The Core Ingredients For Natural Salad Dressings Plus 5 Recipes

Get ready not just for some great recipes, but a true education when it comes to making tasty, but natural, salad dressings.

You'll not only learn 5 new recipes, but you'll also learn the core ingredients used in making natural salad dressings.

After reading this, you'll be able to start experimenting and creating your own all-natural salad dressings!

So here we go and thanks to the folks at for this...

Salads are a staple in a plant-based diet, but what’s a salad without an amazing dressing, right? Sure, there are store bought options aplenty, but we all know those are both pricey and processed. To keep things fresh an inexpensive, buy some simple ingredients to keep on hand and they’ll not only last forever, but also give you endless salad dressing combination possibilities. I have found five basic ingredients I like the most that save me money, satisfy my taste buds, and pack in a lot of flavor without oil, nuts, or added sodium. If you’re looking to save money and excess calories, these ingredients are for you:


1. Apple Cider Vinegar

Apple cider vinegar is a must-have in my kitchen to use for many things, but especially for vegan salad dressings. It’s rich in enzymes for digestion, helps increase hydrochloric acid in the stomach to aid in digestion, and it’s full of potassium, Vitamin C, electrolytes, and cleansing properties. It also gives salads a delightful tang and has been proven to help slow down insulin in the blood stream to lower blood sugar levels. This can help prevent an insulin spike at meals with higher carbohydrates and help promote sugar cravings overall.


I prefer the raw, organic, unfiltered apple cider vinegar with the “mother,” which is the beneficial organism that apple cider vinegar contains. This also helps increase good bacteria in the stomach and can help fight off harmful yeasts.


2. Lemons

If you’re not already a lemon lover, it’s time to cross the line and step over to the “brighter” side of life with lemons. Lemons are fantastic for you – period. Buy fresh lemons, not the bottled juice, and use lemons liberally to flavor your meals. I just cut one in half, squeeze both halves into a bowl and mix whatever else ingredients I want to use to make a dressing. You can also use oranges and limes the same way but lemons hold the most beneficial health properties. They’re also virtually sugar-free and can be used in many other different ways, making them a versatile fruit to keep in the kitchen.


3. Black Pepper

Black pepper is a culinary genius in the kitchen. It flavors anything you add it to, in just a small amount. Salt is incredibly overrated, but pepper? It’s a must! Black pepper is actually helpful for boosting brain flow, aiding digestion, increasing the metabolism, and it contains antioxidants as a bonus. It will give your dressings the perfect amount of flavor without causing them to become too spicy.


4. Italian Seasoning

Italian seasoning contains a mix of oregano, basil, garlic, thyme, parsley, sage, marjoram, and some varieties have onion powder and rosemary. Italian seasoning is salt-free but packs a lot of flavor in just a couple teaspoons. It also gives you more for your money so you don’t have to use a ton of herbs and spices each time you want to make a dressing.


5. Mustard

Last but certainly not least is mustard. I know it sounds odd with the other ingredients, but trust me- it works! I also realize it’s not exactly salt-free, but overall it’s low in sodium, and you only need a small amount per recipe. Mustard packs a great deal of flavor with just a tiny amount, and it gives salads that “bite” you’re looking for that most people turn to oil or salt for.


* Note: I also usually add water to the ingredients to dilute them so the dressing isn’t too “tart.” It won’t water your dressing down, but will instead give it the texture of a vinaigrette.


Now that you know my favorite ingredients, here’s a few ideas for how I use them:


Combo #1 – To make one cup:

1/4 cup water

1/4 cup apple cider vinegar

1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice

1 teaspoon black pepper

2 teaspoons Italian seasonings

2 tablespoon bottled mustard

To Make: Shake in a mason jar and enjoy through the week.


Combo #2 – Makes 1/2 cup:

1/4 cup apple cider vinegar

1/4 cup water

Juice from one lemon

1 tablespoon bottled mustard

1/2 teaspoon black pepper

1/2 teaspoon Italian seasoning

To Make: Shake in a mason jar and enjoy for two large servings.


Combo #3 – To make one single serving:

2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar

Juice from one lemon

1 teaspoon bottled mustard

1/4 teaspoon black pepper

1/4 teaspoon

1/4 teaspoon Italian seasoning

To Make: Shake all the ingredients in a small mason jar and toss over your salad.


The cost of all these ingredients is just at $10, if not less, and they can be found at any supermarket. The best part is that you can use the ingredients for many other uses and have a plentiful supply of dressing ingredients to last a couple months.




Salads are a common food eaten among everyone, not just plant-based eaters and can be much more than just “rabbit food” as they’re often referred to. Salads can be filled with hearty proteins, fibrous vegetables, and even denser nuts and seeds, along with energizing and refreshing fruits. Or, go with some grounding grains to pair with those leafy greens, and some fun condiments or spices if you enjoy them. Salads (like porridge, smoothies, stir-fries and soups) are a great vehicle for using whatever ingredients you like depending on your food needs and your body’s needs for the time being.


When prepared healthfully, they can also be a great way to take care of your heart, digestive system, and your weight. Rich in phytochemicals, a whole food plant-based salad can provide the body with limitless benefits. But one part that seems to hold people up from in making salads healthy is the dressing. No ranch? What about honey mustard or some Thousand Island? Oh, and what about an oil-based dressing?


While some options like olive oil and flax oil may be healthier than commercial salad dressings, oil-free and dairy-free options can provide just as much flavor without all the refined sources of fats and dense calories from oil that don’t come with fiber and asmany vitamins and minerals as their whole food counterparts. And dairy-based dressings can contribute excess animal saturated fats that promote cholesterol, while commercial sugar-free or fat-free salad dressings often come with a host of chemical, refined sugary, or artificial sweetener ingredients.


So, let’s just keep things simple, shall we?


Here are five oil-free and dairy-free ways to make salad dressing that will have you shocked at how delicious they are to be so simple, healthy, and low in unnecessary processed fats:


*Each of these will make enough for two (1/4 cup) servings. Make extra and keep in a jar throughout the week in the fridge for more servings.*


1. Mustard Vinaigrette

One of the most popular and most delicious ways to make a healthy salad dressing is to go with mustard as an ingredient. Use plain mustard, not honey mustard which has excess sugar, and stick with yellow or stone-ground instead. Many organic brands also come in delicious flavors and are made with apple cider vinegar instead of distilled for even more benefits.


To make:


Combine 1/3 cup your choice yellow or stone-ground mustard with 1/4 cup raw apple cider vinegar, 1/2 teaspoon your choice sweetener (such as agave, liquid stevia, coconut syrup, maple syrup, or brown rice syrup), 1 teaspoon black pepper and 2 tablespoons water. Blend in a small blender and drizzle onto your salad.




This dressing is low in sugar per serving, fat-free, and apple cider vinegar promotes healthy blood sugar and detoxification while black pepper and mustard boost metabolism and also provide high amounts of antioxidants.


Try this dressing with: Healthy Quinoa Salad or Scented and Crunchy Black Rice Asian Salad instead of the dressings called for.


2. Healing Miso Vinaigrette

Miso is one of the most healing fermented foods that exist. There are several variations of miso and each differs in flavor depending on the ingredients on which it is made. All miso contains fermented soybeans which makes it highly digestible and full of raw probiotics and enzymes. Most all misos are also made with either fermented barley, fermented brown rice, or another type of fermented rice. Some (such as Hacho miso) contain only fermented soybeans. Miso makes a wonderful salad dressing ingredient that provides flavor with no fat or sugar, and comes with healing benefits.  It’s also great in soup, which its commonly used in.


To make:


Combine 1 teaspoon miso with 1/3 cup water, 2 whole olives, 2 tablespoon brown rice vinegar, a pinch of black pepper, 1/2 teaspoon brown rice syrup or liquid stevia, and a tablespoon of dulse flakes (or another flaked seaweed such as kelp or wakame). Blend and enjoy.




This dressing is full of natural vitamins and minerals from the dulse, beneficial probiotics and enzymes, is very low in calories, but will help balance sugar cravings due to the dulse, miso, and vinegar used in this recipe. Unlike dairy dressings, this recipe also offers cleansing benefits that are hard to find in most salad dressing recipes.


Try this dressing with: Miso Sesame Kale Bowl-ed Over or JumBowl Salad in place of the dressings called for.



3. Herbed Creamy Mock Ranch Dressing

Though this dressing is a stand-in for ranch, it contains no fake ingredients whatsoever. Instead, creamy tahini made from sesame seeds are used, along with a touch of unsweetened, oil-free almond milk (you can also make your own), and some healthy herbs and spices. This dressing is simple, flavorful, and offers quite the bite that will likely make it a favorite in no time! Tahini is even packed with calcium and iron, so it also offers some extra nutritional punch as well.


To make the dressing:


Combine 3 tablespoons raw organic tahini (you can also use regular roasted if you can’t find raw), 1/3 cup water, 2 tablespoons unsweetened almond milk (choose a carragenan-free, GMO-free brand when possible), a pinch of black pepper if desired, 1-2 tablespoons Herbs de Provence or Italian seasoning, a tiny pinch of fresh ginger, and a pinch of pink sea salt if desired. Blend and enjoy.




This dressing will keep you full, balance the nervous system thanks to the calcium in tahini and the herbs. It will also help your body absorb the nutrients from the vegetables and greens in your salad due to the healthy fats in tahini. Much like a garlic ranch, this dressing is a much better alternative for your heart and waistline than dairy-based dressings.


Try this dressing with: Hearty Vegan Cobb Salad or Freekah Kale Salad in place of the dressings called for.



4. Lemony Garlic Creamy Mustard Dressing

Lemons are one of the best ingredients to use when making a low-cal, nutrient-dense dressing. They are rich in a tangy, refreshing flavor and also offer many health benefits, especially to the liver. This dressing also adds a full flavor profile from the garlic and creamy cashew butter used. You can also use tahini or even almond butter in place of cashew butter, or for a low-fat version, stick with some simple almond or soy milk instead.


To make the dressing:


Combine the juice from 2 lemons with 1/4 teaspoon minced garlic or 1/4 teaspoon fresh garlic, 1 teaspoon diced onions, 2 tablespoons raw cashew butter (or tahini, almond butter or almond or soy milk), a pinch of black pepper, 2 teaspoons mustard, 1 teaspoon of dried parsley, and 1/4 cup water. Blend, drizzle and serve.




Lemons are a powerhouse of Vitamin C, detoxifying enzymes, and offer an alkaline ash in the blood once digested to combat inflammation. Raw cashew butter is a rich source of iron, magnesium, and Vitamin B6, and parsley is a natural source of Vitamin C and is a natural diuretic. Onions and garlic also offer detoxifying benefits for the liver and blood, and also offer a nice bite while promoting detoxification and high immunity.


Try this dressing with: Super Healthy Kale Salad or in Protein-Packed Salad with Quinoa, Chickpeas, Lime and Cilantro (omit the oil and lime juice to substitute the dressing).



5. Sweet Lemon Curry

This dressing is truly something special. Give it a try when you want something flavor-packed that hits all your taste buds. This dressings adds a nutritional punchfrom the curry used which is rich in antioxidants, not to mention a spicy, yet still balanced, flavor. You can use any liquid sweetener you like or even dried fruit in place of the sweetener called for.


To make the dressing:


Combine 2 tablespoons water, 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar, the juice from 2 lemons, 1/2 teaspoon curry, a tiny pinch of cayenne and black pepper, 1/2 teaspoon pure maple syrup or liquid stevia (or you may used 1 pureed date or a pureed dried fig). *If you use a piece of dried fruit as your sweetener, you may want to let it soak in the water used 30 minutes to soften before making this (or keep soaked dried fruit in the fridge overnight). For a creamier flavor, add 2 tablespoons either tahini, almond butter or cashew butter in addition to the other ingredients called for. Blend, drizzle, and serve.




Curry contains antioxidants that promote a healthy immune system and healthy blood flow. Many of the ingredients in curry, such as turmeric and garlic, have also been shown to have anti-cancer benefits. If using tahini or cashew butter, the Vitamin C will increase the uptake of the iron in tahini and cashew butter and also offer extra immunity benefits.


Try this dressing with: Seasonal Fall Sweet Salad or Curried Kale and Quinoa Salad in place of the dressings called for.


You can also use any of these dressings as a healthy sauce for roasted vegetables, a rice bowl, or even just a bowl of greens and grains. Get creative and see what you enjoy the most, and remember that a salad doesn’t have to contain glugs of oil or milk-based dressings to be delicious. Simple, staple ingredients will satisfy the same and are much healthier too.


You can also use mashed avocado as a healthy salad dressing alternative, or feel free to combine it with any of the dressings above, or play around with the ingredients to see what works for you. Also see 5 Ingredients That Make an Amazing Vegan Salad Dressing for more ideas. Do you have a favorite salad dressing recipe to share?