Everyone needs a good go-to homemade salad dressing recipe for when store-bought just won’t do. Here are some great tips on how you can whip up a multitude of dressings for yourself at home, including the basic ingredients you’ll need for most kinds, tools to get the job done, plus two quick recipes you can whip up with 6 ingredients or less!
Starter Ingredients and Tips
1. Choose a Base
Vegetables, especially starchy ones, can be used as a base for your dressing as well as nuts or nut butters or just plain Jane oil. Butternut squash, carrots, peanut butter, cashew butter, olive oil, or flax oil; they can all be used to supply the main flavor or thick aspect (or body) of your dressing.
2. Add vinegar or citrus
Balsamic, apple cider, rice, white/red wine: these are all types of vinegars that can be used in your salad dressings and they are crucial to getting that distinctly sharp and tart flavor all salad dressings have. Citrus juice like lemon, lime, orange, or grapefruit juice adds to the sharpness of the flavor and augments it without the use of excess salts. Better yet, the acidic properties help to break down the hard fibers in leafy greens, especially kale, so your body can better absorb the nutrients.
3. Sprinkle in Herbs, Spices, or Sweetness
Who doesn’t love the spicy garlic flavor in their salad dressing? Well, maybe not vampires, but we’ll let Van Helsing deal with them. Garlic is just one flavor that can take your dressing to the next level: there is also pepper, cumin, cinnamon, red pepper, sesame, paprika, rosemary, thyme, sage, the list goes on. If you pick a savory spice, you may also wish to add in a hint of sweetness to your mix, like maple syrup, stevia, coconut sugar, or even carrot juice or apple juice. The latter juices and the former liquid sweeteners may make the dressing a tad more runny, so to thicken it, you could mix in a small amount of arrowroot powder, flax seeds, or even chia seeds to soak up the excess liquid.
The Best Tools for Homemade Salad Dressings
1. Whisk or Fork
The mighty fork is a great way to mix ingredients, but if you’re more fancy, use a whisk because they look like little brooms and seem more sophisticated than the suspect four-pronged utensil that is the fork. Once you put the oil or base in with the vinegar, you need one of these two tools to mix them together because they will repeal each other: water is polar and so is vinegar, but oil is non polar and like a magnets opposing negative and positive ends, polar and non polar substances do not mix, hence dressing separation. This is partially why I prefer to use vegetable bases for dressings because they don’t separate as much as oil-based ones.
2. Food Processor
If you are even more sophisticated than a whisk, then you can use a food processor to make your dressings. If you have a fairly decent sized one, you can make quite a bit of dressing to last for weeks on end. If you do use this appliance, then you can just plop in your desired base, vinegar, acid, and spices and blend away. It’s as simple as counting to five!
Pick some glassware; any kind will do: a mason jar, a swanky salad dressing container, a store bought glass dressing bottle that you washed out, they’ll all work to store your amazing homemade dressing. If you do have a neat little glass container specifically for your dressing, then it will be much easier to douse your salad, potato, or vegetables with it. But, you can always use a spoon to get the dressing out of a mason jar and into your meal!
Now, on to two quick recipes to get you started on your homemade vegan dressing recipe party:
Recipe 1: Vegan “Goddess” Dressing
While strutting down the aisles of Trader Joe’s, you find your beloved “goddess” dressing basking in all its glory. Your mom used it before you, and passed her love for the simple dressing onto you. You put it on salad, of course, but you are also known to put it on crackers, crudités, and crumpets (well, maybe not crumpets). But, what do you do when TJ is out of your dressing? Well, in that slim chance, you can make this mock “goddess” dressing that’s vegan and has six ingredients, exactly, that is if you count water as an ingredient.
- 1 1/2 cups tahini
- 1 cup water
- 1/2 cup gluten-free, low sodium tamari
- 2 lemons, squeezed for the juice
- 6 cloves garlic, minced
- 3 Tablespoons fresh ginger, minced
- Put all the ingredients in the food processor and process it until smooth.
- Store the dressing in the fridge in a bottle or glass container. It should stay good up to two weeks.
NOTES AND WHAT IT’S GOOD ON:
This dressing is just as good on a mixed green salad as it is on lightly steamed vegetables, but it is also good on beets, potatoes, and even sweet potatoes. Need a spread for a wrap? Use this dressing on that too. The possibilities are endless!
Recipe 2: Vegan Korean Dressing
My amazing aunt is Korean, so I have been thoroughly exposed to the delightfulness of the cuisine, and I have to say it is very yummy in my tummy! My mom’s favorite is a simple salad my aunt makes prior to serving up steamed rice, kimchi, or Korean barbecue. This salad, sangchu geotjeori, is a romaine-based salad and has a specific and very tasty dressing that I’m happy to share with you today!
- 2 Tbsp tamari (gluten-free soy sauce)
- 1 1/2 – 2 Tbsp rice vinegar
- 1 Tbsp sesame oil
- 1 Tbsp crushed toasted sesame seeds
- Put all the ingredients in a bowl and whisk them together using a fork or a whisk. Serve immediately atop a bunch of romaine lettuce and 2 chopped green onions.
NOTES AND WHAT IT’S GOOD ON:
My aunt sometimes adds the following to the above, simple, 4 ingredient dressing:
1 Tbsp honey, 1/2 – 1 tsp gochugaru (Korean red chili pepper flakes), 2 small cloves garlic, minced. This makes the dressing have more depth, with a sweet and sour element to it from the honey and red chili pepper. You don’t have to limit this dressing solely to a romaine salad, you can put it on mushrooms to marinate them in or on top of rice or as a stir-fry sauce of sorts.
What are your favorite tips for creating great vegan homemade salad dressings? Let us know in the comments!
Image source: Vegan “Goddess” Dressing