salad wedge

16 Quick and Easy Recipes to Make the Best Salad Dressings From Scratch

If you think eating well means eating out—which can mean home delivery, drive-thru, curbside pick-up, or dining-in—you may be feeling the effects in your wallet as the cost of restaurant meals continue to soar in ways we’ve never seen before.

salad wedge


I was shocked to read the new menu at a small local hamburger joint in our town. The same classic hamburger that was $7.95 pre-virus, is now $14.50. Will prices ever settle down to where they were? I wouldn’t bet on it, at least not anytime soon.

It’s time for us to change our thinking and start digging in to find every realistic way that we can cut the cost of food without giving up quality and yummy deliciousness.

If I can make the leap from being a diner-in-debt to making irresistible meals at home that often taste even better than those from a restaurant—at a fraction of the cost of eating out—so can you. One way to do this is to learn how to make fabulous, easy  gourmet salad dressings from scratch.

What follows is my collection of tried and true homemade salad dressing recipes. Your family will not be able to resist fresh, healthy salads once you have these quick and super easy homemade dressing recipes. Yum!

Thousand Island Dressing

  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise
  • 1/2 cup ketchup
  • 1/3 cup chopped sweet pickles
  • 2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 or 2 hard-boiled eggs, chopped finely (optional, but oh, so good!)

Place all ingredients in a bowl and stir until combined. See print version for full recipe.

Serving Suggestion: Here’s my favorite no-brainer gourmet salad dressing: Cut a head of iceberg lettuce into wedges and arrange them on one plate or individual salad plates. Drizzle Thousand Island Dressing over the top and you’re done. Or if you want to really go all out, jazz it up with chopped tomatoes, julienne carrot, and bacon bits. I know of one high-end restaurant near us that charged $8 for this single lettuce wedge salad, but that was pre-virus. As I write, it is now (gulp!) $12!


Blue Cheese Dressing

  • 3/4 cup sour cream
  • 1 1/3 cup mayonnaise
  • 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/2 teaspoon dry mustard
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 4 ounces blue cheese, crumbled

In a large bowl, whisk together the sour cream, mayonnaise, and Worcestershire sauce. Season with mustard, garlic powder, salt, and pepper. Stir in blue cheese. Cover and refrigerate for 24 hours before serving. See print version for full recipe.


Yogurt Blue Cheese Dressing

  • 8 ounces plain yogurt
  • 4 ounces crumbled blue cheese

Place both ingredients in a bowl and mash together with a fork until well combined. Cover and refrigerate for 24 before serving. See print version for full recipe.


Creamy Blue Cheese Dressing

  • 4 ounces cream cheese at room temperature
  • 4 ounces crumbled blue cheese
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 3 drops Tabasco sauce
  • 3 to 4 tablespoons cream or milk

Place all ingredients in a bowl and mash together with a fork until well combined. Add enough cream or milk to achieve the desired consistency. See print version for full recipe.


French Salad Dressing

  • 1/2 cup + 1 tablespoon ketchup
  • 1/3 cup water
  • 1/4 white granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup white vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/4 teaspoon paprika
  • 1/4 teaspoon coarse grind black pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1/8 teaspoon onion powder
  • Pinch dried thyme

Combine all ingredients in a small saucepan over medium heat. Bring to a boil, whisking often, then reduce heat and simmer uncovered for 5 minutes. Cover the dressing until cool then place it in the refrigerator to chill. Yield: About 1 cup dressing. See print version for full recipe.


Western French Dressing

  • 2/3 cup organic ketchup
  • 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 1/2 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/4 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt

Pour all ingredients into a jar. Whisk well until everything is incorporated. Yield: 2 cups. See print version for full recipe.


Basic Vinaigrette

  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 1/3 cup red wine vinegar
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon black ground pepper

Place all the ingredients in a jar, cover tightly, and shake very well. Shake again before using.

Variations: Add 1/4 cup finely chopped fresh (or 2 teaspoons dried) of any of the following herbs: tarragon, dill, thyme, oregano, chervil, sage, or parsley. See print version for full recipe.


Buttermilk Ranch Dressing

  • 1 cup mayonnaise
  • 2/3 cup buttermilk, or equivalent substitute*
  • 1/4 teaspoon white vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon dried parsley
  • 1/8 teaspoon dried dill
  • 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon onion powder
1 1/2 teaspoon dried chives
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon seasoned salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon dry mustard

Place mayonnaise and buttermilk in a bowl and whisk well until completely smooth and free of lumps. Add the rest of the ingredients. Continue whisking until well combined and so beautiful you feel yourself wanting to dive in. Cover and store in the refrigerator to allow the flavors to mingle and become fully acquainted. Store tightly covered in the refrigerator. See print version for full recipe.

This is pretty much a dead ringer for Hidden Valley Original Ranch Salad Dressing®, but without the Calcium Stearate, Monosodium Glutamate, Disodium Inosinate, Disodium Guanylate, Carboxymethylcellulose, and Guar Gum.
* To make one cup buttermilk substitute: Pour 1 tablespoon white vinegar into a glass measuring cup. Add milk up to the one-cup line and stir. Place cup in the microwave on 50% power for 45 – 60 seconds. Stir and use in place of one cup of buttermilk.

Quick Russian Dressing

  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise
  • 1/2 cup ketchup or chili sauce

Place both ingredients in a small bowl and stir together until blended. Keep refrigerated. See print version for full recipe.


Tzatziki (Gyro) Sauce and Salad Dressing

  • 1 cucumber, chopped finely
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon fresh dill, chopped finely
  • 1 small clove garlic, minced finely
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 2 teaspoons fresh onion, chopped finely
  • 2 tablespoons mayonnaise
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup plain Greek yogurt
  • 3/4 cup sour cream

Place all ingredients in a bowl and mix well. Serve as a dipping sauce, spread on Gyros, or as a dressing for Greek salads. Yield: About 1 3/4 cup. See print version for full recipe.


Honey Mustard Dressing and Dipping Sauce

  • 1/4 cup mayonnaise
  • 1 tablespoon prepared mustard
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon lemon juice

In a small bowl, whisk together the mayonnaise, mustard, honey, and lemon juice. Store this gourmet salad dressing covered in the refrigerator. So good! See print version for full recipe.


Lemon Vinaigrette

  • 1 lemon
  • olive oil
  • sea salt
  • ground black pepper

Squeeze all of the juice out of the lemon. Remove any seeds. Pour into a small jar. Note the level, then add double the amount of olive oil (you can eyeball this). Add a pinch of salt and pepper. Apply lid to the jar, tightly. Shake vigorously and Voila! gourmet vinaigrette. See print version for the full recipe.


Avocado Dressing and Dip

  • 1 perfectly ripe avocado
  • 1 cup plain yogurt
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped red onion
  • 2 to 3 tablespoons lemon or lime juice (to taste)
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 small garlic clove, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon dried dill or about 1 tablespoon fresh
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • dash of cayenne pepper

Place all of the ingredients in a blender or food processor bowl. Blend or process until creamy and smooth. Keep in the refrigerator in a lidded container. See print version for the full recipe.


Garlic Salad Dressing

  • 3/4 cup olive oil or vegetable oil
  • 1/4 cup white wine vinegar
  • 1 clove garlic, pressed or chopped very finely
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper

Place all ingredients into a small jar that has a lid. Shake well. Keep in the refrigerator for up to two weeks. So yummy. See print version for full recipe.


Mexican Salad Dressing

  • 1 cup plain yogurt
  • 3 tablespoons minced onion
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt

Place all ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth, or whisk together in a bowl. Store in refrigerator and use within two weeks. See print version for the full recipe.


Sweet Onion Salad Dressing

  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon dry mustard
  • 1/4 teaspoon celery seed
  • 1 medium sweet onion, grated
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1/2 cup vinegar
Combine sugar, salt, mustard, and celery seed in a small saucepan. Stir in vinegar, oil, and grated sweet onion. Set pan over medium heat. Heat and stir until the sugar is completely melted. Cool or serve warm. See printed version for substitutes, and variations.

First published: 8-29-20; Updated and Expanded with new PRINT options for each recipe 3-30-22; Updated 3-08-23
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  1. Pat C says:

    A tip from a friend: Since most of us don’t keep buttermilk on hand, and it’s a waste to buy a quart of buttermilk to just use a 1/4 cup, she buys a small amount of buttermilk powder at the bulk store to make up small amounts of buttermilk for cooking. She says it works great.

    • Kim says:

      I buy a large can of the buttermilk powder and keep it in my freezer. I use it for buttermilk whole wheat bread, ranch dressing, and so on.

  2. Cristina says:

    Embarrassing, super easy & inexpensive. Whenever you finish a bottle of mustard (any kind), add vinegar, shake it up and keep it in the refrigerator. Whenever you need salad dressing, add this to your salad with oil (I prefer olive) and a little honey or Sweet Chili Sauce (my favorite) and use it over tomatoes, lettuce, etc. While I am at it I have also used an empty bottle of honey and added other ingredients to that.

  3. KM Martin says:

    Late afternoon yesterday, I made tartar sauce, coleslaw dressing, and cocktail sauce. But first I made mayonnaise, which is the primary ingredient for tartar sauce and coleslaw dressing. After making the mayo, cocktail sauce, and dressing, I then made coleslaw, which I had as part of my fish supper. All of this resulted from my last trip to the grocery store where the price of a jar of mayonnaise has skyrocketed to $4.99 a jar — which I refuse to pay. I already had all the ingredients for the above except cabbage for the coleslaw, but that was only 89 cents/lb. It took me maybe an hour, but for me, it was certainly time well spent. I’ve also been making my own pimiento cheese (Price’s brand has gone up to $7 per their larger container!) and chicken salad, another two foods using hefty amounts mayo.

  4. Dick Ivey says:

    Elegant balsamic vinegar:
    Purchase a large bottle of ordinary balsamic vinegar.
    Pour all of it into a sauce pan
    Heat over low heat (MAKE CERTAIN IT DOES NOT BOIL)
    Let the vinegar reduce by 40-50% of its original volume.
    Pour into a squeeze bottle and it will keep for a couple months unrefrigerated or it can be refrigerated if you wish. The result is equivalent of expensive thick balsamic vinegar. Great on salads…and even on ice cream:)

    • Sheri B. says:

      It’s not tried and true by me but by this person they love it.
      The french you are looking for it called western dressing on the net.
      I hope this helps

  5. Becky Carrington says:

    My husband can’t have onion powder or white or yellow onions. He can eat red onions though. Salad dressings are difficult to find without these ingredients. When making my own dressing I can choose to omit these ingredients.

    • Red says:

      Gazebo sells a Greek dressing that has no sugar or onions! It needs no refrigeration either! Prices, I believe, have gotten too high but it meets a requirement we had for a wilderness trip!

  6. M J Madigan says:

    Thanks Mary! Years ago, like 50+, a small town grocer in Illinois told me you need three ingredients for Thousand Island dressing. Start with a cup of Miracle Whip and add enough Heinz Chili Sauce to get the right color. Then add finely chopped hard boiled eggs to get the right texture. It works.

  7. Lisa H says:

    In addition to the pandemic raising prices, minimum wage increasing in many places as also raising prices at restaurants of any kind. I agree we will not see prices come down anywhere any time soon. Thanks for the dressing recipes!

    • Kim says:

      I totally agree, except in certain cases where I’ve been unable to recreate a few of the bottled ones, especially a certain brand of champagne dressing. I use their 60 calorie variety and for the life of me have never been able to come close to a copycat.

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