Better than Storebought: Easy Homemade Salad Dressings

By , SparkPeople Blogger
I love to accessorize, don't you?  A hat, scarf or belt can make or break an outfit, just as a sauce, dressing, or marinade can make or break a dish.

Like everything else in my life, it all circles back to food--even accessories.  For me, the perfect accessory for salads, cold meats, fruit plates, and even savory dishes is the dressing.  It can be spicy, herbal, creamy, served hot or cold. I love them all.  The trouble is that traditional recipes call for loads of fat in the form of oils or cream.
When you're cutting the fat in dressings, the trick that I have found is that the flavor has to come in with a loud punch to offset the smaller amount of oils and cream. 
"Dressing" is a vague term that can be used to describe vinaigrettes, dipping sauces, marinades, and even flavored oils.  Whatever you call them, they basically can be divided into two categories: vinaigrettes and creamy dressings. 
Vinaigrette is a simple emulsified* sauce and can be a plain as a 3: 1 ratio of vinegar to oil. That sounds a little boring--and heavy.  I like to reduce the ratio of oil and add some other ingredients from my pantry.   Dijon Mustard, grated carrots, chopped herbs, garlic, and pureed vegetables all add flavor and help the oil and vinegar stay nicely mixed. 
For a basic but tasty vinaigrette that will accessorize shredded kale, spinach, or even a serving of grilled chicken, try my Garlic Dijon Vinaigrette.
*Chef's Tip: Emulsify means to combine two ingredients that don’t like to stay mixed, such as oil and vinegar.
Is creamy more your fancy?  While traditionally made with gobs of mayo and sour cream, creamy dressing can be made without them.  Greek yogurt or non-fat plain yogurt do a nice job as stand-ins.  I love the Greek yogurt because of the creamy texture and thickness.  (If you don't eat dairy, try soft tofu.)  Adding fresh herbs infuses the base of yogurt with color and provides a cooling taste. For spring, try my  Creamy Fat Free Herb Dressing.

If you are looking for some extra heat, try adding a spice blend to a yogurt base.  To 6 ounces of Greek yogurt, add 1 tablespoon of my Creole Spice Blend and you'll have a dipping sauce for pork, beef or chicken. You can also use it as a sandwich spread.  (Not a fan of Creole spices? Experiment with what you already have on hand.  You will use up your purchased spices and seasonings before they go stale and save money at the same time.) 
Tips to make the perfect dressing:
  •  If using olive, grapeseed or vegetable oils, make sure the oil has not gone rancid.  Take a whiff, if it smells old and off, it probably has seen its last days. (Oil that is "off" smells distinctly like modeling clay.) To extend the life of your oils, store them in a dark cool space.
  • If using fresh herbs in a dressing, make sure you dry them thoroughly after rinsing them.  Added water from the herbs might upset the balance of the recipe.
  • When making vinaigrette, it is important to slowly add the oil.  If you dump it all together, your dressing will "break."
  • When dressing a salad, a little bit goes a long way.  You should always toss the dressing into the salad not pour over.  By tossing, you can coat more greens with less dressing.
Want more salad dressing recipes? Try the dressings from these recipes:
Escarole Salad with Gorgonzola-Walnut Apple Crisps
Grapefruit Salad

Carrot-Cranberry Salad
Pomegranate Chicken Salad
Roasted Beet Salad

Or try one of these recipes for easy, homemade salad dressings.

Want more healthy recipes from me and fellow SparkPeople members? Be sure to subscribe to SparkPeople's Recipe of the Day email. Click here to sign up!
Did you know SparkRecipes is now on Facebook? Click here to "Like" us!
Like this recipe? Then you'll love "The SparkPeople Cookbook: Love Your Food, Lose the Weight."

Click here to to redeem your SparkPoints
  You will earn 5 SparkPoints


_CYNDY55_ 3/25/2020
Thanks! Report
RAPUNZEL53 2/26/2020
Great Report
LILLYLEFEY 2/23/2020
looks good Report
KOALA_BEAR 1/12/2020
I make my own salad dressing using 1 PKG soft tofu, 1 Cup ACV & 1 bag frozen (or fresh) berries. Add some seasonings & blend on high. No chemicals & keeps well in fridge. If it's too tart, you can add apple or pineapple juice, or tomato juice for up to half the ACV. Taken from a PBS fundraiser show called Eat to Live. Report
RAPUNZEL53 12/4/2019
Have made my own for years now. Report
I'm looking forward to trying them. Report
They all look good! Report
Thanks! Report
Thank you for the information. Report
I love my ranch dressing and honey mustard dressing. Yum! But I've found that often just adding apple cider vinegar and some Mrs Dash's garlic and herb salt-free blend does the trick on my salads. Report
Yum, really good ones! Report
looks good Report
These look tasty! Report
Definitely better than storebought Report
I have been looking for a better alternative to buying the store bought dressings and now I can't wait to try some of these out. Thanks Report
The salad in the picture looks absolutely divine!!! Report
I made the Balsamic Vinegar dressing the other day and I love it! I just drizzle a tablespoon over the salad and it is soooooooooo good! Today I am going to drizzle some over chicken legs and bake them. Report
Salads are one of my main food choices so I can't wait to try some of these. Report
I like the Walden Farms Dressings. Report
I love salad, and I love salad dressing even more. Can't wait to try these! Report
Some of these ideas look fantastic...can't wait to try them ALL! Report
I am so excited to try some of these delicious salads - thanks for the post Report