yellow labs. In her free time, you can find her at the gym, cooking, stacking firewood, making maple syrup, and tending to her overgrown perennial garden.