Step Away From The Bottle

Although store-bought salad dressings are convenient and tasty, nothing compares to homemade. Plus, making your own dressing can save you money and is often healthier. Learn how to make the best DIY salad dressings with these easy tips.

Skinny ranch and other DIY salad dressing tips

Even when you’re rushed to get dinner on the table, making your own salad dressing only takes a few extra minutes and can be tailored to your family’s tastes. You can make a big batch that you can easily use all week long.

Substitute yogurt

Creamy dressings like ranch are delicious, but are usually mayonnaise-based and high in calories. Lighten things up with nonfat Greek yogurt to create a satisfying but healthy dressing. Replace the mayonnaise with nonfat Greek yogurt and mix with buttermilk and herbs for a “skinny” ranch dressing (pictured above with chipotle for added flavor).

Check out this yogurt salad dressing recipe >>

Texture

Ingredients can be added for flavor as well as texture. Add-ins like mustard, grated Parmesan cheese and even avocado can boost the taste of a dressing while also making it creamier in texture.

Shake well

One of the secrets to a great salad dressing is to shake well, which helps all the ingredients blend together, or emulsify. A simple vinaigrette can be shaken by hand in a cruet, while thicker dressings should be blended in a food processor until smooth.

Get creative

Another great way to make your DIY salad dressing stand out is to get international inspiration. Instead of the usual ingredients, try using tahini for a Middle Eastern feel or miso for Asian flare. Other great ingredients to try out in your dressings are sesame oil, lime juice, teriyaki sauce and chipotle peppers.

Get inspired with this miso salad dressing recipe >>

Use herbs and spices

A simple vinaigrette consists solely of oil (usually olive oil) and an acid (such as vinegar or lemon juice). Use this as a base and build on it by adding your favorite herbs or spices to create an exciting new salad dressing. Dried herbs and spices like cumin, paprika and oregano can instantly give new character to a dressing. In the winter, fresh sage would be a lovely addition, while nothing says summer like fresh basil.

Basil vinaigrette and more DIY salad dressing tips

Basil vinaigrette recipe

Makes 1 cup

Ingredients:

  • 1 small bunch basil, roughly chopped
  • 3/4 cup olive oil
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • Salt and pepper

Directions:

  1. Put the basil, olive oil, lemon juice and mustard in the bowl of a food processor and pulse a few times. Process until fully combined.
  2. Season with salt and pepper.
  3. Serve immediately or store in a cruet in the refrigerator for up to one week.

More DIY salad dressing ideas

Avocado, lemon and pepper salad dressing
Honey mustard citrus salad dressing
Pink grapefruit salad dressing

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Comments

Comments on "DIY salad dressing tips"

Erin September 23, 2012 | 11:50 AM

The basil vinaigrette dressing looks really good and really easy to make. Bottled dressings usually contain so much fat and calories, that it counteracts the fact that you're eating a salad! Thank you for the healthy options and ideas.

Kate July 09, 2012 | 1:34 PM

I have never made a salad dressing before but the recipe and these helpful tips should make it a simple task. I am meaning to cut back on calories and this is a simple solution. While it is not the ONLY solution I look forward to having healthier salads and homemade dressings.

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