This BRIGHT and ZESTY Homemade Italian Dressing uses SIMPLE ingredients and ready in just minutes. Perfect for salads, sandwiches, or as a dipping oil for warm crusty bread!
If you’d rather skip my essential cooking tips and tricks and get straight to this delicious recipe – simply scroll to the bottom of the page where you can find the printable recipe card.
EASY HOMEMADE ITALIAN DRESSING
Italian Dressing may be easy to buy in a bottle or mix from a packet, but it can’t compare to the HOMEMADE version.
Honestly, reading the list of ingredients in the store-bought dressing is much more challenging.
So, time to make your own. In minutes you will have a delicious dressing, that doubles as a marinade, and lasts a few weeks in the fridge.
In the most basic sense, Italian dressing is like the original vinaigrette. You rely on olive oil and vinegar to carry the load of seasonings, then build from there.
WHAT IS ITALIAN DRESSING USED FOR?
Homemade Italian Dressing is wonderful on salads. By salads, I don’t just mean a few leaves of romaine or iceberg on a plate.
- Leafy green salads
- Bean salads
- Pasta salads
- Marinade for chicken, pork, beef, and lamb. (think kebabs!)
Use this dressing on all kinds of salads from the ever so simple to the wonderfully complex.
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ITALIAN DRESSING RECIPE
These simple ingredients are ones you have in your pantry already!
- Dijon Mustard
- Vinegar (white, red, or distilled)
- Lemon juice
- Italian Seasoning
- Olive oil
- Salt & Pepper
HOW DO YOU MAKE ITALIAN DRESSING FROM SCRATCH?
ONE: Combine minced garlic, mustard, seasonings, vinegar, and honey in a bowl or dressing container. Whisk or shake to combine.
TWO: Add the olive oil to the mixture. Shake in a mason jar with a tight lid or whisk to combine.
THREE: Taste and season with salt and pepper if desired. Enjoy!
The old saying is “oil and water” don’t mix. Truth be told, oil and vinegar don’t really mix either.
However, shaken well enough, and with the seasonings to help, vinegar and oil will blend together well enough.
For the full recipe and detailed baking instructions, please see the recipe card at the end of this post.
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HOW LONG DOES HOME ITALIAN DRESSING LAST?
Since half the ingredients act as natural preservatives, you will be amazed how long it keeps well if refrigerated properly.
You can keep it for a few weeks at a time easily. But it will get eaten long before that!
WHAT OIL IS USED IN ITALIAN DRESSING?
The best oil for Italian dressing is definitely extra virgin olive oil. No one is going to report you to the salad dressing police if you go with something else like avocado oil, but olive oil really is the best. Especially the good stuff.
Many commercial olive oils are not actually 100% olive oil, they are mix of oils. So it is important to look for truly 100% olive oil.
Most importantly, you want it to be extra virgin olive oil. Extra virgin olive oil retains the most flavor and the highest level of healthy fatty acids. So it is the best type of olive oil for Italian dressing by far.
BEST VINEGAR TO USE FOR DRESSING
The choice of vinegar used can change the flavor profile so this is where you can get more creative.
For a lighter dressing I like to use white wine vinegar. If I am serving a hearty salad with strong flavors like blue cheese, I prefer a red wine or balsamic vinegar.
I like to use this Homemade Italian Dressing Recipe for a variety of dishes so I use a white wine vinegar to keep it simple.
WHAT IS THE BEST ITALIAN DRESSING?
The best Italian dressing has a nice balance of olive oil and vinegar.
The richness of the oil doesn’t overwhelm and coat the taste buds because the vinegar cuts it just enough and permits the seasoning to shine through.
A great Italian dressing should coat everything with flavor but not be so saucy that it might as well be a soup.
I love this on any salad and served with a plate of pasta covered in Homemade Meat Sauce.
IS THIS DRESSING GOOD FOR YOU?
If you use a good extra virgin olive oil then you are already on the right track for the health benefits.
Unrefined extra virgin olive oil is fully of healthy fatty acids and it helps reduce inflammation.
Using honey for sweetness is great but you can use regular sugar if you prefer. Using honey keeps it Paleo.
If you prefer to make it Whole30 or Keto compliant, simply leave out the honey or omit the sugar.
IS ITALIAN DRESSING GLUTEN FREE?
If you make your own Italian dressing from scratch, then by all means it can be gluten free.
Many of the varieties you see on the shelves actually do contain gluten from wheat products. Those are added as thickening agents but they are not necessary.
Another reason to skip the store!
WHAT ARE GOOD ZESTY SEASONING?
If you want to pick up the za-zing factor in your dressing, then there are a couple of ways to do that.
Horseradish is another option. Of course, the tried and true red pepper flakes will never fail to pick up the zest.
ITALIAN DRESSING SEASONING MIX
You don’t need to think too much about the dry seasonings if you use an Italian seasoning mix.
You can always make up your own blend and do variations on what herb to highlight in it. So, one month you have an oregano dressing and the next a rosemary one and so on.
HOW TO STORE HOMEMADE SALAD DRESSING
Keep the dressing in the refrigerator in an air tight container. I like to use these shakers because they have measurements on the side and hold a large batch.
The olive oil will thicken or solidify in the fridge or when chilled. This is perfectly normal!
Just take the dressing out of the fridge a few minutes to come to room temperature before using and it will return to normal.
TIPS FOR NO LEFTOVERS
- Cheese – Adding finely grated fresh Parmesan cheese makes a huge difference. If you grind the block Parmesan super fine, then it dissolves properly and adds smoothness to the texture. Romano is very similar and will work too.
- Vinegar – White wine vinegar is perfect for this recipe. Balsamic and Red Wine vinegar will also work.
- Lemon Juice – Fresh is best. If you don’t have fresh just add a little more vinegar. Bottle juice doesn’t really work either.
- Spices – Make your own blend of Italian herbs so you have it handy. You can add a little bit of red pepper flakes too if you want it to be a bit more zesty.
- Make Ahead – The flavor gets better with age. The herbs and spices get more intense the longer they sit.
- Storage – The dressing keeps for weeks as long as you keep it in the fridge. Use a container with a tight fitting lid. If it separates then don’t worry because it hasn’t gone bad. Just give a good shake and you are back in business.
- Olive Oil – Extra Virgin is the best! The better the olive oil used, the richer and more robust the dressing with taste. If you don’t have any you can use vegetable oil.
- Dress Lightly – Start light when adding the dressing. You don’t want to drown or overpower the flavors and textures of the salad. Serve it on the side so everyone can use accordingly.
Enjoy this quick and easy, bright and tangy Homemade Italian Dressing on a variety of dishes, especially this Italian Chopped Salad!
MORE SALAD DRESSINGS
- Roasted Ginger Vinaigrette
- Red Wine Vinaigrette
- Greek Salad Dressing
- Creamy Coleslaw Dressing
- Homemade Balsamic Vinaigrette
- Honey Lime Vinaigrette
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