Easy Homemade Salad Dressing Recipes

by Kelly - Team Budget Bytes
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To DIY or not to DIY, that is the question. Whether you want to make your own homemade salad dressing because it’s more delicious, cost-effective, or because you have control over the ingredients, having an arsenal of homemade dressing recipes at your fingertips will help. While I don’t always make my dressings homemade (more on that later), knowing how at leasts gives you the option and therefore control. So, that being said, here are 10 homemade salad dressing recipe to keep tucked away in your back pocket (or your browser’s bookmarks) to use when you see fit!

Homemade ranch dressing being poured from a jar onto a salad

Why Make Homemade Salad Dressing from Scratch?

Spoiler alert: I don’t always make my own salad dressing from scratch. Sometimes it makes sense to make it yourself, sometimes it doesn’t. I’ll quickly run through the advantages and disadvantages to help you decide when and why it will be beneficial to make your own homemade salad dressing, and when to buy store-bought.

Advantages of Homemade Salad Dressing:

  • You control the ingredients – you can avoid preservatives, stabilizers, allergens, and control other ingredients like sugar, fat, or salt.
  • It can be cost-effective – if you already have the ingredients on hand, you can avoid making an additional purchase. 
  • Fresh flavors – because you’re mixing up the fresh ingredients, you can oftentimes get a bigger flavor punch.
  • Small batches with fewer leftovers – reduce the amount of half-used bottles in your fridge by mixing up small batches of dressing as needed.

Disadvantages of Homemade Salad Dressings:

  • Shorter shelf life – because homemade salad dressings don’t contain preservatives, you generally want to keep them no longer than 5 days in the refrigerator.
  • It can be more expensive – if you don’t already have the ingredients on hand, you buy really high quality ingredients, or the dressing requires an ingredient you don’t normally use, it can become costly.
  • You can’t make one serving at a time – if you are cooking for one and tend to eat only one or two salads a week, you may have a hard time using even a small batch of homemade salad dressing before it goes bad.

What do You Need to Make Homemade Salad Dressing?

You don’t need a whole lot! Oil, vinegar, herbs and spices, and sometimes other ingredients like Dijon mustard, mayonnaise, citrus, or avocado. A basic salad dressing consists of these components: fat, acid, flavor, and an emulsifier (ingredients that bond to both fat and water to keep the dressing from separating). Here are some examples of each of those components:

  • Fat: olive oil, neutral oils (safflower, avocado, peanut, canola, grapeseed), tahini, peanut butter, avocado, sour cream, mayonnaise
  • Acid: vinegar (apple cider vinegar, rice vinegar, balsamic vinegar, champagne vinegar), lemon juice, lime juice
  • Flavor: garlic, herbs (basil, oregano, thyme, cilantro, chives), spices (cayenne, cumin, paprika, crushed red pepper), ginger, green onion, shallots, sugar, salt, pepper
  • Emulsifiers: mustard (Dijon, yellow mustard, coarse deli mustard), mayonnaise, egg yolk, honey

So, as you can see, many of those ingredients are shelf-stable pantry staples that you can keep on hand to whip up your own dressings on demand! If you don’t have a well stocked pantry right now, just concentrate on buying one or two items per week and you’ll be there in no time!

Working on that basic formula, here are 11 homemade salad dressings that you can start experimenting with!
Dressing being poured onto Sweet Crunch Winter Salad(pictured above: Sweet Crunch Winter Salad)

10 Easy DIY Salad Dressing Recipes:

A spoon lifting some homemade balsamic vinaigrette out of a small bowl

Easy Homemade Balsamic Vinaigrette

This super simple homemade balsamic vinaigrette is perfect for all your green salads and pasta salads and has several options for customizing!
4.34 from 3 votes
Get the Recipe »

Homemade Ranch Dressing

Homemade ranch dressing being poured onto a romaine salad with tomatoes and red onion
Homemade ranch dressing is creamy, tangy, and fully of savory herbs and spices. Drizzle on your favorite salad, or use as a dip for vegetables and chips!
5 from 11 votes
$0.51 recipe / $0.13 serving Get the Recipe

Peanut Lime Dressing

A spoon lifting some peanut lime dressing out of a bow, squeezed lime and cilantro on the side.
This Peanut Lime Salad dressing is sweet, savory, tangy, and creamy all in one! Drizzle over salad, grilled chicken, shrimp, or vegetables.
4.92 from 12 votes
$1.97 recipe / $0.49 serving Get the Recipe

Homemade Italian Dressing

Italian dressing in a glass carafe in front of a bowl of salad
This simple homemade Italian Dressing is a zesty mix of flavorful herbs, savory Parmesan, and bright lemon to complement any salad.
5 from 2 votes
$1.89 recipe / $0.24 serving Get the Recipe
 

Tomato Basil Vinaigrette

Side view of a bowl of tomato basil vinaigrette with a spoon dripping the dressing into a bowl
This tangy and slightly sweet tomato basil vinaigrette only requires a few simple ingredients and tastes great over salad and pasta alike.
5 from 2 votes
$1.34 recipe / $0.34 serving Get the Recipe

Lemon Tahini Dressing

Side view of a wooden bowl with lemon tahini dressing, some dripping down the side
This super fast and easy dressing has bold flavors of garlic, lemon, and nutty tahini. Drizzle over salads, roasted vegetables, and more!
4.72 from 7 votes
$1.56 recipe / $0.39 serving Get the Recipe

Honey Mustard Sauce

Honey Mustard Sauce dripping off a spoon into a bowl
This sweet, tangy, and creamy homemade honey mustard sauce only takes a few minutes to make and is great for sandwiches, salads, dipping, and more!
4.87 from 37 votes
$1.43 recipe / $0.24 serving Get the Recipe
 

Sesame Ginger Dressing

A wooden bowl filled with sesame ginger dressing next to a knob of fresh ginger
This homemade sesame ginger dressing will drench your favorite salad with a sweet, salty, and nutty flavor, and a fresh gingery bite!
4.93 from 14 votes
$2.03 recipe / $0.20 serving Get the Recipe

Lemon Dill Tahini Dressing

Lemon Dill Tahini Dressing dripping off a spoon into a white bowl.
Pour this tangy Lemon Dill Tahini Dressing over roasted vegetables, grilled salmon or chicken, potato salad, or your favorite green salad.
4.86 from 7 votes
$1.03 recipe / $0.17 serving Get the Recipe

Creamy Avocado Dressing

Creamy avocado dressing dripping off a spoon into a bowl
This tangy and creamy avocado dressing is great for both salads and for dipping your favorite vegetables. Mixes up in minutes!
5 from 1 vote
$1.93 recipe / $0.48 serving Get the Recipe
 

And here’s a little bonus recipe for you, just for fun! This Kale Pesto is great on pasta, sandwiches, and more!

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Kale Pesto

Making a small batch of kale pesto is a great way to use leftover kale. This flavorful pesto is great on sandwiches, in soups, dips, and more!
Author: Kelly – Team Budget Bytes
Side view of a spoonful of kale pesto being lifted from the bowl.
Servings 4 1/4 cup each
Prep 10 mins
Total 10 mins

Ingredients

  • 4 cups torn kale leaves ($1.06)
  • 1/3 cup olive oil ($0.85)
  • 1 fresh lemon ($0.37)
  • 1 clove garlic ($0.08)
  • 1/4 cup walnuts ($0.30)
  • 1/3 cup Parmesan ($0.59)
  • 1/2 tsp salt ($0.02)
  • Freshly cracked pepper ($0.03)

Instructions 

  • Make sure your kale leaves are washed well, any excess water is drained away, and any hard stems removed. Zest and juice the lemon.
  • Add the kale, 1/4 cup lemon juice, 1/2 tsp lemon zest, olive oil, garlic, walnuts, Parmesan, salt, and some freshly cracked pepper to a food processor. Process until the mixture is a fine textured paste. Taste and adjust the salt, pepper, or lemon if desired. If you want a runnier pesto for drizzling, add extra oil, or up to 2 Tbsp water.

See how we calculate recipe costs here.

Nutrition

Calories: 368.38kcalCarbohydrates: 4.65gProtein: 2.75gFat: 25.68gSodium: 516.68mgFiber: 1.78g
Have you tried this recipe?Mention @budgetbytes or tag #budgetbytes on Instagram!
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  1. Do you have any recipes for shelf-stable salad dressings that don’t have to be refrigerated?

    1. No, unfortunately anything that you make fresh that doesn’t have preservatives is going to need to be refrigerated. :(

  2. Some good ideas here. And, home-made salad dressings are not full of additives and added sugar. It certainly is possible to make dressing for a single meal. Several times a week I make a big salad using (most often) a 100g sack of mixed lettuces plus whatever veggies I have and feel like cutting up. Using a half teaspoon measure, I make probably just over a tablespoon of plain-ish vinaigrette with oil (probably olive), vinegar (red wine, sherry, white wine, …), dijon, and maybe a bit of some Penzey’s spice mix (a friend gave us a superfluity and I’m trying to use them up) or an herb salt. That’s four half tsps of oil, a sloppy half tsp of vinegar (call it 1 tsp if you will), a dab of mustard from the end of a fork. Just over a tablespoon in total. That’s for a *big* salad for two, big as in filling your dinner plate. At TWO tablespoons per serving, your salads must be drowning in dressing!

  3. I also love the dressing from the Kale ApplelDijon salad. I use it all the time!