A good dressing connects all the flavors of a fresh salad, and making homemade salad dressing can be deliciously effortless. Oil, vinegar, and fresh spices create the simplest dressing, but there are a few more tips and ingredients to enhance your favorite leafy greens. Be sure to check out some of our favorite salad dressing recipes at the bottom of this article.
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How to Make a Vinaigrette
Anyone who appreciates a fresh salad can make their own vinaigrette. The standard recipe for any vinaigrette dressing calls for 3 parts oil to 1 part vinegar. Salt, freshly cracked pepper, spices, and sweeteners can all be added to taste and without measurement. (Although it is helpful to take notes when creating your own recipe.) Simply combine all the ingredients in a mixing bowl and whisk to combine. You can add your leafy ingredients right to the mixing bowl and dress it there, saving you from washing an extra dish.
If you’re making a large batch of dressing, try using a food processor or blender. Blend all ingredients together except for the oil. Slowly add your preferred oil at the end while the machine is running. This helps give the dressing a smooth consistency.
Almost any type of oil and vinegar can be used. Some of the more popular oils for salad dressings are extra virgin olive oil, vegetable oil, peanut oil, sesame oil, avocado oil, and walnut oil. Some popular vinegars to use are white wine vinegar, red wine vinegar, apple cider vinegar, rice wine vinegar, tarragon vinegar, balsamic vinegar, and champagne vinegar.
Mustard is another popular vinaigrette ingredient. Both dry mustard powder and prepared mustard can be added to the mixing bowl. Vinegar and oil don’t like to stay mixed, but mustard’s emulsifying properties help coat your leafy greens in a deliciously glossy dressing. Start with a half teaspoon of mustard for every cup of liquid in a dressing recipe.
Sweeteners for a salad dressing can be as simple as cane sugar. For a little more depth, try adding honey, agave syrup, maple syrup, molasses, or fruit juice to your recipe.
Citronette vs. Vinaigrette
To make a citronette, simply follow the same preparation as a standard vinaigrette, but use fresh citrus juice instead of vinegar. You can use just about any citrus fruit juice you like, but this style of dressing is most commonly made with lemon. In general, more acidic citrus fruits will make for a more balanced dressing.
So many of our favorite dressings are creamy—blue cheese, Caesar, and ranch-style dressing just to name a few. These recipes are commonly made with a base of buttermilk, mayonnaise, sour cream, yogurt, eggs, or oil.
Our dips and dressings blends make crafting creamy dressings simple and easy. All you have to do is whisk a tablespoon of salad dressing spice mix into a cup of sour cream, yogurt, or mayonnaise. You can add milk, water, vinegar, or lemon juice to thin the sauce to your desired consistency. Be sure to explore our selection of dips and dressings blends for more inspiration.
Adding Spices to Salad Dressings
The real fun begins when you add herbs and spices. These are the defining flavors and aromatics that give a dressing its unique character. You can take the standard recipe formulas above and add a few pinches of your favorite herbs and spices to make it your own.
Experiment first by adding popular herbs like rosemary, thyme, oregano, marjoram, basil, parsley, and tarragon. Next, consider some bolder spices like garlic, shallot, cayenne pepper, Aleppo pepper flakes, black pepper, celery seed, and caraway seed. For more ideas on flavoring your homemade salad dressings, explore our collection of spices for salads.
Favorite Salad Dressing Recipes
Yogurt Dressing with Indian Spices
Classic Italian Vinaigrette
Black Garlic Vinaigrette
Avocado Buttermilk Dressing