25 Tasty and Affordable Salad Dressing Recipes
Many people start eating more salads immediately after switching to a plant-based diet. Perhaps it’s because greens are one of the more popular cheap weight loss foods, or because before they complete their research and find out otherwise, people assume salad is the only side dish that will be available to them.
Whatever the reason, salad consumption typically goes up. Whether you are trying to find a way to add more flavor to your raw veggies, reduce your consumption of preservatives and other chemicals, or simply want to eat vegan on the cheap, having a ready supply of salad dressing recipes at your disposal will set you up for success. Bonus? If you still want to enjoy a good chef’s salad with leftover turkey or ham, these will work for you too. (See also: 5 Money-Saving, Healthy, Homemade Salad Dressings)
1. Lemon Date Dressing
I particularly enjoy lemon-date salad dressing during the summer or anytime I’m craving dates. It’s a fresh, full-flavor option that works well when you want to dress up a salad with minimal ingredients. Also, if you’re trying to get more dark greens into your diet and want to serve a salad that’s heavy on spinach, kale, or Swiss chard, this dressing could certainly come to your rescue by bringing a strong flavor without the cost of many more ingredients.
2. Pumpkin Vinaigrette
I tend to make pumpkin vinaigrette more in the fall, since that’s when I’m using canned pumpkin often. The recipe linked works well, although I have to admit I prefer making it with apple cider vinegar for a bit more tang. It’s good on any green salad, but if you really want to celebrate the flavors of autumn, you could use it when you are including dried cranberries as one of your salad add-ins.
3. Honey Mustard
Whether it’s the tang, the sweetness, or simply how well this flavor pairs with a variety of foods, I’ve always been a fan of a good honey mustard dressing. Not only is it great for salads, but also for dipping chicken fingers, vegetarian nuggets, and crudities on a night when you want something simple for dinner.
4. Berry Vinaigrette
A great way to use up fresh or frozen produce, this berry vinaigrette can be prepared with nearly any fresh berry. Raspberries, blackberries, strawberries, and more are all fair game. I’m thinking you could even serve it warm during the cooler months to create a wilted spinach salad on the fly.
5. Pureed Salsa
If you want a healthy, no-fuss homemade salad dressing, put some salsa in a narrow-mouth pint canning jar, attach it to your blender’s blade base, and puree. It’s that simple. You can add a bit of olive oil if you like, but if you’re going fat free and want some zip, using this single ingredient will get you what you want in time for dinner. In a pinch, you can just pour on the salsa, but some people don’t want the chunky consistency on top of their salad. Do what works for you. I like to use this one when I’m already dressing up a salad with canned corn, beans, and other ingredients that are commonly found in Mexican recipes, because I’m confident the flavors will go well together.
6. Vegan Ranch
There are several versions of vegan ranch dressing online, some of them simpler than others. This hidden cashew ranch recipe from Fat Free Vegan looks interesting, and of course you could always stick to a combination of Vegenaise, soy milk, lemon juice, and the seasoning of your choice. I think this might make an interesting pizza sauce on a pie topped with mock chicken, mushrooms, and frozen spinach, too.
7. Green Goddess
I’ll admit, I had never even heard of goddess dressing until a couple of years ago when we started eating more vegan meals. Apparently, it’s pretty popular and has more variations than most other salad dressing recipes I’ve run across. Here’s another green goddess dressing from the Savvy Vegetarian.
8. Zesty Italian
It might be basic, but Italian dressing can be used for so many things that it’s a good to have a recipe on hand for things like fajita meat seasoning, poultry marinade, and even pasta salads. I prefer mine a bit zesty, so I typically add a fair amount of crushed red pepper flakes into the mix.
9. Greek Dressing
Greek salad makes for a nice, light summer meal. But it really isn’t the same without a good Greek dressing to pour on top. While the ingredient list is simple, it pays to use high quality versions of the items called for in order to get the best flavor, particularly the lemon juice.
10. Tahini Dressing
Few cooking ingredients pack as much party-in-your-mouth flavor as tahini. It’s also high in calcium, making it one of my top secret weapon foods for going vegan. You can use it in bean dips, falafel dipping sauces, and of course, tahini salad dressing when you want a salad that will keep you satisfied for a long time.
11. Spicy French
For basic wedge salads and people who prefer a bit of color on their green goods, a good spicy French dressing is tough to beat. French dressing also tends to be popular with children, which makes it a good choice for those who are cooking for kids on a regular basis.
12. Smoky Avocado
Avocados are a great addition to your vegan grocery list because of their healthy fats, creaminess, and flexibility in cooking. This smoky avocado and cumin dressing adds a satisfying full-flavor element to any dinner salad and would pair well with Mexican or Cuban recipes.
13. Sunflower Seed Dressing
If incorporating seeds into your diet is one of your main protein strategies, then this parsley and sunflower seed dressing should pique your interest. I like the pre-roasted variety for snacks, salad ingredients, and cookie add-ins because of the more robust flavor, so I assume that would also make a difference when using them to make a dressing.
14. Ginger Peanut
Since we prepare international cuisines quite frequently in our house, we always enjoy an ethnically inspired salad dressing recipe that lets us experience the flavors of a region without preparing an entire entrée. This ginger peanut dressing does just that and can be used with Asian coleslaw, regular salads, or even veggie wraps.
15. Poppy Seed
If you like the flavor and visual appeal of poppy seeds in your muffins and cakes, try incorporating a poppy seed dressing into your salad schedule to cut back on calories while still enjoying the ingredient. I prefer darker greens when doing this, but choose whatever salad base you prefer.
16. Vegan Caesar
If you love a good Caesar salad but want to skip the animal products, then consider this vegan Caesar dressing from Oh She Glows. It’s perfect for when you are having meat eaters over for dinner and want to serve something that everyone can enjoy while choosing their own protein to add to their plate.
17. Vegan Buttermilk
If dairy does despicable things to your intestinal tract and you miss a creamy buttermilk sauce at salad time, then try this vegan buttermilk dressing from Fat Free Vegan. You’ll have a similar consistency without all of the dairy products.
18. Magnificent Mango
If the flavor of mango perks up your taste buds like it does mine, then try this mango vinaigrette from the Healthy Happy Traveler. I don’t see any reason you couldn’t use this as a fruit dip as well.
19. Almond Butter
Perfect for those with peanut allergies who can still enjoy other types of nuts and seeds safely, this lemony almond butter dressing from Epicurean Vegan dresses up greens and chopped salads with plenty of protein.
20. Fig Dressing
Figs are elegant, flavorful, and depending on where you’re located, quite pricey. One way to stretch the purchase out a bit is with a fig dressing. You’ll get all the fig flavor without having to serve multiple figs to an entire house full of people.
Perfect for the Thanksgiving season, this cranberry salad dressing incorporates a seasonal flavor without overdoing it on the calories, which is a huge concern for most people during that time of year. Since the fresh ones freeze well, this could also be one of those salad dressing recipes that lets you stretch a typically pricey ingredient.
22. Sesame-Dijon Vinaigrette With Capers
Dijon mustard packs a flavor punch that can be successfully paired with a variety of foods, which is why this sesame-Dijon vinaigrette caught my attention. I also like that the recipe incorporates capers, which are one of my favorite affordable gourmet add-ins. They have a bit of a bite, taste great with a chicken piccata, and dress up an otherwise simple meal.
23. Pear Dressing
If you’re looking for something to pair well with a blue cheese and candied walnut salad, a good pear dressing is where it’s at. Personally, I tend to favor it because I love pear flavor but don’t always enjoy the grainy texture of the actual fruit.
24. Hummus Dressing
This hummus dressing from Healthful Pursuit uses garbanzo flour to create the end result, making it something you can create with a base of shelf-stable ingredients. Try it with a basic cucumber and tomato salad, or even with a chilled pasta dish.
25. Fattoush Dressing
Speaking of Middle Eastern salad dressing recipes, one of my favorite salads from the region is fattoush. This fattoush dressing enables the home cook to pull off the authentic flavor of the salad, which tastes great with everything from falafel to grilled chicken.
These salad dressing recipes were the ones that intrigued me the most when researching this article. There are certainly more of them out there, and I would love to hear which ones make your short list of family faves. Feel free to share your ideas and recipe postings in the comment section below.