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Homemade versus Store Bought Salad Dressing

by | May 13, 2014 | Healthy Living, Nutrition Info, Weight Loss and Maintenance

We’ve been talking alot about whole foods versus processed foods this year so far. I wanted to zero in on a “make versus buy” conundrum several people have asked me about recently….Salad Dressing. Homemade versus store bought salad dressing isn’t on everyone’s radar but this is a good time of the year to try something new.

Who isn’t excited for warm weather fare like caprese salad, dark greens with cucumber and a vinaigrette or a cold quinoa salad with bell peppers, tomatoes and spinach? Ok, I know a few of y’all claim salad is for rabbits, but you probably use salad dressing occasionally for marinades, sauces or grilling recipes.

So, let’s weigh the pros and cons of making salad dressing versus buying bottles at the store.

Positives Homemade Dressing Store Bought Dressing
Less preservatives, chemicals and artificial flavoring Convenient
Typically tastes better Lasts longer on shelf
Cheaper More variety available
Less Sugar Less work
Better absorption of real vitamins and minerals Dependable flavor
Negatives Takes time More expensive
Need to have ingredients on hand Fewer, if any, health benefits
Need a recipe or be able to “wing it” Yucky ingredients like HFCS, dyes, etc
Shorter time to spoil You can’t choose what goes into it

It seems to me this really is a matter of time, budget and how high nutrition ranks in your priorities. I recommend yousalad dressing aisle choose a few “go to” homemade salad dressings and keep those ingredients on hand. Select one or two “go to” store bought brands you are comfortable with. Try to make dressing as much as possible but don’t beat yourself up if you are ever in a pinch.

A few things to consider when buying salad dressing:

  • Read the ingredients label. You knew I was going to say it!
  • The fewer the ingredients the better and the more whole food based the better.
  • Do you know what each ingredient is? I mean really. Do you know if it is an emulsifier, thickener, dye, preservative or what? That’s important. Not just that you know you’ve seen that chemical name before so it is probably fine.
  • Avoid fat free or sugar free. If the manufacturers take something out, they have to put something back in for taste and texture and it typically is not as good for you as the real deal would have been in a normal amount.
  • The first three ingredients are the most important. Ideally those would be an oil, water, vinegar or a natural flavor like garlic, sun dried tomato, etc.
  • Read up on the quality of oils so you can make an educated decision. I’ve spoken with some of y’all about the inflammatory power of some vegetable oils like safflower, cottonseed and palm kernel oil. Call me up if you are curious. 952.224.1919.

homemade salad dressingWould it be helpful if I was to make a short video showing my favorite store bought brands (for in a pinch) and explaining why they are better choices? Let me know if anyone would want to watch that!

Here are a few tasty homemade salad dressings that I encourage you to try. There are some really spiffy kitchen tools that can help you whip up, emulsify and store homemade salad dressing too: a great blender or food processor, dressing shakers, dressing pourers…you name it.

Easy Balsamic Vinaigrette
Makes 1 cup

3/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
Fresh-ground pepper
Optional extras: spoonful of mustard, minced shallots, minced garlic, minced fresh herbs, teaspoon dried herbs, spoonful of honey or brown sugar

Mix it up and refrigerate.

Green Goddess Dressing

Dressing Ingredients:
1 medium avocado
¼ cup apple cider vinegar
¼ cup water
1 ½ tbsp lemon juice
1/8 cup olive oil
1 ½ tbsp honey
½ tsp salt
1 pinch cayenne
½ garlic clove, minced
1 tbsp fresh basil, chopped
1/8 cup parsley
1/8 cup green onion
¼ cup spinach

Half the avocados, remove the pit, scoop the flesh into the blender, add everything else and blend very thoroughly.

Blackberry Vinaigrette
Makes 4 cups

3 T. blackberry jam
1/3 c. red wine vinegar
2 t. dried rosemary (or 1 T. fresh)
1 T. Dijon mustard
1/3 c. honey
1/4 t. salt
pinch of pepper
1/2 c. olive oil
Optional: 2 T. sour cream or yogurt
Whisk first 7 ingredients together.  Keep whisking briskly while drizzling in olive oil.  Add in sour cream or yogurt (if using) and herbs and whisk again.
Basic Creamy Salad Dressing
Makes 1 cup

8 oz plain yogurt
1/4 cup unrefined extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoon chives, dried
2 tablespoon dill, dried
2 tablespoon lemon juice

Mix it up and refrigerate.

Creamy, Herby Ranch Dressing
Makes 2 cups


3 scallions
1/2 cup chopped fresh basil leaves
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 heaping tablespoon Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon nice olive oil
1 small garlic clove
1 scant teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 cup good mayonnaise
1 cup plain yogurt

Mix it up and refrigerate.

Teriyaki Marinade
Makes 1 cup


1/2 cup soy sauce
2 teaspoons dark sesame oil
2 oranges, juiced
2 tablespoons honey
2 tablespoons ginger, peeled and minced
1/2 cup scallion, chopped
2 teaspoons garlic, minced
2 teaspoons sesame seeds, toasted

Mix it up and refrigerate at least 1 hour.