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. i think my sour cream bleu cheese dressing didn’t get posted!

    barbara wrote on January 26th, 2012
  2. oops. i substitute red wine vinegar for the lemon juice.

    barbara wrote on January 26th, 2012
  3. What about the recipe with soy sauce? Isn’t soy sauce made with wheat?

    Ali wrote on February 21st, 2012
    • There is a gluten-free soy sauce I found at Fresh & Easy…may have some at TJ also.

      Kas wrote on August 26th, 2013
  4. No Splenda for me either! Stevia, yes. Xylitol, sometimes. Splenda, Nutra Sweet, Sweet-n-Low–never again!

    Julie wrote on May 6th, 2012
  5. Wow!
    Delicious is all I can say :-)

    Can’t wait to try these out myself.

    Priety wrote on May 13th, 2012
  6. Debunking the myth of “italian salad dressing”. I was raised in a family, clan, town of people who actually immigrated from italy and can assure you there is no such thing in our houses. My grandparents were born there as were most of our families in the neighborhood I grew up. There was a huge salad on the table at supper everynite but I never heard of any kind of salad dressing. Salad was a huge bowl of raw mixed greens, tomato, onion, peppers, whatever vegetable was available. The vegetables were mostly grown in the backyards. The garlic and basil were right in the salad and also grew in the backyard. These vegetables were dressed with EVVO which came from a huge metal can on grandma’s basement steps and red wine vinegar which was just a jug of the red wine made in the cellar which had got too old to drink anymore. The grapes for the wine grew in the yard too. It never occurred to me that salad dressings would be mixed separately from the salad or be purchased in a bottle until long after I was grown up and married, tho i still dont eat it. I kinda chuckle everytime I see a bottle of “italian” salad dressing and always wonder “whats in there”.

    Nick DeMatteo wrote on September 16th, 2012
  7. This probably sounds weird, but try mixing mayo (homemade preferred) with balsamic vinegar and honey. Add in salt, pepper, and any other herbs, I usually use dried basil. Its SO delicious!

    There are several recipes for ranch dressing with avocado and buttermilk as a base. A quick google search will bring up several variations… they aren’t specifically “Primal” but the ingredients are all natural healthy stuff as long as you dont mind using buttermilk.

    For ranch dressings, its also pretty easy to use whatever mayo is acceptable to you, and add lemon juice, dill, chives, onion and garlic powder, salt, pepper, etc (again, multiple recipes out there that fit fine with Primal eating). If you do eat Greek yogurt, or sour cream, or buttermilk, those can also be used as part of the base.

    Melissa wrote on December 10th, 2012
  8. I got one for ya I use this on a Warm brussel sprout salad with bacon golden raisins and toasted almonds

    2 TBSP Red wine Vinegar
    1 tsp honey
    1/2 tsp salt
    fresh black pepper to taste
    pinch of fresh thyme
    1 tsp whole grain dijon mustard
    5 TBSP extra virgin olive oil

    Combine all in a mason jar and shake it up. Keep up the good work

    Greg Thomas wrote on January 15th, 2013
  9. I bought a 1.5 cup salad dressing shaker to make my own dressing…tried the basil vinaigrette recipe and put it in the fridge overnight to use the next day. The oil hardened up and it’s no good! Is this normal? I wanted to have homemade dressing on hand for my Big Ass Salads throughout the week.

    Jordan wrote on January 22nd, 2013
  10. Hey there Mark.

    Some of these recipes have way to much (overrated, hyped-up) olive oil.

    One tablespoon has 120 calories!

    For a medium-size salad, one would need at least three tablespoons.

    For that many calories, there are many other alternatives, while at the same time eating salads that deliver the same health benefits as olive oil.

    Perry wrote on March 10th, 2013
  11. I made the balsamic vinegarette recently, and really like it. I have a question, though: Do you refrigerate it? There aren’t any ingredients in it that “require” the fridge, I don’t think. I have been putting mine in the fridge, though, because I have to take immunosuppressants after a liver transplant (from auto-immune disease), and I am forced to be a super germ-a-phobe. Anywho, the top layer (mustard, etc.) solidifies and I have to microwave the bottle a bit to loosen it each time I use it. Opinions?

    k-del wrote on April 28th, 2014
  12. Okay, since I have not eaten anything this morning, today is officially my first day going primal. I am a 48 year old menopausal female, Active Army, and have been athletic (besides doing the Army thing) all my life. I don’t believe this weight gain is only hormonal. I have been particular about what I put in my body, but even more so now. What I DON”T have time for is preparing all of my own meals. This will happen now!

    Wish me luck.


    Jacki wrote on September 29th, 2014

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