What’s in Your Salad Dressing?

What’s in Your Salad Dressing?

I no longer buy salad dressings, except for the occasional bottle of Blue Cheese or Roquefort.

I have a loose “little-bit-of-this-and-that” formula for an easy, delicious, healthy vinaigrette that you can tailor to your taste.

Here’s what I use:

One fresh lemon (please do not use lemon juice concentrate)
A shallot or garlic cloves – one or two depending on your taste
Fresh ground pepper
Sea salt
Dijon mustard – preferably Maille
Red wine vinegar
Herbs de Provence
Honey or agave nectar (or a little Truvia for sugar-free)
Good quality olive oil
Balsamic vinegar (optional)
Stone ground mustard (optional)

Mince your garlic or shallot into very small chunks and put it into a bowl or pitcher. Start with small amounts of the following ingredients as you can always add more later:

Two teaspoons of Dijon mustard and stone ground mustard (if using), a teaspoon of honey, agave or a little Truvia, a pinch of salt, fresh pepper, a little bit of herbs de Provence, and a squeeze of lemon. Mix together. Add about 1/2 cup of red wine vinegar, then 1/2 cup of olive oil. Whisk until emulsified.

Now taste it. Is it too vinegary and harsh? Add more mustard and a little honey or agave. Is it too oily? Add more lemon and vinegar. Sometimes I will add red wine or even water if it’s too strong.

When you’ve got a vinaigrette that suits your palate, put it in a bottle. Hopefully you have a recycled bottle. But if you don’t, buy a cute one at a thrift store, Cost Plus or a restaurant supply for a couple of dollars.

Years ago, my sweet mother-in-law bought me an expensive bottle of McEvoy Ranch olive oil. Once the oil was gone, I refilled it with run of the mill oil because I loved the look of the bottle (this bottle/jar thing goes back at least 10 years).

Eventually, the label got oily. Instead of throwing it out, I removed the label and kept the bottle. Years later, it is regularly used to keep my vinaigrette.

Once you’ve got the dressing into the bottle (I use a funnel), shake it well to emulsify again. Store in the refrigerator.

I was motivated to write about making homemade dressings by Tuesday’s eye-opening post by Parisienne Farmgirl. I urge you to read all ten items on her list. Numbers 5, 6,and 7 got me thinking about all the factory-produced, ‘fake’ food we buy that is full of chemicals. We don’t need and don’t want to be putting this crap into our bodies.

If you need proof, go to your pantry or refrigerator and grab your bottles and jars of salad dressing. Then, read the ingredient list.

I, “Mrs. I-make-my-own-dressing,” found two store-bought containers of dressing in my kitchen yesterday: Marie’s Premium Super Blue Cheese and an expired Wish-Bone Salad Spritzers, Ranch vinaigrette dressing.

Marie’s ingredients are all natural and contain, among other things, buttermilk, blue cheese, vinegar, sour cream and whole egg. Not bad for store-bought.

Then there’s Wish-Bone.

Wish-Bone contains, among other things, corn syrup, colors added, MSG, Propylene Glycol Alginate, Calcium Disodium EDTA, Sorbic Acid, Sodium Benzoate and Phosphoric Acid.

Wouldn’t you rather take ten minutes to prepare fresh, healthy salad dressing?

  • You control the ingredients
  • It’s cost effective – store-bought dressings are expensive!
  • It’s green – fewer bottles purchased means fewer bottles in landfills or recycle.
  • You determine the flavor
  • It’s fresh
  • It tastes better!
I’m looking for a new homemade dressing recipe for a little variety. Should I make a Green Goddess? My own Blue Cheese? Homemade Ranch (not from a packet)?
Maybe you have a dressing recipe you would like to share.  Email me and I’ll try yours!



  1. July 29, 2010 / 7:05 am

    I love adding herbs to a homemade vinaigrette as well! And I fell in love with Green Goddess dressing when I tried it for the first time this past year, found out it was simple to make, but haven’t yet, so thanks for the reminder! I detest the taste of bottled dressings, though I buy some when I make pasta salad (finding the least ingredients in a bottle is fun). I don’t know why I don’t just make the vinaigrette myself. Do you have a ranch recipe?

  2. July 29, 2010 / 8:02 am

    Since moving to France I’ve made all my own salad dressing (except for one bottle of Ranch I brought bake from the states after a visit… I needed a fix!) I’ve learned that a little olive oil, some mustard, garlic, and lemon is all you need to zest up your salad and it’s healthy and inexpensive 🙂

  3. July 29, 2010 / 8:07 am


    I think I may try a Green Goddess one of these days as I’ve never made it.
    I don’t have a Ranch recipe, but I know The Pioneer Woman Can Cook has one on her blog. I need to take a few minutes and check her recipe out again. A weekend project perhaps.

    Sara Louise,

    A simple dressing is usually best, especially during the summer when vegetables are so fresh and full of flavor. They don’t need to be overly flavored because they taste great on their own.


  4. July 29, 2010 / 9:27 am

    Well, you may not believe this, but my husband made an amazing green Goddess dressing and it really was easy. Here is what he did: 1/2 cup of mayo, 2 anchovy fillets minced, 1 tablespoon each chopped parsley, chives and green onion, 2 tablespoons olive oil, 1 tablespoon white wine vinegar and 1 teaspoon dry tarragon. He put all in the food processor then chilled in a separate bowl before serving on our garden fresh greens. Way good!

  5. July 29, 2010 / 11:04 am

    Your posts are always so inspiring Adrienne! May I ask how long this dressing would keep in the fridge? I am so keen to try out your recipe. Sorry I don’t have one to contribute as apart from storebought I really only use balsamic vinegar by itself or a mix of balsamic vinegar and EV olive oil.

  6. July 29, 2010 / 3:17 pm

    I use one from Kristi’s book La Bella Figura that originally came from Euro Chic and it’s similar to yours but uses white wine vinegar and dijon mustard without the grains. It is so delicious and easy to prepare. And they taste so much better homemade.

  7. July 30, 2010 / 8:27 am

    blogland is weird…i have met friends from all over the world…but i hardly ever see anyone from california…and here you are in sonoma….

    i had to laugh about the olive oil bottle…i do the same thing…i have a beautiful (expensive) bottle of olive oil that i sprung for one day…after rubbing the bottle over and over on several shopping trips…and once it was gone…i refilled it with some less expensive (cheap) oil…but gosh, do i love that bottle…

    happy to stop by ….enjoyed my visit here

    have a wonderful end-of-july weekend

  8. August 1, 2010 / 11:32 am


    That sounds like a great recipe. I’ll have to try it this week.


    We use our dressing every night with our salad so it goes fast. I think it would keep at least a week if not longer since there is nothing in it that would spoil quickly. After a while, the shallots and garlic end up marinating in the vinegar, which I happen to like.


    I have tried white wine vinegar before and like it. I ran out a while back and forgot about buying more. I’ll have to look for the recipe you speak of on Euro Chic’s blog.

    My Farmhouse Kitchen,

    You’re right! I come across very few Californian’s blogging about our kind of stuff. Just The Gardener’s Cottage and now you!

    Your blog is gorgeous! I love the central coast area.


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