Dressing Up 3 Basic Salad Dressings

Dressing Up 3 Basic Salad Dressings

Now that we’ve celebrated the New Year, and most likely packed on several additional pounds over the holidays, many of us will be vowing to eat a bit healthier over the next couple of weeks.  Salads are the perfect “diet food,” especially when served along with a homemade version of your favorite salad dressing.  Most of the fat in these homemade dressings comes from mayonnaise, olive oil, and cheese.  If you’re concerned about the fat content you can always substitute nonfat Greek yogurt for the mayonnaise or decrease the amount of cheese in the recipe.  Experiment with the three basic recipes below and make them your own; try adding pimentos, olives, capers, different cheese varieties, garlic and herbs, as well as substituting gourmet mustards, olive oils, and vinegars for their every day versions.  No matter what your version, it will be healthier than any store-bought bottled dressing.


Ranch – Whisk 1/2 cup buttermilk, 1/4 cup mayonnaise, 2 tablespoons each chopped parsley and chives, 1 tablespoon cider vinegar, 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt, a pinch of garlic powder, and a dash of hot sauce.

Light Ranch – Replace the mayonnaise with non-fat Greek yogurt, use 1/2 teaspoon of salt instead of 1/4 teaspoon, and add a 1/4 teaspoon granulated sugar.

Bacon Ranch – Add 4 slices of crumbled bacon.

Smoky Ranch – Add the juice of 1/2 a lime to the buttermilk and mayonnaise.  Add 2 tablespoons each chopped chipotles in adobo sauce and chopped cilantro, 1/2 teaspoon each honey and kosher salt, and a pinch of garlic powder.

Peppercorn Ranch – Add 1/2 teaspoon of ground peppercorns.


Caesar – Blend 1 pasteurized egg yolk, 1 garlic clove, the juice of 1 lemon, 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard and 4 anchovies in a blender.  Gradually blend in 1/2 cup olive oil and a splash of water.  Stir in 1/2 cup grated parmesan.

Salty Caesar – Add 1 to 2 tablespoons of finely chopped capers.

Olive Caesar – Add finely chopped green or black olives.

Peppercorn Ranch – Add 1/2 teaspoon of ground peppercorns.

Light Caesar – Blend 1/2 cup non-fat Greek yogurt, 2 tablespoons grated parmesan, 1 tablespoon each olive oil and water, the juice of 1 lemon, 1 garlic clove and 4 anchovies in a blender.


Vinaigrette – Whisk 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar, 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard, 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, and pepper to taste.  Gradually whisk in 1/3 to 1/2 cup olive oil.

Roasted Garlic Vinaigrette – Slice the top off 1 head garlic; drizzle with olive oil, wrap in aluminum foil and roast at 400 degrees until tender, 35 minutes.  Cool, and then squeeze out the cloves.  Make Vinaigrette in a blender, adding the roasted garlic and 3 tablespoons grated parmesan.

Honey Dijon Vinaigrette – Replace red wine vinegar with champagne vinegar, and add 2 teaspoons of honey.  (If you microwave the honey for 10 seconds it will be easier to whisk.)

Mediterranean – Mash in 1/2 cup crumbled feta, then whisk in 1 tablespoon chopped parsley, 1 teaspoon dried oregano, and 1 finely diced plum tomato.

Lemon or Orange Vinaigrette – Whisk 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar, 1 tablespoon lemon or orange juice, 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard, 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, and pepper to taste.  Gradually whisk in 1/2 cup olive oil.  (You can also add in a bit of lemon or orange zest.)


Certain of the above recipes are from Food Network Magazine’s “50 Salad Dressings” insert from April 2013, with a few Faith, Hope, Love, & Luck’s twists thrown in for good measure.

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