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How to Make Your Own Healthier Salad Dressings 9 Ways!

Salad dressings, we love them - and often a lot OF them! Salads aside, they’re a great way to add flavor and nutrition to veggie dishes and even sauces or marinades.

However, many store-bought dressings can be loaded with added sugars, processed fats, and unhealthy preservatives. In fact, among foods like yogurt, pasta sauce, and cereal, salad dressings are one of the top sources of hidden sugars.

The good news is that making your own salad dressing is easy, and you can use minimal, healthy ingredients to create a delicious and nutritious dressing that compliments your favorite dish!

Why You Should Make Your Own Salad Dressing

If you’re not already reading the nutrient and ingredient label on your store-bought salad dressing, you’ll want to start! Most store-bought brands are full of sugar, sodium, and processed oils. Plus, typical salad dressings are often loaded with calories (100-200 per tablespoon).

And think about how often you actually use the suggested serving size — probably not very often! For the majority of us, realistically, it’s more like a heavy pour (or two). Meaning, it’s easy to consume up to 500 or 600 calories (not to mention, sugar and other ingredients) from dressing alone. 

That said, not all calories are created equal. 200 calories of cane sugar and blue cheese are nutritionally different from 200 calories of avocado oil and Greek yogurt. The former option is full of processed sugar and inflammatory oils, while the latter option is full of anti-inflammatory omega 3s and blood sugar-stabilizing protein.

The takeaway? Ingredients are key! And that’s where making your own salad dressing comes in. 

By making your own blend, you’re in charge of the ingredients used — you can control the amount of sugar, sodium, and unhealthy oils added, while also incorporating wholesome and nutritious ingredients full of antioxidants, minerals, and healthy fats. The result? A salad dressing that is both healthy and tasty.

How to Choose a Healthy Salad Dressing: Quick Tips

  1. Look for minimal ingredients (made from whole foods). Hint: if it sounds like it’s coming out of a chemistry lab, that dressing probably isn’t the best option. If you can’t recognize or pronounce it, neither can your body! 

  2. Opt for oil-based dressings made with healthy monounsaturated fats (such as olive oil, or avocado oil).

  3. Avoid dressings made with added sugars (especially processed sugars).

  4. Rather than solely focusing on what’s not in your dressing (like inflammatory fats or processed sugars), look for dressings with added nutrients (think: vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and fiber).

  5. Shop the refrigerated aisle! You’ll find options in their more natural state with a shorter shelf life and fewer preservatives (think: fresh pesto dressing).

Why Not Choose Fat-Free Dressing?

While it may sound like a quick fix, opting for fat-free (or sugar-free) dressings isn’t always best.

First, healthy fats are needed for the proper absorption of fat-soluble nutrients like vitamins A, D, and E. Plus, healthy fats help stabilize blood sugar and increase satiety. And when fats are completely removed, they’re often replaced with sugars, sodium, and other processed additives.

Instead, focus on the quality of the fats included in your dressing (like avocado flesh, avocado oil, or olive oil).

9 DIY Salad Dressings (Made with 10 Ingredients or Less!)

Your favorite salad dressings, made healthy and simple. Follow these base recipes, or customize them to your liking! Add your favorite herbs and spices, or swap any ingredients of your choice (such as avocado for Greek yogurt, or olive oil for avocado oil).

Honey Mustard Dressing

Made with Greek yogurt instead of mayo, this healthy honey mustard dressing is a must! Drizzle it on your favorite slaw, salad, or roasted veggie dish.

⅓ cup plain Greek yogurt, unsweetened 

¼ cup Dijon mustard

2 tbsp raw honey

2 tbsp apple cider vinegar

1 tbsp lemon juice, optional 

1-2 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil

½ tsp garlic powder

¼ tsp paprika

Black pepper and sea salt, to taste 

1-2 tbsp water, as needed to thin (optional)

Basic Olive Oil Vinaigrette

This basic vinaigrette can be easily customized by adding in your favorite dried herbs (like basil), skipping the sweetener, or swapping olive oil for avocado oil.

¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil

2 tbsp red wine vinegar

1 tsp Dijon mustard

1 garlic clove, minced

1 tsp oregano (or dried herbs of choice), optional 

1 tsp raw honey (optional)

Sea salt and black pepper, to taste

Raspberry Vinaigrette 

Speaking of healthy vinaigrettes, this light and flavorful raspberry vinaigrette is a must-have! Swap the raspberries for mashed strawberries, or add a squeeze of fresh lemon juice!

¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil

¼ cup fresh raspberries, mashed 

2 tbsp white wine vinegar

½ – 1 tbsp raw honey

1 tsp Dijon mustard

Sea salt and black pepper, to taste 

1 teaspoon finely chopped shallot or red onion

1/2 teaspoon minced garlic

1 tablespoon water (optional)

Simple Balsamic Dressing

Made with balsamic, Dijon, garlic, and a drizzle of raw honey, this simple balsamic dressing pairs with just about anything. Serve it with salads, drizzle it on top of grilled veggies, or use it as a marinade for your chicken breast or favorite protein. 

¼ cup balsamic vinegar

1-2 tbsp raw honey

1 tbsp Dijon mustard

1 clove garlic, minced

Sea salt and black pepper, to taste 

¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil or cold-pressed avocado oil 

1 tsp dried herbs of choice (such as basil, oregano, or thyme)

1 tbsp shallot, finely chopped (optional)

Water as needed, to thin (optional)

Creamy Italian Dressing

Light yet creamy, this healthy Italian dressing is made with Greek yogurt in place of mayo. Add your favorite herbs and enjoy it with salad, fresh or roasted veggies, or grilled fish!

¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil

⅓ cup plain Greek yogurt, unsweetened 

2 tbsp white wine vinegar

1 tbsp Dijon mustard

1 tsp dried Italian seasoning

1 clove garlic, minced

1 tbsp shallots, finely chopped (optional)

1-2 tsp raw honey, optional

Sea salt and black pepper, to taste 

Light & Creamy Ranch Dressing

This healthy spin on classic ranch is made with Greek yogurt and almond milk. To make this dairy-free, simply use a Greek-style dairy-free yogurt!

½ cup plain Greek yogurt, unsweetened 

¼ cup plain almond milk, unsweetened

1 tbsp lemon juice

1 tsp Dijon mustard

½ tsp onion powder

½ tsp garlic powder (or 1 fresh clove garlic, minced)

Sea salt and black pepper, to taste 

1 tbsp fresh dill, finely chopped

1 tbsp fresh chives, finely chopped (optional)

Healthy Vegan Caesar Dressing

This vegan-friendly Caesar is free from dairy, anchovies, and other inflammatory oils or added sugars. Made with creamy tahini and unsweetened almond milk, it’s healthy and full of flavor! 

¼ cup tahini

¼ cup unsweetened almond milk

2 tbsp lemon juice

1 tbsp Dijon mustard

1 clove garlic, minced

½ tsp onion powder

Sea salt and black pepper, to taste 

1 tbsp nutritional yeast

1 tbsp finely chopped fresh parsley, optional

Creamy Avocado Dressing

This rich and creamy healthy avocado dressing is full of satiating omegas and protein. 

Flesh of 1 ripe avocado, pit removed

¼ cup plain Greek yogurt, unsweetened (optional)

¼ cup fresh cilantro or parsley, finely chopped

2 tbsp lemon or lime juice

2 tbsp cold-pressed avocado oil

1 clove garlic, minced

1-2 tbsp water (as needed to thin)

Sea salt and black pepper, to taste 

Lemon Tahini Dressing

Simply made with tahini, fresh lemon juice, and added flavorings, this healthy lemon tahini is a keeper. Skip the sweetener or add a drizzle of oil, if desired!

¼ cup tahini

¼ cup lemon juice

2 tbsp water (as needed to thin)

1 clove garlic, minced

Sea salt and black pepper, to taste 

¼ tsp ground cumin

Maple syrup or raw honey to sweeten, optional

Your Favorite Salad Dressings: Homemade & Healthy!

Skip the store-bought dressing — with these nine simple recipes, you can make your own with ease! Aside from being delicious, it’s a great way to avoid inflammatory sugars and fats. Plus, you can customize them to your liking, adding the most fresh, nutrient-dense ingredients as possible.

With just ten ingredients or less (and the flexibility to get creative in the kitchen), you can whip up a variety of dressings to suit your taste preferences and dietary needs. So next time you’re looking to add some flavor to your veggies or greens, give these homemade dressings a try and taste the difference for yourself!


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