A Simple Formula for Salad Dressing

I don’t know about you but I’m craving salads this week. I’ve been eating a lot of cooked, heavier foods and my body just wants green, fresh things. I recently looked across my collection of my favorite salad dressing and sauce recipes and realized in a moment of profound insight that they all are variations on the same basic formula.

This template is meant to empower you (and me) to stop buying bottled dressings by embracing this simple, essential formula. Get inspired to try creative variations on this formula, and crush any mental barriers you have about making your own salad dressing.

My dressing aesthetic tends towards creamy (ranch, tahini, etc) but I can also get into a nice delicate vinaigrette. Whatever your preferences, here is all you need to know to up-level your salad dressing game. 

Salad Dressing Template

Fat | Protein (Optional)
Recipe From: Katie’s Conscious Kitchen


Something Fatty

  • Oil olive, canola, avocado, sesame etc.
  • Nut or seed butter tahini, peanut butter, etc.
  • Mayo I use vegan mayo
  • Hummus
  • Yogurt
  • Avocado
  • Soaked cashews for blended dressings

Something Acidic

  • Vinegar balsamic, sherry, red wine, white wine, rice, etc
  • Lemon juice
  • Lime juice
  • Orange juice

Flavorings (Optional)

  • The fatty ingredient and the acidic ingredient make a perfectly nice dressing on their own but flavors are obviously fun too!
  • Miso
  • Garlic
  • Ginger
  • Orange
  • Fresh herbs cilantro, basil, chives, parsley
  • Dried seasonings cumin, garlic powder
  • Chili paste
  • soy sauce
  • Canned chipotle pepper
  • Mustard
  • Honey
  • Capers & caper juice for Caesar dressing!
  • Turmeric

Magic Ratio:

  • Combine the fatty thing and the acidic thing in a 3 to 1 ratio. 3 times more fatty thing than acidic thing.

Tips for Mixing Dressings

  • The most effective way of combining oil and the vinegar is in a blender. I love to use little blender cups like a magic bullet, because they have lids so I can store them right in their blender containers! Blending also helps the flavor gets evenly incorporated with chunky ingredients like garlic, ginger, or fresh herbs.
  • You can also add the ingredients to a glass jar or bottle and shake to combine, or stir in a cup with a fork. 
  • For best results, all your ingredients should be at room temperature when you begin. The cooler the oil, the more difficult it is to emulsify it.
  • Once you've mixed things up, it's nice to let the flavors meld for a while, especially when you go beyond the basic formula and introduce flavorings.

Suggested Equipment*

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*Affiliate Link Disclosure: This post may contain affiliate links, meaning that I earn a small commission on sales made from my links at no extra cost to you. The products I recommend in my posts are only brands that I can personally recommend and use myself.

I challenge you to find a combination of fatty thing, acidic thing, and the flavorings listed above that DOESN’T work well. Well, maybe a few of the flavorings don’t go great together, but the point is that you can often be creative and use what you have to invent endless dressing possibilities. 

Here’s an inspiring quote to send you on your way:

“That we are willing to pay three or four dollars for bottled salad dressing when a delicious vinaigrette costs just pennies to make yourself, is an example of just how far away from the kitchen our processed food system has taken us. Embrace a single ratio, and you will walk away with a thousand vinaigrettes.”

~ Michael Ruhlman 

10 Flavor Combos for Inspiration!

Left: Orange Ginger Poppyseed Right: Miso Sesame Ginger 

Left: Basic Balsamic Vinaigrette Right: Basic Lemon Vinaigrette

Left: Caesar Dressing Right: Ranch Dressing

Left: Turmeric Tahini Right: Garlic Lemon Tahini

Left: Cilantro Avocado Lime Right: Chipotle Lime

What are your favorite dressing combos? Comment below!

Rate This Recipe:


  1. Dana

    Katie! What a fantastic post! Thank you!

  2. Jana

    So helpful!! Thanks!

  3. Sonja

    This is awesome! 2 thumbs up :-D. Exactly the info I’ve needed as I don’t want to buy the stuff anymore. Thank you Katie

  4. Anonymous

    Thank you💖

  5. Anonymous

    Mmmm mmmm can’t wait to try many of these!

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