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Make restaurant-quality Italian dressing at home with this simple recipe! This zesty dressing is full of flavor and perfect for salads, pasta salads, and more.

Italian Dressing in bowl with spoon, salad, and Parmesan cheese.
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One of our favorite salad dressing recipes to make homemade is a classic: Italian dressing. This zingy Italian American vinaigrette is a staple that’s easily available at the store. But ever tried making it at home instead of opting for bottled?

As two cookbook authors, we’ve found the key to a great salad is a homemade salad dressing! This zesty Italian dressing recipe is a fan-favorite recipe from our popular chopped salad, and it’s become our go-to easy vinaigrette for all types of salads. The flavor is zesty and bright, full of garlic, vinegar, Dijon mustard, and olive oil, with a mix of Italian-style dried herbs that bring an earthy flair.

“This is the best dressing I have ever made. Never before have I had so many positive comments or been asked for a dressing recipe!” -Candida

What we love about this Italian dressing

This Italian dressing recipe is a standby recipe we’ve been making for over a decade. It all started with our famous chopped salad, which is always a hit with friends and family. Every time we serve it, people ask us for the recipe! Over the years, readers have constantly given us feedback they love it to. Here’s what we love about this recipe:

  • It’s delicious. Our readers have left comments like “IMO, This IS the best Italian dressing!” and “Wow this was so good! I made it for a Italian inspired mixed green salad that I made for guests and everyone loved it. I will definitely be making it again!”
  • It’s simple to whip up in 5 minutes. You need a few ingredients, a bowl and a whisk.
  • It’s versatile. You can use it on many different salads: and even as a marinade!
Italian Dressing recipe in bowl with spoon

Ingredients you’ll need

Turns out, Italian dressing is actually an Italian American creation, not traditionally Italian! It’s a vinaigrette type dressing used in American and Canadian cuisine. In Italy, salads are dressed with olive oil, vinegar, lemon juice and salt at the table. Italian dressing is an American creation that approximates the flavors and herbs in Italian food, like olive oil, garlic, basil, oregano and thyme. The ingredients you’ll need are:

  • White wine vinegar: This pantry ingredient brings in the tangy flavor (helpful so you don’t have to buy a fresh lemon). Make sure to use white wine vinegar, not white vinegar, which has a very strong, acidic flavor.
  • Dijon mustard: Mustard adds tangy, savory flavor and helps to make the perfect emulsion.
  • Maple syrup or sugar: Adding a hint of sugar balances the acidity in this dressing. Maple syrup adds sweetness and not a strong maple flavor, so it’s our preference here.
  • Garlic: Everything is better with a little fresh garlic, and it carries the flavor of this dressing.
  • Dried oregano, thyme, and basil: The combination of these herbs make the perfect flavor. We’ve experimented with Italian seasoning, but this combination tastes better.
  • Olive oil: This heart-healthy oil is the binder in this dressing, making it cling to salad greens and vegetables.

Tips for making Italian dressing

This homemade Italian dressing recipe is incredibly simple. To make an emulsion for this homemade Italian salad dressing recipe, simply whisk it by hand. Here are a few tips:

  • Use a medium-sized bowl. To get the oil and vinegar to incorporate into a creamy emulsion, use a medium-sized bowl to allow for enough movement of the whisk. (Trust us, we’ve tried it in small bowls before and it’s hard to get it to combine properly.)
  • Add the olive oil little by little. Add it tablespoon by tablespoon and whisk in between each until the oil fully incorporates.
  • Use Dijon mustard. The mustard helps to form and lock in the emulsion. We’ve used this technique with success in other salad dressing recipes like our Classic Vinaigrette and Balsamic Vinaigrette.
How to make Italian dressing: whisk in bowl.

Ways to serve this Italian dressing recipe

This homemade Italian dressing recipe is perfect on any type of salad that you throw together! We’ve made it for years and have lots of readers who use it as a go-to salad dressing. It works well on many types of salad recipes, like a chopped salad, kale salad, or any green salad with flavors that would go with an Italian-style vinaigrette. Here are a few ideas of how to use it:

Grilled Chicken Salad with Italian dressing.

Storing leftovers

This homemade Italian dressing lasts up to 2 weeks refrigerated. The olive oil does solidify when cold, so allow to stand at room temperature for a few minutes before serving.

A few more homemade salad dressing recipes

Homemade dressings have big, bold flavor and are easy to whip up! In fact, we rarely buy bottled dressing. Outside of this homemade Italian dressing recipe, here are a few of our other favorite salad dressing recipes:

Dietary notes

This homemade Italian dressing recipe is vegetarian, gluten-free, vegan, plant-based, and dairy-free.

Frequently asked questions

What’s the difference between Italian dressing and vinaigrette?

Italian dressing is a vinaigrette style dressing (based on oil and vinegar) that uses herbs and spices like oregano, basil, and garlic.

What can I use Italian dressing for besides salads?

Italian dressing is a versatile condiment! Here are some ideas:
Marinade: Marinate chicken, fish, or tofu in Italian dressing for added flavor before grilling, baking, or pan-frying.
Sandwich spread: Add a touch of Italian dressing to your sandwich bread for a bit of extra moisture and flavor.
Pasta salad: Toss cooked pasta with Italian dressing, chopped vegetables, and cheese for a quick and easy pasta salad.

How long does homemade Italian dressing last?

Store homemade Italian dressing in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks.

What are some fun variations on classic Italian dressing?

Get creative! Here are some ideas:
Spicy Italian: Add a pinch of red pepper flakes for a kick.
Lemon Herb Italian: Substitute lemon juice for some of the vinegar and add fresh dill or parsley.
Greek-inspired Italian: Incorporate crumbled feta cheese and a drizzle of red wine vinegar.

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Italian Dressing

Italian Dressing Recipe


5 Stars 4 Stars 3 Stars 2 Stars 1 Star

5 from 15 reviews

  • Author: Sonja
  • Prep Time: 5 minutes
  • Cook Time: 0 minutes
  • Total Time: 5 minutes
  • Yield: About ½ cup 1x

Description

This zesty homemade Italian dressing recipe is full of flavor and easy to make at home! This one will become a go-to on first taste.


Ingredients

Scale
  • 2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
  • 1 teaspoon maple syrup or sugar
  • 1 small garlic clove, grated (about ¼ teaspoon) or ½ teaspoon garlic powder
  • ½ teaspoon each dried oregano, dried thyme, and dried basil
  • ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
  • 6 tablespoons olive oil

Instructions

  1. In a medium bowl, whisk together the white wine vinegar, Dijon mustard, and maple syrup. Grate in the garlic clove, then whisk together with the oregano, thyme, basil, and kosher salt.
  2. Gradually whisk in the olive oil, adding 1 tablespoon at a time and whisking until it incorporates, until an emulsion forms. Serve immediately. Store refrigerated and bring to room temperature before serving (keeps at least 2 weeks).
  • Category: Salad Dressing
  • Method: Whisked
  • Cuisine: American

About the authors

Sonja & Alex

Hi, we’re Alex and Sonja Overhiser, married cookbook authors, food bloggers, and recipe developers. We founded A Couple Cooks to share fresh, seasonal recipes for memorable kitchen moments! Our recipes are made by two real people and work every time.

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41 Comments

  1. Candida Fortune says:

    I made the Italian dressing it was great.from now on that will be my go to dressing. Looking forward to trying some more of your dressing. Thanks for sharing






  2. Sherry Chevalier says:

    This dressing rocks! Excellent!






  3. Arnette Warren says:

    Love this dressing. I’ve made several of the dressing recipes and they always turn out great! No more bottled dressings for me! Thanks for the great recipes!






  4. Maggie Hickle says:

    This is the best dressing I have ever made. Never before have I had so many positive comments or been asked for a dressing recipe.






    1. Alex Overhiser says:

      Thank you! So glad you enjoyed :)

  5. Penny hawney says:

    Can I use fresh herbs not dried?

  6. Ali Edland says:

    Great dressing! Served at a gathering and everyone liked it. Will make again.






  7. Anonymous says:

    Love love your recipes. So easy and so many alternatives. Easy to folliw with ingredients I nearly always have on hand. Notenough salads are served as sides in my opinion. Thank You!






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