Tips for a Perfect Salad Dressing

Skip all that artificial garbage in store-bought dressings. You probably already have everything you need to whip up a batch of homemade salad dressing. Check out these tips to make it even easier. Our Salad Dressing topic is brought to you by Stonyfield Organic. Gotta love that healthy tasty yogurt!

Tips for Perfect Salad Dressing

For years, I always bought salad dressings at grocery stores. And I always hated it. It was too sweet. Too sour. Too oily. And just vile (hello fat-free dressings, you should be outlawed).

But then one day I made this beautiful salad. We’re talking freshly picked tomatoes, sweet peppers, dark leafy greens, avocado — the works.  I couldn’t pour on my bottled salad dressing. My salad deserved better. So I made my first-ever vinaigrette. It was basic. Olive oil, lemon juice and balsamic vinegar. But it brought out the flavors of my salad. I now make all my dressings from scratch.

Making homemade dressings is easy too. You can probably make one in the time it takes to open a fresh bottle of store-bought dressing. I’ve compiled some tips to help you along. Enjoy!

Dressing your salad

  1. Cut out unnecessary steps (and dishes). Make and dress your salad in one bowl. Serve. Just remember to add the dressing at the last minute. We’ve got an article teaching you how to do this soon. But basically, you’re going to put the leaves in a bowl and then add the oil to it, then the lemon juice, then the salt and pepper. There are a couple other things but no biggie.
  2. This tip goes with all cooking. Less is more when seasoning a dish, salad dressing included. Taste test as you go, and add only if needed.
  3. Put down the spoon. If you dip a spoon into dressing and taste it, it will taste harsh and bad. Instead, taste test your dressing with a leaf of lettuce. Adjust your dressing as necessary.
  4. You’re in the kitchen anyway, so make a double batch of your favorite dressing. Use it to marinade meats, as a raw veggie dip or a base to make a potato or pasta salad.

Vinaigrettes

  1. Have fun when making vinaigrettes. One of my favorite haunts is a store that specializes in flavored vinegars and oils. I always stock up when I visit. My go-to dressing is combining a lime-infused olive oil with balsamic vinegar. So good. And so fast. There are so many flavored oils and vinegars, why not experiment?
  2. I never think about making my own vinegars and oils until my salad is already in the bowl. Don’t be me. Go all gourmet and make your own flavored oils and vinegars.
  3. Stop! Don’t throw away that mustard bottle. Even a smidge acts as an emulsifier in a kick-butt vinaigrette. Get out that almost empty mustard bottle, take off the lid, add your ingredients, put the lid on and shake it up. Squeeze onto salads. Brill, right?
  4. The same goes with a dab of jam. It just adds a hint of sweetness in a vinaigrette. Bam!
  5. Lemon juice is uber common when dressing a salad. I seem to always squeeze fresh lemon juice on my salad because … Well, I’m not really sure why that’s my go-to. Then one day, I bought a ton of key limes  at a farmers market. I decided to try it on my salad. I was hooked. Try it with almost any citrus — oranges, limes, grapefruit, mandarin oranges.

Creamy dressings

  1. I’m always looking to cut down on fat. Salad dressing is not one of those things where you want to go light on ingredients. Always opt for full-fat versions of sour cream, mayonnaise or yogurt. They mix better with other ingredients.
  2. Greek yogurt is a wonderful ingredient that you can use in creamy dressings. It gives you the creaminess you want, but has a ton of protein, which makes it much healthier than traditional bases.
  3.   Store your creamy dressings in the refrigerator until 10 minutes before preparing your salad. It’s best tasting when served at room temperature.
  4.  So your dressing probably thickened as it chilled. No problem. Thin it with a little milk or water.
Disclosure: Stonyfield has provided giveaway items and social media promotion in exchange for mentions in the Salad Dressing Series. Also, the senior editor of this site is a paid brand ambassador for Stonyfield. All opinions are ours and honest, always.

Amy Bowen

Amy had no clue how to cook until she became the food reporter for a daily newspaper in Minnesota. At 25, she even struggled with boxed mac and cheese. These days, Amy is a much better cook, thanks to interviewing cooks and chefs for more than 10 years. She even makes four cheese macaroni and cheese with bacon, no boxed mac in sight. Amy is also on the editorial team at The Cookful.