Making salad dressing from scratch is nearly as fast and easy as shaking up a store-bought bottle, and the taste is exponentially better than even the most "gourmet" jar of blue cheese dressing. (And can I just say that homemade ranch is reason alone to eat a salad tonight?)
It's easier, though, to quit buying bottled dressings when you don't even need to consult a recipe before shaking up tonight's salad.
Do you have a salad dressing (or two) memorized? Not just the super-basic, super-essential vinaigrette, but something that really delights you on a weeknight?
We have a few dressing recipes that, for reasons of their utterly classic nature (Caesar, Italian) or their simplicity (citrus miso), deserve to be known by heart. This list started with just five, but has grown as we fall in love with others.
But First, How to Make a Great Salad with No Recipe at All
But before we dive into our favorites, let's return to that vinaigrette and talk about dressing a salad with no recipe whatsoever. The most basic way to make a salad taste really, really good is to toss it lightly with good olive oil, then squeeze a little lemon or drizzle some balsamic vinegar over it. Toss with a generous sprinkle of salt and pepper, which are often all too neglected in salads, and you have yourself a delicious side salad. Herbs will just make it that much better.
So, having mastered the ultra-simple and classic method of dressing a salad, here are 12 dressings we think deserve to be known by heart.
12 Salad Dressings to Know by Heart
- The Perfect Caesar Salad Dressing: A Caesar salad is a treat — especially with romaine (fresh or grilled) and the perfect Caesar dressing. (Avoiding eggs? Try this easy eggless version.)
- Balsamic Vinaigrette: The classic balsamic vinaigrette — the one we like to shake up in a jar and leave in our refrigerators for fast and easy salads.
- Quick Ranch Dressing: A classic dressing, so much better when homemade. Mayonnaise and buttermilk, chives and mint, if you're inclined.
- Creamy Blue Cheese Dressing: That luscious blue cheese taste, all homemade, but just as good for dipping celery and wings as dressing salad.
- Italian Salad Dressing: More Italian-American than Old World, this dressing replaces that bottle of Kraft we grew up with.
- Poppy Seed Salad Dressing: Craving that delicious springtime strawberry spinach salad? This is the dressing you want.
- How to Make Classic Thousand Island Dressing: What make this classic dressing so unique is that it's thickened with a hard-boiled egg.
- Green Goddess Dressing: That creamy, dreamy, oh-so-green dressing that is just as good as a dip as on salad.
- Two-Minute Creamy Salad Dressing: Even easier than ranch dressing, this incredibly simple dressing has mayonnaise and grainy mustard.
- How to Make Ginger-Carrot Dressing: The dressing that's often served over iceberg lettuce at sushi, teriyaki, and hibachi restaurants is also great as a marinade or tossed with cold noodles.
- Two-Ingredient Miso & Citrus Salad Dressing: Just two ingredients somehow become savory, salty, and tangy. It doesn't get any easier!
- Four-Ingredient Brown Butter Dressing: This last dressing breaks from olive oil to substitute butter. And holy arugula, is it good!
Your turn! What are the simple salad dressings that you always turn to?