The Best Salad Dressings, According to a Dietitian

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

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Best salad dressings

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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, which supports bowel movements, helps stabilize your blood sugar levels, and reduces the risk of chronic diseases, such as heart disease, diabetes, and cancer.

Drizzling your salad with salad dressings not only adds flavor and color to your vegetables but 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.

Here, the best salad dressings:

Best Overall

Tesseemae Organic Lemon Garlic Salad Dressing

4.8
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 [and] fresh and doesn't contain any added sugar." Moreover, it is low in sodium, offering 65 milligrams per serving, about 3% of many people’s daily recommended sodium intake. That may be an important factor if you are watching your salt intake.

Price at time of publication: $6

Key Specs:
Protein per Serving:
0 grams | 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- and 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.

Key Specs:
Protein per Serving:
0 grams | 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 (bad cholesterol levels), in turn decreasing the risk of heart disease.

Leah Johnston, RDN, LDN, mentions that this dressing includes authentic Italian spices, such as garlic, oregano, red pepper, and onions, adding a 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, it has 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.

Key Specs:
Protein per Serving:
0 grams | 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 Sesame Dressing

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, your 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.

Price at time of publication: $21

Key Specs:
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

Dress It Up Caesar Dressing

Pros
  • Made with olive oil

  • No water, preservatives or thickeners

  • Low sodium

  • No added sugar

Cons
  • More expensive

  • Contains parmesan cheese, so not dairy-free

A traditional Caesar dressing has three prime ingredients: anchovies, eggs, and parmesan cheese. Since not everyone eats all of these ingredients, Dress It Up has created a simpler version of the classic Caesar dressing. Unlike many other salad dressings, this brand uses 100% olive oil, a heart-healthy fat that may help reduce risk of cardiovascular disease. The sodium content is also low, making this a great option for those following a lower-sodium diet.

The brand prides itself on using locally sourced ingredients to reduce its impact on our environment. Plus, this makes for a fresher product while supporting small businesses.

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.

Price at time of publication: $19

Key Specs:
Protein per Serving:
0 grams | Fiber per Serving: 0 grams | Total Fat: 6 grams (8% Daily Value) | Saturated Fat per Serving: 1 grams (5% Daily Value) | Sodium per Serving: 55 milligrams (2% Daily Value) | Added Sugar per Serving: 0 grams | Calories per Serving: 60

Best Vinaigrette

Bragg Organic Vinaigrette Dressing and Marinade

Pros
  • Made with 100% Extra Virgin Olive Oil

  • Organic, non-GMO, gluten-free and kosher

  • Very low sodium

Cons
  • Contains 2 grams added sugar, although from honey

You may have come across the brand Bragg for their Apple Cider Vinegar, but their vinaigrette is just as popular. This certified organic, gluten-free, and vegan dressing is made with high-quality ingredients such as extra virgin olive oil, apple cider vinegar, honey, herbs, and spices.

The taste is tangy and rich in flavor, making it a great addition to any salad or dish. It's also free from preservatives and artificial colors and flavors, making it a healthier option than many others on the market.

Overall, Bragg Organic Vinaigrette is a delicious and nutritious choice for anyone looking for a tasty way to add flavor to meals.

Price at time of publication: $8

Key Specs:
Protein per Serving:
0 grams | Fiber per Serving: 0 grams | Total Fat: 7 grams (9% Daily Value) | Saturated Fat per Serving: 1 gram (5% Daily Value) | Sodium per Serving: 20 milligrams (1% Daily Value) | Added Sugar per Serving: 2 grams | Calories per Serving: 70

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.

Price at time of publication: $7

Key Specs:
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 milligrams (5% Daily Value) | Added Sugar per Serving: 0 grams | Calories per Serving: 100

Best Unique Flavor

Noble Made By The New Primal Sriracha Tahini Dressing and Marinade

Pros
  • No artificial flavors or preservatives

  • No added sugar

  • Gluten-free, dairy-free and paleo-friendly

Cons
  • Contains sesame seeds, which some people are allergic to

Noble Made Sriracha Tahini Dressing is a spicy and creamy salad dressing that is totally unique in flavor! This is a gluten-free, dairy-free, paleo-friendly dressing that is made with wholesome ingredients like tahini, coconut aminos, sriracha sauce, apple cider vinegar, and garlic.

The tahini provides a nutty, creamy flavor, while the sriracha sauce adds a spicy kick. The coconut aminos and apple cider vinegar add a touch of sweetness and tanginess, respectively, while the garlic provides a savory note. This makes this product a great option for more than just salads; you can use it on bowls or try using it as a sandwich sauce.

This line of dressings also includes other bold flavors you won't want to miss like Almond Butter Turmeric, Citrus Zest, Carrot Ginger, and Wasabi Ranch.

Price at time of publication: $9

Key Specs:
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 milligrams (10% Daily Value) | Added Sugar per Serving: 0 grams | Calories per Serving: 100

How We Selected the Best Salad Dressings

We reviewed a wide variety of salad dressings and consulted dietitians, including Sarah Anzlovar, MS, RDN, LDN, Leah Johnston, RDN, LDN, and Lara Harris, MS, RD, LD, 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 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 marinate 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 whether 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 will know what you will be consuming.

Added Sodium

Salt or sodium enhances the salad dressing's 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 Sugars

Salad dressings may be a source of hidden added sugars, so you may prefer to choose salad dressings with minimal added sugars, which 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.

Allergens

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

Price

Depending on your budget, the 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 can be a way to 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. One of the key ingredients in salad dressings is vinegar. Non-distilled vinegars, 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, or wine vinegar. 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 whether 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 one 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 and simpler ingredients, so you can better understand what each of them is and how each may impact your body.

10 Sources
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