Say “so long” to bottled salad dressing. DIY salad dressing saves space in your fridge, is economical, fresher and far more satisfying than store-bought. Learn how to make homemade salad dressing using easy ratios and ingredients with the included handy chart. Get ready to make everything from Italian and French vinaigrettes to Southwest salad dressings from ingredients you already have in your pantry and spice drawer.
Do you have more than 2-3 bottles of salad dressing in your refrigerator? If you do, I’m here to create some space for something better (wine or kombucha…they’re both fermented!) Learn how to make homemade salad dressing using a building block of simple ratios and ingredients.
The best salad dressing is in your pantry
Trust me…it’s not in bottles sitting on your refrigerator door. The best salad dressing recipe is right in your pantry among the oils and vinegars. And in your spice drawer. Dorothy, you’re about to discover you had the homemade salad dressing power all along!
Making salad dressing is easy-peasy. Here is what you probably have sitting in your pantry:
This is the base of the dressing and the vehicle for all the good stuff. You can’t have a dressing really without the base. Yes, there are dressings without the oil (or fat) but to me, that’s pretty much like pouring water on your lettuce and eating it. Let’s be clear: I am not about wet lettuce.
Here are some standard and unique oil bases:
These are the ingredient that connect everything together and add richness.
Some of the most popular emulsifiers are:
For me, it’s all about the acid. I am a vinegar lovin’ girl. I like things tangy.
Some examples of great acids for dressings:
These are the game-changers. There are Level I seasonings that are pretty much expected and required. And then there are the Level II Seasonings that have the ability to carry your dressing (and salad) to any country or taste profile you want.
- Italian? Garlic, oregano and maybe some crushed red pepper.
- Asian? Ginger, Chinese 5 Spice powder.
- Southwest? Chili powder, cumin and cayenne.
Some of the best salad dressing seasonings and herbs include:
Level I –
Level II –
Methods and mixing tips
- Whisk method. A classic French whisk and a glass measuring cup is the tried and true method for emulsifying salad dressing really well. I also love using this mini whisk too.
- Blender method. A high speed blender is also a great way to mix salad dressing. And buying a renewed Vitamix blender is a great way to score a great deal!
- Shake method. This might be my favorite method. Use either a mason jar (I love these canning jars from Weck) or a salad dressing mixer container to shake up your favorite homemade dressing recipe! And your vinaigrette dressing will stay emulsified longer too!
Homemade dressing reference chart
Here’s a handy little chart to start you off. Think of a dressing recipe as a building block or a formula (or DO-RE-MI). If you know the basic formula, all you do is swap out one ingredient for another to change the flavor profile and your dressing.
Easy, right? I’ll likely keep tweaking the chart and if you have other seasonings or flavors you typically add in salad dressings, please leave a comment below and I’ll add it.
BONUS TIP: Meet the five tastes
You can also think when creating a dressing (or any recipe for that matter) as a balance of the
four , well really, five tastes:
- Umami – that physical mouth-watering reaction when you add an umami loaded ingredient like red meat, mushrooms, Parmesan cheese or tomato paste.
Mix up dressings in a mason jar for easy storage. Label the lid with a piece of tape and use a sharpie to add the name and the date. Remove as needed.-Josie + Nina
Storage and freezer suggestions
Storage. If your dressing doesn’t contain dairy or Dijon mustard, it likely will not require refrigeration. That doesn’t mean you can’t refrigerate it. Olive oil will thicken when refrigerated but will quickly return to its natural state once it comes to room temperature.
Salad dressings can be stored in the fridge for up to 2 weeks. If the recipe doesn’t call for mayonnaise or dairy, it will keep longer.
Freezing. You can freeze vinaigrette in small plastic freezer safe bags. Defrost them by sitting upright in a small bowl of warm water in the sink, in the fridge overnight or by letting them come to room temperature on the counter.
Made this recipe?
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How to Make Homemade Salad Dressing from Scratch (includes easy reference chart!)
- Combine the acid, emulsifier, and sugar if using in a glass measuring cup. Slowly pour the oil in a steady stream while whisking continuously whisking. Add the spices and sugar and correct for seasoning.
- Olive, canola, sunflower seed, sesame, grapeseed, peanut, avocado
- mayonnaise, sour cream, or buttermilk
- egg yolks
- mayonnaise (or yogurt, sour cream)
- aquafaba – the liquid from a can of chickpeas – learn more about it here
- tomato paste
- vinegar – white, balsamic, white balsamic, apple cider, rice, champagne
- citrus juices – lemon, lime, grapefruit, oranges
- pickled juices – juice from a pickle jar among others!
- Level I
- salt and pepper
- garlic (fresh is preferred but powder and salt are cool)
- Level II:
- your favorite hot sauce
- worcestershire sauce
- dried herbs like oregano, thyme, dill
- Spices like chili powder, cumin,
- sugar, brown sugar
- Whisk: If you have a hard time whisking, hold the whisk between the palm of both hands and swish back and forth (like you’re washing your hands) while keeping the whisk at the bottom of the measuring cup the whole time.
- Blender: Add the acid and emulsifier into a blender jar. With the blender on low, pour the oil in through the hole in the lid until thickened. Stir in herbs and seasonings.
- Mason jar: Follow the recipe but place the ingredients in a jelly or canning jar. Shake vigorously to incorporate and mix the dressing.
- Refrigerate homemade oil based dressings up to 3 weeks in the fridge
- Cream based dressings: use within 7 days.
About Lori Murphy
Lori has over 30 years in the food industry as a marketing strategist, culinary instructor and chef for three kids with discerning palates. As the chief content creator at Josie + Nina, Lori is dedicated to helping home cooks create food memories through fresh ingredients and Italian flavors.