Homemade Italian Dressing
on Feb 18, 2022, Updated Dec 27, 2023
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Better than bottled, and so easy to make! This is the classic Italian salad dressing recipe you'll go to over and over again.
Like many, many, MANY people, I grew up with Italian dressing made from a packet. We would shake it up with oil, vinegar, and water in that little cruet that was actually sold with the little packages of the Italian dressing mix. I also have had my share of salads at the Olive Garden, and anyone who turns their nose up at either of those dressings is not my friend. They are delicious, and I would happily eat a salad with either of those Italian dressings any day of the week.
But because I am a die-hard homemade vinaigrette person, I wanted to see if I could recreate the flavor of those nostalgic bottled and restaurant dressings. And maybe improve on it!
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Homemade Italian Dressing: Better than bottled, and so easy to make! This is the classic dressing recipe you’ll go to over and over again.Tweet This
What Is Italian Dressing?
Italian dressing is an Americanized vinaigrette-type of dressing, so it’s actually a kind of Italian-American dressing. However, compared to a more simple vinaigrette, Italian dressing usually has additional herbs and seasonings added, and sometimes other ingredients like minced bell peppers and onions.
Two very popular brands of bottled Italian Dressing are Ken’s and Wishbone, both of which became available in the 1940s. But — because you’re here, you are sold on the fact that homemade dressing is better than store-bought…and you’re right!
Homemade Italian Dressing Ingredients
The ingredients are very straightforward, and you may easily have all of them on hand. The basic ingredients are olive oil, vinegar, minced onions, lemon juice, honey, Italian seasoning, mustard, and Worcestershire sauce. Leave out the Worcestershire sauce if you don’t have it or if you want a vegetarian dressing (Worcestershire sauce contains anchovies).
The honey, lemon juice, Parmesan, and onions could also be omitted, but this combo offers a very satisfying dressing with a nice body. I like red wine vinegar in my Italian dressing, but you can use white wine vinegar if you prefer.
Most Italian seasoning is made from a combo of ried oregano, thyme, basil, and rosemary, sometimes marjoram. If you don’t have it, you can use a teaspoon of any combination of those herbs. Basil and oregano are the two must-have herbs in Italian dressing. Marjoram is another good addition. You can mix and match the herbs in equal proportions, but just make sure the total amount is around one teaspoon for this recipe.
How to Make Italian Dressing
- Combine the ingredients: Add all of the ingredients to a container or jar.
- Shake: Cover the container and shake very well to combine. Store the Italian dressing in the fridge for up to a week, and shake well before pouring over a salad.
The short answer is that Italian dressing is one of the healthiest options for salad dressing, but it’s not healthy, per se. Compared to creamier dressings, like ranch or blue cheese, it has fewer calories and saturated fat.
If you use extra-virgin olive oil, that’s a good place to start. The fat in this kind of oil has been scientifically proven to be a heart-healthy fat, and contains nice amounts of antioxidants. Antioxidants have healthful properties and can reduce the risks of serious illness, according to Harvard Medical School. Dressings that rely heavily on dairy or other creamy ingredients are less healthy than Italian dressing and vinaigrettes.
Classic Salad with Italian Dressing
You can use this dressing on any lettuce or vegetable-based salad you like. A very classic combo is some sort of crunchy lettuce (iceberg, romaine, green or red lettuce) plus some cucumbers, tomatoes, and onions.
Variation: Antipasti Salad with Italian Dressing
If you want to make it more of an Italian antipasti salad, add slices or cubes of cured meats, like salami, and cheeses, like provolone, plus olives and pepperoncini.
What to Serve With Salad and Italian Dressing
More Salad Dressing Recipes
- Ranch Dressing
- Classic Vinaigrette
- Japanese Restaurant Salad Dressing
- Creamy Avocado Dressing
- Green Goddess Dressing
- Honey Mustard Dressing
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Homemade Italian Dressing
- ½ cup extra-virgin olive oil
- ¼ cup red wine vinegar
- 2 tablespoons minced onion
- 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
- 1 teaspoon honey
- 3 tablespoons finely grated Parmesan cheese
- 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning (see Note)
- 1 teaspoon spicy brown mustard
- 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
- Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper (to taste)
- In a container or jar with a lid, combine the olive oil, vinegar, onion, lemon juice, honey, Parmesan, Italian seasoning, mustard, Worcestershire sauce, salt, and pepper.
- Cover and shake well to combine. This will keep for 1 week sealed in the refrigerator. Shake well before pouring it over the salad.