How to Make Healthy Salad Dressing

Want dressing that’s actually healthy? Here are two tricks for healthy salad dressing: a creamy pesto and a raspberry vinaigrette — and both taste AMAZING.

Healthy salad dressing

This post was created in partnership with DeLallo. All opinions are our own.

When Alex and I first started cooking together, salad dressings were first on our “better homemade” list. Years later, we have arsenal of healthy homemade salad dressings for everything from pizza nights to dinner parties. Today, we were presented with a challenge from DeLallo: can you come up with a few healthy salad dressing recipes? Here are a few salad dressings that have lower calories than the rest, but taste just as amazing. Want to know the secrets to healthy salad dressing? Keep reading.

Healthy salad dressing | Raspberry vinaigrette

What is healthy salad dressing?

First of all: what’s our definition of healthy salad dressing? To us, homemade salad dressing is healthy salad dressing. For this challenge, we’ve added a twist. Here’s our definition of healthy:

  • Real food with no preservatives. Making dressing at home uses high quality ingredients and no preservatives. Instead of loading on the fats, salt, and sugar, you can use just enough to get the right flavor. You won’t be using any of the additives that makes things shelf-stable for years and years in the refrigerator. So that’s healthy, part 1!
  • Less calories. Here’s a second definition of healthy: less calories than the typical salad dressing. Most store-bought dressings recipes have about 70-80 calories per tablespoon. For our healthy salad dressing challenge, our goal was less than 50 calories per tablespoon.

How do you make healthy salad dressing?

With this in mind, we were presented with a challenge from our favorite Italian specialty foods company: DeLallo! (You may remember we visited their HQ in Pittsburg last fall.) DeLallo sent us a huge box of their high-quality olive oils, vinegars, pestos, and spices, and asked us to create a few healthy salad dressing recipes. Here’s what we created!

Healthy pesto salad dressing

Concept 1: Creamy Pesto Dressing

Seems like a creamy salad dressing would be less healthy than a vinaigrette, right? Surprisingly, this formula for a healthy creamy dressing flips that assumption on its head! This dressing concept is similar to our our healthy ranch dressing: it has only 37 calories per tablespoon vs about 100 calories in a standard vinaigrette. The secret? This dressing uses plain yogurt to cut back calories. There still a bit of mayonnaise for richness and flavor, but less than a typical creamy dressing.

For the pesto in this dressing, we’ve used this squeeze pesto from DeLallo! It’s so easy to use and the squeeze bottle is nice for using for other uses: sandwiches, grilling veggies, etc. Or, you can use any pesto you like! It turns out like a ranch dressing, but more like pesto ranch! For all the flavor going on in this dressing, it weighs in at 48 calories per tablespoon.

How to make healthy creamy pesto salad dressing:

In a medium bowl, stir together the following ingredients (makes 3/4 cup):

  • 1/2 cup plain whole milk yogurt
  • 1/4 cup tablespoons mayonnaise
  • 2 tablespoons prepared pesto*
  • 1 teaspoon red wine vinegar
  • 1/8 teaspoon kosher salt

Store refrigerated for up to 1 week.

*For the pesto, we used the DeLallo Squeeze Pesto; you can also use the DeLallo Simply Pesto Sauce. Or for another fun variation, we tried the DeLallo Hot & Spicy Pepper Pesto, which was also delicious!

Raspberry vinaigrette

Concept 2: Raspberry Vinaigrette

The next healthy salad dressing experiment went in the other direction. Instead of creamy, we went with fruity! Adding fruit to a salad dressing is another way to make it healthy. Blending in fruit makes it creamy without adding more oil. This time, we based the concept on our strawberry salad dressing but with a new spin: as a raspberry vinaigrette!

Fresh raspberries star in this dressing, with extra-virgin olive oil from DeLallo and their Raspberry Balsamic Vinegar. Or, use a standard balsamic vinegar, red wine vinegar, or apple cider vinegar for the vinegar. As with any salad dressing, the quality of ingredients is key to good flavor. With a little maple syrup added for sweetness, this raspberry vinaigrette turns out tangy, bright, sweet and oh so good on a salad! Using our fruit trick, this one still weighs in at only 43 calories per tablespoon.

How to make healthy raspberry vinaigrette dressing:

In a small blender or with an immersion blender, blend the following ingredients, then strain it through a fine mesh strainer (makes 3/4 cup):

  • 1 cup fresh raspberries
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons maple syrup
  • 1 tablespoon raspberry balsamic vinegar, balsamic vinegar, or red wine vinegar*
  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

Store refrigerated for up to 1 week.

*For the vinegar, we used DeLallo Raspberry Balsamic Vinegar. For the olive oil, we used DeLallo Extra Virgin Olive Oil.

Creamy pesto salad dressing

And that’s it: how to make healthy salad dressing!

Thanks to DeLallo for this healthy salad dressing challenge! We learned to much and can’t wait to develop more ideas. Make sure to look for DeLallo products in your local grocery store: or you can order their products online. What do you think of these healthy salad dressing concepts? Will you try them and report back in the comments below?

Healthy salad dressing
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Pesto salad dressing

Healthy Salad Dressing


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  • Author: Sonja Overhiser
  • Prep Time: 5 minutes
  • Cook Time: 0 minutes
  • Total Time: 5 minutes
  • Yield: 3/4 cup 1x

Description

Here’s a trick for healthy salad dressing: using plain yogurt helps to reduce calories, and pesto brings in big flavor! This creamy pesto salad dressing is like a healthy ranch and perfect on crispy romaine or for dipping veggies.


Scale

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup plain whole milk yogurt
  • 1/4 cup tablespoons mayonnaise
  • 2 tablespoons prepared pesto (or homemade Basil Pesto or Cashew Pesto)
  • 1 teaspoon red wine vinegar
  • 1/8 teaspoon kosher salt

Instructions

  1. Stir together all ingredients in a bowl. Serve immediately or refrigerate until serving.
  2. Store refrigerated for up to 1 week.

  • Category: Salad Dressing
  • Method: Stirred
  • Cuisine: Italian

Keywords: Healthy Salad Dressing, How to Make Healthy Salad Dressing

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About the Authors

Sonja Overhiser

Cookbook Author and writer

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

Cookbook Author and photographer

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.

1 Comment

  • Reply
    Rina
    July 24, 2019 at 10:56 am

    Could you double check the measurements on the mayo for the creamy pesto dressing? It says 1/4 cup tablespoons. Looks delicious!

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