Food

Smart Tip: Make Your Own Salad Dressing for the Week

homemade-salad-dressing

Every night, I always want to make homemade dressing—after all, a great dressing really makes the salad—but at the end of a long day, I don’t feel like chopping shallots and sauteeing garlic. So, I don’t. Instead, I end up using oil and vinegar and the salad is subpar.

But Real Simple recently had a great tip: Make salad dressing ahead of time for the week. What a no-brainer, but it never occurred to me to just make a larger amount and store it in a bottle. (These would work well.)

Now I’m inspired to experiment with vinaigrettes.

Creamy balsamic dressing

Avocado vinaigrette

Bracing French vinaigrette with Dijon mustard and lemon

Would you do this? Do you already? Maybe I’m the last one to the party:) And I’d love to hear any recommendations for homemade salad dressings…

(Top photo from Terrain)

  1. Amiable articles and the blogs really helped me a lot, thanks for the valuable information.
    zelenina

  2. Start with all your ingredients BUT the oil in the bowl and then add the oil in a thin stream while whisking, otherwise it will not emulsify. I also find that if the dressing recipe calls for even a little bit of mustard, it stays emulsified without any whisking at all if you shake it in a jar.

  3. You can have delicious unique salad dressings at a fraction of the cost of the store-bought kind. You don’t have to be some kind of cooking genius, either. All it takes is a basic recipe and a willingness to experiment.

    Wholesale Salad Dressing

  4. This is so crazy! I cannot imagine doing it any other way than using my own salad dressing :)

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  6. . says...

    My never fail dressing that gets me eating greens is olive oil, white wine vinegar, mustard, sugar, salt and pepper. SO good. You can make it up, store in the fridge and use for the week! Yum!

  7. I hate to admit it but salad is not popular in my house. Neither my husband nor my kids will touch lettuce. At dinner I always serve a big portion of cooked vegetables and there will be a big platter of crudites with some sort of creamy dressing. Usually dill, blue cheese or ranch. I also include veggies in every meal. We do omelets for breakfast every day, then carrot sticks and cherry tomatoes in lunches and celery with pb after school. I have salad for lunch at work most days so I don’t feel like I’m missing out. I actually think my kids probably get more veggies than other kids so I don’t worry about it.

  8. I grew up with a bottle of fresh homemade dressing always in the house, so I’ve done the same in my own home. I thought everyone did!

  9. where would we be without Real Simple? I love everything they are doing. I’m bookmarking this post! Thank you!

    Ls {sixteensunbuckles.blogspot.ca}

  10. This comment has been removed by the author.

  11. Salad dressing is a must and I never ever wouldn’t buy it from the store. I do a simple French dressing with good redwine vinegar, olive oil, pepper and salt, Dijon mustard and what gives kick is freshly chopped garlic and little bit of piment d’Espelette. That’s my recipe and been using it my whole life ;) addicted yes, never bored.

    Sini/ Bons Baisers de France

  12. They all seem yummy!
    When you’re in a hurry, you could simply add lemon, olive oil, salt and pepper to plain yogurt…

    Alma
    polkadotsflowers.blogspot.mx

  13. So funny that you blogged about this topic today because last night i ventured to make my own avocado ranch dressing. and it turned out awesome. I basically threw everything in my food processor and it was done. We ate half of it already as a dip :)

  14. i got the recipe from pinterest for the salad dressing (pictured 2nd from top) and its AWESOME! and yes i make it for the week. its so good, better than anything you can buy!

  15. i got the recipe from pinterest for the salad dressing (pictured 2nd from top) and its AWESOME! and yes i make it for the week. its so good, better than anything you can buy!

  16. I’ve made the Avocado vinaigrette and it’s AMAZING! So creamy but with a bright, fresh taste. My absolute favorite.

  17. Absolutely! I used to rely on packets to mix in, but as the curtain on what is really in them was pulled back, I resolved to changing. I love my old Frank’s Hot Sauce jar for dressing. My go-to bases have been rice vinegar, apple cider, honey. Avocado oil and walnut oil are wonderful to have on hand!

  18. This is brilliant. We went to Italy a few months ago and had brought back some amazing balsamic vinegar that really facilitated a drastic increase in salad intake…but since we’ve run out of that, salads just aren’t as fun anymore because a good dressing just isn’t as easily available. With this idea, we will hopefully get back on track!! Thanks!!!

  19. the hubs and I always made our own dressings – because we were too poor, starting out, to pay for store-bought salad dressing.

    Our default/favorite comes from Hammersley’s “Bistro Cooking at Home” cookbook:
    2 pts olive oil
    1 pt fresh squeezed lemon juice
    1 pt red wine vinegar
    1/2 – 1 pt dijon mustard
    bit of minced shallot
    bit of minced fresh thyme leaves
    salt, pepper

    (into a jar and SHAKE SHAKE SHAKE!)

    On any given week, you’ll find about 5 different homemade dressings in our fridge; we just keep ’em sealed in mason jars in the fridge and use ’em up until they’re gone. If you think about it, when your dressings are made with shelf-stable ingredients (vinegar, oil, etc) or natural preservatives (lemon juice), they don’t really go bad too quickly.

    • Yes — I just made basically this exact dressing but skipped the thyme and squeezed in a bunch of blood orange. Really good and a gorgeous color.

  20. Our “house” dressing is olive oil, balsamic, and maple syrup! With a pinch of salt & pepper, shaken up and kept in a jam jar.

  21. Our “house” dressing is olive oil, balsamic, and maple syrup! With a pinch of salt & pepper, shaken up and kept in a jam jar.

  22. I do this and I also try and pre-make the fixings for at least 3 more salads. Our favorite salad has fresh grated carrots and fresh grated parmesean. Large grate for the carrots, small grate for the parm. Grate extra and seal in air tight containers for the week. Add any greens (we like arugula, baby spinach or kale) also prewashed batches + handful or currents and toasted pepitas or toasted almond slivers (toast nuts for the week too!). Then a light lemon/red wine or balsamic vinegarette that I pre-make. Oh and I leave the jar out because there’s nothing raw in it and we usually use it up in 4 days…that way you don’t have to deal with itsolidifying.

  23. Love those Weck jars. My SIL and I were just talking about this. Our favorite dressing is one from a Cybele Pascal allergen-free cookbook (my boy has a peanut allergy). She actually calls it her favorite as well:

    My Favorite Dressing

    1 clove garlic
    10 fresh basil leaves*
    2 tsp Dijon mustard
    1 T honey
    2 T unseasoned rice vinegar (I’ve used seasoned which is fine)
    2 T balsamic vinegar
    1/2 c olive oil

    Blend the garlic, basil, mustard, and honey into a paste. Add the vinegar and balsamic vinegar, mixing thoroughly. Then add the olive oil, slowly blending in a little at a time.

    Makes 3/4 c.

    *Variations:
    Dill dressing: Substitute 2 T chopped dill for the basil.
    Oregano Dressing: Substitute 1/2 t dried oregano for the basil.
    Parsley Dressing: Substitute 2 T chopped parsley for the basil.
    Shallot Dressing: substitute 1/2 small shallot for the garlic and basil.

  24. I ALWAYS say I’m going to do this. Once I did make a great dressing for the week, forgot about it, and it was crappy by Friday. A nice bottle like this might inspire me though!

  25. As a child my parents always made their own Italian dressing. It was later in life I realized I could branch out. I love my parents’ standard Italian, but also second home Caesar, spicy mustard dressing, and a simple EVOO and lemon juice. Yum! I look forward to trying your recipes.

  26. Make it in a jar and store it in there…I save salsa and jam jars for this exact reason. Then, just shake it to emulsify rather than whisk.

  27. I always make my own dressing. It really doesn’t take much effort. I don’t use onion and I don’t even bother chopping garlic. Olive oil, vinegar, salt, pepper, fresh or dried herbs. I just smash a few cloves and plop them in. Obviously, the dressing gets better with time.

  28. I have been wanting to do this for so long! Thanks for the reminder. :) I even have the bottles ready. I am a fan of anything with balsamic vinegar in it. I might do some experimenting with juices too.
    { Ellies Wonder }

  29. A fantastic idea, I do this sometimes! I used to hesitate because I didn’t think I would use it all, but I was wrong. Salad dressings are great on a salad, a little bit on a sandwich, some on your pasta, etc. Multi-purpose!

  30. This comment has been removed by the author.

    • oops- I had a typo…..
      I was saying I never buy dressing anymore- I make my own- partly because it can be so expensive and partly because I can be sure there are no weird ingredients/ additives. One of my favourite go-to dressings in:

      3 TBSP tahini
      2 TBSP apple cider vinegar (I sometimes use lemon juice)
      1 1/2 TBSP miso
      1 TBSP maple syrup (can use honey)
      1 clove garlic
      1/4 tsp black pepper

      Blend (a Magic Bullet works well) and serve. Keeps for weeks in a jar in the fridge but quite honestly never lasts that long!

  31. I make a balsamic and olive oil dressing with an immersion blender and it doesn’t separate.

  32. I never buy dressing anymore. In the past I found that it always went to waste. I’d see an interesting one on the shelf and decide to try it and end up not liking it. Then I started making a dressing with nutritional yeast and I’ve never gone back to buying pre-made. Here’s a link to a recipe that is similar to the one I make…

    http://apassionateplate.com/hollyhock-salad-dressing/

    I don’t use vegetable oil though, and I don’t measure, I just eyeball it.

    We eat simple mixed greens/baby kale with this dressing at least once a week. Even my 4 year old son loves it. It actually tastes a little like a caesar dressing so sometimes we have a simple chicken “caesar” salad for dinner. In fact I think that’s what I’ll make tonight!:)

    Another dressing I highly recommend (if you like chevre) is this one…

    http://www.marthastewart.com/313012/romaine-hearts-with-goat-cheese-dressing

    I like to add a drizzle of honey to the dressing and I add sliced strawberries and sometimes red peppers to the salad.

  33. My secret ingredient (courtesy of my aunt) is seasoned rice wine vinegar. I use that, extra virgin olive oil, a seedy mustard, and honey. It’s just the perfect amount of tang. My husband craves it when he’s away and gobbles salads with it up like dessert. I can’t wait to try some of the genius combinations listed here, though!

  34. My favorite go-to, easy salad dressing is actually comprised from a tip from Phoebe Cates that she shared when she was featured in The New York Diet on Grub Street. She didn’t share the whole recipe, but she ‘fessed up that she uses both lemon juice AND balsamic vinegar in her vinaigrette. I couldn’t believe it had never occurred to me to use two acids in a basic vinaigrette. So simple! Now I combine olive oil, balsamic, lemon, salt & pepper, and a little bit of either garlic or shallot. So good.

    http://newyork.grubstreet.com/2011/11/phoebe-cates-ny-diet.html

  35. My most favourite dressing is also the simplest one: one lemon + 2/3 cup Greek yogurt. Mix well and that’s it!

  36. OMG there are so many good dressings in the comments! I have a lot to try now!

  37. Looks amazing- will have to try these out!

  38. I only make my own salad dressings — bottled dressing just tastes terrible to me, and I think it is partly because I prefer a more acidic dressing. My go-to is: 3 parts olive oil; 1 part Dijon; 1 part lemon juice or champagne vinegar (or red wine vinegar for something a little different); salt; pepper; and, lately, a bit of minced garlic, raw — sooooo yummy, incredibly easy. You can whisk it up in a bowl using just a fork, if making just enough for one salad, or mix it in a Mason jar and shake it whenever you want more, if making enough to last through a few meals. It’s excellent over “spring mix” greens and works well with all sorts of different cheeses/nuts/fruit if you want to add more interest — sharp cheddar, manchego, feta, walnuts, pine nuts, pecans, dried cranberries, tart apple, pear, etc. etc. It is SO easy, I promise you will never buy dressing in a store again.

  39. Here’s a simple, delicious dressing that you can make in a pinch and fresh for every salad! Squeeze fresh lemon to taste over salad (for a large salad for 4 I would use half a lemon). Drizzle a tablespoon of walnut, sunflower, or olive oil over as well. Give a good shake of dried dill, several turns of the pepper mill and salt mill (or just sprinkle a touch to taste). Toss greens lightly and serve immediately. So simple and fresh!

  40. We make a super easy ranch dressing: 1 cup mayo, 1/2 cup yogurt, 1/2 tsp dried parsley, 1/2 tsp dried dill, 1/2 tsp garlic powder, 1/4 tsp onion powder, 1/8 tsp salt, 1/8 tsp ground pepper, 1/4 tsp vinegar. Mix it all together – super easy and tasty without all the bad ingredients that store bought ranch has. We also make a homemade tahini dressing (similar to Goddess dressing).

  41. I love balsamic vinaigrette with olive oil, salt, pepper and dijon mustard.
    But I also love love love raspberry vinaigrette.
    I should make these as gifts for my friends who have zero time for making dinner!

    theboreofcomfort

  42. I make dressing nearly everyday. Like anything once it becomes a habit you don’t even think about it. And when you are doing it all the time it is easy to have all the ingredients on hand.

    Last night Mike and I danced in the kitchen with this salad from Love and Lemons and it was amazing…dressing superb and could be used with so many other salad recipes. I’m planning to do a post on it sometime soon. Try it…you won’t be disappointed!:)

    A couple others with dressings we love…

    From epicurious…probably my staple dressing for the office right now…http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/food/views/Baby-Greens-with-Warm-Goat-Cheese-106043

    From Green Kitchen Stories…incredible…http://www.greenkitchenstories.com/green-lentil-yellow-beet-salad/

    Enjoy!
    xo dina

  43. My crazy health nut vegan boyfriend gave me Appetite for Reduction. It’s a low fat vegan cook book, and I expected it to be absolutely no fun, but the dressings she has in there are incredible! You should really check them out! My essentials for a good spontaneous dressing: Lemon juice, tahini, and mild white miso.

    http://www.theppk.com/books/appetite-for-reduction/

  44. I don’t do this myself, but I think when our farmer’s market opens up again in May (it’s the only time we get REALLY good greens for salads), I might give it a try! We don’t eat a ton of salads until we can get the better produce, otherwise it’s just not on the menu as much.

  45. My mom does homemade dressings all the time and they are /delicious/. She has a bunch of different kinds of oils and vinegars around that she buys for cheap at TJ Maxx- notably walnut oil and champagne vinegar. Those tend to taste really great for salads.

    I don’t even think you really have to include chopped shallots or garlic- just the oil + vinegar + dollop of whole grain or dijon mustard + freshly ground sea salt and black pepper formula tends to taste pretty great.

    One of my favorite salad combinations is baby spinach + thinly sliced strawberries + shaved roasted almonds with balsamic vinegar.

  46. I’ve made the Creamy balsamic dressing. It’s delicious and is very simple to whip up! Good luck!

  47. I love mustard, so my favourite dressings always have mustard in! Just mix olive oil and some flavoured mustard from Maille and you will take your salad to another level!

    E&P
    http://www.theslowpace.com

  48. I do this. I experiment with flavored balsamic and some sort of oil. I really like almond oil with wild cherry balsamic. I made it up the other day and now I’m addicted.

    Kate from Clear the Way

  49. My salad dressing secret is soy sauce and tahini! Add to your standard balsamic/oil vinaigrette for deliciousness. Add plain yogurt to thicken it up– which I find especially good in the winter.
    Yum!
    ~Gaia

  50. I tend to only like salads at restaurants. They never taste the same when I make them. I guess I need to find a good dressing!

  51. Our go-to has lots of sugar, but SO TASTY (and probably still less sugar than store-bought).

    In one small mason jar (old pb jars work great! no need to buy anything fancy!) with lid add:
    1/3 c. olive oil
    1/3 c. balsamic vinegar
    1/3 c. pure maple syrup
    2 tsp. fresh, chopped rosemary
    2 tsp. garlic powder

    This amount lasts for about 3 days in our house, but there are three adults and we eat salads for breakfast, lunch, and dinner!

    • Our favorite vinaigrette is very similar to this one, if you replace the rosemary and garlic with 1 tbsp whole-grain or Dijon mustard. It’s so good we call it “la vinaigrette magique”! We always have some around, and it doesn’t even need to be refrigerated. Next time I make a batch, I’ll try with the rosemary and garlic (and mustard too), the combo sounds great!

  52. I make my own salad dressings all the time. They are sometimes better the next day, so make them ahead of time. My favorite very basic one is just lemon juice, olive oil, salt & pepper. Super easy and so good! The key is using good olive oil.

  53. I love this idea! And, funny timing. I was just thinking about the salad I have planned for dinner tonight and how it’s lacking a good dressing. Now I’m inspired. Thanks Jo :)

  54. Oh you are definitely not the last one to the party! The avocado one sounds delicious! I really need to do this because salad dressings seem to be so processed that it’s not worth eating the store kinds!! =)

    Ergo – Blog

  55. the Mozza cookbook has excellent salad (and dressing) recipes — easy to compose a coherent dressing + leaf combo with some suggestions like theirs.

    • agreed! that is a great cookbook!

  56. I’d love to try these. My boyfriend’s mom makes a delicious dressing that’s so simple, you don’t need to make it ahead of time. She just tosses everything in olive oil and lemon juice and then sprinkles on some salt and pepper. It’s absolutely the yummiest and so low maintenance.

    My biggest problem when it comes to salad is the endless chopping of veggies. If you’re going to make dressing ahead, chop up your onions ahead of time, too!

  57. This is such great advice. My boyfriend and I have been on a monster salad kick and I, like you, have been doing the garlic/salt/EVOO/balsamic routine instead of the more involved dressing prep. This has been stirring in the background as something that I ought to do, but I think I needed a little nudge. Thanks for the recipes, too!

    P.S. Over on my blog today I’ve got a Vegan Cole Slaw with an Asian style dressing that is seriously amazing.

    http://www.leanerbythelake.com

  58. I am like you. I make it when I want it and never think to make a larger batch than I need. Good idea.

  59. My mom always made homemade dressing–vinaigrette, Parmesan peppercorn, ranch. You name it, she’s made it and it’s SO good! It stores great in the fridge like any dressing you buy from the store. If it separates, simply warm it up a little and then shake it back together.

  60. I oven roast about 5 shallots and keep them in the fridge to add to olive oil and balsamic vinegar all week – a couple drops of Worcestershire and dijon mustard and I feel like I have the perfect vinaigrette .

  61. Great post! It’s important to remember that salad dressing will separate when you put it in the refrigerator, so you’ll need to let it come to room temp before serving or run the jar under hot water.

    • Thank you! I was looking to see if anyone had posted about whether to store it in the fridge, or in the pantry. I made a great basil vinaigrette recently but got a little freaked out when in hardened in the fridge. Now I’ll let it sit out a while.

  62. I didn’t realize how easy it was to make your own salad dressing until a few years ago when I moved out on my own. Now I make it semi-regularly. I’ve gotten into the habit of buying several heads of lettuce on the weekend and prepping the lettuce on Sunday or Monday night so that I’m stocked for the week. I need to get in the habit of making a new dressing on those nights too.

  63. I used to always make the dressing growing up, and I made a whole jar at a time. Now I typically just make enough for one/two salads at a time.

  64. My best pal Vanessa came up with THE best salad dressing:

    -1/3 cup oil (olive, canola, y’know)
    -1 tbsp. brown sugar
    -1 tbsp. balsamic vinegar
    -1 heaping tbsp. greek yogurt or sour cream
    -1 garlic clove, grated small (or minced, but grating helps the juices mingle with the rest)
    -salt and pepper

    Get ready to just eat salad every day (I eat this one so often for lunch at work). I eat it with greens, cranberries or cucumbers, toasted nuts/seeds, feta or goat cheese.

  65. These all look so delicious! I have no excuses but I should definitely start making my own salad dressing – all the ingredients are in the kitchen! Thanks for the reminder :)

  66. I love the look of the avocado vinaigrette, that looks great! If I need a super quick salad dressing, I either mix sweet chilli sauce with freshly squeezed lime, which goes well for a summery zingy salad; or marscapone with seeded mustard and a dash of oil, which goes brilliantly on a salad that has some roast veggies in it in the warmer months. Must try this avo one though!

    meg-made

  67. SMAHT! i really find i don’t eat my salad if the dressing is lame and uninspired (which it usually is at my house). will give this idea a try!

    (i want that bottle at the very top. is that from terrain?)

    • That’s a Weck jar. You can order them online from their website – I think they’re also available at Crate and Barrel. I have one and I love it.

    • I believe Williams & Sonoma carries them; I’ve only seen Weck’s mold jars at C&B.

  68. I would DEFINITELY do this. Usually I just make it every night: a tad of dijon mustard, balsalmic or other vinegar, olive oil, & honey. Simple. Good. But I’m interested in branching out, too.

  69. I usually do this with caesar salad dressing because it can be suh a pain to make. I think you are on to something with doing this with other dressings as well.
    Quinn Cooper Style