Lemon Garlic Salad Dressing (With Variations)

Lemon garlic salad dressing

The Spruce

Prep: 10 mins
Cook: 0 mins
Total: 10 mins
Servings: 3 servings
Nutritional Guidelines (per serving)
169 Calories
12g Fat
16g Carbs
3g Protein
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Nutrition Facts
Servings: 3
Amount per serving
Calories 169
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 12g 15%
Saturated Fat 2g 8%
Cholesterol 0mg 0%
Sodium 400mg 17%
Total Carbohydrate 16g 6%
Dietary Fiber 1g 4%
Protein 3g
Calcium 85mg 7%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
(Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)

Try this simple, flavorful salad dressing, and you may never buy bottled dressing again. Lemon and garlic bring a lot of zing to plain lettuce, but feel free to add whatever veggies you like. Dress it up with one of our suggestions in the recipe variations section. This homemade dressing should be kept refrigerated and is best used within five days of making it.

Note that this recipe makes enough vinaigrette-style dressing for 4 to 6 cups of lettuce or other salad greens. You can double, triple, or even quadruple it for larger salads or to have some on hand for salads over a few days.

Ingredients

  • 1 small clove garlic
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • Optional: 1/2 teaspoon lemon zest (finely grated)
  • 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt (plus more to taste)
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper (freshly ground; plus more to taste)
  • 1/4 teaspoon dry ground mustard
  • 2 to 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil ​(or lemon-infused olive oil)
  • Salad greens

Steps to Make It

  1. Gather the ingredients.

    Ingredients for lemon garlic salad dressing
    The Spruce
  2. Peel and mince the garlic (you can use a garlic press if you like; presses tend to bring out the bitterness in garlic, but some people don't seem to notice it).

    Peel and mince garlic
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  3. If you're making a salad in the next few hours, put the garlic in a large salad bowl. (If you're making the dressing ahead of time, put the garlic in a sealable jar.)

    Put garlic and salad bowl
    The Spruce
  4. Add the lemon juice, lemon zest, salt, pepper, and mustard. Whisk to combine everything (or seal and shake the jar).

    Combine lemon juice and zest, salt, pepper, and mustard
    The Spruce
  5. Whisk in the olive oil (or, again, seal the jar and shake it vigorously).

    Whisk in oil
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  6. Taste and adjust salt and pepper to taste. If the dressing is too zingy for you, feel free to add more olive oil to soften the flavor. A bit more salt will help temper​ the acid kick, too.

    Salt and pepper to taste
    The Spruce 
  7. Use the vinaigrette-style dressing immediately. If you've made the dressing in the salad bowl, just add the greens to that big bowl and toss.

    Lemon garlic salad dressing over greens
    The Spruce

Tips

  • Zest the lemon before cutting it in half to juice it.
  • Make the dressing for a salad later that day in the bowl, top with washed and dried greens, and lay a damp (but not wet) paper towel over the leaves. Keep chilled until ready to serve, up to 6 or 8 hours.
  • Store covered and chilled for up to one week. The olive oil will solidify in the refrigerator, but it will melt quite quickly when set out at room temperature again.

Recipe Variations

  • Add 1 or 2 tablespoons of fresh minced herbs—parsley, mint, chervil, or dill are excellent choices.
  • Use walnut oil or avocado oil instead of olive oil.
  • Tone down the lemon flavor by leaving out the lemon zest or mix up the flavor with a bit of orange zest.
  • Punch things up by using 1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard instead of the ground mustard.