The only healthy homemade salad dressing recipes you will ever need! Including the best-ever balsamic garlic dressing, lemon thyme dressing, healthy caesar-ish dressing, and my go-to “in the bowl” method to dress a salad.
This post is sponsored by Shop Taste NY, the official “Eat Local, Drink Local” program for New York State. Thank you for supporting the brands that support Abra's Kitchen. As always all thoughts, opinions, recipes, and musings are my own.
Delicious salads are a staple in my kitchen. Healthy seasonal greens tossed with creative seasonal veggies, and always ALWAYS a burst of salty acidic dressing. I crave salads, they are the first thing I make when I return from a long trip abroad, the bite I long for after eating restaurant food for too many days in a row.
Salads are my foundation, and I refuse to see them as boring symbols of diet culture. Very much the opposite, I view salads as beautiful delicious vehicles of delight. But salads must – ALWAYS – be dressed.
I am not here for a dry undressed salad, don't try to sell me on the idea of hot sauce or hummus as your dressing. No friends, no. Salad desires, deserves, demands to be dressed!
I am here to help you do that, in the simplest, healthiest, yummiest way possible.
Learn these 4 master dressing recipes and you will literally never again need to buy another jar of awful dressing or sit through a sad dry salad.
Let's get cooking!
Simple Ingredients You'll Need to Become a Salad Dressing Master!
The simplest form of all salad dressing recipes will require only 3 ingredients: olive oil, acid, and salt. These ingredients should all be pantry staples. To make the salad dressings in this post (and MASTER the recipes) consider stocking your pantry/fridge with the following.
- Good Olive Oil – Really good olive oil is the base of all good things. I am currently loving this small batch locally produced olive oil from Clean Slate Farms. The olives are organically grown in California and the olive oil is produced in upstate New York. You can purchase Clean Slate Farms' small batch made Olive oil and Vinegar and other wonderful New York local products on Shop Taste NY.
- Acid – This can be fresh lemon juice, balsamic vinegar, red wine vinegar, or apple cider vinegar
- Fresh Garlic – Great in some dressings, in others I prefer garlic powder
- Salt and Pepper – always, always, always salt your greens. Always.
- Fresh and/or Dried Herbs – Fresh thyme, tarragon, and parsley are always welcome companions to salad dressing. I also love dried oregano (hello Greek salad!), garlic powder, and sometimes I'll even throw in some citrusy sumac.
- Parmesean – I use this only in my Caeser-ish dressing, and I use only the best freshly grated Parmigiano Reggiano.
TOOLS YOU WILL USE FOR THIS RECIPE
- Salad dressing shaker or a bowl and a whisk, or a mason jar. Simple.
Olive Oil Tips!
- Look for the type of bottle the olive oil is stored in. If you are purchasing extra virgin olive oil heat and light are its greatest enemies. If the olive oil is small batch made and sold in smaller bottles that are clear, or in clear bottles within a box, that is perfectly fine but you want to store your olive oil in your pantry away from heat and light and use it within a reasonable amount of time.
- What does extra virgin or virgin mean? – These terms mean the oil is not refined or processed.
- Taste – Here is a great tip, the more peppery or pungent the olive oil likely the higher polyphenol content. Extra virgin olive oil will have a bite, this only positively adds to the complexity of flavor of your salad dressing.
How to Make Homemade Salad Dressing
There are essentially two main methods for making your own salad dressing
- What I like to call the “In the Bowl Method” – is the way I make salad 99% of the time. It is the method that was taught to me by my Grandpa and is how my entire family makes salad/ salad dressing
- Whisk – in the jar method. This is the way I make every other salad dressing beyond my in-the-bowl “house salad”. The jar method works best if you are using either honey or mustard to help emulsify the dressing. To emulsify simply means to combine together two ingredients that typically don't mix well together – like olive oil and vinegar.
Clean Slate Farm
I have partnered with Shop Taste NY to introduce you to some truly incredible local New York products.
Enter Clean Slate Farm! Located in central New York, Clean Slate Farm is owned and operated by Dave and Joanne. they use organic garlic grown on their farm, local maple syrup, and the best quality figs, lemon, and basil to infuse their olive oils and balsamic vinegar.
Nothing artificial is ever added. Ever.
The olives are sourced from a farm in California and the extra virgin, organic, small-batch olive oil is produced in New York state.
You can purchase Clean Slate Farm artisanal small-batch handmade products on Shop Taste NY, celebrating New York-grown and produced products!
Four Homemade Salad Dressing Recipes to Master
Simple House Salad – In the Bowl Method
This is a method more than a recipe so I made you a video.
I typically use this method for my “house salad” of simple greens but feel free to add any veggies or toppings that you'd like.
- Start by pouring olive oil over your greens – for 3 cups of greens I use about 2 tbsp of olive oil.
- Next season with salt and pepper, garlic powder, and dried oregano.
- Toss the salad making sure that the olive oil and dried spices coat every perfect leaf of lettuce
- Finish with vinegar. I typically use red wine vinegar (that's what my Grandpa used) but in the video, I use a wonderful garlic balsamic vinegar from Clean Slate Farm. Use enough acid to taste. If you like a really acidic punchy salad (like me) then use 1 tbsp or 1/2 the amount of olive oil that you used. If you prefer a salad that reads more olive oil than acid use just a splash.
- Taste and adjust the seasoning!
Best Ever Balsamic Vinaigrette
Everyone needs a basic balsamic vinaigrette in their recipe repertoire or culinary tool kit.
Look no further, this is the only recipe you will need. Simple olive oil, balsamic vinegar, fresh garlic, honey, mustard, salt, and pepper. Combine in a jar and shake vigorously until well combined. Alternatively, you can whisk or add to a small blender and blend.
Lemon Thyme Vinaigrette
Fresh herbs + lemon is a match made in heaven. This salad dressing pairs well with peppery flavors like arugula, and fennel, or in grain salads like a farro zucchini salad or even a summer pasta salad.
I typically make a double batch of this because I basically pour it over everything I make for days on end.
For this recipe, I used Clean Slate Farms lemon olive oil for extra lemon flavor, mixed with fresh lemon juice, shallots, dijon mustard, fresh thyme, and salt. Blend, whisk, or shake until well combined.
I call this caesar-ish for two reasons:
- I do not use egg yolk in this recipe, and traditional caesar dressing does
- If you are used to store-bought bottled Caesar dressing that is creamy white, well then this is going to taste Caesar adjacent
I love a punchy Caesar dressing that has a lot of acid, a good amount of salt, and just a hint of umami undertone from anchovy.
Trust me when you start making this recipe for Caesar-ish you will never go back. Never.
A Few Of My Best Salad Recipes That You Will Love
I can’t wait for you to master these four healthy salad dressing recipes! When you try any of these recipes, don’t forget to rate it and leave a comment below.
Healthy Homemade Salad Dressing Recipes
Best Ever Balsamic Vinaigrette
Lemon Thyme Vinaigrette
- Add all ingredients for each individual recipe into a large bowl and whisk until well combined.
- Alternatively you can add ingredients to a small blender and blend. Or add ingredients to mason jar and shake vigourosuly until well combined.