salad dressings in jars

Homemade salad dressings are one of the easiest condiments to make from home. This blogpost compiles five simple salad dressing recipes that you will want to save for later.

Salads are on a regular meal-time rotation in our home, especially in warmer weather. They are incredibly versatile as a side dish or they can even be a complete meal when you add a simple protein, like chicken or beef. 

Homemade salad dressings are incredibly easy to whip up and they are made with simple ingredients you most likely already have in your pantry. For more on stocking your pantry and items I like to keep on hand in mine, check out this blog post. 

What are the benefits to making my own salad dressings?

Consider the last time you ate a salad. I’m guessing that the dressing is a large part of what made that salad enjoyable, or not. When you make your own dressings, you elevate your salad to a whole new level. While store bought salad dressings are certainly very convenient, once you start making them at home, you will never want to go back. They just taste that much better. 

Another benefit to making your own salad dressings at home is that it will save money. It is much cheaper to keep several basic ingredients on hand and make your own dressings as you need them, than to keep multiple bottles of store-bought dressings in our pantry. 

Lastly, making your own dressings ensures that you know exactly what you are eating and you can avoid the preservatives and additives found in many store-bought versions. 

lettuce, avocado, and salad dressing

What do I need to make my own salad dressings?

While each recipe will differ slightly, there are several common ingredients found in salad dressings. 

Oil is the most common base for salad dressings. It provides body and a richness of flavor. Olive oil is very popular for its light flavor and health benefits, but avocado, sesame, and coconut oil work as well. 

Acid is necessary to balance the richness of the oil and and it adds a brightness to the dressing. Vinegars such as apple cider vinegar, red wine vinegar, and balsamic vinegar are popular for this, but lemon and lime juice add a really nice flavor as well. 

Emulsifiers work to help the oil and acid blend together into a smooth dressing. Common emulsifiers include mustard, honey, or tahini. 

Herbs and spices are where your creativity and tastes can really shine. Get creative with spice blends and seasonings to make your salad dressing really stand out. Consider using fresh garlic or shallots, and herbs such as basil and oregano. 

lemons and jar on counter

What is the process for making salad dressing?

Homemade salad dressings are really very simple to make. It will vary slightly, depending on your recipe, but generally will just combine all of your ingredients into a bowl or jar and mix. 

How long does my salad dressing last?

Because homemade salad dressings do not have the preservatives of their store bought counterparts, they will not last for long periods of time. Homemade dressings should be stored in the refrigerator and consumed within one week. I have let some go a little longer, depending on the ingredients, but use your judgment based on the color and smell of the dressing to determine if it is still good. 

salad dressing on table

I’ve never made salad dressing before, where do I start?

If you’ve never made salad dressing before, think about what kind of dressing your family eats most and start there. Many salad dressings can be used as just that, a salad dressing, but they can also be used as a marinade for meat and vegetables. Here’s a list of five simple salad dressings to get you started. Many of these we make regularly in our home and they are very versatile for salads, marinades, and dips.

Ranch Dressing

One of the most popular salad dressings is, of course, Ranch. This is one that once you make it for yourself you will never want to go back because the homemade version is just so incredibly good. We use it for salads or to dip veggies or chicken. It’s so delicious. 

Find a classic Ranch recipe here, or check out this kefir ranch recipe. 

Caesar Dressing

I feel like you either love Caesar salad or you don’t and the dressing makes all the difference. I was honestly never a fan of most caesar salad dressings until I found this recipe and started making my own from scratch. It is so delicious. Simple ingredients already in your fridge. Caesar salad will surely become one of your regular mealtime rotations.  Recipe here.

Balsamic Vinaigrette

This is a classic oil and vinegar dressing and I love the versatility of it. I love the flavor of a balsamic vinaigrette on a spinach salad topped with fresh strawberries, almonds, and pumpkin seeds. The fresh, sweet flavor of the berries compliments the tang of the vinegar so well. This vinaigrette is also a fantastic marinade for chicken. The honey and balsamic vinegar create the loveliest caramelized, sweet glaze when you marinate and then grill the chicken. We love to marinate chicken in this vinaigrette, grill it, and serve it on top of a spinach salad and top it with more balsamic vinaigrette. It’s truly a summertime delight. Recipe here

Honey Mustard Dressing

Maybe less popular for salads, a good honey mustard dressing is a must for any household. It is fantastic for dipping chicken fingers and is also enjoyable served with fish or hamburgers. Check out this recipe for a good honey mustard dressing. 

Italian Dressing

Italian dressing is another classic, very versatile recipe. Use it for salads or to marinate chicken in it. This is one that you can experiment with just a little to find the flavors that most appeal to you and your family. Check out this Italian dressing recipe. 

Homemade salad dressings are delightfully simple to make and will elevate the taste of your salads to a whole new level. With a few simple ingredients in your pantry, you will save money, eat higher quality, and improve the taste of your salad dressings. What dressings do you make at home or what would you like to try? I’d love to know!

Related: Easy Ways to Stock the Pantry on a Budget; Homemaking: What it Means for the Modern Homemaker

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