The Best Salad Dressings, According to a Dietitian

Tessemae’s Lemon Garlic Salad Dressing has great ingredients and versatility

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Finding the right salad dressing can be key to helping you add flavor to vegetables. Whether you use salad dressing to mix in a salad, marinate veggies for the grill, or drizzle over cooked dishes, a tasty dressing can help you include more vegetables in your diet. Increasing your vegetable consumption helps you get a range of essential nutrients, supports bowel movements, helps stabilize your blood sugar levels, and reduces the risk of chronic diseases such as heart diseases, diabetes, and cancer.

Reviewed & Approved

Our top pick is Tessemae’s Organic Lemon Garlic Salad Dressing since it’s made from simple ingredients, is free from added sugar, and it can also be used as a marinade. We also love Momo Dressing Ginger Flavor which uses traditional Japanese ingredients combined with whole foods to create a dressing that complements a wide range of dishes.

Drizzling your salad with salad dressings not only adds flavor and color to your vegetables, but dressing may also add additional nutritional value, such as healthy fats, which help provide energy, support vitamin absorption, and are essential for other processes in the body. 

When looking for a new salad dressing to try, consider flavor, ingredients and nutritional profile, and what you are using the salad dressing for. In order to find the best salad dressings, our dietitian researched dozens of options and received recommendations from well-respected dietitians with culinary expertise.

In This Article

Best Overall: Tesseemae Organic Lemon Garlic Salad Dressing

Tessemae's Organic Lemon Garlic Dressing

Tessemae's

Pros
  • Organic, non-GMO

  • No added sugar

  • Dairy and gluten-free

  • Kosher

Cons
  • Contains mustard seeds which some people are allergic to

Tessemae's organic lemon garlic takes our top pick because it’s made with six simple ingredients—sunflower oil, lemon juice, extra virgin olive oil, mustard seeds, sea salt, and garlic oil. It serves as both a dressing and marinade—pairing well with salads, poultry, and fish. If you top this Mediterranean chopped salad with this lemon garlic dressing, you can make preparation super simple and skip the dressing-making step of the recipe entirely. 

Culinary dietitian Sarah Anzlovar, MS, RDN, LDN says, "It is light, fresh and doesn't contain any added sugar." Moreover, it is low in sodium, offering 65 milligrams per serving, about three percent of many people’s daily recommended sodium intake—this may be an important factor if you are watching your salt intake.

Protein per serving: 0 gram | Fiber per serving: 0 grams | Total Fat: 9 grams (12% Daily Value) | Saturated fat per serving: 0.5 grams (3% Daily Value) | Sodium per serving: 65 milligrams (3% Daily Value) | Added Sugar per serving: 0 gram | Calories per serving: 80

Best Dairy-Free Ranch Dressing: The New Primal Classic Ranch Dressing

Classic Ranch

The New Primal

Pros
  • Made with avocado oil

  • No artificial preservatives, colors, or flavors

  • Gluten-free & dairy-free

  • No added sugar

Cons
  • Not vegan (contains egg whites)

  • Contains coconut, a potential allergen

  • Contains 280 milligrams of sodium per serving

Dairy-free and craving ranch dressing? We’ve got you covered. Recipe and meal planning expert Lara Harris, MS, RD, LD recommends The New Primal Classic Ranch Dressing. According to Harris, some salad dressings have a long list of ingredients, and many do not resemble food you would recognize. She recommends choosing a dressing “where you recognize most or all of the ingredients as whole foods or spices versus fillers, thickeners or something made in the lab!”

The base of a typical ranch dressing contains sour cream and buttermilk, so it’s rich in dairy. The New Primal Classic Ranch Dressing uses a creative approach to dairy-free cooking, using avocado oil, pineapple juice, coconut milk and egg whites to create the base. 

While many ranch dressings are seasoned using ambiguous natural (and artificial) flavors, this one is seasoned with garlic powder, onion powder, black pepper, and dill weed. Instead of using fillers, it uses tapioca starch as a thickener. This option contains 280 milligrams of sodium per serving which adds flavor but may not be ideal if you are watching your salt intake.

Protein per serving: 0 gram | Fiber per serving: 0 grams | Total Fat: 11 grams (15% Daily Value) | Saturated fat per serving: 2 grams (9% Daily Value) | Sodium per serving: 280 milligrams (12% Daily Value) | Added Sugar per serving: 0 grams | Calories per serving: 100

Best Italian Dressing: Newman's Own Avocado Oil Italian Dressing

Newman's Own

Newman's Own

Pros
  • Gluten-free

  • No added sugar

  • Company donates 100% of profits

Cons
  • Not vegan (contains eggs and milk)

  • Contains 270 milligrams of sodium per serving

Newman’s Own Avocado Oil ranks as one of the best dressings because it uses avocado oil and extra virgin olive oil—two nutritious oils that are not found in many Italian dressings on the market. Avocado oil and olive oil include unsaturated fats that may reduce the LDL or bad cholesterol levels, in turn decreasing the risk of heart disease.

Leah Johnston, RDN, LDN mentions that this dressing includes authentic Italian spices including garlic, oregano, red pepper and onions, adding the depth of flavor. Try it on top of this chicken, bacon, and apple chopped salad.

 As an added bonus, Newman’s Own is dedicated to donating 100% of company profits to organizations that support children facing adversity—since 1982 they have donated over $570 million. Keep in mind that this option contains 270 milligrams of sodium per serving, which may not be preferable if you are watching your salt intake.

Protein per serving: 0 gram | Fiber per serving: 0 grams | Saturated fat per serving: 1 gram | Sodium per serving: 270 milligrams (12% Daily Value) | Added Sugar per serving: 0 grams | Calories per serving: 50

Best Dressing and Marinade: Trader Joe's Organic Toasted Sesame Dressing

Trader Joe's Sesame Dressing

Amazon

Pros
  • Organic, non-GMO, Kosher

  • Dairy and gluten-free

  • Versatile

Cons
  • Contains mustard and sesame which some people are allergic to

  • Contains a small amount of added sugar

Trader Joe’s Organic Toasted Sesame Dressing offers a blend of umami and sweetness. Umami refers to the savory or “meaty” flavor of certain foods, such as mushrooms, beef, soy sauce, and cheese. When umami is present, our perception of sweetness, sourness and bitterness may change. Trader Joe’s ensures a rich sesame flavor by using three forms of sesame—roasted sesame seeds, whole black sesame seeds, and sesame oil. 

This dressing has other uses beyond the typical salads and slaws. It pairs well with protein like chicken, fish, and tofu, making it a perfect marinade. It could also be used as a dipping sauce for roasted vegetables or you can drizzle it over pasta salads. Save time on preparing this chopped salad with garlic-ginger chicken recipe by using this dressing to marinate the chicken and as the dressing for the salad.

Protein per serving: less than 1 gram | Fiber per serving: 0 grams | Total Fat: 13 grams (17% Daily Value) | Saturated fat per serving: 1.5 grams (8% Daily Value) | Sodium per serving: 200 milligrams (9% Daily Value) | Added Sugar per serving: 3 grams (6% Daily Value) | Calories per serving: 130

Best Caesar Dressing: Primal Kitchen Caesar Dressing

Primal Kitchen Caesar Dressing

Primal Kitchen

Pros
  • Made with avocado oil

  • Dairy, sugar,  soy and gluten-free

Cons
  • Not vegan (contains eggs)

  • Contains coconut

A traditional Caesar dressing has three prime ingredients: anchovies, eggs, and parmesan cheese. Since not everyone eats all of these ingredients, Primal Kitchen has created a Caesar dressing that is dairy and fish-free. Not only that, it is also gluten and soy-free, making this dressing a great option for a variety of dietary restrictions. The brand prides itself on using primarily organic ingredients. This dressing is versatile, but we especially love it with a homemade chicken caesar salad—with this dressing on hand you can make the preparation even simpler.

Protein per serving: 0 gram | Fiber per serving: 0 grams | Total Fat: 14 grams (18% Daily Value) | Saturated fat per serving: 1.5 grams (8% Daily Value) | Sodium per serving: 210 milligrams (9% Daily Value) | Added Sugar per serving: 0 gram | Calories per serving: 130

Best Vinaigrette: Whole 30 ElderBerry Vinaigrette

Elderberry Vinaigrette Dressing & Marinade

Whole 30

Pros
  • Made with sunflower oil

  • Dairy, soy and gluten-free

  • No vegetable gums, fillers, or artificial flavors

Cons
  • Contains eggs (not vegan)

  • Contains mustard, which some people are allergic to

Many raspberry vinaigrettes are overly sweet, which is why we like how well the Whole 30 Elderberry Vinaigrette balances the sweet and the savory. Unlike other brands that may use corn syrup, sugar, or honey to sweeten a tart fruit-flavored dressing, Whole 30 uses pineapple juice concentrate to balance the earthiness and tartness of elderberries.

The combination of elderberry and pineapple juice concentrates also tone down the sourness that a vinaigrette offers. We like how the dressing’s deep magenta color brightens up salads. It is light, sweet and tangy and also pairs well with meat, vegetables and slaws. To top it off, it offers a simple, minimally processed ingredient deck.

Protein per serving: 0 gram | Fiber per serving: 0 grams | Total Fat: 11 grams (14% Daily Value) | Saturated fat per serving: 1 gram (5% Daily Value) | Sodium per serving: 240 miligrams (10% Daily Value) | Added Sugar per serving: 0-1 grams | Calories per serving: 100

Best Balsamic Dressing: Primal Kitchen Balsamic Vinaigrette

Primal Kitchen Balsamic

Primal Kitchen

Pros
  • Made with avocado oil

  • Dairy, sugar, soy, and gluten-free

  • No artificial flavors

  • No added sugar

Cons
  • Expensive for a dressing that’s easy to make

Primal Kitchen Balsamic Vinaigrette is a gem in the balsamic vinaigrette category. This balsamic vinaigrette offers a relatively short list of simple ingredients—avocado oil, balsamic vinegar, lemon juice concentrate and konjac root as a thickener. Konjac root is a root vegetable that is commonly grown in some parts of Asia and is best known for its soluble fiber, glucomannan. However, this dressing uses a small amount of konjac root and does not include any of the soluble fiber. 

Johnston notes that this dressing is unique in comparison with other store-bought balsamic vinaigrette options. “No added sugar is also a rare find in quality balsamic vinaigrette, and Primal Kitchen delivers one that does not lack in flavor.” You might enjoy using this dressing to mix into salads and also to marinate vegetables or chicken breasts.

Protein per serving: 0 gram | Fiber per serving: 0 grams | Total Fat: 11 grams (14% Daily Value) | Saturated fat per serving: 1.5 grams (8% Daily Value) | Sodium per serving: 125 miligrams (5% Daily Value) | Added Sugar per serving: 0 grams | Calories per serving: 100

Best Unique Flavor: Momo Dressing Ginger Flavor

Momo dressing

Amazon

Pros
  • Dairy-free

  • No added sugar

  • Made in small batches using ingredients sourced from local farms

Cons
  • Contains soy, which some people are allergic to

Hailing from Brooklyn, Momo Dressing was first introduced in the farmer's markets of New York state by Masaki and Yukimi Momose, a couple who wanted to explore and share their Japanese cuisine. Using ingredients from local farms, each bottle is prepared and handled manually and locally, with the brand making small batches weekly for quality and freshness. 

What makes this dressing unique is its use of traditional Japanese ingredients—rice vinegar and white miso—combined with whole foods, such as carrots and apples, to create a dressing that complements a wide range of both Japanese and non-Japanese dishes. Abbie Gellman, MS, RD, CDN recommends this dressing and applauds its versatility. She says, "The unique flavors of Momo Ginger Dressing also make a perfect marinade."

Protein per serving: 1 gram | Fiber per serving: 0 grams | Total Fat: 6 grams (8% Daily Value) | Saturated fat per serving: 0 gram (0% Daily Value) | Sodium per serving: 220 miligrams (10% Daily Value) | Added Sugar per serving: 0 grams | Calories per serving: 100

Final Verdict

Our top pick is Tessemae’s Organic Lemon Garlic Salad Dressing since it’s made from simple ingredients, is free from added sugar, and it can also be used as a marinade. We also love Momo Dressing Ginger Flavor which uses traditional Japanese ingredients combined with whole foods to create a dressing that complements a wide range of dishes.

How We Selected the Best Salad Dressings

We reviewed a wide variety of salad dressings and consulted dietitians with culinary expertise to learn which dressings they use and recommend to their clients. Our registered dietitian reviewed the nutritional information for each product during the selection process. We also considered other factors, including the types of ingredients, sodium content, added sugar content, flavor, versatility and price.

What to Look For in Salad Dressings

Flavor Profile

Flavor matters when choosing a salad dressing. Some dressings are savory, while others offer sweet and slightly sour notes. The flavor profile also dictates how you use the dressing—you may use a savory dressing to marinade meats and a sweeter dressing to balance the earthiness of leafy greens.

Ingredients

The ingredients included in the salad dressing will also help you decide if it is a good option. By reading the ingredient list, you can identify what ingredients are used—the type of oil used, whether there is added sodium, added sugar, and more. Ingredients are listed in the order of weight—there is the most, by weight, of the first ingredient, and the least, by weight, of the last ingredient. You may consider choosing a salad dressing with recognizable ingredients, so you know what you will be consuming.

Added Sodium

Salt or sodium enhances the salad dressing flavor. For some people, eating too much food with added sodium may increase the risk of high blood pressure and heart disease (5). Some salad dressings may use yeast extract instead of table salt, which is also high in sodium. If you are watching your salt intake, read the percent daily value (%DV) on the nutrition facts and look for a salad dressing with the smallest value.

Added Sugar

Salad dressings may be a source of hidden added sugars, so you may prefer to choose salad dressings with minimal added sugars. Added sugar can contribute excess calories without adding nutritional benefits.

You can always refer to the ingredients list to find where the sweetness comes from. Some dressings may be sweetened using 100% fruit juice, which is not considered a form of added sugar, and the nutrition facts may display ‘0 grams of added sugar.’

If you are watching your blood sugar, please keep in mind that carbohydrates, including both added sugar and sugar from ingredients like fruit juice, impact blood sugar levels, so it is important to consider the entire carbohydrates section of the label.

Allergens

Reading the ingredients list and noting if the salad dressing is manufactured in an allergen-free facility is essential when you are allergic or sensitive to a specific food. 

Price

Depending on your budget, price may be a factor to consider when choosing salad dressings. Many options are priced in the mid-range, and some offer a subscription which is one way to potentially save money. You may consider participating in a subscription when you are confident that you want to have that specific dressing as one of your kitchen staples.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Is salad dressing gluten-free?

    Some salad dressings are gluten-free, while others aren’t. One of the key ingredients in salad dressings is vinegar. Non-distilled vinegar, such as those made with barley, malt, wheat and rye, are not gluten-free, whereas gluten is not found in apple cider vinegar, balsamic vinegar and wine vinegar. Additionally, since soy sauce is typically made using wheat, dressing that contains soy sauce must be made with a gluten-free soy sauce or tamari in order to be gluten-free. 

     In addition to reading the ingredient list, check if the product is certified gluten-free with the seal of approval from one of the three certification organizations. We have also compiled a list of gluten-free salad dressings for your reference.

  • Does salad dressing go bad?

    Yes, salad dressing can go bad. Some dressings are shelf-stable in the pantry for somewhere between six and twelve months. Once a dressing is opened, most companies recommend keeping it in the refrigerator—where it will last from three to four weeks for creamy salad dressings to four weeks for vinaigrettes and up to three months for commercially bottled salad dressings. Always check the manufacturer’s instructions as some recommend keeping the dressing refrigerated before opening.

     Homemade salad dressing has a shorter shelf life—up to two weeks in the fridge. Homemade vinaigrette, on the other hand, can be stored for up to three weeks, according to the USDA FoodKeeperapp.

  • How do I make my own salad dressing?

    Salad dressing usually includes these essential ingredients: oil or fat such as yogurt or mayonnaise, an acid such as vinegar or lemon juice, and herbs and spices. The salad dressing combinations are endless—try making your own dressing with one of these recipes.

  • What is the healthiest salad dressing?

    This depends on your individual body and health goals. You may want to choose an oil-based salad dressing, such as those with olive oil, nut oil, avocado oil, or canola oil, because these mostly unsaturated fats are considered to be heart-healthy. Take note of ingredients such as added sugar if you are watching your sugar intake and sour cream if you are watching your saturated fat intake. 

    If you have high blood pressure or are salt-sensitive, you may want to prioritize lower sodium dressing options. It may also be beneficial to choose dressings with fewer, simpler ingredients, so you can better understand what each of them is and how it may impact your body.

9 Sources
Verywell Fit uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
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By Novella Lui RD, MHSc
Novella is a registered dietitian with a focus in nutrition communications.