How To Make Your Own Salad Dressings
Summer is the season of salads. When the warmer weather rolls around, many of us simply don’t fancy a hot dinner in the evening.
But keeping salads interesting when you’re eating them a few times a week can become challenging.
With the right recipes, even the fussiest eaters can learn to love salads.
The key is to try out different combinations of flavours, mixing up crunchy fresh vegetables with zingy dressings.
The problem is that shop bought salad dressings can be full of fat, hidden sugars and other nasties.
When you’re trying to eat a little healthier, the last thing you want is to drench your salad in unnecessary calories.
Making your own salad dressings is an easy way to keep an eye on the ingredients.
If you’re not sure where to start, we’ve made a list of our favourite dressing recipes, ranging from fresh and fruity to sweet and spicy!
Light and lemony
Sometimes the simplest recipes are the tastiest! A lemon and oil dressing is a super simple, go-to salad dressing for every occasion.
Unfortunately most salad dressing recipes call for a good glug of olive oil – which is pretty high in calories.
A squeeze of fresh lemon juice adds the perfect zing to your salad vegetables.
And, by switching out the olive oil for a low calorie olive oil spray, you can make this dressing so much healthier.
We’ve used lemon juice and olive oil spray along with a good pinch of salt and pepper as the dressing for our Courgette Ribbon, Lemon and Feta Salad.
Sticky and sweet with a kick
When you think of Sweet Chilli Sauce you might not think about using it as a salad dressing.
Traditionally used as a dip or drizzled over salmon or chicken, it can also give your fresh salad a kick of spice.
Our version is thickened with Xantham Gum rather than cornflour and it comes in at just 13 calories a serving. Find the full recipe here.
Fruity and fresh
Have you ever tried making your own fruit vinegar? A great alternative to balsamic, these taste so good drizzled over salad.
Our Fruit Vinegars use frozen fruit so they’re super easy and affordable to make.
You can use absolutely any fruit you’d like and these vinegars will last ages.
At just 2 calories per serving, they’ll bring plenty of flavour to your salads – without adding to the calories.
Herby balsamic dressing
Mild and aromatic, we love the dressing featured in our Balsamic Steak and Feta Salad recipe.
Combining chopped basil and parsley with balsamic vinegar, lime juice and a dash of sweet honey, this is a super versatile salad dressing.
Try adding different herbs to switch around the flavours and drizzle over salmon, steak or chicken salads. Delicious!
Creamy and cheesy
If a creamier dressing is more to your taste, you might think there’s no healthy alternative.
Our favourite trick is to substitute oils and mayonnaise for low fat yoghurt.
For a creamy ranch style dressing, you can crumble blue cheese into a mixture of fat free Greek yoghurt, hot sauce, garlic granules and water and blitz it all together.
This will come out deliciously smooth and silky and is perfect for drizzling over a Caesar salad.
We’ve used this dressing as the base of our Buffalo Coleslaw, rather than full fat mayo.
Zingy lime and honey
For fresh, Asian inspired flavours you can’t beat the combination of soy sauce and honey.
Throw in some zingy lime juice and you’ve got a dressing that can liven up even the most basic green salad!
Make your own version by following the steps in our Very Green Zingy Kale Salad.
We’ve added garlic granules and salt and pepper to finish off this simple but seriously tasty dressing.
If you like a kick of heat you can add some spice with some finely chopped red chillies and a splash of Sriracha too.
Try this with a duck salad or drizzled over salmon. So good!
Handy hints and tips
When it comes to salad dressings, almost anything goes!
The key to keeping calories low is avoiding heavy olive oil and full fat mayo, switching instead to vinegars and low calorie olive oil spray for your dressing base.
Then add in whatever you like! From spicy wholegrain mustard to sweet honey, there are so many flavour options.
If your dressing turns out too sweet, a little soy sauce or salt will balance it out.
If it goes the other way and becomes too sour, a pinch of sweetener or a little drizzle of honey will help.
And that’s it! Your only limit is your imagination. Once you master these basic, low calorie salad dressings you’ll never eat a boring salad ever again.
What’s your go-to salad dressing? We see so many slimming friendly suggestions over in our Facebook Group so if you’re not already a member, you can join our community and get involved in the fun!