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This poppy seed dressing recipe is classic: tangy and studded with seeds! It’s easy to make and versatile for drizzling on salad of all kinds.

Poppy seed dressing
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Ready for one of the best homemade salad dressings around? Try this Poppy Seed Dressing recipe! There’s something about the way the acidity cuts through the sweet that makes this creamy dressing irresistible. It’s classic and a little nostalgic even, perfect for drizzling over just about any salad. Strawberry salad? Check. Pear salad? Check. Spinach salad? Check.

Ingredients in poppy seed dressing

There are two main types of poppy seed dressing: vinaigrette-based and creamy. This poppy seed dressing recipe is a vinaigrette, whisked up with oil and vinegar. But there’s also a way to make it creamy, similar to the vibe of a bottle of Brianna’s: just add a dollop of mayo or Greek yogurt! Here’s what you’ll need for this recipe:

  • Granulated sugar (or honey)
  • White vinegar
  • Dry mustard, aka mustard powder
  • Onion flakes
  • Kosher salt
  • Grapeseed oil or other neutral oil
  • Poppy seeds

All you have to do? Whisk together the non-oil ingredients, then gradually whisk in the oil until a creamy emulsion forms. Stir in the poppy seeds and you’re done!

Poppy seed dressing recipe

Why to use grapeseed oil (and a few subs)

This poppy seed dressing recipe calls for grapeseed oil, though most of our salad dressing recipes use olive oil. Why use grapeseed here?

  • The flavor of poppy seed dressing is best with a neutral oil. The strong fruity flavor of olive oil just wasn’t right here.
  • Neutral oil makes the best emulsion. This dressing with straight olive oil is not as creamy: more watery. Want to use olive oil? You could use half olive oil and half neutral oil (if you like using olive oil for health reasons).
  • Other neutral oils work too. Try organic vegetable oil, canola oil, sunflower oil, or peanut oil.

Remember: the color of oil you use will affect the color of the dressing. A yellow oil like olive oil makes a brighter dressing than a neutral oil like grapeseed.

Notes on other ingredients

A few notes on some of the other ingredients that make this dressing shine:

  • Use white vinegar, not white wine vinegar! The sharp, straightforward flavor of white vinegar is perfect here (white wine is a little too fruity).
  • Use onion flakes. These are little flakes of freeze dried onions. We tried it with onion powder and it just didn’t have the same impact.
Poppy seed salad dressing

Variation: creamy poppy seed dressing

Do you love a good creamy poppy seed dressing? You can use the same recipe and whisk in a little mayonnaise or Greek yogurt. Start with 1 tablespoon, then whisk in more to your liking. It’s a fun variation if it fits the vibe of your salad!

Best ways to serve poppy seed dressing

Poppy seed dressing is ultra versatile: you can drizzle it on just about anything! The sharp sweet tart flavor is incredibly satisfying and pairs well with sweet or savory. We find it’s best with green salads topped with fruit. Here are a few ideas for how to use it:

More salad dressing recipes

Love to make your own salad dressing? Here are some of our top salad dressing recipes:

This poppy seed dressing recipe is…

Vegetarian, vegan, plant-based, dairy-free, and gluten-free

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Poppy seed dressing

Poppy Seed Dressing

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5 from 1 review

  • Author: Sonja Overhiser
  • Prep Time: 10 minutes
  • Cook Time: 0 minutes
  • Total Time: 10 minutes
  • Yield: ¾ cup 1x


This poppy seed dressing recipe is classic: tangy and studded with seeds! It’s easy to make and versatile for drizzling on salad of all kinds.


  • ¼ cup granulated sugar (or honey)
  • ¼ cup white vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon dry mustard (aka mustard powder)
  • 1 teaspoon onion flakes
  • ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
  • ½ cup grapeseed oil* (or other neutral oil like organic vegetable or canola)
  • 1 tablespoon poppy seeds
  • Variation: 1 to 2 tablespoons mayonnaise or Greek yogurt, for creamy poppy seed dressing


  1. In a medium bowl, whisk together the granulated sugar, white vinegar, dry mustard, onion flakes, and kosher salt. (For the creamy variation, whisk in the mayonnaise here.)
  2. Gradually whisk in the grapeseed oil about 1 tablespoon at a time until a creamy emulsion forms. 
  3. Whisk in the poppy seeds. Serve immediately or store in a sealed container or jar until serving. You can store at room temperature for up to 2 weeks (shake before serving), or refrigerated for 1 month (allow to come to room temperature before serving). 


*Use any neutral oil here, organic if possible. We tested with olive oil but it wasn’t a great substitute. The flavor and the emulsion weren’t nearly as good. 

  • Category: Salad dressing
  • Method: Whisked
  • Cuisine: American
  • Diet: Vegan

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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1 Comment

  1. Sonja Overhiser says:

    Let us know if you have any questions!