The Best Homemade Italian Dressing Recipe

I couldn't live in a world without homemade Italian Dressing. It's quick, easy, and works delicious magic on anything from baby greens to a plate of homegrown tomatoes. So much better than Olive Garden, and not a filler or artificial ingredient in sight. 

This popular cold pasta salad relies on this dressing for its delightfully zippy taste. It's economical, creative, and a great lesson in balancing flavors when you're cooking. Are you new to DIY, but not sure where to start? Try Homemade Red Wine Vinaigrette, then move on to Asian Salad Dressing, which also makes a fantastic marinade. Before you know it, you'll be skipping the salad dressing aisle at the store.

The best homemade Italian dressing in a clear jar with a spoon on a white plate.
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Making a larger batch for a big, huge bowl of pasta salad? Just click and slide the number next to “servings” on the recipe card below to adjust the ingredients to match how many you’re feeding—the recipe does the math for you, it’s that easy.

What's in authentic Italian Dressing?

Here's what you need:

  • Olive oil. The best oil for Italian dressing? Olive oil. I like extra virgin.
  • Vinegar. I like red wine vinegar, but white wine vinegar is nice. Apple cider works, too!
  • Parmesan cheese. Grated works well here. Freshly grated works even better.
  • Lemon juice. Throw in some zest if you feel like it.
  • Honey. For just a touch of sweetness. You can also use agave nectar, coconut sugar, or regular granulated sugar.
  • Dijon mustard. For flavor and emulsification. Brown (whole grain) mustard is good too.
  • Dried spices. I like a mixture of dried basil, oregano, and parsley. If you have it, substitute 1 1/2 teaspoons of my pantry staple recipe for Italian seasoning.
  • Garlic. I use dried garlic powder here because it's convenient and safer. Especially useful if you're making a bigger batch to use down the line.

The best Italian dressing ingredients in various bowls.

 

How to make Italian Dressing:

Couldn't be easier!

  1. Add the ingredients to a glass jar or blender.
  2. Shake or blast until combined.

If you want to make the dressing right in the salad bowl, just throw everything into the bottom of the bowl and whisk. Then pile your salad ingredients on top and toss. Maybe a little extra Parmesan sprinkled on top, just for fun.

Tips, variations, and substitutions:

  • Taste test. Before you serve it, dip a fingertip in the dressing and give it a taste, maybe even with your eyes closed. Does it need anything? If it seems a little lackluster, you may want to add an acid: vinegar or lemon juice. Is it too sharp? Maybe another little bit of olive oil. Then taste again. Still not quite right? Fiddle with the balance of salty, acidic, sweet and savory until it tastes just right for you. Everyone has different tastebuds!
  • Vegan Italian Dressing. Easy! Skip the cheese and replace with 2 tablespoons nutritional yeast.
  • Creamy Italian Dressing. Simple! Add 1/2 cup good quality mayo (Hellman's or best Foods) to the dressing.
  • Fresh herbs. Hey, if you got 'em, use 'em! Use about twice the amount the recipe calls for, because the equivalent in dried herbs takes up less room in the measuring spoons.

The best Italian dressing being poured onto a pasta salad in a clear bowl.

How long does homemade Italian Dressing keep?

This dressing will be good for up to a week in the refrigerator. If you want something that can last longer, leave out the Parmesan cheese and sprinkle it on your salad right before tossing.

Put your salad dressing to work:

Here are a few of my favorite ways to use a fresh batch of dressing. Chopped salads, pasta salads, lentil salads, the list goes on.

The best homemade Italian dressing in a clear jar with a spoon on a white plate.

The Best Homemade Italian Dressing Recipe

I couldn't live in a world without homemade Italian Dressing. It's quick, easy, and works delicious magic on anything from baby greens to a plate of homegrown tomatoes. So much better than Olive Garden, and not a filler or artificial ingredient in sight. 
5 from 2 votes
Print Pin Rate
Course: Pantry
Cuisine: American, Italian
Cook Time: 2 minutes
Total Time: 2 minutes
Servings: 8 servings (2 tbsp each)
Calories: 140kcal
Author: Meggan Hill

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1/4 cup red wine vinegar
  • 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice from 1 lemon
  • 2 teaspoons honey
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 1 teaspoon dried basil
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon dried parsley
  • 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder or 1 clove minced fresh garlic
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Instructions

  • In a large bowl, whisk together olive oil, red wine vinegar, Parmesan cheese, lemon juice, honey, Dijon mustard, basil, oregano, parsley, and garlic powder. Season to taste with salt and pepper (I like 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper). Store covered in the refrigerator.

Nutrition

Calories: 140kcal
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  1. Sally Wickland

    I don’t see the seeds listed in the ingredient list. Has the recipe been changed? Thanks.

  2. Sally Wickland

    I thought this was the recipe that had celery, poppy, and sesame seeds in it, but I don’t see them listed in the ingredients. Has the recipe been changed to omit those, or am I thinking of a different recipe? Thanks.

    1. meggan

      Hi Sally, your comment makes me laugh and feel sad at the same time. Sad because – yes I changed it! It’s not the same one. I woke up one day and looked at the recipe and I was like – this makes no sense, Italian salad dressing isn’t orange and doesn’t have all those seeds?? What was I thinking. So I changed it resemble something you might get at Olive Garden. And then I said to myself, well no one has ever made this anyway, no one will notice it’s different, and now I laugh because at least ONE person made it the old way. You. Long story to say, sorry about that! The original recipe with all the seeds was for my California Pasta Salad which still exists on the site, so I’ve copied and pasted the dressing from there below. So it’s not lost and gone forever, but I’m really sorry for the confusion. Maybe I’ll add it back to the site under a new name, like California Salad Dressing. LOL. Thank you! Sorry again. -Meggan

      Ingredients:

      1 cup olive oil
      1/2 cup red wine vinegar
      1/4 cup parmesan cheese
      1 tablespoon sesame seeds
      2 teaspoons dried oregano
      2 teaspoons poppy seeds
      2 cloves garlic finely minced
      1 teaspoon paprika
      1/2 teaspoon celery seed
      1/4 teaspoon Salt or more to taste

      Directions: In a small bowl, or in a jar with a tight-fitting lid, add olive oil, red wine vinegar, parmesan cheese, sesame seeds, oregano, poppy seeds, garlic, paprika, celery seed, and salt. Whisk or shake until combined. Allow flavors to blend and store covered in the refrigerator.

  3. Kasack Weinrot

    Toller Artikel…

  4. Melinda

    Hi Meggan – I just stumbled on your page and I will be doing some more investigating, ‘cause everything looks great so far! Question on this recipe: how long will it last in the fridge? It’s just the two of us here and we love salads (and Italian dressing) but ya gotta change it up now and then, amirite? LOL. Maybe I should halve the recipe for us? What do you think?

    1. meggan

      Hi Melinda, the best rule of thumb is 4 days. With a recipe like this, you can likely go 7 days without any problems. But, the CDC and the restaurant management association will say 4 days. I hope this is helpful! Thank you! :) -Meggan

  5. Suzanne Wujceak

    At one point, you mention 3 seeds are in this recipe. Celery and poppy seeds…what is the third seed? Also, how long can you keep this in the refrigerator?
    Thank you.

    1. meggan

      Hi Suzanne, the third seed is sesame seed. But regrettably I decided not to list that in the ingredients! I’ve fixed the post now. So sorry for the confusion/my typo. I appreciate your patience with me. -Meggan

  6. Lynn

    Meggan, I will be using homemade parmesan cheese.

  7. Lynn

    Hi, can I use vegan parmesan to make it vegan, will it work. Waiting for your reply, Thank you.

    1. meggan

      Hi Lynn, I don’t see why it would be a problem. I also feel like nutritional yeast might also be tasty (or even if you leave the cheese out entirely, the dressing is still awesome). Can you let me know what brand of vegan parmesan cheese you are going to try? I would love to pick it up and try it out just for my own knowledge, and so I can update the post. Thank you!

  8. Mary

    Hi could I use pecorino Romano cheese instead of Parmesan?

    1. meggan

      Hi Mary, yes! I’m guessing if you served it to anyone else, they couldn’t even tell the difference. Thanks for the question.

  9. Peyton Adkins

    Holy crap this is delicious…and can confirm, it beats Newmans Own!5 stars

  10. KNatGU

    We saw Alton Brown’s life show a while back (gah maybe 5 years) and at the end of it, he took questions from the audience. The one I remember was someone asked what are people not making at home that we should be and his answer salad dressing.

    You might even be able to add sesame seeds to this one, it is starting to look a lot like my favorite garlic bread topping. https://www.mccormick.com/spices-and-flavors/herbs-and-spices/blends/perfect-pinch-salad-supreme-seasoning

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