Whether you are tossing green salads or dressing a cold pasta salad, a great homemade dressing recipe makes the most of what you're making. Flavorful and tangy, make this easy homemade Italian salad dressing (aka Italian vinaigrette) in your kitchen. No packets, with simple, healthy ingredients, so make your own salad dressing.
As a kid, my job before dinner was making the Italian dressing. Grab a Good Seasons packet, add oil and vinegar to the lines on the cruet, add the dry seasoning packet and give it a good shake. It was my favorite dressing, which is why I am excited to share this recipe with you. The old recipe made new (and healthier), it's delicious!
Salad Dressing Ingredients
The best part of homemade salad dressing is you control the ingredients, the flavors, everything, all without preservatives. Let's talk about Italian salad dressing ingredients: oil, vinegar, herbs and seasonings, Dijon, and Parmesan cheese.
The Best Oil
The best choice for delicious dressing is extra-virgin olive oil. Avocado oil works too. Grocery store bottled brands often use soybean oil or canola oil (rapeseed oil). The problem? These oils are low quality, unhealthy oils, industrially processed with chemicals and solvents, and mostly genetically modified (GMO). No thanks.
Run from "vegetable oil" as its usually highly processed soybean oil. If it's in your pantry, toss it. Healthier oils are naturally extracted or pressed and made without chemical alteration.
What Kind of Vinegar?
Vinegar gives Italian dressing brightness and tang. Great options for this recipe include white wine vinegar, Champagne vinegar, red wine vinegar, or apple cider vinegar.
Dried Herbs or Fresh?
Dried herbs are easiest because they are always available in your pantry. Use either a dry Italian seasoning blend, or a few of several dried Italian herbs. Italian blend is usually a combination of thyme, marjoram, basil, oregano, sage and rosemary. Use what you have.
Make the dressing about 30 minutes ahead of time for the best flavor. This allows the dried herbs to rehydrate and release their flavor.
Fresh herbs are an option. It takes 3 times the fresh herbs as it does dried herbs, so the dressing will visually have more herbs, more green. The culinary rule for dried herbs to fresh is 1:3 or 3 times the fresh herbs as dried.
Other Ingredients and Variations
Garlic powder, onion powder, and a little bit of Dijon round out this recipe. A little finely grated Parmesan cheese adds a saltiness and umami flavor, plus it's traditionally Italian. Seasoning comes down to personal preferences and dietary needs.
- For zesty Italian dressing, use a little dried red pepper flakes (pizza pepper).
- Keep it low sodium by skipping salt (or using just a pinch) and be careful with the Parmesan. 1 tablespoon has 76mg of sodium.
- For a cheesy flavor but no cheese (vegan or non-dairy), add a little nutritional yeast. It provides that cheesy flavor without the cheese.
- If the dressing is too tangy, a little agave nectar, a bit of sugar, monk fruit or maple syrup to tame the tang.
- If you need a low histamine dressing, skip the Parmesan and try it with ACV or white vinegar.
- To use fresh garlic, chop it very fine and with the back of your knife, smear it into a paste. then add to the dressing and shake well.
Nothing fancy about making homemade Italian dressing. Measure all of the ingredients into a mason jar and shake well until emulsified. For a larger batch, you can use a blender or immersion blender. Another option is whisking in a bowl until blended.
Tool Tip: to easily grate parmesan cheese very fine, use a microplane zester. It's a must-have, inexpensive kitchen tool. Use it for zesting citrus, raw garlic, chocolate, cheese and more.
Ways to Use
Of course, to dress a green salad, but it works great over a cold pasta salad. It's an excellent marinade for chicken breasts and shrimp before grilling. Try it tossed with cooked green beans or grilled vegetables. It's multipurpose, one to always have in your recipe arsenal. Store any extras in an airtight container.
Homemade Italian Salad Dressing
- ⅔ cup extra virgin olive oil
- 3 tablespoons champagne or white wine vinegar sub apple cider vinegar
- 1 tablespoon very finely grated Parmesan cheese
- ¾ teaspoon Dijon mustard
- ¾ teaspoon dried Italian seasoning blend sub basil, oregano,
- ¼ teaspoon garlic powder
- ¼ teaspoon onion powder
- ⅛ teaspoon sea salt
- ⅛ teaspoon ground black pepper
- ⅛ teaspoon sugar or monk fruit blend sub honey, maple, keto simple syrup, agave
- 1 pinch red chili flakes (pizza pepper)
- Add all ingredients to a jar and shake well and is a bowl and whisk. For a larger batch use a blender.