Zingy, flavorful and so very easy to make, this Creamy Italian Dressing makes eating salads so very much fun. Made with simple ingredients and is a 1,000 times better than store bought dressings.
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Why Make Your Own Salad Dressing
One of the biggest obstacles many people have in making their own salad dressing is the concern that it will be a time consuming and messy experience. The good news with this Creamy Italian Dressing, it is actually quick and simple to make. Here are a few more reasons why you will love making your own salad dressing.
- Personalization– Like your dressing sweeter, thiner or spicer? Making your own dressing allows you to personalize to your taste preferences (see Variations section below).
- Healthier– Ever want to feel a thousand times better about making your own salad dressing? Look at the ingredient label the next time you are at the grocery store to see all the additives, preservatives and stabilizers, etc. that you are avoiding.
- Freshness– Many people do not realize how just how stale and bland many processed food items are until they make a homemade version. Salad dressings and tortillas absolutely fall into that category.
- Affordability– The beauty of this recipe is that from the ingredients, many batches can be made. Additionally, many of the ingredients you probably already have on hand.
Creamy Italian Dressing Ingredients
- Mayonnaise– Either homemade mayo or store bought may be used. If purchasing, aim for the best quality you can afford such as this mayonnaise.
- Red Wine Vinegar– Not only does red wine vinegar bring in a delicious tangy flavor, it also has some wonderful health benefits.
- Extra Virgin Olive Oil– In short, the key to finding good quality olive oil is to look for a harvest date in a dark bottle that has an estate or mill name on it.
- Garlic– Using fresh garlic in this recipe yields an incredible flavor. However, in a pinch use 3/4 teaspoon of garlic powder.
- Herbs– Oregano and basil are the herbs used in this dressing because they burst with a delicious Italian flavor. However, thyme and rosemary may also be successfully added.
- Salt & Pepper– Maldon’s Sea Salt Flakes adds a fresh and clean flavorful saltiness.
- Parmigiano Reggiano– This authentic aged Italian parmesan adds a delicious complex nuttiness to the dressing.
Fresh Herbs vs Dried
Anytime fresh herbs are available they add an amazing freshness to homemade salad dressings. Here is the substitution amounts from dried to fresh herbs.
- Oregano– Use 3 tablespoons finely diced fresh oregano for this recipe to replace the dried oregano.
- Basil– Use 2 tablespoons of fresh julienned basil for this recipe to replace the dried basil.
How To Make
It is important to note that this dressing can be made in a blender or hand shaken in a mason jar or salad dressing shaker. However, I have found whisking to be best for emulsifying the dressing with the least amount of effort.
- Add mayonnaise to a mixing bowl.
- Slowly whisk in vinegar until fully emulsified. Note: Emulsified means to combine and become a smooth texture.
- Drizzle in olive oil while whisking until emulsified.
- Add crushed garlic, herbs, salt and pepper. Whisk well.
- Grate Parmigiano Reggiano into dressing bowl. Whisk well. Note: The easiest way to grate fresh parmesan is using this rotary grater.
- Transfer to a salad dressing container and refrigerate.
Creaminess Variations– Plain Greek yogurt or sour cream may replace the mayonnaise in equal amounts. Either one of these substitutions will add a tangy creaminess to the dressing.
Spicy Kick– To add a spicy intensity to this dressing add either cayenne pepper or red chili pepper flakes. The total amount will depend on how much heat is desired. Start with 1 teaspoon and taste test. If more heat is desired work in smaller increments until desired spice level is achieved.
Vegan– To make this dressing vegan simply replace the mayonnaise and parmesan with vegan alternatives and do not add honey (see directly below).
Sweetness– Often, store bought salad dressings have sweeteners added that many people have grown accustomed to. Adding 1 tablespoon of honey or granulated sugar is a simple way to bring in sweetness.
Roasted Garlic– Many people love the taste of raw fresh garlic. However, for some the flavor can be very overwhelming. The best way to tone down the pungency of raw garlic is to roast it first before adding. Note: I show how to roast both garlic and shallots in this from-scratch Roasted Garlic Dip.
Frequently Asked Questions
Should sweetener be added?
Add sweetener to this dressing only if you prefer sweeter salad dressings. Use 1 tablespoon of honey or sugar.
How long does this dressing last and how should it be stored?
Use this salad dressing within 3-4 days stored in a container like this for ideal freshness.
Can a different vinegar be used?
Red wine vinegar adds a very distinctive taste. However, white wine vinegar, balsamic vinegar, white balsamic vinegar or lemon juice may be substituted for fun variations in flavor.
How do I adjust the consistency to be thiner?
Drizzle in a few tablespoons of either cool water or more vinegar.
Are there other ways to make this dressing creamy without using mayonnaise?
Plain Greek yogurt or sour cream may replace the mayonnaise in equal amounts. Either one of these substitutions will add tangy creaminess to the dressing.
More Delicious and Easy Homemade Salad Dressings
Creamy Italian Dressing
- 1/2 cup mayonnaise
- 1/4 cup red wine vinegar
- 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
- 2 tablespoons crushed garlic *about 5-6 large cloves
- 1 heaping tablespoon oregano *see Note #1 below
- 1 heaping tablespoon basil *see Note #2 below
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
- 1/2 cup finely shredded Parmigiano Reggiano *see Note #3 below
- Add mayonnaise to a mixing bowl. See Note #4 below.
- Slowly whisk in vinegar until fully combined with a smooth texture. Repeat with olive oil.
- Add crushed garlic, herbs, salt and pepper. Whisk well.
- Grate Parmigiano Reggiano into dressing bowl. Whisk well.
- Transfer to a salad dressing container and refrigerate. See note #5 below.