Homemade Italian Dressing

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Learn how to make your own homemade Italian dressing! The recipe is easy and it only takes a few minutes to prepare. This tangy emulsified vinaigrette is great 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 just pop open the pantry as you should have all that you need to create your own. To achieve that herbaceous tangy taste, grab the pungent vinegar, dried herbs, and spices. The key to success is paying attention to how you add the olive oil to ensure a more stable dressing. I never just shake it in a mason jar.

This dressing recipe is not only used for fresh greens salads, but it’s versatile in many ways. It’s good for marinating proteins like chicken and shrimp to boost flavor in a short period of time. Also when I need a quick side dish, I just 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 also 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 provides a mix of concentrated herbal notes.

I also like to mince fresh garlic for a little bite to the dressing, but you can use dried garlic powder if you like. 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 from 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 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. Extra-virgin olive oil is slowly drizzled into the vinegar mixture and whisked constantly 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

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.

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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.
Pin Print Review
4.25 from 12 votes
Prep Time10 mins
Cook Time0 mins
Total Time10 mins
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.

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Nutrition Facts
Homemade Italian Dressing
Amount Per Serving
Calories 96 Calories from Fat 90
% Daily Value*
Fat 10g15%
Saturated Fat 1g5%
Cholesterol 1mg0%
Sodium 82mg3%
Potassium 3mg0%
Carbohydrates 1g0%
Fiber 1g4%
Sugar 1g1%
Protein 1g2%
Vitamin A 9IU0%
Vitamin C 1mg1%
Calcium 4mg0%
Iron 1mg6%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.

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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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5 Comments Leave a comment or review

  1. 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.

  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?

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