Recipes from Scratch: Simple Homemade Dressing

Have you ever tried making your own salad dressing? It may seem like a daunting task to make salad dressing at home, but I assure you it isn’t! By the end of this post you’ll be all set to take on a new kitchen challenge and after you make your first batch of this simple homemade salad dressing, you’ll never want to buy store-bought again!

Lemon Juice

Photos via Edible Perspective

How to make simple homemade salad dressing!

I first started making my own dressing about five or so years ago. It was around the time when I started paying more attention to the ingredients in my food. I didn’t become an obsessive label checker, but I definitely started to rid my diet (diet referring to the way I eat, not being on a diet) of food products that were highly processed with ingredient labels a million miles long.

Some of the most basic, everyday items I was buying were filled with…well, I’m not really sure. Basically, a lot of ingredients I couldn’t pronounce and probably didn’t need to be consuming.

Before this time I was never really a salad-every-day type of person. Sure, I ate salads, but I never loved them. That is until I started making my own dressings at home and also learned how to really “beef up” my salad bowl. However, the main problem was with the salad dressing. I realized I jumped around from bottle to bottle never really loving anything I bought. Then, as I started to scrutinize ingredients a bit more I noticed salad dressings were filled with way too many unnecessary ingredients. Ingredients that definitely didn’t need to be in dressing (like sugar!).

Today we’re going to make a very simple homemade dressing. You’ll need just a few ingredients you most likely already have in your kitchen and a jar for shaking. No blender needed!

Lemon Juice and Olive Oil

First we start with olive oil, which adds flavor and texture to dressings. Most store-bought dressings use canola or vegetable oil, even many of the natural and organic brands. This is because these oils are cheaper. However, it completely compromises the taste! Extra virgin olive oil will make a huge difference in the flavor of your homemade dressings, plus it’s much healthier. Win, win.

There are many other lovely dressing oils out there you can also use:

  • Avocado oil
  • Pumpkin seed oil
  • Hemp seed oil
  • Roasted walnut oil — and other nut oils
  • Sesame oil — used in small amounts, as it has a robust flavor
  • Nut butters — I love using tahini, almond butter and cashew butter along with oils to add more thickness to the dressing

Next, we need something to cut the oil because it’s too heavy to be used alone. For this, we’ll use an acid. You can use any type of acid you’d like depending on the flavor you’re after. My favorites are lemon and apple cider vinegar. But sometimes I’ll use balsamic vinegar, champagne vinegar, lime juice or a combination of a few. Lime juice is a fantastic addition if you’re making a Mexican-flared salad!

The ratio of oil to acid is up to your taste buds. I like my dressings a bit on the acidic side, so I typically go 1:1 with my oil to acid. If the acidity is too intense just add more oil!

While you could in fact stop here with a 2 ingredient dressing we’re going to add just a few more things to really liven this up and turn you into a homemade dressing believer.

  1. Salt + pepper are crucial. I always either add it to my dressing or straight on my salad.
  2. Honey or pure maple syrup. A little sweetness goes a long way but you won’t believe what it can do to the flavor.
  3. Stone ground mustard helps to emulsify and adds a bit of a zingy bite.

That’s it! Too good to be true? I think not.


Simple Lemon Dressing

The only thing left to do is shake and pour on your salad. Yep, it was that easy.


Lemon Olive Oil Salad Dressing

Recipe for simple lemon olive oil dressing

Yields about 1/2 cup


  • 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
  • 1/4 – 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon honey (or pure maple syrup)
  • 1/2 teaspoon stone ground mustard
  • salt and pepper to taste

Step 1

Place lemon juice, 1/4 cup olive oil, honey, and mustard in a jar. Seal the lid and shake until fully combined.

Step 2

Add in about 1/4 teaspoon salt + pepper. Shake again. Taste and adjust with more as needed. Drizzle on your salad or keep stored in the fridge for about 2 weeks.

Lemon Dressing With Garlic

Flavor infusions: a simple trick

If you’d like to infuse your dressing with garlic but don’t want the flavor to be overpowering here’s a simple trick! For this amount of dressing peel 1 small/medium clove of garlic. Smash the clove with your knife but don’t chop it. (It may break into a few pieces which is fine.) Add the garlic to your dressing and shake. Set it the fridge for about 30 minutes – 1 hour. Taste the dressing and see if the garlic flavor has infused to your liking. If not, let it sit longer. If it has, discard the garlic.

If you’d like the dressing to be creamier try adding 1-2 tablespoons of tahini, cashew butter or almond butter. You can lessen the oil by 1 tablespoon. Add more acid to if it’s too thick or a drizzle of water.

If you’re feeling like something a bit fresher, chop any fresh herbs you’d like and add them in. Shake and let sit and the flavors will infuse in minutes. Start with about 1-2 teaspoons for this amount of dressing and add more to your liking.

Fresh Thyme

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