Homemade Italian dressing is a simple vinaigrette recipe to add flavor, freshness, and aroma to many salads, such as Italian pasta salads, big Italian salads, or simple side salads.
Learn how to make it in 5 minutes, with nine simple ingredients, in a small jar.
Check out our best sauce recipes.
Our homemade Italian dressing is a simple and delicious recipe perfect for dressing most types of salads.
You can use it in pasta salads, leafy salads, grain salads, legumes salads, and even as a marinade for grilled or air-fried recipes.
All you need to do to make a tasty Italian salad dressing is add good quality extra virgin olive oil to a small mason jar with the other ingredients, put the lid on, and shake the jar well to emulsify them. Or add everything to a small bowl and whisk.
Despite its name, Italian dressing is an American recipe invented around the 1940s in the United States by two Italian immigrants who were the first to make a blend of oil, vinegar, and dried herbs.
If you traveled to Italy, you'd be surprised to know that there is no such thing as Italian dressing over there.
Salads are dressed with extra virgin olive oil, vinegar (balsamic or white wine), and salt, and don't use pre-mixed vinaigrettes like is common practice in the rest of the world.
Our Italian dressing recipe is without parmesan cheese, so it's suitable for anyone, including vegans and vegetarians.
Extra Virgin Olive Oil
We think to make the best homemade Italian dressing recipe, you should use good quality extra virgin olive oil because it has a richer and fruitier flavor than other oils and because it's healthier, thanks to the high content of antioxidants.
Store-bought Italian dressing, however, is generally made with cheaper vegetable oils, so if you don't have extra virgin olive oil feel free to replace it with generic olive oil, canola oil, or sunflower oil.
You can use white wine vinegar, red wine vinegar, or apple cider vinegar, and for a sweeter and darker color dressing, you can even try balsamic vinegar.
Lemon juice adds freshness to any homemade salad dressing. If you don't have lemons at hand, you can replace them with the same quantity of vinegar.
We like to add dried oregano and dried basil. Other herbs that work well in Italian dressing are dried dill, parsley, fennel, and mint. Pick one or more. There are no fresh herbs in Italian dressing.
We use garlic powder and black pepper. If you like a spicier homemade dressing, you can add red pepper flakes or cayenne powder. If you want an oniony taste, you can add onion powder.
We use maple syrup to replace corn syrup, honey, and sugar. 100% maple syrup is great because it's a natural ingredient with a great flavor, and it's naturally vegan so anyone can have it. Agave syrup works well too.
We add salt to the dressing, so we don't have to add it to the salad. Kosher salt and sea salt are the tastiest.
Note: we don't add parmesan cheese, so the recipe is also suitable for vegans and vegetarians. We find it's best to serve freshly shaved or grated parmesan on the side and let people choose for themselves if they want to add it to their salad or not.
To a small mason jar, add extra virgin olive oil, vinegar, lemon juice, maple syrup, salt, pepper, garlic powder, dried oregano, and dried basil.
Close the lid off, and shake the jar vigorously until the ingredients emulsify.
If you don't have a jar, you can whisk the ingredients in a small bowl.
Drizzle on salads: You can use this dressing for most salads, including green salads, grain salads, pasta salads, and legumes salads. It's also great on tomatoes and cucumbers. Try pairing it with these vibrant meals:
- Rice salad with plant-based protein
- Zucchini salad with tomatoes and pine nuts
- Chickpea salad with fresh veggies
- Tofu salad with fried tofu and avocado
- Vegan couscous salad which takes just 10 minutes to make
- Eggplant salad with tender roasted eggplant
- Chickpea pasta salad packed with good protein
Brush on veggies and tofu: You can also drizzle the dressing on top of roasted veggies and tofu as a marinade:
For more salad and veggie inspiration, check out our 25 best vegetable sides, including roasted, grilled, and steamed side dishes.
Shake or whisk the ingredients shortly before serving the dressing to make sure they are emulsified (mixed).
Since this homemade Italian dressing does not contain artificial emulsifiers, the ingredients tend to separate after a while. That's completely normal; all you have to do is shake the jar or whisk them again.
If you want a dressing that stays together for longer, try adding a teaspoon of dijon mustard, a natural emulsifier.
Since there's no dairy, you can store our Italian dressing in the refrigerator for up to a week in a jar.
The ingredients will separate when stored in the fridge, and that's normal since we don't add emulsifiers. All you have to do is take it out of the refrigerator and shake it well, or whisk again. The dressing is best served at room temperature.
No, Italian dressing is an American vinaigrette made with oil, vinegar, a sweetener such as corn syrup, honey, maple syrup, and dried herbs. Check out our recipe to see how we make it at home with simple ingredients.
Italian dressing tastes fresh, herby, sweet, sour, and a little garlicky.
It's called Italian dressing because Italian immigrants in the United States invented it. So despite its name, Italian dressing is not actually Italian since it's native to the United States of America.
No. In Italy, people dress their salad with extra virgin olive oil, vinegar, and salt, directly adding them onto the salad and without pre-mixing the ingredients in a vinaigrette.
More Dressing Recipes
If you love to level up your salads with an easy dressing, take a peek at these light and vibrant dressing ideas:
- Vegan basil pesto + 9 other pesto ideas
- Green goddess dressing with fresh herbs
- Cilantro lime dressing with a zesty and tangy flavor
- Carrot ginger dressing for a vibrant orange condiment
- Italian salsa verde which goes perfectly with grilled veggies
- Mustard dressing for a great all-round dressing
For more condiment ideas, check out our dressing and sauces category page.
- ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
- 2 tablespoons vinegar any
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- 1 tablespoon maple syrup
- ½ teaspoon dried oregano
- ½ teaspoon dried basil
- ½ teaspoon garlic powder
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon black pepper
- To a small mason jar, add extra virgin olive oil, vinegar, lemon juice, maple syrup, salt, pepper, garlic powder, dried oregano, and dried basil.
- Close the lid off, and shake the jar vigorously until the ingredients emulsify.
- If you don't have a jar, you can whisk the ingredients in a small bowl.
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