Homemade Italian Dressing

4.81 from 21 votes
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Making homemade Italian dressing is easy, and it only takes a few minutes to prepare. This tangy emulsified vinaigrette is excellent with crisp greens for a healthy appetizer, works well as a marinade, or toss it with noodles for a pasta salad.

Homemade Italian dressing in a clear glass jar

Skip the store-bought bottled Italian dressing and pop open the pantry as you should have all that you need to create your own. Grab the pungent vinegar, dried herbs, and spices to achieve that tangy herbaceous taste. The key to success is paying attention to how you add the olive oil to ensure a more stable dressing. I never shake it in a mason jar.

This dressing recipe is not only used for fresh greens salads but is versatile in many ways. I use it for marinating proteins like chicken and shrimp to boost flavor in a short period. Also, when I need a quick side dish, I boil some rotini and toss it with this bold vinaigrette to make an Italian pasta salad.

Ingredients to make your own italian dressing

Vinegar selection

Red wine vinegar provides a fermented acidic flavor. It has a bold taste and provides a lot of depth. Other types of vinegar, like white wine vinegar, will work well as any grape base pairs nicely in Italian cuisine. If a sweeter-aged balsamic vinegar is what you prefer, try this homemade vinaigrette.

Use herbs and spices to boost the flavor

An oil and vinegar-based dressing can taste pretty sharp and greasy without a few ingredients to add some dimension. Dried Italian seasonings, typically a blend of basil, oregano, rosemary, thyme, marjoram, and sage, provide a mix of concentrated herbal notes.

I also like to mince fresh garlic for a bite to the dressing, but you can use dried garlic powder. And for a hint of lingering spice, I add red pepper flakes.

pouring olive oil slowly into a mixing bowl

How to make Italian dressing from scratch

A well-balanced homemade salad dressing has a sharp upfront pungency that’s softened with the richness of the oil. The flavor may seem strong if tasted alone. However, the flavor slightly dilutes as it mixes with the food. Therefore, it should be more potent to start.

To make the dressing, start by whisking together the vinegar, mayonnaise, mustard, honey, garlic, spices, and seasonings. This mixture gives the lecithin in the mayonnaise, an emulsifying agent that attracts oil and water to make a more stable suspension, a chance to disperse before adding in the oil. Slowly drizzle extra-virgin olive oil into the vinegar mixture and constantly whisk to create a thick emulsified dressing.

Ways to use this dressing

  • Pick your favorite type of lettuce to make a fresh green salad.
  • Toss with noodles and chopped vegetables for a pasta salad.
  • Marinate with chicken, shrimp, or pork chops for 15 to 20 minutes for quick flavor.
Pouring italian dressing over a bowl of salad

Recipe Science

Gradually whisk in the oil

The best way to make a uniform oil-in-water suspension in a salad dressing is to gradually add the oil to the vinegar, while constantly whisking. This breaks the fat into small droplets, for even delivery of flavor and increased thickness. I never take the shortcut of just shaking the ingredients together in a jar. It may appear to temporarily mix, however, if you let it sit for a few minutes the layers will separate with oil sitting on top. If you add that to the salad, the taste will be greasy and pungent.

Homemade Italian Dressing

Italian dressing is great with crisp greens for a healthy salad, works well as a marinade, or toss it with noodles for a pasta salad.
4.81 from 21 votes
Prep Time10 minutes
Cook Time0 minutes
Total Time10 minutes
Servings 16 servings
Course Condiment
Cuisine Italian

Ingredients 
 

  • ¼ cup red wine vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons honey
  • 2 teaspoons dijon mustard
  • 2 teaspoon dried Italian seasoning
  • 1 teaspoon mayonnaise
  • 1 teaspoon minced garlic, or ¼ teaspoon garlic powder
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • ¼ teaspoon black pepper
  • teaspoon red pepper flakes, optional
  • ¾ cup extra-virgin olive oil

Instructions 

  • In a medium-sized bowl, whisk together red wine vinegar, honey, mustard, Italian seasoning, mayonnaise, garlic, salt, pepper, and red pepper flakes.
  • Slowly drizzle in the olive oil, vigorously whisking until a thickened emulsified dressing is formed. Taste dressing and season with more salt and pepper as desired.

Notes

  • Recipe Yield: 1 cup
  • Serving Size: 1 tablespoon (15 ml)
  • Store: In an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days. Whisk before serving.
  • Mayonnaise can be omitted from the recipe. However, it helps to keep the dressing emulsified longer.
  • MAKE IT VEGAN: Substitute the mayonnaise with vegan mayonnaise or omit.
  • MAKE IT PALEO: Make sure that the mayonnaise is made with olive oil (most store-bought is made with soybean or canola oil), or omit. Substitute maple syrup for honey.

Nutrition Facts

Serves: 16 servings
Calories 96kcal (5%)Carbohydrates 1gProtein 1g (2%)Fat 10g (15%)Saturated Fat 1g (5%)Cholesterol 1mgSodium 82mg (3%)Potassium 3mgFiber 1g (4%)Sugar 1g (1%)Vitamin A 9IUVitamin C 1mg (1%)Calcium 4mgIron 1mg (6%)

Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000-calorie diet. All nutritional information is based on estimated third-party calculations. Each recipe and nutritional value will vary depending on the brands you use, measuring methods, and portion sizes per household.

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Jessica Gavin

I'm a culinary school graduate, cookbook author, and a mom who loves croissants! My passion is creating recipes and sharing the science behind cooking to help you gain confidence in the kitchen.

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8 Comments Leave a comment or review

  1. Christina says

    Looks delicious! Question- if it is refrigerated, why does it only last 5 days? (I guess I could cut the recipe in half, but curious of I could keep it a bit longer)
    Thank you!

  2. Linda says

    You show calories Per serving, but there is no serving amount. Can I assume it’s 2 tablespoons or what is it?

  3. Shiv Prakash Pandey says

    Appears to be great. Will give it a try tomorrow Sunday. Today 15 August was Independence Day in India. So, we had our local dishes at home, all pure Veg. and full of masala (Pepper). I hope you must have tried some. If not, please do, you and your family members will really like it.