By Cassie Johnston
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Whenever I tell someone I love healthy food, the first thing they inevitably ask me is if I eat salad all day. Here’s the truth for you: I actually don’t 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 don’t 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 let’s call a spade a spade—veggies can be boring-tastic if you don’t do something to spice them up a little bit. And a good salad dressing goes a looooooong way to making veggies exciting (even for those folks who aren’t big veggie fans—like my two year old, who happily chows down on raw veggies when they are dipped in the Greek Yogurt Ranch Dressing you’ll see below).
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. It’ll save you tons of cash. The markup on bottled salad dressings is CRAZY—most 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.
And my favorite part is that you can completely customize the taste to your liking. Once you “land” on your house dressing that is perfect for your family’s tastebuds, you always will have that recipe in your pocket. It’s like having the healthy eating gold ticket!
Below, I’m sharing eight of my favorite simple, easy, and healthy salad dressing recipes that you can make at home. Honestly, you probably have most of the ingredients to make most of the dressings already in your pantry and fridge—there are no fancy pants ingredients that you’ll have to track down at a speciality store.
All eight recipes can be made using the jar-and-shake method. Just grab a jar with a tight-fitting lid (I use a wide-mouth pint canning jar and a plastic cap), toss in all the ingredients, and shake the dickens out of it until it’s well-blended. There are a couple recipes below that could be made smoother if you use a food processor or a blender—but you don’t have to if you’re fine with a chunkier dressing.
All the recipes below make about one cup of dressing—enough to last for a few days of salads, but not so much that it goes bad before you get a chance to use it up. Use up the dressings with dairy in them within a week. The vinaigrettes can last two or more weeks in the fridge in an airtight container.
Each recipe below has amounts for using fresh OR dried herbs—you can use all fresh, all dried, or any combination of the two. Just keep in mind that the dried herbs will take a while longer to impart their flavor on the dressing. A good rule of thumb is that if you’re using mostly fresh ingredients, you can get by with using your dressings within 15-30 minutes. If you’re using mostly dried ingredients, you’d be better off waiting 2+ hours so the flavors can really develop. Let’s get started.
I think everyone needs a really good ranch dressing recipe in their back pocket—and this is mine. By using a base of whole milk Greek yogurt, the dressing is packed with healthy fat and protein. If you’d like to make the dressing lighter, you can use lowfat Greek yogurt (I’d skip nonfat—in my opinion, “nonfat” just means “nonflavor”).
This recipe uses a little bit of buttermilk (it really helps give the dressing that typical ranch flavor), but if you’re sick of buying big containers of buttermilk and not using it all, do what I do—freeze it! I freeze buttermilk in one ounce cubes, and then I have it on hand whenever I need it for dressings, pancakes, or biscuits.
Good for: All kinds of salads, dipping veggies, dipping pizza (so good), honestly, dipping anything.
Notes: Store in an airtight bottle or jar in the fridge for up to a week. If you’re looking to make a thicker ranch dip, only use 1/4 cup of buttermilk. For a thinner dressing to drizzle onto salads, add more buttermilk.
Even though I’m not a huge fan of salads, one of my joys in life is a really good, loaded taco salad topped with this dressing. It’s bright, citrusy, and just a little bit spicy. I’m a weakling when it comes to heat, so if you like more of a kick, add more red pepper flakes. I also like to make a bean salad with pinto beans, chickpeas, and black beans (plus some diced red onion and bell peppers) and drizzle it with this dressing. Yum!
Good for: Taco salads, marinating shrimp or chicken for tacos, bean salads.
Meet my husband’s favorite salad dressing. Sweet and tangy, honey mustard is super versatile and works with a ton of different flavors. This recipe is so quick and easy, I doubt you’ll even need to print it out.
Good for: All kinds of salads, dipping chicken fingers (so good!), marinating meat.
It seems like everyone and their mother have an Italian salad dressing recipe they swear by, and this is mine. It’s not as sweet as many of the ones you’ll find on the store shelf—it’s packed full of herbs and has a nice, nutty flavor thanks to a good dose of Parmesan cheese.
Good for: Side salads (especially with lasagna!), antipasto salads, dipping breadsticks, marinating chicken or fish, pasta salads.
You either love blue cheese or you hate it, and I’m staunchly on the “love it” side of things. This dressing is creamy, tangy, and earthy. If you want to keep this dressing vegetarian, make sure you pick up vegetarian Worcestershire sauce (I like Annie’s brand). Normal Worcestershire sauce is made using anchovies.
Like the ranch dressing above, using a base of whole milk Greek yogurt adds a nice boost of healthy fat and protein. If you’d like to make the dressing lighter, you can use lowfat Greek yogurt.
Good for: Steak salads, dipping hot wings, iceberg wedge salads, any hearty salad that can stand up to the strong blue cheese flavor.
Note: If your blue cheese is chunky, use fork to smash down and big pieces—you want the blue cheese flavor to be in the entire dressing.
If I had to pick my favorite dressing from this list, it’d be this tangy, citrusy lemon vinaigrette. I’m a little bit lemon obsessed, and I could honestly eat this stuff on every single salad I’ve ever made. If you aren’t a fan of lemons, this dressing isn’t for you!
Good for: all salads (especially Greek salads or salads with fruit), drizzling on gyros, marinating chicken or shrimp for the grill, everything ever in life.
It’s taken me years to finally appreciate the flavors of ginger and sesame—but I’m starting to really love the tangy earthiness that comes with these Asian flavors. I use this dressing more often as a marinade than a salad dressing! It’s great for marinating chicken drumsticks or for using with meat in the slow cooker.
Good for: Marinating meat, Asian slaws and salads, cold noodle salads.
And last, but certainly not least, my balsamic vinaigrette recipe. EVERYONE needs to have a balsamic vinaigrette recipe in their wheelhouse. This is, without a doubt, my most used recipe out of the list. Mostly because it’s so darn easy and so darn tasty.
I do highly recommend investing in a good balsamic vinegar—trust me, not all vinegars are made the same. You’ll really notice the difference if you spend a few more bucks on the good stuff. It’s worth it.
Good for: All salads, drizzling on fresh tomatoes, drizzling on watermelon (seriously, try it), marinating meat.
Note: Add a pinch of cinnamon to make a dressing that is DELICIOUS on top of salads with fruit. My favorite is spinach, pear, blue cheese, and walnuts!
Skip the bottled stuff, and use these healthy salad dressing recipes to make your own at home for a fraction of the cost!
Keywords: salad dressing, dressings, sauces, condiments
If you master these eight dressings, you’ll be in good shape to never buy the bottle stuff again if you don’t want to. And if you’re looking for even more salad dressing recipes (seriously, that wasn’t enough?), here are a few others that I have kicking around: creamy avocado vinaigrette, coconut milk ranch dressing, clementine vinaigrette, lemon poppyseed vinaigrette, and lemon sesame vinaigrette.
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I can’t wait to try these! ..especially the coconut milk ranch and the lemon vinaigrette!
The coconut milk ranch was a big lifesaver when we were off dairy! It’s good stuff. :)
Thanks for these! We are getting into salad in a big way so these will be a great addition. Where do you get the adorable little bottles?
I got them at a local supermarket, but they are for sale on Amazon, too: http://amzn.to/2bpMeUL
I’m so pumped about these!!
In the past when I’ve made vinaigrette’s though, they have separated once refrigerated and sometimes the oil has hardened so I can’t shake them back together. These were made with EVOO. Any tips? Something I’m doing wrong?
Nope, you’re not doing anything wrong. It’s totally normal! Just let the vinaigrette warm up a little bit, and then shake again to remix—it’ll be as good as new. :)
These look so good! I’m trying to eat healthy during my pregnancy and every lunch I have a salad, I’ve been mixing it up with different salad dressings! Its been bliss.
Dressings look great! Except sesame-ginger, I hate that combination! I know, I know, I’m pretty much the only person in the world who doesn’t like it…
I noticed you keep referring to the fat in whole-milk dairy products as “healthy fat”… just wanted to point out that this isn’t supported by research (in fact quite the opposite). I know nowadays some people prefer to eat high-saturated fat diets, and certainly a little bit in dressing (or whatever food you prefer) isn’t going to hurt, but it’s widely accepted and supported by heaps of research that “healthy fats” are plant-based fats.
I definitely agree that plant-based fats are the healthiest fats you can have (woohoo avocado!), but I have to disagree with you that whole-milk dairy products are unhealthy fats. From all my reading, it seems the research is pointing to lessening the vilifying of saturated fat. Of course, too much of any kind of food isn’t great for you (except maybe veggies). My recommendation is to eat a moderate diet of whole foods, and my healthy diet includes a moderate amount of whole fat dairy products.
Here are a few articles that reference what I’m talking about when I reference whole milk dairy products being a healthy fat:
I do realize that many major health organizations like the AHA, Mayo Clinic, etc. still consider saturated fat an “unhealthy” fat, I personally believe that the research is starting to point in a different direction, and expect to see revised recommendations in the near future. But I totally understand how some folks would prefer to stick to the letter of what the experts say right now (which, I am, without a doubt, not).
Your body naturally knows how to process natural fats, I’m not sure that our bodies even know what to do with chemically engineered fats. Hmmm, maybe just harden in the arteries?
Just tried the Ranch. Great, easy and fast. I used green onions instead of the onion and chives–and added more lemon-maybe my lemons don’t produce quite as much juice! Also thanks fo the tip for saving buttermilk!
Nutritional yeast is a tasty, healthy addition to dressing, as well as finely ground nuts or seeds.. (I use a coffe-bean grinder). I use a tiny round whisk I got on Amazon when I don’t use the bottle-shaker method. I like to combine BOTH citrus and a vinegar in the same dressing. You can try different types of citrus, including tangerine/orange for something not as tart as lemon/lime. I also like to use different types of oils in the same dressing. As an alternative to honey, try delicious maple syrup (real maple, not the fake stuff with corn syrup). I also find it a good idea to let the dressing not only sit itself for a while as Cassie recommends, but also sit for a while on the salad. That way, as well as marinating, you will find salads taste better at room temperature than cold. Another delicious nutritious addition to salad is seaweed. You can find online dressing recipes for seaweed salad. You buy the seaweed dry in a bag and reconstitute it. So good. It adds a salty flavor, so use less salt if you add seaweed, which is nutritionally high. Just a caution, though: Seaweed is high in iodine, and my endocrinologist did tell me that if you have thyroid nodules (they are common), do not use concentrated iodine sources. Another delicious/nutritious addition to dressings is Miso paste. As for the salads themselves, try adding little pieces of fruit. The raw fruit/vegetable combination along with dressing is so good. Basically the honey in Cassie’s dressings is supplying a sweetness that you could also get from fruit among the greens.
Where is your classic CAESAR salad dressing?
I enjoyed the Honey Mustard recipe very much! I used 1/4 tsp of mustard.
How can I print these receipes?
We added a new recipe plugin, and it didn’t immediately transfer to mobile well. It should be fixed now! Sorry about that!
I can’t print them without the ads covering up your text. That’s annoying. Tried the honey mustard and the Greek yogurt ranch. Great! Thanks for sharing these.
Hello! These look great, but I can’t seem to find the actual recipe or a link to them. Can anyone help with this?
how do you combat adding too much buttermilk without adding EVERYTHING again? what is the main ingredient to increase to reverse the taste?
A little bit of sugar (or honey or maple syrup) should do the trick. :)
Just made the lemon vinaigrette dressing – love it!
Hooray! Glad you liked it!
This post is how I found your blog…and man, am I glad or what?! I have loved the ‘idea’ of salads all summer for years (hello…I live in India where summers are freakishly long and hot). But every time I tried to make a salad dressing in the past, it was a DISASTER. Like – inedible. And I’d go back to using bottled Cesaer Salad Dressing and then worry I’m consuming way too many calories and sugars, and just give up on salad. Until I found this post. This changed my life. I have tried most of these dressings now and I ❤️ them! They’re SO good. The Italian and Blue Cheese Dressing are my absolute favorites though. I now eat salad once (and often twice) a day and thank you everytime! These recipes are super duper awesome!
The Blue Cheese is one of my favorites too! Glad you love them!
I absolutely LOVE your Greek Yogurt Blue Cheese Dressing! It is healthy & delicious. I didn’t have buttermilk so just substituted skimmed milk. I actually added a little extra milk since the dressing was pretty thick–which makes it even lower in calories. I also cut the salt down to 1/4 tsp since the blue cheese makes it salty. Thank you so much for sharing!
I recently developed an issue with my gallbladder, not gallstones, and would like to know if any of this is gallbladder friendly.
You know, I’m not sure. Your doctor would know a lot more!
Oh my god, thank you SO much! All the nasty additives in the supermarket’s salad dressings have been by far the biggest problem in my healthy eating, as I like to binge on salad daily. I’ve felt truly terrible putting that junk into myself. I see much brighter future with these recipes! Thanks again :)
How long will these last before they go bad?
The ones with dairy in them will be good for a week in the fridge. The others will be good for 2 weeks+ in the fridge in an airtight container.
Looking for a Smokey BBQ Ranch Dressing
Can you help
Hmm, I don’t know of one offhand. You could try adding some spices to the ranch dressing here, but I’m not sure on amounts!
One of the best salad dressing blogs I have seen… These are wonderful and easy to make.. I live rural and have been making my own dressings for a long time.. Nice twist on the recipes.. I copied all of them!!! Keep the blog going its fantastic!!
How do I follow you as I don’t do twitter only Facebook and email.. My email is email@example.com if you can show me how to follow your blog.. Thanks was very interesting..
You can sign up to receive emails here: wholefully.com/newsletter. Thanks! :)
I love the salad dressing recipes.
Hi cassie. I would like to know how many calories does the Lemon Vinaigrette has per serving and the Chile lime salad dressing. These two are my favorite. Thank you
This is really good and easy recipe. I would definitely make all 8. Thanks for sharing..
looks great.. I would definitely make all 8. Thanks for sharing..
I am so excited!!! I had to print them all!!! I am making them all and giving it a try, they all sound amazing.
I can’t believe it! Usually I’ll like a few of a bunch of exiles but I love EVERY ONE of these! They’re all great for summer and I love the bottles!
These salad dressings looks divine! Going to try all of them. One question, can you bottle them and keep them on the shelf and refrigerate only once opened?
Nope, you’ll want to put them in the refrigerator right away! They aren’t sealed the way store-bought dressings are and don’t contain preservatives, so they don’t have as long of a shelf life.
Wow. Thanks for the homemade dreasing recipes. I have been eating more salads lately and just cringe when I had to pour store bought dressing over something healthy because I know they’re not healthy but read I need fat to pair with salads to get its nutrition. I don’t like sugar substitude neither .
If you can, can you also create a healthy miso based dressing and orange citrus one as well ( had some in a Japanese restaurant and it’s light and refreshing).
I stumbled across these salad dressing recipes two days ago and I’m so glad I did!!! I decided to try out the chili lime dressing since I had plans to make taco salad and it is absolutely wonderful!!! I’m going to try to make the ginger dressing next and most likely will give them all a try in no particular order after that!!! Thanks so much!!!
Thank you for these recipes. I am getting into salads and this is a great way for me to enjoy my journey.
The chile-lime vinaigrette is absoultely awesome. I had moroccan meatballs for dinner and the dressing was perfect for the salad. Thanks so much !!!
Hi! I just made 2 of these to take to a dinner tonight and can’t wait to try them! But I did notice in the Lemon Vinaigrette recipe, it says ” or 2 Tablespoons dried oregano”. I’m assuming this is meant to be 2 teaspoons? That’s what I added but wanted to confirm! Thanks for sharing the recipes! Can’t wait to try more!
Ah, thanks for the catch! I’ll change it now!
Definitely Honey Mustard is the best tasting salad dressing for me.
I haven’t tried blue cheese yet.
How long will these last for when bottled please
Just made the sesame ginger dressing to go along with a big leafy salad with toasted cashews and peppers and a ribeye. Excited to try it in 30 minutes or so!
These all look so good! I was wondering, how long can you keep these in the fridge for before they start getting bad?
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