“Salads can be boring,” laughs singer-songwriter and expert home chef Kelis in her new Skillshare course on how to make sauces and salad dressings. She’s not wrong: Bottled dressing glopped over limp, cold lettuce is less than inspiring. 

But with a few simple recipes, they don’t have to be. It might seem intimidating to learn how to make Caesar salad dressing, for example, but don’t fear! It’s easy and quick to make your own dressing, and many of the ingredients are already in your pantry. For tools, all you need are a bowl and whisk (or a blender, in some cases). 

Vinegar-based salad dressings keep for at least two weeks in the refrigerator, and creamy dressings for about a week, so you can make them ahead of time to have ready whenever a salad craving strikes. Here are the recipes we’ll cover as we learn how to make salad dressing:

  • Basic vinaigrette
  • Guava vinaigrette
  • Caesar salad dressing
  • Green Goddess dressing
  • Greek dressing
  • Ranch dressing
  • Thai peanut dressing

1. Basic Vinaigrette

Kelis demonstrates how to make a quick, adaptable vinaigrette using pantry ingredients.
Kelis demonstrates how to make a quick, adaptable vinaigrette using pantry ingredients.

Ingredients

  • ⅓ cup olive oil
  • 2 Tbsp. red wine vinegar 
  • 2 Tbsp. minced shallot
  • 1 Tbsp. raw honey
  • 1 Tbsp. fresh rosemary
  • 1 Tbsp. fresh thyme
  • 2 tsp. dijon mustard
  • ½ tsp. kosher salt
  • ¼ tsp. black pepper

Vinaigrette is a basic salad dressing recipe that’s easy to master and endlessly adaptable. As Kelis explains, vinaigrette has a 3:1 ratio of fat to acid, where the fat is olive oil and the acid is vinegar. 

To make this version, combine everything but the oil in a blender, then stream in the oil with the blender running. You can also stir in the oil using a whisk, which will similarly emulsify (thicken and bind) the dressing. 

Don’t have all these ingredients? That’s OK! Feel free to play around and make your vinaigrette your own: use different types of vinegar; sweeten with marmalade instead of honey; add a bit of garlic or spring onions; try a variety of different herbs. Don’t forget the salt and freshly ground black pepper! Salt brings out the flavor of all the other ingredients in a recipe; as Kelis explains, it will “tell you what’s happening” in a salad dressing. 

This is such an easy dressing recipe that you can make a double batch and keep it in a jar in the fridge for healthy eating in a hurry all week long.

2. Guava Vinaigrette

Compose a salad of many flavors that will make a strong base for this fabulous tropical guava dressing.
Compose a salad of many flavors that will make a strong base for this fabulous tropical guava dressing.

Ingredients

  • ¼ cup guava puree
  • 1 Tbsp. fresh cilantro
  • 3 Tbsp. mirin or rice vinegar
  • 2 Tbsp. lime juice
  • 2 Tbsp. minced shallot
  • ½ tsp. kosher salt
  • ¼ tsp. black pepper
  • ⅛ tsp. ground cumin
  • ⅛ tsp. cayenne pepper
  • ¼ cup coconut oil

In this recipe, another gem from Kelis’ course, you’ll use what you learned about how to make salad dressing and add a little flair. The flavor profile is complex, thanks to guava, a tropical fruit that introduces layers of beautiful sweetness and richness, and the sourness of lime, which balances it out.

Mix the guava and lime juice, then add mustard, shallots, and cilantro, a pinch of cumin and cayenne (“not enough to blow your face off,” Kelis notes), a splash of mirin, and sprinkles of black pepper and salt. Blend it all together with the coconut oil, a tropical backbone that brings all the flavors together. The end result will transport you “somewhere far and fabulous,” raves Kelis. 

Guava vinaigrette is excellent on a flavorful green that can hold its own—think kale, arugula, or spinach—with a creamy cheese or avocado to complement the tartness of the dressing, plus chopped fresh or dried fruit.

3. Caesar Salad Dressing

Caesar salad is a classic that’s easy to make at home.
Caesar salad is a classic that’s easy to make at home.

Ingredients

  • Juice of one lemon
  • ½ cup olive oil
  • Large handful Parmesan cheese
  • 2-3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 raw egg yolk (optional)
  • 2 anchovies, minced (optional)
  • Freshly ground black pepper

Learning how to make Caesar salad dressing is simple. For a traditional recipe, combine all ingredients besides olive oil. Then, pour in the oil slowly, whisking it by hand until the dressing turns creamy. (You can also throw everything in a blender on the low setting.) 

If you don’t want to use raw egg or anchovies, there are workarounds. You can substitute a couple teaspoons of Dijon mustard for the egg (it will emulsify the dressing in the same way, and there’s no risk of salmonella poisoning), and a dash or two of Worcestershire sauce makes a fine replacement for the anchovies if you’re fish-phobic or vegetarian. 

Either way, this combination yields a savory, punchy dressing that will steal the show served on a bed of romaine (with some croutons, of course!). It’s also wonderful on hardier greens like kale or as a dipping sauce for crudites.

4. Green Goddess Dressing

A composed salad is the perfect base for a hearty homemade dressing.
A composed salad is the perfect base for a hearty homemade dressing.

Ingredients

  • 1 cup mayonnaise, full-fat yogurt, or sour cream
  • Juice of one lemon 
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • A few handfuls of fresh herbs (basil, cilantro, tarragon, parsley, chives, or whatever you have!)
  • ¼ cup Champagne vinegar
  • ½ avocado (optional)

Green Goddess is a cream-based dressing, but it relies on plenty of fresh herbs, so the final result is decadent without being too rich or unhealthy. First, combine a cup of mayonnaise, yogurt, or sour cream (or a combination of the three) with the vinegar, lemon juice, olive oil, and herbs. (Truly, you can use any variety—and the more, the merrier!) Blend until smooth, then taste and adjust the seasoning. If you’d like, add avocado to the blender toward the end, which will make the mixture greener and creamier. 

Green Goddess is delicious over a hearty chopped salad of cucumbers, tomatoes, bell peppers, chickpeas, and any other veggies you have on hand.

5. Greek Salad Dressing

Greek salad is a filling, healthy meal you can prepare ahead of time.
Greek salad is a filling, healthy meal you can prepare ahead of time.

Ingredients

  • ⅓ cup olive oil
  • 2 Tbsp. red wine vinegar 
  • 2 tsp. Dijon mustard
  • 1 clove garlic, minced 
  • 2 Tbsp. dried or fresh oregano
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Greek dressing is a riff on the basic vinaigrette, using the same 3:1 oil-to-vinegar ratio, with a few ingredients that take it in a new direction. Raw garlic is mixed with fresh or dried oregano, which complements the flavors of a classic Greek salad: Kalamata olives, cucumbers, red onion, feta cheese, and tomato. 

To make this savory, highly flavorful dressing, simply combine Dijon mustard, red wine vinegar, garlic, oregano, salt, and pepper, and whisk them together with the best olive oil you have. 

For an easy, make-ahead meal, follow homeschool mom and Skillshare instructor Margaret Joyner’s advice and assemble the salad in a jar (put the dressing on the bottom). Here’s a salad that’s ready when you are!

6. Ranch Dressing

While it’s not necessary to make your own buttermilk for this recipe, it would bring it to a whole new level!
While it’s not necessary to make your own buttermilk for this recipe, it would bring it to a whole new level!

Ingredients

  • 1 cup buttermilk, mayonnaise, or sour cream
  • 1 clove garlic, minced 
  • A handful of parsley, chopped
  • Half a bunch of chives, minced
  • 1-2 dashes Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 Tbsp. vinegar
  • Sprinkle of cayenne pepper
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Real ranch dressing—not the kind that comes in a tub from the pizza place—is creamy, herby, a bit sour, and infinitely better than what you’ll find at the grocery store. 

And it’s incredibly simple to make at home: No weird ingredients like stabilizers or gums—just real, fresh foods that combine to make a ranch dressing way better than anything you’ve ever dipped a celery stick into. 

Combine all the ingredients above in a blender and blend until smooth—that’s it!

7. Thai Peanut Dressing

Thai peanut dressing makes a fantastic dipping sauce for lettuce wraps.
Thai peanut dressing makes a fantastic dipping sauce for lettuce wraps.

Ingredients

  • 1 cup coconut milk
  • 1⁄2 cup + 2 tbsp. creamy peanut butter
  • 2 tbsp. soy sauce
  • 2 tsp. sugar
  • 1 tsp. garam masala
  • 1 tsp. sriracha (or to taste)

In this short course, blogger and Skillshare instructor Ginnie Leeming demonstrates how to make an easy, delicious peanut dressing recipe that’s wonderful over hot or cold noodles, on a bed of veggies (with or without meat), or with tofu-lettuce wraps. 

To whip it up, combine the ingredients above in a small bowl and whisk until smooth. Add more soy sauce or sriracha if you’d like, and a drizzle of toasted sesame oil would be a nice addition, too. Then, you’ve got yourself a practically all-purpose dressing that will transform cooked and raw foods into something Asian-inspired and mouth-watering.

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