Make Your Own Salad Dressing

by in Healthy Recipes, Meal Makeovers, March 23, 2010

Simple Salad Dressing
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 (and a couple minutes) to make some yourself.

Dressing Basics
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 it’s 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 (not that a batch will last that long!).

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.

For a basic vinaigrette, combine one part acid to two parts oil, but that’s not mandatory. Taste as you go and adjust according to your preference.

RECIPE: Simple Salad Dressing

Creamier Choices
Mayo or sour cream make for creamy dressings but the calories coming from fat pile up. Thick and rich Greek yogurt is the key to a lighter creamy dressing. Using low-fat buttermilk or light sour cream will also lower the total fat. Try pureed avocado or almond butter to add unsaturated fat (much more heart healthy).

RECIPES: Ranch Dressing and Green Goddess Dressing

Another Favorite: Honey Mustard
This recipe below doesn’t use oil so it’s low in fat and calories. This dressing works on more than salad greens — use it as a veggie dip or spread some on sandwiches.

Creamy Honey Mustard Dressing
Makes 3/4 cup

1/4 cup Dijon mustard
1/4 cup honey
1/4 cup reduced fat (2%) Greek style yogurt
1/8 teaspoon kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper to taste

Add all ingredients to a bowl and whisk to combine. Transfer to a resealable jar and store in the refrigerator for up to one week.

Nutrition Info (per tablespoon):
Calories: 30; Total Fat: 0 grams; Saturated Fat: 0 grams; Carbohydrates: 7 grams; Protein: 0.5 grams; Sodium: 133 milligrams; Cholesterol: 0.5 milligrams; Fiber: 0 gram

Asian-Inspired Picks
I love sesame dressing but my favorite brand had ingredients I couldn’t pronounce. I came up with my own. Toss this with mixed greens and sliced cucumber, rice noodles or use as a marinade for chicken or fish.

Sesame Ginger Dressing
Makes 1 cup

1 tablespoon sesame seeds
1/4 cup ginger-lime syrup (recipe below)
2 tablespoons reduced sodium soy sauce
1 tablespoon rice vinegar
1 scallion, finely chopped
Juice of 1/2 a lime
1/3 cup canola oil
2 teaspoons sesame oil

Toast sesame seeds in a dry pan until golden; set aside to cool. In resealable jar, combine ginger-lime syrup, soy sauce, vinegar, scallion, lime juice, canola oil, sesame oil and toasted sesame seeds. Cover, shake well and serve. Store in the refrigerator for up to one week.

Ginger-Lime Syrup
Makes enough for 2 batches of dressing
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup water
2-inch piece of fresh ginger root, cut into large chunks
Lime zest (use a vegetable peeler or sharp knife to peel off one strip — about 1/4 of the lime)

Combine ingredients in small saucepan. Heat on medium, stirring occasionally until sugar is dissolved. Turn off heat and allow to steep for 10 minutes. Remove lime and ginger, transfer to an air-tight container and store in the refrigerator for up to one month.

Nutrition Info (per tablespoon):
Calories: 62; Total Fat: 5.5 grams; Saturated Fat: 0 grams; Carbohydrate: 4 grams; Protein: 0 grams; Sodium: 63 milligrams; Cholesterol: 0 milligrams; Fiber: 0 gram

TELL US: What’s your favorite salad dressing?

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Comments (42)

  1. Ralph says:

    Why can't I separate the recipe from the rest of the web site and print it? Why do I have to print the entire page?

  2. Alicia says:

    I have a great recipe for a honey-tarragon dressing. I can't remember where I got it from but the link to the recipe on my blog is:

  3. AMH in Ohio says:

    I always crush a little garlic in most salad dressings I make. Tastes good and good for you too!

  4. Julie says:

    To create a no-guilt creamy dressing, using kefir as your dairy. Kefir is a natural, fermented milk and can be purchased in fat-free versions. It's not as thick as sour cream or buttermilk, but imparts a great, creamy, sour flavor without all of that fat. Plus, it kicks most yogurt's butt in terms of probiotics. I love it for salad dressing bases; it doesn't have to be thinned out with other liquids to pour well.
    I keep The Spice House's Creamy Peppercorn Dip and Salad Dressing Mix ( on hand. It's a blend of Tellicherry black pepper, kosher flake salt, garlic pieces, cane sugar, French thyme, and minced parsley. I throw together a tablespoon of that, a tablespoon of water, a cup of fat-free kefir and about a cup of brown rice wine vinegar (or any other vinegar I want) for a creamy, fat-free, delicious dressing.

  5. Sara says:

    My roommates and I make basic ranch dip/dressing by mixing packets of ranch dressing mix with an individual serving of plan, no-fat yogurt (or Greek yogurt). For a more liquid-y dressing, you could probably just mix some milk into the yogurt! We also mix other spices into the yogurt, like cumin and chile powder for a Mexican taste.

  6. Home food says:

    You mentioned it right – commercial salad dressings may contain additives or food substances you may not like. According to the manufacturers these substances hep preserve the food but there has to be a balance between preservation and wholesomeness. Good you make your own and show people how to do that.

  7. Dorothy Doorasamy says:

    Bottled salad dressings are full of preservatives,I make my own.
    Few drops of lemon juice.
    few drops of olive oil
    few drops honey
    1 clove garlic crushed
    herbal salt.
    Blend all together,keep for a week.

  8. Shelbys tips says:

    More than anything I love FRESH, fresh, fresh. Just adding fresh sqeezed OJ, a little drop of lovely olive oil, pepper and spices, and VOILA…of course you just must add an avocado all diced up with some oh so yummy sesame seeds to top off.
    yeah! IT's done, and a few sweet pieces of strawberries on your greens never hurt anyone!
    Think smart, walk a lot, and have FUN doing it. LOVE SALADS, they love you.

  9. I also do the same recipe as @Dorothy Doorasamy

  10. Me4Me says:

    Make THESE Salad Dressings

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