Wondering how to make a healthy homemade salad dressing? This post will walk you through the key ingredients and has a handy homemade salad dressing infographic to act as a cheat sheet when you’re ready to make one!
Why a homemade salad dressing makes the salad great
“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!)
The quickest way to make a healthy salad dressing
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 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.
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:
Is salad dressing healthy?
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 and some healthy fats to your diet, 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 and your health. 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 –
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.