Three Homemade Salad Dressing Recipes: Better For You, Better For Your Wallet

Written by Shannon of Nourishing Days.

Now that the temperatures are warming up salads are a great main or side dish for every night of the week. But who wants to spend a lot of money on a bottle with questionable ingredients?

One of the first things I realized on my real food journey was that when I make things from scratch for health reasons, I also save money. Salad dressings are no exception.

And the best part? They are super easy to make!

A Basic Formula For Homemade Salad Dressing

Making homemade salad dressing is a bit intimidating at first. Especially if you are like me and thought that salad dressing only came from a grocery store.

When making a vinaigrette, a combination of oil and vinegar or lemon juice, there are a few things to keep in mind.

  • Keep the oil to vinegar ratio at about 3:1
  • If you want a smooth consistency in which the oil and vinegar do not separate you must use an emulsifier. Dijon mustard and egg yolks from pastured chickens are my favorite options.
  • Add lots of flavors like onion, garlic, spices, herbs, and honey.
  • For simplicity use pint-sized jars for easy dump, shake, and serve salad dressing.

With the above thoughts in mind you can create flavorful salads in a myriad of flavors.

My Go-To Salad Dressing Recipes

These are the dressings that I make on a regular basis. All three use healthful fats like extra virgin olive oil and cultured dairy.

They are also family-friendly and diverse, making it easier for my family to down our garden’s bumper lettuce crop this year.

Photo by felipe_gabaldon

Garlic-Herb Vinaigrette

This is my go-to salad dressing. We love garlic and all of it’s health benefits and the herbs are usually whatever I have in the house, dried or fresh. See… simple.

  • 1/2 cup raw apple cider vinegar
  • 1-2 tablespoons dijon mustard
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • generous pinch of sea salt and black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons fresh herbs or 2 teaspoons dried (basil, oregano, chives, and thyme are all nice)
  • scant 1 1/2 cups extra virgin olive oil
  1. Combine all ingredients except olive oil in a jar. Stir well with a fork.
  2. Add olive oil, cover tightly, and shake well until combined. You can also use a blender and drizzle the oil in slowly while it is running.
  3. Serve over your basic green salad with added chopped vegetables.

Photo by mr_t_in_dc

Balsamic Vinaigrette

This dressing reminds me of the super-sweet bottled Russian dressing I grew up eating. It is a nice change of pace for a salad, but also works well for flavoring cooked or grilled meats and vegetables.

  • 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar (no need for the really expensive stuff)
  • 1 tablespoon dijon mustard
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried marjoram (or oregano)
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried basil
  • 3/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  1. Combine all ingredients except olive oil in a jar. Stir well with a fork.
  2. Add olive oil, cover tightly, and shake well until combined. You can also use a blender and drizzle the oil in slowly while it is running.
  3. Serve over a basic green salad or toss with grated carrots, minced red onion, and sunflower seeds.

Photo by whitneyinchicago

Buttermilk Ranch Dressing

This is a great salad dressing to serve to your family if they are having a hard time letting go of their favorite creamy bottled dressing. My husband loves this stuff and I love that it is actually really good for him. When I don’t have homemade mayonnaise in the fridge I substitute an additional 1/4 cup creme fraiche to avoid the unhealthy oils found in most commercial mayonnaise.

  • 1 1/4 cups sour cream (I save money by making my own)
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk
  • 1/4 cup mayonnaise
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1 large garlic clove, minced
  • 4 tablespoons fresh chopped parsley
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt or to taste
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried dill weed (or 1 teaspoon fresh)
  1. Combine all ingredients in a quart jar. Stir well with a fork or seal tightly and shake.
  2. Refrigerate for at least an hour before serving. Taste and additional salt as necessary. This makes for a fairly thick dressing. If a thinner consistency is desired replace part of the sour cream with additional buttermilk.
  3. This is delicious over a chopped salad with bacon, hard-boiled egg, and lots of vegetables.

Use these homemade dressings throughout the hot summer and watch your family gobble up their vegetables.

What’s your favorite way to dress a summer salad?

About Shannon

Real food, sustainability, and homesteading are inextricably intertwined on the off-grid homestead Shannon, her husband and three children inhabit. She shares the insanely beautiful and shatteringly hard of it all on her blog Nourishing Days. She also works as a content writer and blog editor for Cultures for Health.

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  1. Well, I believe I never bought a salad dressing at the store (!), I’m used to make them since I was a teenager and helped my mother with the cooking. And I think this is what most people do around this corner of the world.
    My favourite summer salad dressing is a traditional one and really very simple, I don’t even make it beforehand. It is basically a 2:1 mixture of olive oil and balsamic vinegar, a little bit of sea salt (not refined) and a fine dose of fresh or dried oregano. This goes very well with a simple tomato-lettuce-onion salad but also with more complete ones . If you add some cubes of Feta cheese, then it goes wonderful.

  2. Heather(eatwelleatgreen) says

    Home made salad dressing tastes so much better than bought. I try to make it in really small quantities , like half a cupful in total as I think it tastes better when it’s really fresh. I’m going to try reducing the quantities of your recipes a little, they look like they’d taste great.

  3. I love the sounds of that buttermilk dressing. I always make my own vinaigrette and love to use tarrgon in mine. I also tried adding goat cheese to the dressing last week and it was fantastic.

  4. I love to make homemade ranch dressing. But to be honest, since I had my little guy 3 months ago, the bottled dressings are so much easier! (Since he gets nothing from a bottle…) I figure whatever it takes to eat salad, and it won’t be long til I can put him down and use 2 hands to make supper again!

  5. If you REALLY are lazy like me, sprinkling apple cider vinegar and olive oil are a quick alternative. It won’t blow your taste buds away, but if you’re running out the door, it can save you from having to eat dry lettuce like a rabbit or being late because you made a fancy dressing.
    .-= Heidi’s last blog: Monday Motivation- I’m Free At Last- =-.

  6. Jamie Sutch says

    I’m so happy to find a ranch dressing listed. I’ve been searching for a homemade recipe for a while. These will definitely be added to my recipe box. 🙂 Thanks!

  7. I’ve been trying different homemade dressings lately. Thanks for sharing!

  8. I’m so glad to see a ranch recipe!! This is something I’ve definitely been looking for. How long does it keep in the fridge before it goes bad?

  9. I would love to know how you make homemade mayo too. thanks!

    • Molly,
      I’m a little late reading this post, but I do have a video and printed recipe of homemade mayo that might help you out. It’s easier than it sounds! I make mine into ranch dressing often, too.
      🙂 Katie

    • Molly,

      I make one similar to Katie’s below. I think the biggest struggle with mayo is finding a healthy fat that isn’t too strong in flavor.

      • Shannon,
        I went to your blog, but I couldn’t find your mayo recipe. Your blog looks great though and you have a new subscriber. =) We are in the process of changing how we eat… about 2 months in so far and we are really loving it. Thanks for your response!

  10. I’m partial to just vinegar, but the troops rally against that!
    .-= Cheryl Arkison’s last blog: Sunny Sundays =-.

  11. Thanks for these. I would love to make my own ranch, since my picky eater is much more compliant when there is “dip” for… well… everything!
    .-= Alissa’s last blog: This and That and a Haircut =-.

  12. These recipes look great! Just what we need for all the lettuce and radishes we are getting from our CSA. Do you think it would work to swap greek yogurt for the sour cream in the buttermilk ranch dressing?

    • Robin – I don’t think the greek yogurt would change things too much. It won’t be quite as rich and will have a different kind of twang, but will still be good. I’m a big fan of use what you have!

  13. FoodontheTable says

    Once you go homemade, you never go back! I think red wine vinegar, EVOO, S&P is so simple and delicious! Sometimes I’ll mix in a little dijon.

  14. I love homemade ranch dressing. I can’t stand the taste of store bought since I made homemade.
    .-= Arlene Mobley’s last blog: Watermelon Granita =-.

  15. I like the addition of apple cider vinegar in the first recipe. Homemade salad dressings are fun to create, and they make great dips for chips and bread, too. Sometimes, they work as a marinade for meats.

  16. I recently made a balsamic vinaigrette, mostly following an online Emeril recipe. When I store it in the fridge, the olive oil hardens and it becomes difficult to soften and remix. My husband also thought it might have become bitter. Any thoughts? I have used the glass bottles from some store-bought dressings. I am excited to try your recipes, including the buttermilk ranch dressing one. How long are they storable in the refrigerator?

    • Jolie – Any good olive oil will harden in the refrigerator, in my experience. I try to take my dressings out while I’m making dinner so that they have time to soften, reshake and then pour. It may not be as pretty as the first time around in that the emulsion breaks a bit, but it’ll still be just as good.

      I usually keep my dressings in the fridge for 1-2 weeks.

  17. I made the buttermilk dressing tonight. Goodness, it’s so good! I had to keep myself from eating plain spoonfuls of it! LOL

    How long does it keep in the fridge?

  18. Loved the photographs
    I hpe every homemade salad dressing starts with a wooden bowl
    So easy to crush your herbs against the side of the bowl and mix and toss all the basics and special requests in the bowl.

    It`s about the toss and less about the recipe

  19. I’m late in reading this, but I’ve been Googling an anwser to how long you can keep/store home made, oil-based salad dressings. I love your blog (have been a follower for some time) and these are wonderful recipes but could you please share your thoughts on how to store dressings and for how long!
    Thanks so much!

  20. Oooo, I thought I read through the comments b4 I asked that quistion….
    I just saw your reply in regards to storing. Do you think however that since oil is not refridgerated by itself that you could keep the oil based dressing in a cool cupboard?

  21. What a WONDERFUL site! I’ve just stumbled upon it recently – and just finished making my first homemade ranch dressing. It’s DELICIOUS! My husband is going to love it 🙂 Thanks for taking the time to share your insights!!

  22. I love just lemon juice, a little lemon zest, olive oil, and maybe a plop of dijon mustard – but make many dressings to go with the salads, meats, vegetables, etc. Just remember to label your little jars – it’s easy to end up with numerous containers of small amounts of dressings – not all of which go on everything!

  23. chong kelley says

    I’m going to try homemade balsamic vinaigrette tonight. I CAN’T WAIT!!

  24. Ok, a dumb question. I made dressing with oil, balsamic vinegar, mustard, garlic, etc. When I put it into the refrigerator the oil solidified so I took it out. Now I’m wondering if left out it will spoil. Any thoughts? Thanks

  25. Thanks so much for the dressing recipe! I recently became a vegetarian and have been looking for some nice salad dressing recipes that I can make at home. This looks great, I’ll try this tomorrow 🙂 Thank you

  26. I am curious if you make your own mayonnaise? Our family eats organic and the only organic mayo that we have found and love is become quite pricey. Please share if you have a good recipe. (I’m not looking for salad dressing, I’m looking for real mayo btw…)

    Thanks in advance!

  27. I made a slightly adapted version of the Buttermilk ranch dressing it is so very good thank you for sharing it.
    Here is my version in case our interested.

  28. I love the garlic-herb vinaigrette… Are the ingredients “safe” enough that I can make it in larger quantities and store it in the fridge? If so, for how long?

  29. I just made your Garlic-Herb Vinaigrette dressing. Just love it!!! It’s so delicious and most importantly it’s healthy. Love it. 🙂

  30. margaret worobec says

    Does anyone have a recipe for mayo?

  31. Hi, I was looking for sites that have great recipes for salads and found this one. I’ll be recommending this site to friends and family. I really like balsamic vinegar dressing, and use it on most of my cold salads. It’s also great as a marinade for chicken breast cutlets. Spring is just around the corner and I’d like to have lots of recipes for fresh vegetables. Thanks so much for such a great site!

  32. We love to eat salad, but we usually have oil and vinegar as our salad dressing. We have not tried avocado dressing, I think I need to try these recipes one of these days to surprise my significant other.

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