Homemade Italian Dressing

published Apr 2, 2024
Italian Dressing Recipe

This zesty dressing makes eating salad an experience to remember.


Makesabout 1/2 cup

Prep10 minutes

Jump to Recipe
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overhead shot of homemade italian dressing being spooned over a simple salad.
Credit: Photo: Alex Lepe ; Food Styling: Rachel Perlmutter

In my Italian American upbringing, family dinner always included a green salad, perfectly complemented by the magical touch of homemade dressing, which ensured that we always got some vegetables in. This homemade Italian dressing is the best way to elevate your everyday salad. Its fresh, zesty flavors beat out any store-bought version.

Each ingredient works together in harmony. There is acidity from vinegar, richness from olive oil, savoriness from herbs, a touch of sweetness from sugar, and a hint of umami from Parmesan. This herbaceous dressing makes eating salad a memorable experience, especially when served alongside beloved classics like cacio e pepe and cheesy lasagna

Why You’ll Love It

  • Homemade Italian dressing will set your salads worlds apart from anything you buy in a bottle, and it’s easy to make. It strikes a balance between the sophistication of a dressed restaurant salad and the familiarity of store-bought alternatives. 
  • This dressing relies on pantry ingredients, so you can throw it together in a pinch. It’s the kind of recipe that can be upgraded with fresh herbs or thoroughly enjoyed with dried herbs. 
  • Soaking the garlic in the vinegar mixture mellows out the sharpness of the raw garlic, making it less overpowering in the salad dressing. It’s a step a lot of Italian dressing recipes skip, but it makes a big difference. 
Credit: Photo: Alex Lepe ; Food Styling: Rachel Perlmutter

Key Ingredients in Italian Dressing

Italian salad dressing owes its delicious flavor profile to a balance of ingredients.

  • White wine vinegar: Vinegar lends that essential acidity, which brightens the flavors of every ingredient in the dressing.
  • Olive oil: Rich olive oil balances the bite of vinegar. We tested this recipe with robust extra-virgin olive oil and a more mild olive oil, and it was delicious both ways!
  • Garlic: One small clove adds just enough complexity without overwhelming the palate.
  • Dijon mustard: A small dollop of mustard ensures the perfect salad consistency, keeping the vinegar and oil combined.
  • Sugar: Sugar adds a touch of sweetness, balancing the vinegar for a more well-rounded flavor.
  • Herbs: A duo of herbs, parsley and oregano, adds that signature Mediterranean flavor.
  • Parmesan cheese: Contributes a savory umami depth. The amount in the dressing is delightful, but the final salad tastes and looks even better with an extra sprinkling of Parmesan on top before serving. 

How to Make Italian Dressing

Preparing Italian dressing at home is as easy as 1, 2, 3. 

  1. Soak the garlic in the vinegar mixture: Reduce the bite of raw garlic by soaking it in a vinegar mixture before whisking in the oil. Do this step in the bottom of a bowl (you can toss the salad right in there) or in a jar with a tight-fitting lid. Let the mixture sit for roughly 5 minutes.
  2. Prep the ingredients: While the garlic mellows, chop the parsley, grate the Parmesan, and measure out the remaining ingredients.
  3. Whisk or shake to combine: Slowly add the oil to the vinegar mixture while whisking, or put the top on the jar and shake vigorously. Then stir in the herbs and Parmesan, and you’re ready to enjoy! 

Helpful Swaps

Our Italian dressing is super delicious as-is, but there are some ingredient swaps you can make for slight variations.

  • Don’t have fresh parsley? Use a tablespoon of dried parsley instead.
  • Try fresh oregano instead of dried. Swap out the dried for just a tiny amount — about 1/4 teaspoon of finely chopped fresh oregano for an immensely satisfying switch-up.
  • Add in 1 teaspoon finely chopped fresh thyme or 1/4 teaspoon dried thyme.
  • Stir in a few pinches of red pepper flakes for a satisfying kick.
  • Keep it simple and spoon in store-bought Parmesan rather than grating it yourself.

Storage and Make-Ahead Tips 

Store leftover salad dressing in an airtight container or jar in the refrigerator for up to 1 week. Bring the dressing to room temperature to warm up the oil before using and shake well to ensure all the ingredients are evenly distributed before opening the lid and drizzling. 

What to Serve with Italian Dressing

Italian Dressing Recipe

This zesty dressing makes eating salad an experience to remember.

Prep time 10 minutes

Makes about 1/2 cup

Serves 4

Nutritional Info


  • 1 small clove


  • 2 tablespoons

    white wine vinegar

  • 1/2 teaspoon

    Dijon mustard

  • 1/2 teaspoon

    kosher salt, plus more as needed

  • 1/4 teaspoon

    granulated sugar

  • Freshly ground black pepper

  • 1/2 ounce

    Parmesan cheese (about 2 tablespoons store-bought grated)

  • 3 sprigs

    fresh parsley

  • 1/4 cup

    extra-virgin olive oil

  • 3/4 teaspoon

    dried oregano


  1. Finely grate 1 small garlic clove into a small bowl or jar with a tight-fitting lid. Add 2 tablespoons white wine vinegar, 1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard, 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, 1/4 teaspoon granulated sugar, and a few generous grinds of black pepper. Whisk to combine. Let sit for 5 minutes so the garlic flavor mellows.

  2. Meanwhile, finely grate 1/2 ounce Parmesan cheese until you have 2 tablespoons. Pick the leaves from 3 fresh parsley sprigs and finely chop until you have 1 tablespoon.

  3. While whisking constantly, slowly add 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil to the garlic mixture and continue to whisk until combined (or add the olive oil to the jar, seal, and shake well until combined). Add the Parmesan, parsley, and 3/4 teaspoon dried oregano. Whisk to combine. Taste and season with more kosher salt and black pepper as needed.

Recipe Notes

Ingredient/Equipment Variations: 1/4 teaspoon finely chopped fresh oregano leaves can be used in place of the dried oregano. For a spicier dressing, add 1/4 teaspoon or more red pepper flakes. You can also add 1 teaspoon finely chopped fresh thyme leaves or 1/4 teaspoon dried thyme for more flavor.

Storage: Leftover dressing can be refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 4 days. Let come to room temperature and whisk or shake before serving.