There is only one thing worse than standing in a long aisle of salad dressings, so overwhelmed by the different brands and flavors that you can't possibly choose the right one: a bland salad. Whether you're a lover of salads, or just looking to add something healthier to your diet, the dressing is a vital decision. It will ultimately make or break your meal.
Not only can salad dressings spice up your salad, but they can often be used for marinates, sandwiches, seafood, and other fun recipes. The best salad dressings are versatile and can be used in any salad, and even other meals. This is just one of the reasons Brianna's Blush Wine Vinaigrette ranks first on this list. This dressing is perfectly balanced, maintaining its subtly while offering an amazing taste. Continue reading to see the rest of our favorites!
Jim Quast (JQ) is a lifelong professional restaurant and corporate R&D chef that loves everything food-related and the tools both big and small to make those great food memories. He's a super huge BBQ, grill, and kitchen gadget fanatic. JQ has spent the last 30+ years trying to figure out what works to make your kitchen life easier and fun. If you can use it to slice it, dice it, cook it, smoke it or store it, he's been there checking it out. Food = Life! https://www.linkedin.com/in/jim-quast-59769011/
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Table of Contents
Our top 9 list features lots of excellent dressings. So how do you choose? Use the tips below to narrow down your choices. Consider flavors, consistency, health, and blending!
The abundance of flavors available in salad dressings offers anything you could possibly want. Decide ahead of time the flavor, or combination of flavors, that you are looking for.
Consider if you want something spicy or sweet. Are you looking for more of a kick, or perhaps something to balance bitter ingredients in your salad? For a spicier dressing, look for ingredients like chili powder, cumin, pepper, or sriracha. As for sweeter ingredients, honey, red wine vinegar, and any kind of fruit can be great additions.
Determine the level of flavor you are searching for. Sometimes, you may want a dressing that will add as much flavor as possible. Other times, you’ll want a more subtle dressing.
Occasionally, salad dressings come with an aftertaste, a lingering tang, or perhaps a slight bitterness. Ingredients like ground mustard and garlic typically add tang to the dressing, while a lot of vinegar leads to sourness.
After you’ve decided the type of flavors you want, the next component to consider is consistency. Creamier dressings will have more mayonnaise or yogurt, while lighter dressings typically have an oil and vinegar base.
For some salads, adding a dressing that is too heavy can cause it to become soggy. A lighter dressing, like vinaigrette or Caesar, is best for salads with fewer ingredients or lighter types of lettuce.
On the other hand, if a dressing is too light, it could be overpowered by the rest of the flavors in your salad. French dressing, ranch, or a creamy thousand island dressing can be a great addition to stronger salads.
If your goal is to choose the healthiest option, consider looking for dressings labeled "low-fat" rather than "fat-free" salad dressing. Some fat can actually benefit your health, slowing down the digestion process to make you feel fuller. In addition, it benefits your heart health. Meanwhile, fat-free dressings tend to be over-processed.
The healthiest salad dressings are usually simple. If you’re reading the ingredients list on the back of the bottle, the first three ingredients to look for are water, oil, and vinegar. These dressings allow you to add flavor to your salad without sacrificing your dietary goals.
Unsurprisingly, heavier, creamier dressings are higher in calories. Avoid dressings like thousand island, Buffalo ranch, and honey mustard if you desire a healthier salad dressing.
Finally, consider sodium and sugar intake. An abundance of sodium is dangerous for your heart health, while too much sugar leads to inflamed arteries and other health problems. 115 milligrams or less of sodium per serving is the healthiest option. Meanwhile, two grams of sugar or less is ideal.
The flavor, consistency, and weight of a dressing are all vital components to consider when choosing the right dressing for your lettuce.
Romaine lettuce is great with a variety of salad dressings. It typically goes well with anything but is especially good with Caesar dressing. Iceberg lettuce is a little bland, but crispy. It goes well with anything, but considering a strong, flavorful dressing can take this type of salad to the next level.
If you're making a salad with either of these types of lettuce, your options for dressings are endless. Consider the other ingredients in your salad when choosing, and look for something that will blend well with all of the flavors. Just know that you don't need to factor your lettuce into it; these are flexible lettuces!
Bibb lettuce is delicious but easily falls apart. To avoid your salad disintegrating, try a lighter dressing for this kind of lettuce, like a vinaigrette.
A lighter dressing with arugula will bring out its peppery flavor and crispness! Again, vinaigrette dressing, or even a lighter ranch dressing, will complement arugula well. Spring greens or baby leaf greens are great in a salad but tend to be soggy if you dress them too heavily. Vinegar, oil, or lemon-based dressings are perfect for this type of salad.
Spinach, especially newer leaves, tends to wilt very easily. To avoid this happening in your salad, you’ll want a lighter dressing. Vinaigrette dressings work well with spinach, but it would also be worth looking into dressings with bacon or mustard for some extra flavor.
Watercress and radicchio both benefit from salad dressings with a medium consistency. Avoid anything too light, because then it will be overpowered, or too heavy, as the greens will drown in it. Ranch, or more fatty dressings, are a great middle ground for these types of lettuce.
Frisee lettuce is a very bitter lettuce and requires a heavy, fatty dressing to balance it out. Thousand island dressings are perfect for this lettuce. Endive, like frisee, is very bitter. Thick, creamy dressings like blue cheese dressings blend very well with endive.
Dressings that are fruit-based or have a sweeter flavor are also great picks for salads with lettuces that tend to be more bitter.
Kale and Swiss chard both have very tough leaves. This can make the salad more difficult to eat. However, an acidic dressing like vinaigrette will help break them down and make them easier to eat.
Dressings that have a lot of vinegar, sodium, citrus, or oil can be some of the best dressings when enjoying a salad with kale or Swiss chard.
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Blush Wine Vinaigrette
Sweet and Tangy Salad Dressing With Red Wine Vinegar
The Original Ranch
Classic Buttermilk Ranch Dressing
Tangy Dressing for Salads and Burgers
Rich and Sweet Balsamic Vinegar and Oil
Creamy French Dressing
Bold French Salad Dressing
Creamy Deep Roasted Sesame
Soy Sauce and Sesame Dressing and Marinade
Healthy Honey Dijon Dressing
Pickled Garlic Vinaigrette
The Original Western
Sweet Western Dressing
Brianna's Blush Wine Vinaigrette is a simple, light dressing that's just right for any salad. All of Brianna's dressings are made in smaller batches, and this one is vegan and gluten-free. The flavor is a balance of tangy and sweet.
Reviews say that the dressing is subtle and not too oily while maintaining its sweet flavor. Some say it's a bit too syrupy, but that it balances perfectly with the bitterness of spinach. Customers say it is even better with additions like strawberries and walnuts!
Hidden Valley Ranch is the standard, and for a reason! This classic ranch uses a blend of buttermilk, garlic, and onions to give a fresh and addictive taste. It can be used as a dip as easily as it can be used for salads. It's also keto-friendly and gluten-free.
According to reviews, Hidden Valley is the go-to ranch for anything. It's beloved by the whole family and adds something special whether it's being used to top off a meal or for a snack. Its thick and creamy consistency makes it all the more tasty and versatile.
This tomato-based dressing is ideal for any meal or snack. It can be used on anything ranging from salads to wings to burgers and sandwiches. Its French-style flavor makes everything tastier!
Many reviewers say that this is their go-to dressing for family meals, as it's kid-friendly and can be used no matter what's being cooked in the kitchen. One said it was a bit sweet. Its adaptability and delicious flavor make this dressing stand out.
This best-selling dressing is known for its richness and ability to blend perfectly with any salad. Its taste has been described as crisp, and is a great addition to any meal. Newman's Own also donates all of their profits to charity, so it's good for your taste buds and your heart!
Although one said it's a little too oily, most reviewers say it manages to have just the right sweetness and tang and isn't heavy. They like it on salads, as a marinade for salmon or chicken, and as a dip for crusty bread.
Wish-Bone's French dressing is well-known and well-loved. This creamy blend of tomatoes, herbs, spices, and vinegar is delicious on any salad or sandwich. This classic taste is tangy and a little spicy, but sweet.
Customers say it's thick, but not so heavy that it overpowers the flavors in your salad. They recommend it with hamburgers, grilled cheese, reubens, and of course, on wedges of iceberg lettuce.
Kewpie's Roasted Sesame dressing adds a punch of flavor to your salads. This 2016 Dressing of the Year winner is kosher and non-GMO. The Japanese-style dressing is perfect for salads, pastas, and Asian dishes.
Some reviewers said it was a bit too sweet and the sesame taste was weak. Others say the dressing is creamy without being too oily and has a nice nuttiness. They like that it's both sweet and savory, and they use it for lots of different dishes, including cold noodle dishes, slaws, and potatoes.
Skinnygirl's Honey Dijon dressing is low in calories, fat-free and sugar-free, and still manages to be delicious! It's also vegan, kosher, and gluten-free. They recommend it on bitter greens to balance their flavor, as a dip or marinade.
A few reviewers thought it was too thin, but most praise the dressing for its flavor and universal use. Not only is it a tasty topping to salad, but it goes well with salmon or chicken. They say it's tart with a powerful flavor, but not overwhelming.
This apple cider vinaigrette is infused with fresh California garlic cloves, not dehydrated or dried garlic. The cloves are sorted by hand and the dressing made in small batches. The dressing works great for salads, meats, and dips. It is kosher, gluten-free, vegan, and non-GMO Project certified.
A few reviewers thought it was too sweet, even though they still loved the garlic punch. Most say the garlic adds a zest without being too overpowering. Reviewers also say that the dressing is great for healthy dishes, as it's low in calories and incredibly versatile.
This sweet and smooth Western dressing adds a unique flavor to any dish. The dressing is a blend of tomato, garlic, and onion. The tangy mixture is a variation on classic French dressing and is said to be good on tacos and taco salad.
Reviews say that the flavor is rich without being too acidic. Some mention that it works well with salads, sandwiches and even fries. They say that the flavor is both sweet and savory, which contributes to its versatility.
Dressings are just the tip of the iceberg lettuce! Consider other products that will make your salads easier to make and more delicious.
No. 1: Brianna's | Blush Wine Vinaigrette
No. 2: Hidden Valley | The Original Ranch
No. 3: Dorothy Lynch | Homestyle Dressing
No. 4: Newman's Own | Balsamic Vinaigrette
No. 5: Wish-Bone | Creamy French Dressing
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