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!
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!
(pictured above: Sweet Crunch Winter Salad)
10 Easy DIY Salad Dressing Recipes:
Easy Homemade Balsamic Vinaigrette
Homemade Ranch Dressing
Peanut Lime Dressing
Homemade Italian Dressing
Tomato Basil Vinaigrette
Lemon Tahini Dressing
Honey Mustard Sauce
Sesame Ginger Dressing
Lemon Dill Tahini Dressing
Creamy Avocado Dressing
And here’s a little bonus recipe for you, just for fun! This Kale Pesto is great on pasta, sandwiches, and more!
- 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)
- 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.
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