Topping salads with a homemade dressing is a nice luxury since they’re made with fresh ingredients, full of way more flavor than what you can buy and chances are–they’re a lot cheaper than store bought. It typically just takes a few minutes to whip up a batch and many can be stored in the refrigerator for days at a time.
This page is a collection of over 40 ways you can make your own, each of them promising to be oh-so good! I’ve separated them into two groups for easier browsing: Creamy versions and Vinegar/Oil based recipes.
I’ve also added a few suggestions at the bottom of this article including instructions and tips for whipping up some top notch vinaigrettes.
- Ranch: Yields about 1 cup and is also good as a veggie dip. This ranch has the perfect balance of dairy and greens–creamy, but without too much onion or herb flavor. The Galley Gourmet.
- Homemade Buttermilk Ranch: Chill this one at least an hour before serving for best results. For a littler version, use light or fat free mayonnaise. Lasts up to 10 days refrigerated. Mother Thyme.
- Tangy Green Goddess: Yields 1 3/4 cups. Avocado and herbs lend color to this delightful treat. Source: EatingWell Magazine, April/May 2006.
- Classic Italian: It’s packed with delicious herbs and is the perfect addition to any garden salad! And it’s SO easy to make and healthy too! The Busy Baker.
- Parmesan: Fresh and flavorful, it’s the perfect complement to crunchy greens and other favorite fixings. You just can’t beat lemon juice and salty Parmesan cheese mixed together with mayo! Noble Pig.
- Feta Dill: Light & healthy recipe made with Greek yogurt that is loaded with flavor, also suitable as a vegetable dip. The Creative Bite.
- Lemon Dill: This is wonderfully thick and tangy, but if you prefer a slightly thinner dressing, stir in 2 tbsp (25 mL) milk. Either way, it’s perfect for tossing with greens, whether all at once to dress 12 cups (3 L) or in smaller sides to suit your household. It’s also delicious as a dip. Canadian Living.
- Creamy Balsamic: This is more of a vinaigrette (the little bit of mayonnaise gives it a bit of a creaminess). It is meant to be thin, but will thicken up slightly after refrigeration. Also, it’s a little more on the tangy side, but can be adjusted as desired. From My Life as a Mrs.
- Cilantro: Contains cilantro, salsa, mayonnaise, garlic, juice of lime. This makes any taco salad or navajo taco even better. See Jane Cook.
- Avocado: Buttermilk and plain yogurt create the base for this thick dressing, which gets its color from avocado and parsley. The mild mixture is refreshing when dolloped over a tossed green salad. Taste of Home.
- Cucumber-Avocado: This treat is based on lots of vegetables rather than the usual oil or sour cream. MyRecipes.
- Blue Cheese: A lightened up version with a non-fat Greek yogurt as the “secret” ingredient. Honest Fare.
- French: Promises to be the best! Recommends prepping a few hours ahead, includes ketchup, sugar, minced yellow onion, lemon juice, paprika, garlic salt (or minced garlic and white salt), ground black pepper, mayonnaise (optional, for creamy-style). Can also add blue cheese. Food.com.
- The Old Spaghetti Factory’s Creamy Pesto (Copycat): Yields about 2 1/2 cups. This rich and creamy dried basil Pesto Dressing tastes just like the Old Spaghetti Factory’s! Promises to be super easy to whip up and only calls for a few simple items. Cooking Classy.
- Homemade Spicy Thousand Island: Yields 3/4 cup, made with mayonnaise, ketchup, sambal oelek (hot chile paste), coarsely chopped sweet pickles (or sweet pickle relish), coarsely chopped green olives with pimientos. Martha Stewart.
- Caesar-Style: This one is perfect for anyone who is skittish about the raw eggs in a classic Caesar; it contains mayonnaise instead. Delish.
- Poppy Seed (5-Minute): Contains mayonnaise, sugar, cider vin. and poppy seeds. Betty Crocker.
Vinegar/Oil Based Recipes:
- The Best: It’s a perfect balance of sweet, tart, and savory flavors with a little nuttiness from sesame and poppy seeds. An Edible Mosaic.
- Smoky Orange: Yields about 3/4 cup, contains orange marmalade, water, smoked paprika, minced shallot, EVOO, minced parsley. Food & Wine.
- Sweet Basil: It is bright, fresh, fragrant, and well, just plain heavenly! It honestly seems to enhance just about any type of salad and is delicious drizzled on grilled chicken, shrimp, fish, even roasted vegetables. From the cafe sucre farine.
- Olive Garden (Copycat): This homemade copycat Olive Garden Dressing tastes even better than the original. It works great with pasta and as a marinade too! The Country Cook.
- Catalina: Yields approximately 1.5 cups, contains ketchup, sugar, chopped onion (or onion powder), paprika, Worcestershire sauce, canola. Kitchen Simplicity.
- Honey Lime: Toss this with salad greens for a refreshing tang of lime juice with a hint of sweetness from honey. The Yummy Life.
- Raspberry: Contains seedless raspberry fruit spread or preserves, seasoned rice wine vin. and EVOO. MyRecipes.
- Raspberry: Made with minced shallot, raspberry preserves, dry mustard, raspberry vin., water, both olive & canola oils. The Yummy Life.
- Lemon: Yields 1/2 cup, includes Dijon mustard, finely grated lemon zest, juice and EVOO. Martha Stewart.
- Ginger: This one’s so easy and suggests letting it set for a little while before serving to give the flavors a chance to mingle. It works well over any greens but prefers that with a bit of cabbage in it. Life’s Ambrosia.
- Greek: Grandma’s recipe that you just add everything into a jar, secure the lid and shake! Simply Scratch.
- Greek: This version has red wine vinegar. Includes a recipe for a lovely grilled chicken salad. Aggie’s Kitchen.
- Cilantro Lime: Yields 1 1/4 cups, includes cilantro, EVOO, lime juice, orange juice, minced garlic. From Eating Well.
- Fig Balsamic: Contains figs (stems removed), good quality balsamic, maple syrup, sea salt or Herbamare, EVOO, ground black pepper. The Whole Life Nutrition Kitchen.
- Carrot & Ginger: Features carrots (peeled and roughly chopped), shallot, ginger, miso, both sesame and olive oils and water. Live Love Pasta.
- Pistachio: Made with lemon juice, chopped shallot, chopped tarragon, red wine vin., sugar, Dijon, EVOO and pistachios. MyRecipes.
- Balsamic & Mustard: You can either combine it with a fork, a whisk or shake it up a jar (any shape will do!). But for optimal flavor, really blend it. Use a jar if you’re going to be preparing extra and storing it, since it will store in the fridge for anywhere from months to forever. The Sweet Beet.
- Effortless Honey Dijon: Features Dijon, apple cider vin., dried tarragon, EVOO. Can be refrigerated for up to 2 weeks. 24 Corners.
- Honey Mustard: Made with EVOO, white or red wine vin., Dijon, honey, s&p to taste. Ingredients are combined in a jar and shaken vigorously. You can also add herbs of choice, garlic or shallots, or try orange juice. From Rachael Ray.
- Blue Cheese Version: This bright-tasting vinaigrette is loaded with tangy crumbled blue cheese. Eating Well.
- Honey Lemon: Includes finely grated lemon zest and juice, chopped thyme, Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper. Delish.
- Honey Mustard & Dill: This works particularly well on Romaine lettuce, thinly sliced apple and crumbled goat cheese. Once prepared, this will keep in the fridge for several days. Daily Unadventures In Cooking.
- Caesar: An egg-free version that pairs perfectly with crisp, vibrantly green romaine, shredded Parmesan and Homemade Croutons. Sarah’s Cucina Bella.
- Caesar: Another eggless version, this is made with garlic cloves, anchovy fillets, red wine vin., Tabasco (just a dash), Worcestershire sauce, juice of one lemon, freshly ground pepper, good EVOO. Urban Baker.
- Tarragon: Made with finely minced fresh tarragon, finely chopped garlic, Dijon, balsamic. Mixed & shaken in a jar. Smorgasbite.
How To Make Homemade Vinaigrette
*First published January 22, 2009 and moved to this page for better organization
Here’s a grocery bill saver: DIY vinaigrette. It’s very easy to prepare, ingredients couldn’t be cheaper and it’s one of the most popular ways to dress a salad.
Luckily, it’s super simple with the main two items being vinegar and oil.
- 1 part vinegar to 3 parts oil…You’ll find it may need adjusting depending on which products you use.
You want the result to be a nice balance of flavor with the vinegar not overwhelming so that it causes you to pucker.
- The vinegar can be pretty much anything you like, try a red or white wine variety, herb infused, a nice balsamic, sherry or cider.
- You can use fresh juices from lemons, limes or oranges as part of the vinegar ratio for added flavor.
- The oils used are light such as vegetable, salad, grapeseed or EVOO. Choose one that has no strong taste.
- A basic version is seasoned with salt and pepper (Kosher or sea salt with freshly ground black pepper can’t be beat).
- You can also add things like minced garlic, ginger, shallots, herbs and assorted spices.
Because oil and vinegar won’t hold together when combined, you need to emulsify the dressing which is just a fancy way of saying: vigorously mix it up. This will hold the ingredients together temporarily so you can enjoy it on your salad.
I find the easiest way to make a vinaigrette is by mixing all the items together but add the oil last in three parts. Place the ingredients in a jar, twist the lid on tight and shake it up. You can also use a blender or whisk and bowl, any method that combines the items well will work just fine.
- For easier emulsifying, first mix the seasonings together, next add the vinegar then finally the oil (in three parts or slowly add it while mixing).
- The items are best combined at room temperature since this will help the emulsifying process (the oil is trickier to emulsify when it’s chilled).
The sky’s the limit when making a vinaigrette, I’ve included a basic recipe below. Once you get the hang of preparing your own, experiment with different flavors by adding herbs and trying different vinegars.
1/4 C. balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon mustard
3/4 C. EVOO
Salt and pepper
- In a medium bowl, whisk together the balsamic and mustard. Slowly pour in the olive oil, whisking constantly until combined. Season with salt and pepper.
Source: Rachel Ray
- If it’s too strong, try adding a bit of honey or brown sugar to sweeten.
- Include a bit of good mustard (like Dijon), it adds flavor as well as helps prevent separating (it helps thicken it a bit too). Mix it with the vinegar first before adding the oil.
- Before using, make sure all the salad ingredients are dry. Water on lettuce can dilute the vinaigrette and help it separate.
- Seal extra portions in an airtight container and refrigerate, take out before using to bring the it to room temperature. You’ll likely need to shake it up well again. Most will keep nicely for one week.
- Did you know: vinaigrettes are also delicious meat marinades. Just adjust the oil/vinegar ratio to 50/50.
Small glass mason jars are ideal for mixing/shaking/storing your homemade batches though one of the things I’ve indulged myself with are the Leifheit Salad Dressing Shaker Bottles (when you visit the Amazon page via my link, I will earn a small % on purchases).
I rarely recommend products in my articles but I’m making an exception for this one. It features measurements along the sides of the glass (ml & fluid oz) and the opening is large enough that you can pour all ingredients directly into it & shake to mix.
Convenient spout for pouring (twist off the spout/cap for thicker or chunky varieties). Dishwasher safe. Substantial enough glass/weight so they’ll take some knocks (though they’re not too heavy).
I find two are enough for me and I’ve enjoyed them for a few years now, they really are a nice way to keep your dressings.