Simple Italian Salad Dressing

Italian Dressing
The Spruce
Prep: 10 mins
Cook: 0 mins
Total: 10 mins
Servings: 16 servings
Nutrition Facts (per serving)
182 Calories
20g Fat
0g Carbs
0g Protein
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Nutrition Facts
Servings: 16
Amount per serving
Calories 182
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 20g 26%
Saturated Fat 3g 14%
Cholesterol 0mg 0%
Sodium 49mg 2%
Total Carbohydrate 0g 0%
Dietary Fiber 0g 0%
Total Sugars 0g
Protein 0g
Vitamin C 0mg 1%
Calcium 2mg 0%
Iron 0mg 1%
Potassium 6mg 0%
*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.)

Contrary to its name, Italian salad dressing is not an Italian creation, but an American pantry staple inspired by Italian ingredients like extra virgin olive oil, garlic, basil, and oregano. What most of us know as Italian dressing is the bottled product featuring some of these flavors, albeit packed with emulsifiers and stabilizers that extend its shelf-life. By making a delicious fresh version of Italian dressing, you can control the quality of what goes in it and adjust the flavor to suit your palate. Our homemade fresh-tasting recipe is easily customizable and free of preservatives and additives.

This Italian salad dressing recipe is a simple combination of oil, vinegar, mustard, and seasonings and uses a very easy "shake" method that results in a perfectly emulsified vinaigrette. The tiny dash of Dijon keeps the oil and vinegar mixed together for restaurant-quality results.

Green salads are without a doubt the most common use for Italian dressing, but the blend also makes a terrific marinade for steaks, grilled chicken, pork chops, and firm white fish. Mix it into ground beef for a flavor-boosted burger or drizzle on the bread before grilling some panini. If you can, refrigerate overnight before using so the flavors can blend and intensify. Store for up to 3 weeks in the refrigerator and shake before serving.

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Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup red wine vinegar

  • 1 1/2 cups olive oil

  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

  • 1/2 teaspoon sugar

  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper

  • 1 teaspoon dried Italian herb blend, or Italian seasoning

  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard

  • 1 clove garlic, crushed and finely minced

Steps to Make It

  1. Gather the ingredients.

    Italian salad dressing recipe ingredients
    The Spruce
  2. Combine all of the ingredients in a glass jar with a screw-on lid or another container with a tight-fitting lid.

    Italian salad dressing in jar
    The Spruce
  3. Tighten the lid and shake vigorously for 1 minute.

    Italian salad dressing in jar
    The Spruce
  4. Serve immediately or refrigerate. Enjoy!

    Italian salad dressing in jar
    The Spruce

Other Uses for Italian Dressing

This fantastic dressing can be used for many other purposes besides salad:

  • Turn potato or pasta salad into a star by adding homemade Italian dressing. Mix cooked short pasta, farro, quinoa, or rice with your favorite vegetables, black olives, chopped sundried tomatoes, sliced red onions, and a couple of tablespoons of capers. Dress with the mixture and add a couple of teaspoons of mayo and the squeeze of a lime for a tangy kick.
  • Marinate beef, pork, or fish before roasting or grilling. For a beautiful and easy fish recipe, marinate haddock steaks in the dressing for 10 minutes. Bake en papillote at 400 F for 10 to 16 minutes depending on the thickness of the fillets.
  • Add 4 tablespoons of the dressing to 8 ounces of cream cheese for a delicious dip for crudités and chips.
  • Bake a round of ricotta, Brie, or Camembert on store-bought puff pastry and drizzle with the dressing before cutting.

Recipe Variations

Feel free to change up the recipe to suit your preferences:

  • Use vegetable oil for a more mild vinaigrette.
  • Add crushed red pepper flakes to the dressing to turn up the heat.
  • Add bacon and onion powder for a more complex flavor.
  • Add honey to turn it into a honey-mustard dressing.
  • Make a creamy vinaigrette by mixing the oil, vinegar, salt, and pepper with mayonnaise or sour cream.
  • Make a thicker dressing by adding 1/4 cup of full-fat Greek yogurt and an extra pinch of salt.
  • Add 2 to 4 tablespoons of grated Parmesan cheese and freshly ground black pepper for a little extra zest.
  • Substitute balsamic vinegar for the red wine vinegar to make a balsamic vinaigrette.
  • Add fresh basil and parsley, but don't save leftovers of this version for longer than 2 days because the herbs will become mushy and the dressing will rapidly spoil.