This Quick & Easy Italian Dressing Recipe (Dairy-Free) is zesty and full of flavor. Perfect on a big salad, pasta salad, or use it as a marinade on chicken, fish, pork, or steak. Made with a few ingredients and is ready in 5 minutes!
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Why you'll love this homemade Italian dressing:
- So fast: This Italian dressing comes together in just a few minutes!
- Pantry ingredients: I'm pretty sure you have all you need on hand to make this easy Italian dressing.
- Budget friendly: Making your own dressing costs much less than a store-bought version and is 1000x better!
- Versatile: You could use this dressing on salads, coleslaw, marinade, and even in dips!
- Why you'll love this homemade Italian dressing:
- What are the ingredients in Italian dressing?
- How to make homemade Italian dressing?
- Expert tips for basic Italian salad dressing recipe:
- Variations for dairy-free Italian dressing:
- What to serve with dairy free Italian dressing?
- How to store Italian salad dressing:
- Some other recipes to enjoy:
- Quick & Easy Italian Dressing Recipe (Dairy-Free)
A homemade Italian Dressing is so fresh and truly is tastes so much better than a store-bought. Making your own salad dressing means it is all natural and free of any additives, and it's less expensive! This delicious salad dressing is naturally gluten-free, dairy-free, and sugar-free (it's made with a touch of honey than can be omitted).
I am a huge fan of making my own salad dressings. If you've never made one for yourself, this is a great recipe to start out with! There is so much versatility in making your own dressing. There are some good quality store-bought dressings out there, but they're expensive, and once you make your own, you'll probably not buy another one! From scratch dressings are fresh and whip up so quickly!
Mason jars are such a handy kitchen tool to make recipes like this Italian Dressing Recipe. Seal the jar tightly, and give all the ingredients some vigorous shake. Since they are airtight, once it's sealed, there should be no spills. You can use a mason jar even to store leftover smoothies, soup, sauces, jams, and so many other things!
The really great thing about making it in the mason jar is you can serve it right out of the jar. Double the recipe to have extra and store the leftovers in the refrigerator. Shake it in a mason jar, blend in a blender, or whisk it together in a bowl.
You will want to add this magical dressing to everything! It is excellent poured right on a nice green leafy salad, sliced tomatoes, grilled vegetables, or even use it as a bread dip!
Grab a mason jar and make this today! Let's get onto this recipe!
What are the ingredients in Italian dressing?
There is a touch of sweetener in this recipe with one teaspoon of honey, to balance the tanginess from the vinegar and Dijon mustard. Feel free to leave it out if you would like it totally sweetener free!
- Extra-Virgin Olive oil: provides a base for the dressing and adds healthy fats.
- Balsamic vinegar or red wine vinegar: adds tanginess and acidity to balance out the flavors.
- Dijon mustard: acts as an emulsifier to help prevent separation of the ingredients.
- Sea salt: enhances the flavors and balances out the sweetness.
- Freshly ground black pepper: adds a subtle heat and depth of flavor.
- Honey or maple syrup: adds a touch of sweetness to balance out the acidity from the vinegar. Can be omitted for a sugar-free option.
- Minced garlic: adds a savory, aromatic element to the dressing.
How to make homemade Italian dressing?
But would you believe that making your own from-scratch Italian Dressing recipe is just about as effortless?! Sure, there are a few additional ingredients involved beyond a packet of dry seasonings. But it still only takes a matter of minutes to whip up a fresh batch:
Step 1: Add oil to the jar and next add in the balsamic vinegar.
Step 2 + 3: Add in the mustard.
Step 4: Add in the garlic.
Step 5: Add in the honey, if using.
Step 6: Close the lid on the jar and shake it all together. If you're using a blender, add all ingredients to the blender. Close with lid and blend. Or add ingredients to a bowl and whisk together.
You can customize the dressing to your own tastes, tweak the dressing by adding spices as you see fit.
Look how gorgeous it is when it's tossed with our super easy to make Insalata Mista!
Expert tips for basic Italian salad dressing recipe:
- Use good quality olive oil for the best flavor in this dressing.
- If you don't have balsamic or red wine vinegar, you can use apple cider vinegar as a substitute.
- For a thicker consistency, you can add 1/4 cup of mayonnaise to the dressing.
- Make sure to shake or stir the dressing before each use to ensure the ingredients are well combined. Bring to room temperature after storing in the fridge so it's easier to shake.
- Use this dressing as a marinade for chicken, fish, or vegetables. Simply marinate for 30 minutes to an hour before cooking.
- If you like it a little sweeter, increase the amount of honey or maple syrup in the recipe.
- Use agave nectar instead of honey to keep the dressing vegan.
- You can add a teaspoon of dried herbs like oregano or basil to give this dressing even more flavor.
- Store the dressing in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 2 days. After that, it may start to lose its flavor and freshness from the fresh garlic. If you use powdered garlic, it will stay fresh for up to 2 weeks.
- Feel free to adjust the amount of oil in the recipe based on your personal preference.
Variations for dairy-free Italian dressing:
- Red Wine Vinegar Dressing: Substitute the aged balsamic vinegar with red wine vinegar.
- Spicy Italian Dressing: Turn up the heat by adding crushed red pepper flakes to the dressing.
- Lemon Italian Dressing: Substitute the balsamic vinegar for freshly squeezed lemon juice.
- Creamy Italian Dressing: Make it creamy by reducing the olive oil and whisking in mayonnaise and some Greek yogurt or sour cream, and a pinch of salt.
- Roasted Garlic Italian Dressing: Add in some roasted garlic cloves that are chopped up in place of the minced raw garlic for a different flavor profile.
- Fresh Herb Italian Dressing: Add some fresh herbs like basil, thyme, oregano, rosemary, or tarragon. You'll be making a really flavorful herb infused dressing. Stays fresh just 2 days in the fridge.
What to serve with dairy free Italian dressing?
Of course the number 1 way to use this dressing will be on a nice and big salad. But Homemade Italian Dressing has such a great tangy flavor that will transform even the most basic dish. Here are some ways to use this Homemade Italian dressing:
- Insalata Mista>>>A classic Italian mixed salad and this dressing is utter perfection!
- Tomato and Cucumber Salad>>> This salad takes just a few minutes to make and the dressing is so perfect with it!
- Easy Mediterranean Chopped Salad>>>Made with cucumber, tomatoes, red onions, Kalamata olives, and ready in 15 minutes!
- Pasta Salad>>>A pasta salad made with your favorite antipasto ingredients.
- Dip>>>Makes the most incredible dairy-free dip for vegetables.
- Marinade>>>A really simple and flavorful marinade for chicken, fish, pork, fish, steak, and vegetables.
- Coleslaw>>> Use it on any homemade coleslaw, but you should definitely try it with our broccoli slaw!
- Dips>>>Make a dip by adding it into sour cream, cream cheese, softened butter, or sour cream. Makes a great dip or spread.
How to store Italian salad dressing:
Refrigerate: Store the dressing in the refrigerator in a tightly sealed mason jar or an airtight container. It will separate in the fridge, so let it come to room temperature before using. Give the jar a very good shake to combine it again or put it in a bowl and whisk it to combine. Best used within 3 days.
If you leave out the fresh garlic, this would keep in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks tightly sealed in a jar or airtight container.
Store-bought dressings do not typically use a good quality oil. Since you're making this homemade version, you can use a very good quality extra-virgin olive oil. The flavor will surpass any other oil. If you don't have any on hand, go ahead and use use mild-flavored oils like regular olive oil, extra light olive oil, canola or vegetable oil..
Adding a touch of honey, maple syrup or sugar in an oil and vinegar dressing only helps to balance out the acidity of the vinegar. If you are sugar-free or do not want any sweetener in it, go ahead and omit.
This homemade Italian dressing definitely could be a healthier option to some store-bought salad dressings. Italian dressing is usually made with olive oil, which contains monounsaturated fats that are healthy for your heart and vinegar, which also has health benefits.
Store-bought Italian dressing will have ingredients you probably can't even pronounce. Homemade Italian dressing will have olive oil, vinegar, seasoning, sometimes Parmesan cheese.
Many Italian dressings you find in stores will have cheese. Store-bought Italian dressings could have Romano or Parmesan cheese.
If you used fresh garlic and fresh herbs, it should stay fresh for 2-3 days. If you made an Italian dressing without fresh herbs and garlic, and used powdered garlic and dry herbs, it will last 2-3 weeks.
Vinaigrette: A vinaigrette is made by combining the same ration of fresh citrus juice and oil with salt and pepper. They are fresher and lighter in flavor than a an Italian dressing.
Italian dressing: An Italian dressing is made with oil, vinegar, seasonings, herbs (fresh or dried)and sometimes Parmesan cheese. It's got a lot more flavor than a simple vinaigrette from all the additional ingredients.
If your dressing firmed up it's because the oil and vinegar emulsified. Emulsification can cause the dressing to become thicker and firm up. To loosen the oil and vinegar up that has emulsified, let it come to room temperature and then vigorously shake it. Or place it in a jar and whisk it together.
In Italy they don't have an "Italian dressing" for salads. It's an Italian American recipe that uses flavors you'll find in a lot of Italian American dishes like olive oil, garlic, and sometimes herbs like basil, oregano, and thyme. Italians will dress a salad with extra-virgin olive oil, vinegar, salt and sometimes some freshly squeezed lemon juice. My Calabrian mother-in-law uses lots of her own dried oregano on tomato salads.
Some other recipes to enjoy:
- Italian Mixed Salad
- Sicilian Fennel and Orange Sala
- Quick and Easy Italian Tomato Salad
- Panzanella-Tuscan Tomato and Bread Salad
Quick & Easy Italian Dressing Recipe (Dairy-Free)
- ¾ cup good quality olive oil
- ¼ cup balsamic vinegar or red wine vinegar
- 1 tsp Dijon mustard
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1 teaspoon honey or maple syrup omit sweetener if you're sugar-free
- 1 clove minced garlic
- Make dressing: Add all ingredients to a jar, place the lid on the jar, and give it a good shake! You could also blend the ingredients in a blender, or place the ingredients in a bowl and whisk well together. Serve immediately or store in the refrigerator.
- Serve on your favorite salad and enjoy!
- Bring to room temperature: Just like with all vinegar based dressing you'll need to shake it up again before pouring to eliminate separation. Best to let it come to room temperature after stored in the refrigerator.
Please keep in mind that the nutritional information presented below is an approximation and may vary depending on the exact ingredients used.
- This dressing will last 2 days in the fridge. If you omit the fresh garlic and use powdered garlic in its place, the dressing will last even 2 weeks.
- You can use sugar in place of honey. Both honey and dijon mustard are emulsifiers meaning they will keep the mixture from separating.
- Slowly drizzle the oil to add to the dressing, the better it will combine.
- You could add grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese but it will cause the dressing to separate. Best to add to the salad and not into the dressing.
- Nutrition information is based on 2 tablespoons of Italian dressing.