Summer Eating: The Best Homemade Salad Dressings

Salads are delicious aren't they?  Let's face it though...A salad without a dressing is not going to cut it.   Plain lettuce?  Blech.  That said, despite the variety of dressings one may buy at a store, homemade dressings can be incredibly good, far better than anything you might buy.    I have a small repertoire of recipes that I use.  Given the opportunity, I'd make my own 100% of the time.  My husband however, seems to feel deprived if certain items are not bought.  That said, he's happily eaten the following salad dressings when I do make them, so I know they must be tasty or he'd completely refuse.

Blue Cheese is a classic dressing and frankly I can't even imagine having a steak dinner without a wonderfully crisp iceberg wedge salad with blue cheese dressing dolloped over the top.  This is my favorite recipe:

Blue Cheese Dressing
1 cup mayonnaise
4 ounces crumbled blue cheese *
3 tbsps. milk
2 tsps. lemon juice
2 tsp. sugar
1/4 cup Worcestershire sauce
1/4 tsp dry mustard
1/4 tsp salt

Mix all ingredients well and chill.  
* most packages of blue cheese are 5 ounces.  To save money, I have often used roughly half of the blue cheese called for and then added in a couple of tablespoons of cottage cheese (large curd is preferable) which gave the texture of blue cheese crumbles.

My Russian Dressing recipe is not what you might think.  I found the recipe years ago and when I want to make Rueben Sandwiches or prefer a Thousand Island type dressing, I choose this recipe for Russian.  Every.Single.Time.  It's that good.   

Russian Dressing
1 cup mayonnaise
2 tsps. lemon juice
1 tbsp. grated onion (juice and all)
2 tbsps. finely minced red bell pepper
2 tbsps. chili sauce 
1 tsp. paprika

Mix well.  Chill.  This is delicious spread on sandwiches (Reuben comes immediately to mind but it also does admirably on burgers or roast beef) and is exactly what is wanted on a shrimp or seafood salad of any sort.   Makes a nice accompaniment sauce to fish, as well.

Growing up I absolutely LOVED Kraft French Dressing.  Honestly it was so good I wanted to eat it on my fries as well as on salad, lol.  We needed a French dressing one day and I had none on hand.  I tried several recipes before I found one that hit nearer my 'standard'.  I think this one does admirably well.  Don't skip the paprika!  It makes all the difference in the dressing

Creamy French Tomato Dressing
1 cup mayonnaise
2 tbsp. lemon juice
2 tsp sugar
3 tbsp. tomato catsup
1 tsp paprika
1/4 tsp salt
1/8 tsp pepper

Lemon Vinaigrette
 1/2 cup olive oil
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
2 garlic cloves
1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
salt and pepper to taste

Whirl all ingredients in blender until it's fully emulsified and creamy looking.  This is especially good over a pasta salad but does equally well over a lettuce and roasted chicken salad.

True confession time: my favorite ranch dressing and Italian dressing are both dry packet mixes.  I find just about any brand does well. I do like the Aldi mixes and keep several packets of both of these on hand because I use them in cooking as much as I do to make dressings for salad.  These are my standards, my go to recipes...Do you have any salad dressing recipes that are must makes for your summer salads?


Angela said...

Hi Terri, Yum- I will be copying these! I generally make our dressings as well- they are so much tastier! And even when I don't, I stretch the store bought. Right now we have an "empty" ranch bottle I keep adding a bit of apple cider vinegar and oil to and shake. Our favorite dressing is a faux Olive Garden dressing which I have slightly altered:
1/2 c mayo
1/3 c white vinegar
1 t oil
1-2 T sugar
4 T Parm cheese
1/4 t garlic salt or 1 clove minced
1/2 t Italian seasonings
1 T lemon juice

Combine in blender to mix well.

Angela said...

Oh and just another thought... maybe everybody else knows this but I didn't until a few years ago... Put a fitting bowl over your salad and give it a good shake after you have put the dressing on. It coats the salad very well requiring far less dressing. We no longer eat salad without the "shaker bowl!"

Terri Cheney said...

Thank you for sharing Angela. That dressing sounds yummy. I don't generally dress a full bowl of salad since there's just two of us. John is the sort who prefers to drown his salad and I like just barely enough on mine...

Lana said...

Angela, Thank you for that recipe! When I order a fast food salad I add the dressing and snap the lid back on and shake. It does and wonderful job of coating the salad.

Angela said...

Oh Terri, I meant that is what we do with our individual bowls. I tend to be the drowner. : ) Welcome Lana!

susie @ persimmon moon cottage said...

Terri and Angela,
Thanks for all of the delicious salad dressing recipes. It's been years since I have made salad dressing, even from the envelope. My recipe consists of Shake bottle, Open it, drizzle it on. The recipes you use sound so much tastier!

Tammy said...

Our dressings are usually homemade, though there are a few that I have not attempted to replicate. Those are Dorothy Lynch (a Midwest brand of a kind of French dressing, I think, but yet a bit different), and Caesar. I buy Cardini's Caesar dressing which is supposedly the original version.
For Ranch, I use Heavenly Homemaker's mix recipe:
I usually use a cup of mayo, ½ cup sour cream or yogurt, and ½ cup buttermilk, then 2 TBS. of her mix. I use my hand blender to mix it, then let it sit a few hours in the frig.
For Blue Cheese I use the Maytag recipe. You can't get Maytag blue cheese currently, but it works with whatever brand I pick up. There is a restaurant in town that makes the BEST blue cheese, and this recipe is as close as I've ever come to that one.
Those are the ones we use the most, but I made a quick dijon vinaigrette for pasta recently that the kids devoured. Just a quick mix of dijon, olive oil, red wine vinegar, and salt and pepper, shaken together in a canning jar, then poured over hot pasta and al dente cooked veggies. We couldn't stop taste-testing it.

Deanna said...

Here is one I make frequently:

Becky Gepford said...

These sound wonderful. I'll have to try some. At this point, I keep buying Lighthouse, which we love, but is rather spendy.

Anonymous said...

I remember when a salad dressing made with tomato soup was popular. I dont recall my mom ever having a store bought dressing. Love the chairs. Would love one of the old vintage sets. Spent a lot of summer nights as a kid sitting on the porch with my family on a chain hung from the ceiling swing. Thanks for the nostalgia! Gramma D

Anonymous said...

That sounds like we hung on chains and swung for entertainment! It was actually a swing hung by chains from the ceiling. Gramma D

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