From ranch to balsamic vinaigrette, here are the top 10 salad dressings that are delicious, easy to make, and healthier than store bought.
When Alex and I first started cooking together 10 years ago, we cleaned out our pantry of store-bought salad dressings and started making homemade salad dressing. Now, we’re not against buying salad dressing. But these days we almost always make time for homemade dressings because they are seriously delicious and healthier than store-bought. Keep reading for our top 10 salad dressing recipes.
Related: All our Homemade Salad Dressings!
Why make homemade salad dressing?
First though: why even bother making homemade salad dressing recipes? Is it worth the time investment? Here are the reasons that we spend the time and energy on making salad dressings at home:
- Homemade salad dressings don’t have preservatives or lots of added salt and sugar. Salad dressing is never a health food: but it’s healthier to make salad dressing at home to bypass some of those added ingredients.
- Homemade salad dressings are quick to make. All of these salad dressing recipes can be made in 5 to 10 minutes (or for one, 5 minutes of hands on time).
- Homemade salad dressing recipes taste amazing. Really. All of these dressings taste much better than the typical store bought bottles. Ready to get cooking?
Don’t just stop at homemade salad dressings: try making Homemade Croutons too!
And now, our top 10 salad dressings!
First up in our top 10 salad dressings: Healthy Ranch Dressing! Because who doesn’t love ranch?! This homemade ranch dressing is one of the best ranch dressings out there. It’s got a healthy spin with plain yogurt and a little bit of mayo for richness. Then add dill, garlic powder, and onion powder, and you’ve got a creamy, delicious dressing that perfectly sticks to salad leaves and carrot sticks. Or get more creative like dipping baked french fries, buffalo cauliflower or veggie dippers! (Psst, if you’re looking for a vegan ranch dressing, scroll down.)
Try it on: Ranch Wedge Salad with Potato Chips
Of all of our top 10 salad dressings, there’s something special about this Balsamic Vinaigrette. It’s creamy, tangy, a little bit sweet, and it makes vegetables taste very good! It’s featured in our classic strawberry salad and simplest green salad. It has one of the shortest ingredient lists of all our dressings, and comes together in less than 5 minutes.
Try it on: Strawberry Salad with Balsamic Vinaigrette
Creamy Caesar dressing is one of Alex and my favorite salad dressings ever. There’s just something about that creamy, savory, garlicky, tangy flavor that’s classic and just spot on. It’s kind of like the vanilla ice cream of salad dressings, right? So classic, so good. And our Caesar Dressing Recipe is truly easy to make at home. It’s one of our very favorite homemade salad dressing recipes: and it includes that “secret” ingredient many people don’t realize is in Caesar dressing.
Try it on: Kale Caesar with Cornbread Croutons
A good creamy Blue Cheese Dressing truly hits the spot. Most blue cheese dressings are made with a lot of mayonnaise, but for a healthy spin we’ve cut the mayo with a bit of plain yogurt. This helps it to be a little lighter, and adds a bit of those lovely yogurt probiotics. We have used a bit of mayonnaise, which adds the richness and so that the blue cheese dressing sticks to the lettuce and vegetables. And then of course, blue cheese! There’s some mixed in to make a creamy body, and then crumbles added for those signature cheese chunks.
Try it on: Radish Chopped Salad Recipe
Italian dressing: is it Italian? As you might imagine, it’s actually not! Italian dressing is a vinaigrette type dressing used in American and Canadian cuisine. Despite it’s confusing origin, we wanted to create an American-style Italian dressing because we know many of you have grown up with it and love it. This zesty Italian dressing is tangy and delicious, featuring white wine vinegar, garlic, basil, thyme, and oregano, balanced with just enough maple syrup to round out the flavor. It’s one of those classic homemade salad dressing recipes that’s essential for your arsenal!
Try it on: California Salad with Chickpeas & Dill
Are you a Thousand Island Dressing person? Growing up, my sister and I would opt for ranch, but my dad would always have Thousand Island on his salads. So to me, Thousand Island has a retro feel! (Anyone else?) Either way, Thousand Island dressing is a delicious salad dressing that’s easy to make at home. Typically it’s made with a lot of mayo, but as with our ranch and Caesar dressings above, we’ve created a healthy spin by adding some yogurt. Add to this some ketchup (yes!) and finely chopped pickles, shallot and red pepper, and you’ve got a tangy sweet dressing that’s perfect for a wedge of iceberg.
Try it on: Wedge Salad with Potato Chips
After traveling to Greece a few years ago (the island of Santorini), Alex and I were struck by the effortless simplicity of it all. The bright sun and ocean breeze makes everything you consume there taste better. That classic combination of tomatoes, cucumbers and feta in a Greek salad is truly simple yet a revelation at the same time. Alex and I wanted to capture the simplicity of Greek flavors in our homemade salad dressing recipes. This Greek salad dressing is nuanced and subtle; it doesn’t overpower a salad, but accentuates it. Made with olive oil, red wine vinegar, lemon, and oregano, it’s simply divine.
With a name like Green Goddess dressing, how can you refuse giving it a try? Our version has a Greek yogurt base, making it a bit lighter but just as flavorful as the standard counterpart. The main flavors are lime, cilantro, green onion, and jalapeño pepper, so it has a bit of a Mexican flair. Use it on salads or as a dipping sauce! It’s one of our top 10 salad dressings that we make on a regular basis.
We make quite a bit of vegan recipes around here, so we thought: why not try our hand at a Vegan Ranch Dressing? Ranch is a mayonnaise based dressing, and our Homemade Ranch Dressing recipe includes both mayo and yogurt. However, we wanted to create a tasty vegan ranch dressing too. So, we did it! We figured out a way to make it vegan…and it tastes really good, too.
And last but certainly not least in our top 10 salad dressings is this easy Honey Mustard Dressing! This homemade honey mustard dressing is one of our simplest. And, all you have to dirty is 1 tablespoon and a bowl and whisk! The simple formula is easy to remember. And the flavor? Super tangy and perfectly balanced with honey.
Looking for more ways to top a salad?
Outside of our top 10 salad dressings, we’ve got lots more that are just as tasty. Here are a few more we love!
- How to Make Healthy Salad Dressing
- Raspberry Vinaigrette Salad Dressing
- Creamy Pesto Salad Dressing
- Creamy Avocado Dressing
- Strawberry Salad Dressing
- Lemon Vinaigrette
- French Dressing
- How to Make a Basic Vinaigrette
- Best Coleslaw Dressing Recipe
- Best Tahini Sauce
About the Authors
Sonja Overhiser is author of Pretty Simple Cooking, named one of the best healthy cookbooks of 2018. She’s host of the food podcast Small Bites and founder of the food blog A Couple Cooks. Featured from the TODAY Show to Bon Appetit, Sonja seeks to inspire adventurous eating to make the world a better place one bite at a time.
Alex Overhiser is an acclaimed food photographer and author based in Indianapolis. He’s host of the food podcast Small Bites and founder of the recipe website A Couple Cooks. Featured from the TODAY Show to Bon Appetit, Alex is author of Pretty Simple Cooking, named one of the best vegetarian cookbooks by Epicurious.