How to Make Your Own Salad Dressings & Sauces

Bottles of salad dressing over a white background

Homemade vs. Store-Bought Salad Dressings

What you put on top of your salad should be as healthy as the salad itself. If you went through the motions to prepare a plate of greens, rich in nutrients and vitamins, why add preservatives, artificial flavoring and unnecessary chemicals found in salad dressings to the mix? A homemade version of your favorite dressing is an easy and healthy alternative to what you buy off the shelf at the supermarket.

Salad dressing from the store likely contains white sugar, poor quality oils and artificial flavoring – cheap ingredients that your body doesn’t need. Homemade salad dressing is a trans-fat-, preservation- and chemical-free alternative that’s not difficult to prepare.. Most all dressing recipes require that you blend all ingredients in a blender or put all ingredients in a cup and stir. Even the most kitchen-challenged salad lovers can handle making fresh dressings.

The Basics of Homemade Dressings

To prepare salad dressings, you need three ingredients: a base, an acid and a thickening agent.

  • Base ingredients – Oils like hemp, flax seed, extra virgin olive oil and/or avocado oil.
  • Acid-based ingredients – Fresh lemon/lime juice, balsamic vinegar, apple cider vinegar and/or rice vinegar.
  • Thickening agents – Tahini, avocado, ground chia or flax seeds, maple syrup and/or honey.

Prepping your own dressings is easy and healthy but the best part is that you can be playful and create something you won’t find on the store shelf. Need some inspiration? Check out this list of 50 easy-to-make recipes.

Staple Cooking Sauces

A well-prepared sauce can make a bland meal compliment worthy. The following sauces are staples in the kitchen and you’ll benefit from being able to make them yourself when someone asks, “What’s for dinner?”

  • White wine sauce – onion, chicken broth, white wine, butter
  • Pesto – basil, parmesan, pine nuts, garlic
  • Marina sauce – tomatoes, onion, oregano, parsley
  • Béchamel – milk, bay leaf, onion, butter, flour
  • Cheese sauce – flour, butter, milk, shredded cheese
  • Chocolate sauce – water, milk, chocolate source
  • Ketchup – tomatoes, onion, garlic, chili powder, paprika, apple cider vinegar, maple syrup, cinnamon, allspice, extra virgin olive oil
  • Curry – onion, apple, garlic, curry powder, vegetable stock, flour
  • Mayonnaise – eggs, Dijon mustard, white wine vinegar, groundnut oil, extra virgin olive oil

By cooking at home, whether you make a salad dressings or your favorite dinner sauce, you are in charge of how much sugar and salt goes into your food. These alternatives, though they may take extra time, are healthier and – some may argue – better tasting than store-bought versions.

Additional Resources




  • More Salad, by Maverick Software LLC, available on iTunes for a fee
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