Marks Daily Apple
Serving up health and fitness insights (daily, of course) with a side of irreverence.
22 Jul

10 Delicious DIY Salad Dressings

salad dressingLast week we gave you Mark’s 2 Minute Salad recipe and while we learned that many of you are already heartily digging into a big bowl of the good stuff each day (or Kitchen Sink/Really Righteous/Primal salad as various readers have dubbed it) there was still a question as to how to dress your salad to take the taste up a notch without taking a nose dive in nutrition.

So without further ado, we present our top 10 tastiest, most nutritious salad dressings:

1. Raspberry Vinaigrette


While we’d usually pass on honey, this salad dressing was too darn tasty and refreshing to forgo – especially when paired with a salad of mixed baby greens, feta cheese and toasted walnuts. If you’d prefer to steer clear of honey altogether you can replace it with one packet of Splenda if you are so inclined. (FYI – 1 tbsp of honey is about 64 calories and 17 g of carbs)

1/2 cup raspberry vinegar
1 tbsp of honey
1 tbsp fresh mint leaves, finely chopped

Pour vinegar in a mason jar or other container with a tight lid. Add honey and chopped mint, cover with lid and shake. If still too bitter, add in a bit more honey or Splenda to even out the flavor.

2. Citrus Vinaigrette


Liven up a regular salad with this crisp and refreshing summer-inspired salad dressing.

1 tbsp white balsamic vinegar
1 tbsp fresh squeezed orange juice
1 tbsp fresh squeezed grapefruit juice
1 tbsp fresh lime juice
1 tbsp fresh lemon juice
6 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp chopped walnuts
2 tbsp grated Romano or Parmesan cheese
Salt and pepper to taste

Again, in a large mason jar or container with a tight lid, combine the vinegar, orange juice, grapefruit juice, lime juice, and lemon juice. Drizzle in the olive oil while whisking vigorously. Once mixed, add the walnuts and cheese and stir. Season with salt and pepper to taste

3. Dill Vinaigrette


This salad dressing is so tasty, you’ll want to double the recipe so that you can have it again when dinner time rolls around!


1/4 cup olive oil
2 tbsp red wine vinegar
1 tbsp honey (or 1 packet of Splenda)
1/2 tsp dried dill weed
1/8 tsp onion powder
1/8 tsp garlic powder
1/8 tsp dry mustard
Salt and pepper to taste

In a blender, combine the oil, vinegar, sugar, dill weed, onion powder, garlic powder, dry mustard. Blend until smooth. Add salt and pepper to taste. Cover and refrigerate until chilled.

4. Balsamic Vinaigrette

Balsamic and Olive Oil

Although this makes a great, simple salad dressing, it is equally delicious as a marinade for meat or when drizzled on steamed vegetables.

3/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
3/4 cup balsamic vinegar
1 clove garlic, crushed
1/2 tsp dried oregano
2 tsp Dijon mustard
Salt and pepper to taste

In a mason jar or other container with a tight lid, combine all the ingredients. Shake until all ingredients are combined. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

5. Basil Vinaigrette


Delicious year round, this salad is especially tasty when paired with an Italian-themed salad laden with fresh mozzarella and ripe tomatoes.

1 cup olive oil
1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
3 tbsp chopped fresh basil (it’s very important here to use fresh – it’s not nearly as good with dried leaves!)
2 cloves garlic, minced

In a bowl, whisk together the olive oil, apple cider vinegar, basil, and garlic. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

6. Parsley Dressing


Try this flavorful dressing on a salad of mixed greens or other mild-flavored salad combination.

3 tsp olive oil
2 tsp lemon juice
1/4 tsp onion powder
2 tsp chopped parsley

In a bowl, combine the olive oil, lemon juice and onion powder. Once combined, add in the chopped parsley, mix thoroughly with a whisk and serve.

7. Lemon Caesar Dressing


Try this citrus-infused spin on this popular salad dressing option.

1 tsp lemon peel (finely grated)
3 tbsp lemon juice
1 tsp Dijon mustard
1 tsp anchovy paste
1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup olive oil
1 tbsp sour cream
Salt and pepper to taste

In a bowl, whisk all ingredients except oil and sour cream. Once combined, slowly add oil, whisking constantly until smooth (if you stop, the dressing could break). Once combined, whisk in sour cream until smooth and creamy. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

8. Asian Dressing


Add a taste of the orient (without the sugar) with this tangy Asian-inspired dressing.

1/2 cup orange juice (about 2 large oranges)
1/3 cup white vinegar
2 tbsp sesame seeds
1 tbsp Asian mustard (should be easily found in the ethnic food aisle of your local grocery store)
1/4 tsp kosher salt
1 medium garlic cloves, minced
3 tbsp sesame oil


In a bowl, whisk together orange juice, vinegar, sesame seeds, mustard, sugar, salt, and garlic. Once combined, slowly whisk in sesame oil.

9. Ginger-Asian Dressing


A second spin on the Asian dressing theme, this dressing is delicious on salads as well as steamed or grilled veggies.

1 carrot, fresh, small, peeled and shredded
2 tbsp white wine vinegar
2 tbsp cider vinegar
1 tbsp low sodium soy sauce
1/2 tsp sesame oil
2 tbsp minced onion
1 tbsp hot mustard
1 tbsp fresh ginger root, grated

Combine all ingredients in a blender or food processor. Blend until smooth.

10. French Style Dressing


Looking for a way to get the kids to eat their greens? This tasty recipe is sure to wow ‘em!

1/2 tsp dry mustard
1/4 tsp white pepper, ground
1 tsp unsalted tomato paste
7 tbsp olive oil
1/3 cup red or white wine vinegar
2 tsp water
1/2 tsp fresh chopped onion

In a large mason jar or other container with a tight lid, combine all ingredients, shake it up and serve.

Claudecf, Peppysis, niznoz, sassyradish, LexnGer, Darny, found drama, jamela, tsadler, joshbousel, vinduhl Flickr Photos (CC)

Further Reading:

2 Minute Salad

Choose Your Own Salad Adventure – Check this post out for more oil/acid/accoutrement combinations (the permutations are endless!) – we particularly like to add a little ground flax to our dressings.

DIY – Butter, Yogurt, Kefir, Oh My!

Modern Forager: What Exactly is Fat-Free Italian Dressing?

You want comments? We got comments:

Imagine you’re George Clooney. Take a moment to admire your grooming and wit. Okay, now imagine someone walks up to you and asks, “What’s your name?” You say, “I’m George Clooney.” Or maybe you say, “I’m the Clooninator!” You don’t say “I’m George of George Clooney Sells Movies Blog” and you certainly don’t say, “I’m Clooney Weight Loss Plan”. So while spam is technically meat, it ain’t anywhere near Primal. Please nickname yourself something your friends would call you.

  1. Nice post Mark, adding a few diffrent types of salad dressing throughout the week will keep people eating the good stuff.

    Jeff wrote on July 22nd, 2008
  2. I love this post. Thanks for the great recipes! I hate to buy bottled dressings, but regular vinaigrette gets boring all the time!

    Jen wrote on July 22nd, 2008
  3. Ohhhh, I love raspberry vinaigrette. And now that I know how to make it, even better. Thanks for the instructional post Mark!

    Stephanie wrote on July 22nd, 2008
  4. I enjoy cooking with balsamic vinaigrette. I put it in the pan before I cook, I have recently started putting it in with bacon. It adds a completely textured sensation to the bacon. But you can use balsamic vinaigrette for almost everything.

    Supo wrote on July 22nd, 2008
  5. Great post! I tend to use the dressing not just for salads, but for marinating also.

    My favorite salad dressing is still my grandma’s 😉

    2 cloves garlic
    2 tbsp dijon
    2 or 3 scallions
    1 cup evoo
    fresh ground pepper
    sea salt (optional)

    Try it it’s unbelievable 😉

    tatsujin wrote on July 22nd, 2008
    • No vinegar?

      Grace wrote on April 30th, 2011
    • Thanks for sharing your recipe. Just wondered if it is actually 2 Tablespoons of Dijon? It just seemed to me to be an awful lot but you sound so enthusiastic about it. And is this premixed mustard, not the powdered kind? It must be. Thanks again.

      Sue wrote on December 18th, 2011
    • Sound yummy…going to try out.

      D wrote on January 5th, 2012
    • Hi, Saw your grandma’s dressings, could you guide me what is evoo?


      Gita wrote on April 24th, 2013
      • evoo = Extra Virgin Olive Oil

        Me wrote on May 3rd, 2013
  6. Thanks for the recipe, tatsujin! Sounds delicious. I will have to try it!

    Aaron wrote on July 22nd, 2008
  7. what the hell ever happened to ENJOYING salads without dressing. What’s the point of all the ingrediants, even with a healthy dressing, when flavors of the salad get lost. Salads dressings never enhance — they condemn nature’s flavors!

    Roy wrote on July 22nd, 2008
    • What are you talking about? Salads have dressing. I don’t know what you have without dressing, but it ain’t a salad.

      You are talking like there was a time when everyone ate salads without dressing- to which I say “Bosh, sir! Bosh!”

      spike wrote on June 17th, 2011
    • Salads are almost always served with a dressing, just as vegetables are often served with butter or a rich sauce, and fruit is eaten with cheese. Adding a bit of fat makes all of those things’ valuable nutrients much more available during digestion. (Tasty too.)

      Flossie wrote on September 14th, 2012
    • I agree, its rare i have dressing on salad, much prefer the taste with out it.

      Monique wrote on June 28th, 2013
  8. Devoting a post to dressing recipes was a great idea. As a single person I frown on recipes that call for 1 tsp or tbsp of freshly squeezed juice. One organic lemon costs $1.29 at my local supermarket. I’ll splurge and use a fresh lemon when I make tabbouli or some other Mediterranean dish where the fresh lemon flavor stands out. Otherwise, I use bottled. I know it doesn’t taste the same, but I just can’t justify the cost.

    Sonagi wrote on July 22nd, 2008
    • There’s always the option of zesting and juicing the whole lemon, using the juice/zest you need for a recipe, and freezing the excess juice/zest mix in an ice-cube tray for later. I buy a large bag of organic lemons (3lbs for $4.50) and prepare all of them at once, making one tray of mixed juice/zest, one tray(ish) of plain juice, and a small zip bag of zest. I’m good for a couple months that way.

      Jasmine wrote on March 20th, 2013
  9. Here’s another.

    1 C extra virgin olive oil
    1/4 C apple cider vinegar
    1-2 tbsp honey
    1-2 tbsp dijon mustard

    Honey and mustard amounts are just guidelines; I don’t ever measure, so it’s different every time. Play with quantities till you find something you like.

    Brian wrote on July 22nd, 2008
  10. Roy,

    Point taken but a) you don’t have to drench your salad to the point of being over-dressed and b) we love our fat here in these parts. What would we do without some healthy oil added to our salads? To each his own…

    Aaron wrote on July 22nd, 2008
  11. Good post. I’m always looking to try new ones. Usually when lazy or in a hurry I just pour balsamic vinegar and evoo and sprinkle sea salt and fresh ground black pepper and mix the salad. No prep for the dressing. Of course I usually have crumbled blue cheese on it too.

    Does anyone happen to have a good recipe for a zesty italian type dressing that fits the PB? For some reason I can’t seem to create one I like enough yet. Especially so I can also use it for a marinade.

    Joe Matasic wrote on July 23rd, 2008
  12. Joe –

    Here is a simple and healthy italian dressing recipe:

    1 c. olive oil
    1/4 c. apple cider vinegar
    1 tsp. Italian seasoning
    1/2 tsp. paprika
    1/2 tsp. garlic powder
    1/2 tsp. onion powder
    1 tsp. grated cheese


    Aaron wrote on July 23rd, 2008
  13. ‘b) we love our fat here in these parts. What would we do without some healthy oil added to our salads?

    Fats not only enhance taste and add nutrition of their own; they also increase the absorbtion of some nutrients in plant foods. I rarely eat produce without combining with a little fat. Nuts are versatile and work with almost any food, including a salad or fruit snack.

    Sonagi wrote on July 23rd, 2008
  14. Fantastic roundup of dressing! Very useful and tasty. Thanks.

    Lex wrote on July 23rd, 2008
  15. Just a quick comment/question. Based the whole primal/paleo diet is parmesan cheese, dairy realy part of the diet? Realy doubt that they had parmesan back in the days…Thanks for the recipes will try them very soon.

    deecee wrote on July 23rd, 2008
  16. I have a giant salad every day for lunch with my favourite lemon vinaigrette on top.

    Lemon Vinaigrette

    1/4 cup lemon juice
    1/4 cup vinegar (I prefer rice vinegar)
    1 cup olive oil
    2 tsp sugar (I skip this step and it tastes just fine)
    salt and pepper to taste

    Christine wrote on July 24th, 2008
  17. I can I print this? I know press the print icon copy past is there a better why?

    Larry wrote on July 30th, 2008
  18. I can’t wait to try some of these recipes! Thanks!

    Terrilee wrote on November 25th, 2008
  19. I have fresh raspberries from the garden, can you tell me how to make raspberry vinegar for the raspberry Vinaigrette? Thanks

    Karen wrote on July 26th, 2009
    • Karen,
      I have been making a simple raspberry vinaigrette by blending together olive oil, balsamic vinegar, fresh berries, salt and pepper. Sometimes I will throw in a bit of honey if I want it sweeter. I use the Silver Bullet with makes it really easy to do a small amount and blended, it has a creamy consistancy. Good luck!

      Krys wrote on July 30th, 2009
  20. I know a Ranch dressing may not be perfectly primal, but does anybody have a good recipe theyd like to share?

    Rob wrote on July 30th, 2009
    • This is definately not Primal But here is a Ranch dressing recipe

      6 oz. sour cream
      6 oz. mayonnaise
      4 oz. buttermilk
      1 oz. red wine vinegar
      1 tbs worchestershire sauce
      1 tbs lemon juice
      1-2 tsps dijon mustard
      1 tsp minced shallot
      1 tsp minced parsley
      1 sp minced chives
      1 tsp minced garlic
      1/2 tsp celery seed
      salt and pepper as needed

      Mix well. Refrigerate. Use within a week.

      Kahy wrote on May 31st, 2016
  21. Can anyone advise on how long we can keep these delicious home-made dressing in the fridge?

    Jessica wrote on August 10th, 2009
    • I was wondering the same thing too. Does anyone know how long will these will keep in the fridge in an airtight jar?

      vellefromhell67 wrote on November 12th, 2009
  22. Great ideas, but I don’t think SPLENDA is very primal!!! I’d rather suffer a few extra carbs from agave nectar or honey then put “sweet plastic” into my body… just sayin’

    Jared wrote on March 13th, 2010
    • I was thinking the same thing. Isn’t Splenda the worst of the artificial sweeteners. I’ll go with agave too.

      Mainiaca wrote on September 11th, 2010
    • agave is so old school now-it’s actually very processed….moreover it’s expensive and raises blood sugar same like sugar…it was a marketing success based on its exotic name, picture of the plant and could be called “natural” Splenda is natural in the same way- I prefer it but each one to his own-leave it if you prefer un/less processed foods

      LC wrote on January 22nd, 2012
      • Definitely NOT Splenda! I would use a touch of raw honey or a sprinkle/drop of plain stevia.

        The Crunchy Mama wrote on December 8th, 2012
  23. I’m not a salad person but those looks delicious that I might wanna try someday :)

    Khiyo wrote on March 16th, 2010
  24. Great post, thank you! For how long can these dressings be stored in a refrigerator after prepared?

    Maxim wrote on March 23rd, 2010
    • I know this was a LONG time ago,,, but did anyone answer.

      Frank T. wrote on February 2nd, 2012
  25. anything wrong with using a nice organic chipotle ranch; high fat, nil carbs?

    Mountain Beaver wrote on March 30th, 2010
  26. Please explain how Splenda fits into a Primal Diet/lifestyle? Were our ancestors plucking Splenda packets from the Splenda tree? Splenda is a know neurotoxin, no better than nutrasweet or corn syrup. Your site is so full of great info. that the Splenda caught me off guard…

    Tish wrote on May 15th, 2010
  27. All these dressings sound delicious! But I have to say my favorite, especially on chicken wraps is the Greek dressing from Salad Creations! I wish I knew how to duplicate it!!

    Mel wrote on June 2nd, 2010

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