DIY Salad Dressing

December 4, 2014

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“What do you put on your salads?” is one of my most frequently asked questions. It seems everyone is out to find the magic salad dressing they’ll use for the rest of their lives! I don’t really care for most of the bottled dressings out there. I don’t know if they use too much onion or garlic or if it’s the preservatives that taste off to me, but many bottled dressings literally leave a bad taste in my mouth long after the salad is gone. (This one is a winner though!)

While I love a good homemade dressing, when I come home starving from the gym at lunchtime I try to get my salad on the table as fast as possible. This ritual has almost become a game to me to see how fast I can assemble lunch while dirtying the least number of dishes. Call me lazy, but I like to think I’m efficient Smile So for my salads, more often than not I just drizzle on about a teaspoon each of olive oil and honey, add a pinch of sea salt and call it a meal.

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Having made many dinnertime dressings by Cook Smarts this year, I now embrace the build-in-the-bowl dressing. For a crowd you’d make a dressing in the bottom of a big mixing bowl and then toss in many cups of greens. But when I’m just making a salad for myself I make the dressing right in the bowl I’m going to eat it in. I put my ingredients in the bottom, whisk with my fork, add the greens on top and toss as best I can without too many leaves jumping ship. It works quite well, and it has increased my salad enjoyment one serving at a time – no extra bowls or jars required! Of course you could also make a big batch of dressing in advance and store it in a jar, but the build-in-the-bowl kind means you can change it up each day and nothing gets wasted.

The following oh-so-beautifully-designed (=sarcasm) infographic outlines my formula for a quick homemade dressing and the ingredients I draw from to create one:

The ingredients for a great salad homemade salad dressing

Generally the magic ratio of oil to vinegar is 3:1. This matters more if you’re making a big jar of dressing to keep on hand, but it’s a good ratio to shoot for in smaller batches too. Many people use way more vinegar than oil. The oil is what brings the luxurious richness to your salad, so while I agree it might not be smart to glug it on, using a little dressing prepared in the right ratio will bring out the best in your greens. Another good rule of thumb is to use 1 tablespoon of dressing for 1.5 cups of greens. You don’t want a soggy salad, and remember you can always add more after your first round of tossing. So if you have 6 cups of greens, that’s about a quarter cup of dressing.

I’ll also add that I often use garlic powder instead of raw garlic because I don’t like any meal that sticks with me all afternoon. However, I totally agree that raw garlic gives a salad dressing an extra layer of delicious! I save it for fancy dinner parties.

Lastly, check out this amazing post and infographic Cook Smarts created for everything you need to know about homemade dressings. While my formula above has a lot of components for maximum taste, Cook Smarts has taught me that you really just need good oil, vinegar and salt to have a salad on the table fast.

Here is a dressing that I threw together recently to stretch for a few days in a jar –

Dressing Orange

Orange + Herb Salad Dressing

  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • 2 tbsp orange juice (freshly squeezed is best!)
  • 1 tsp honey
  • 1/2 tsp Dijon mustard
  • 1/2 tsp herbs de Provence
  • Pinch garlic powder
  • 2 pinches kosher salt
  • 3 grinds pepper

Combine all ingredients in a jar and shake well to combine.

Happy Crunching!

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{ 38 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Linda @ The Fitty December 4, 2014 at 6:50 am

Thank you for this simple guide! I’m always clueless as to if I’m doing salad dressing the right way or not(I usually just do an oil and some salt). I appreciate the infographic!

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2 Kaila @healthyhelperblog! December 4, 2014 at 7:49 am

Love the graphic you made! This is such a great resource for making your own homemade dressing.

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3 Kori December 4, 2014 at 8:05 am

I love roasting garlic & adding that to my dressing! Roasting brings out the natural sweetness & tames the pungent taste. Thanks for yet another great post!

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4 KathEats December 4, 2014 at 8:22 am

Great tip!

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5 Maggie December 4, 2014 at 8:52 am

Totally pinning this! My post-exams goal is to eat more salads/greens in general so this will help :)

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6 lisa valinsky December 4, 2014 at 9:23 am

Love this chart, Kath! Such a good reference sheet.

I also love to use Greek yogurt as a base (in place of mayo). It works for creamy homemade dressings, like honey mustard or French.

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7 Kavi December 4, 2014 at 10:11 am

Despite your sarcasm disclaimer, I actually DO like your graphic haha! Makes it much easier to remember the formula :)

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8 KathEats December 4, 2014 at 11:09 am
9 Heather December 4, 2014 at 10:29 am

Thanks for this! I’m not a big salad dressing person but I’ll have to give the orange & herb dressing a try – it sounds delicious!

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10 chris December 4, 2014 at 10:29 am

Thanks!! Jess taught me to put some honey in salad dressing, your recipe with orange juice too is perfect!

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11 Alex @ True Femme December 4, 2014 at 11:03 am

I’m one of those weird vegetarians who doesn’t eat a ton of salad. I just prefer to get my greens in other forms (smoothies, kale chips, lightly steamed or baked). I am trying to remedy this a little and I really like the idea of making your own dressing in the bowl you’re going to eat out of.

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12 Caroline December 4, 2014 at 11:34 am

I’ve never thought to whisk dressing together in the bottom of the salad bowl! Such a good tip! I’m with you on dirtying as few bowls/jars as possible, so I’ll definitely be doing that in the future 😉

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13 Jennifer T December 4, 2014 at 11:38 am

Love this post. I’ve been branching out to make my own dressings and sometimes they are good, sometimes not so much. This “formula” will definitely help, thank you!

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14 Rebecca @ it's a nourishing thing December 4, 2014 at 11:50 am

Love this!! Such a great reminder of how easy it is to make salad dressing at home.. and how easy it is to avoid buying the bottled, chemical filled stuff off the shelf.

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15 Rachel December 4, 2014 at 12:23 pm

Love the info graphic. Could you create one with measurements for a jar full of dressing (i.e, dressing for a crowd)? I’m envisioning having it taped to the inside of my spice cabinet for easy reference :)

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16 KathEats December 4, 2014 at 1:10 pm

Suggestion noted!

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17 Nicole December 4, 2014 at 12:24 pm

Gym time with a toddler…how do you do it?! Would love to see a day in the life post where you emphasize how you juggle having a little one and also getting in your workouts.

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18 KathEats December 4, 2014 at 1:10 pm

Our gym has a great childcare system that Mazen loves so it’s a win-win!

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19 Bridget December 4, 2014 at 12:25 pm

You can dirty even less dishes if you go by weight and put your bowl on a scale. :)

(mostly, I hate cleaning tablespoons of oil!)

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20 KathEats December 4, 2014 at 1:09 pm

Haha great tip!

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21 Elyse December 4, 2014 at 12:50 pm

This is exactly what I needed, in order to push myself to make homemade salad dressing!

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22 Alex @ get big, go to work December 4, 2014 at 12:55 pm

What a great infographic! I typically throw so many ingredients on my salad that I forgo a dressing, but this was a really easy way to put it in perspective if I’m ever in a pinch for a dinner party salad. That orange + herb dressing sounds delicious. recently, I’ve been adding tumeric + pepper to my salads for your anti-inflammatory power!

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23 Tonya December 4, 2014 at 1:02 pm

Yep I always stick to fat, acid, herb, and spice to make a homemade dressing. Outside of that, all I really need on my salad is a little EVOO and pepper and I’m good.

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24 Hannah @ eat, drink and save money December 4, 2014 at 1:06 pm

Love it! This is one of my favorite ways to save money. Bottled dressing is so expensive and ours tends to go bad since we love a variety of flavors. It’s so easy and fun to make your own. These are fabulous suggestions. My favorite is the 1908 dressing from Columbia Restaurant. Pinterest it :)

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25 Trina December 4, 2014 at 1:28 pm

I actually don’t like any sugar in my dressings, and I usually double the amount of vinegar. I do a lot more herbs, too. I need lots of flavor! Have you ever tried putting sriracha in your dressings? It’s really good!

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26 Tracy December 4, 2014 at 1:57 pm

I can 100% relate to race to make lunch quickly and efficiently. I do this every single day! Also…bottled dressing…I just can’t do it anymore! Such a sad way to dress a salad.

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27 Eileen December 4, 2014 at 2:36 pm

Homemade dressing is the best! I love a good red wine vinegar dressing with plenty of dijon mustard, or a delicate rice wine vinegar dressing. But I have to say, I often just drizzle on some olive oil and let that be it. You have to love the simplicity!

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28 mary @ minutes per mile December 4, 2014 at 2:45 pm

i usually make a “batch” of salad dressing every week and keep it on hand. i use this OXO salad dressing and LOVE it! easy to pour, easy to shake, easy to clean. http://bit.ly/1vm4ugg
Also, after I juice a lemon, I’ll just throw the peel in there too, to amp up the flavor as the dressing sits! Same with garlic cloves, basil leaves, etc.

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29 Liz @ I Heart Vegetables December 4, 2014 at 8:29 pm

I love making my own dressing! I usually do olive oil + balsamic with lots of spices!

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30 Michele December 4, 2014 at 8:41 pm

I also dislike most bottled dressings except for one or two. I think most of them have too much sugar and a weird artificial taste. Anyhoo, my favorite way to make a salad is to put my greens in a plastic bowl that has a lid, add the dressing, and then put the lid on the bowl and shake it to coat all the leaves.

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31 Amy December 4, 2014 at 8:49 pm

Love this post. I’ve been consistently making my own salad dressings for a couple of years now (initially because I started paying attention to the nutritional information and realized how much sugar was included in most of the brands at the grocery store), and I totally agree with Kath’s comment about bottled/commercial dressings, there is just no comparison when it comes to flavor. For those trying to get in the habit of making their own dressings, hang in there and keep with it, it is so worth it! I think Kath’s approach to making just enough for one salad at a time is brilliant. No waste, you get lots of practice and will know very quickly what works for you and what doesn’t. Thanks Kath!

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32 Cece December 4, 2014 at 8:58 pm

Here is a dressing that I threw together recently to stretch for a few days in a jar

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33 Christina @ The Beautiful Balance December 4, 2014 at 10:28 pm

Olive oil, honey, salt, and pepper is my favorite combo ever!

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34 Rainey December 14, 2014 at 8:05 pm

I have gotten into making my own salad dressings because I am allergic to wheat and so many of the store bought ones have wheat in them, among a lot of other crap;) One of my favorite salad dressings is avocado, honey, green garlic, lemon juice, olive oil, salt, and pepper. It makes such a luscious, creamy dressing! This also tastes great on grilled chicken.

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35 ali December 30, 2014 at 3:07 pm

i love this onen, i will try it, thanks for sharing. :)

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36 Tara January 22, 2015 at 10:44 pm

Do you need to refrigerate home made salad dressing ? How long does it last in a jar ?

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37 KathEats January 22, 2015 at 10:45 pm

You don’t need to if your ingredients are shelf stable collectively. I’d say 3 to 5 days.

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38 Linda May 10, 2016 at 2:12 am

AMAZING! Thank you for making it easy! I’m hooked! Started the Dherbs cleanse and your recipes were on the website. I would not have tried it if it wasn’t “approved”. My palet has changed and I can now taste the goodness of these homemade salad dressings. THANKS so much!!

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