The Salad Dressing Formula

Margaret Floyd is a Nutritional Therapy Practitioner based in Los Angeles, CA, who helps clients transition from their current diet to a “naked” (read: unprocessed) diet to help them resolve all sorts of health and weight issues.  She wrote Eat Naked: Unprocessed, Unpolluted, and Undressed Eating for a Healthier, Sexier You, a great guide to eating unprocessed foods. Her follow-up, The Naked Foods Cookbook, co-authored with Chef James Barry, is due to come out in May, 2012.  Margaret blogs at Eat Naked Now, and you can also find her on Facebook and Twitter.

Salad Dressing Formula

Imagine this: You sit down to lunch over a big heaping bowl of salad. Every color in the rainbow is represented, all your favorite goodies from sun-dried tomatoes, some artichoke hearts, maybe an olive or two. Tender greens, fresh herbs, juicy tomatoes. Maybe some leftover wild salmon from last night’s dinner.

Your mouth is watering as you tuck into your delicious, unprocessed lunch and you reach for the bottle of salad dressing.

Just as you’re about to pour, you remember it’s October Unprocessed and maybe you better check out that ingredients. You’re pretty confident it’s got only the good stuff because after all, it’s screaming its health benefits from the label. Low fat! Low sodium! Organic!

What a disappointment to find the list filled with artificial crap you can’t pronounce.

It’s sad but true. I’ve seen many gorgeous, nutritious, absolutely amazing salads get destroyed by this stuff.

Salad dressing. It sounds so healthy and innocuous, and yet it’s one of the places so many un-naked and over-processed ingredients sneak into the lives of even the most well-intentioned real food lover. Even – and perhaps most deviously so — in those dressings that advertise all their health benefits. Additives, preservatives, low-quality (rancid!) oils, flavor enhancers, emulsifiers, colorings, excessive amounts of salt, and of course, sugar (or worse: artificial sweeteners).

The bad news is that 99% of commercial salad dressings out there have this problem. The good news is that making your own is ridiculously simple.

Here’s the formula:

  • 3 parts high-quality oil – extra virgin olive oil, hemp seed oil, flax seed oil, pumpkin seed oil – get creative! Think outside the olive oil box.
  • 1 part something acidic – vinegar, lemon, lime
  • A dash of salt and fresh ground pepper
  • Some fresh or dried herbs if you’re feeling fancy

Combine all ingredients in a mason jar and give it a big old shake. That’s it. You’re done! Keep it in the fridge for the week and use it when you need to.

You can experiment with different oil and vinegar combinations. Here are some of my favorites:

  • Flax seed oil and lemon, with a pinch of ground mustard seed
  • Hemp seed oil with apple cider vinegar, and a sprinkling of fresh thyme
  • The classic Italian extra virgin olive oil and balsamic vinegar, with some oregano, basil and garlic
  • For something a little more Asian, try sesame oil (unrefined) with lime, and stir in some peanut butter and a dash of tamari
A photo of Andrew Wilder leaning into the frame and smiling, hovering over mixing bowls in the kitchen.

Welcome to Eating Rules!

Hi! My name is Andrew Wilder, and I think healthy eating doesn’t have to suck. With just three simple eating rules, we'll kickstart your journey into the delicious and vibrant world of unprocessed food.

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October 8, 2011 9:19 am

I love making homemade salad dressing. I can’t believe it took me so long to try it since it is so simple. I make homemade blue cheese, cilantro vinaigrette, and sun-dried tomato vinaigrette but now I can branch out and try more using those ratios.

October 7, 2011 7:46 pm

Thick kefir mixed with herbs and garlic is yummy.

Tt in nyc
October 7, 2011 4:59 pm

I actually love creamy dressings and will often use hummus thinned with a bit of unsweetened almond milk, basalmic, and handful of cilantro or fresh herbs. Or sub a bit of greek yogurt and mix with the basalmic and salt and pepper. Creamy without the crap.

October 7, 2011 5:23 am

We’ve been making our own salad dressing for a little while now, and we are loving it. We use very little oil. Here are the rest of the ingredients:

White balsamic vinegar
fresh minced garlic (1-2 cloves)
ground mustard
dash salt & fresh ground pepper

October 7, 2011 12:31 am

I like to reduce the oil, and partially substitute it with honey:
1 part honey
3 parts vinegar
1 to 2 parts oil
some mustard
salt, pepper, herbs

It makes the whole dressing less acid.

Ellen T
Reply to  Ellen
October 7, 2011 5:51 am

Good idea, Ellen. I like my dressings a little sweeter, so Im going to try using a little honey. Thanks, from another Ellen.

October 6, 2011 8:48 pm

And if you’re as lazy as I am, you can skip the jar and just drizzle the oil and then the vinegar directly on the salad and toss it. Salt and pepper to taste.

Dominique Cortara
Reply to  theseven
October 10, 2011 12:04 pm

that’s how they do it in Italy : )

October 6, 2011 6:04 pm

I consider mustard a required ingredient as well because it makes the oil and vinegar mix together so much better.

October 6, 2011 5:44 pm

This is one of my favorite subjects, in fact I have a post on making salad dressings on an upcoming Simple Saturday. You did a really good job of breaking it down. At my house, I’m always throwing these together with what ever I have left sauce wise, acid, etc… it’s so fun. Great post 😀

October 6, 2011 5:40 pm

Once you start making your own vinaigrette, the store bought ones are disgusting. So easy, so economical, so versatile. Great advice to share!

October 6, 2011 3:37 pm

Thanks so much for this post. Salad dressing was one of the big obstacles I had while shopping for this month!