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 $13.95. Will prices decline if and when this thing settlse down? 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 absolutely be unable 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!

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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

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29 replies
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  1. Yolanda says:

    Thanks, Mary, for these great recipes. I always prefer to make my own salad dressing. Real ingredients, better taste. I’m looking for a light Caesar dressing. Do you have a recipe for that?

    Reply
  2. Frances S. says:

    Thanks for all the tips and tricks. I’ve been reading your newsletter every day for years now, but this is my first comment. Thanks so much for the salad dressing recipes. We’re eating salads regularly as we’ve gone vegetarian but prices are insane. As in 2008, items will get smaller again, as with Borax and prices will go up, but will not go down again. Shame on manufacturers for thinking we wouldn’t mind or notice. It is the same with magazines losing pages but keeping the same price. Really! Totally ridiculous and unacceptable. Only 1% of the population are wealthy. Others are just trying to get by. Thanks so much! I’ve tried so many things I’ve read here. I even make my own powdered laundry detergent thanks to your super easy recipe.

    Reply
    • Mary Hunt says:

      Congratulations on your #1 comment! It’s a good one. Thanks so much for being such a faithful fan. As for prices, we must realize that manufacturers’ prices of raw goodd, labor, and transportation go up against their wishes. What choice do they have? Basically, go out of business, or raise prices. Maybe the root cause of this historic inflation we’re witnessing is much deeper than that. But I understand your frustration, especially the shrink-flation. So we find our own ways to beat them at their own game. Stop buying what we can make ourselves. 🙂

      Reply
  3. Kim says:

    I found this recipe for honey mustard dressing on the web some years ago and it beats any honey mustard dressing I’ve ever found anywhere. Add all the ingredients into a bowl and whisk together.

    Honey Mustard

    ¾ c. mayonnaise
    3 tbsp. honey
    2 tbsp. yellow mustard
    1 tbsp. lemon juice
    2 tbsp. Orange juice

    Reply
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