10 of the best salad dressings to make or buy, according to chefs

Homemade vinaigrette.

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Homemade vinaigrette.
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Shutterstock/istetiana

  • Although fresh ingredients are the fundamentals of any good salad, tasty dressing is also a welcome addition.
  • While buying salad dressing at the supermarket is easy, you can also make it at home with common ingredients.
  • We had expert chefs recommend seven DIY salad dressings, and three brands you can buy at the store.
  • Plus, one chef gave us a bonus idea to marinate meats with salad dressing, too.
  • Visit INSIDER’s homepage for more stories.

It’s easy to just pick up a bottle of Italian or ranch dressing at the supermarket, but expert chefs agree that there are amazing DIY dressings out there to try.

To help you dress up your salads in style, we consulted eight chefs about all their favorite homemade and store-bought dressings they absolutely swear by.

From vinaigrettes to an amazing ranch dupe, below are 10 dressings these chefs absolutely swear by.


Try making tahini Caesar salad dressing.

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Chef Leigh Hyatt Anderson recommends a tahini Caesar salad dressing.
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Shutterstock/vanillaechoes

“My clients love tahini Caesar salad dressing, as it’s creamy and is packed with flavor,” private chef and food blogger Leigh Hyatt Anderson told INSIDER.

She added that it’s a great option for people who want to make Caesar salad at home, but don’t feel comfortable using raw egg yolk.


Try making a lighter alternative to ranch dressing with ingredients like Greek yogurt.

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Certified Master Chef Rich Rosendale recommends a healthier version of ranch.
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Shutterstock/5PH

“Of course we love to eat our veggies and salads with store-bought ranch dressing, but we know – more than likely – that they are loaded with fat and calories,” Rich Rosendale, a certified master chef and the founder of Rosendale Events, told us.

“Instead, I suggest making a healthy version at home, which uses ingredients like Greek yogurt, low-fat buttermilk, a little light mayo, lemon juice, Dijon mustard, garlic, onion powder, chopped chive, and parsley or dill,” he said.


Look for Garlic Expressions Classic Vinaigrette at your grocery store.

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Garlic Expressions salad dressing.
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GARLIC Expressions

“This dressing is made with cider vinegar, canola oil, whole garlic cloves and spices, and a tad of sugar,” says registered dietitian Michelle Dudash, RDN, Cordon Bleu-certified chef, and top-selling author of “Clean Eating for Busy Families, revised & expanded.”

She said it has a really nice balanced taste and a good consistency.


Pick up Annie’s Goddess Dressing at your supermarket.

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Annie’s Goddess Dressing.
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Annie’s

“This salad dressing is a great option when you want the creaminess of ranch, but not the dairy,” Dudash told INSIDER.

It’s a tahini-based dressing that has lemon, chives, and parsley to give it a kick that people rave about.


Make a DIY dressing with a base of red wine vinegar.

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Red wine vinegar.
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Shutterstock/DPRM

“In my professional career, there is one dressing base I come back to over and over again,” said chef Yankel Polak, head chef and culinary director at ButcherBox. “For acid, I used red wine vinegar to my palate, as it is mild, but contains a warm finish.”

For anyone looking for a recipe, Epicurious has a good one that includes mustard and olive oil.


Whip up a DIY tahini avocado vinaigrette.

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Homemade avocado dressing.
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Shutterstock/Liliya Kandrashevich

“I’ve been using tahini to help with viscosity, and of course, that delicious sesame flavor,” said chef, Claudia Sidoti, principal chef at HelloFresh. “To create this yummy dressing, I blend half of a ripe avocado with about two tablespoons of tahini, the juice of a lemon, and season generously with salt and freshly ground black pepper.”


Go classic with an old fashioned red wine vinaigrette.

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Red wine vinaigrette.
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Shutterstock/Zoeytoja

“I like to make a large batch of a classic red wine vinaigrette and keep it in my fridge and use on salads, Italian-style sandwiches, and to marinade meats,” Sidoti told INSIDER.

“Generally, I whisk one part red wine vinegar to two parts olive oil, then season with a pinch of freshly grated garlic, minced shallot, a pinch of oregano, and some salt and pepper,” she added.


Make some lime cilantro dressing.

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Organic cilantro lime sauce.
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Shutterstock/IgorPloskin

“Lime cilantro dressing has been a secret weapon of sorts throughout my culinary career,” suggested chef Matt Hoff, a chef at Northern Virginia’s Cafe Natilee, a Falls Church restaurant. “The lime throws a familiar kick to anything, and the smooth texture adds a velveteen sheen that’s different enough from ranch-based dressings to make things interesting.”


Try a DIY carrot ginger vinaigrette.

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Orange vinaigrette.
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Shutterstock/vanillaechoes

“Carrot ginger vinaigrette is a truly irresistible dressing type, that even cleanses your palate as you eat,” Ochs told INSIDER.

The ginger adds a pungent spice to the dressing, he said, while the carrot adds a sweetness that in turn balances the two flavors.


Make a tangy mustard vinaigrette.

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Salad dressing with olive oil, honey, mustard and vinegar.
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Shutterstock/Elena Veselova

“Mustard vinaigrette is one of the most simple and staple salad dressings, as it does a fantastic job at complementing any salad, without overpowering the taste,” said chef Patrick Ochs, corporate executive chef at Pubblica Italiana and Dalia at The Celino Hotel in Florida. “You can make this at home by mixing some Dijon mustard, olive oil, minced shallots, vinegar, salt, and pepper.”


BONUS: Use your dressings as marinades for meats and seafood.

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Lamb cubes, marinating.
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Shutterstock/Robyn Mackenzie

“I love using Brianna’s Fine Salad Dressings not only for lettuces and cold pasta salads but as marinades for meats and seafood,” says chef Nicole Andrea Guzman. “My favorites are Creamy Cilantro Lime, Italian Vinaigrette, and New American Creamy Balsamic.”