A tangy delicious Italian Dressing that takes minutes to make and adds wonderful flavor to your salads and vegetables or as a marinade for chicken, pork, steak, or seafood. You’ll never buy bottled again!
If there can be only one dressing you keep in the fridge, it should be Italian Dressing and once you see how easy it is to make homemade, you’ll never buy bottled again. Funny thing is this is actually an American dressing because Italians dress their salads simply with oil, vinegar, salt, and maybe pepper. Actually, pepper is that family member you don't want to invite over but feel you have to.
My aunt Julia would never add pepper to a salad. Her husband Tony, would sometimes add it only to infuriate her. Therefore, depending on if they were arguing, pepper would be added.
The oil and vinegar were poured over the salad then tossed together. It was made fresh every single time. The salad usually consisted of lettuce and tomatoes from the garden, and maybe some sliced onion. The onion was added by my aunt only if my uncle added pepper (see the conflicts?). Also, salad was served after the meal along with a plate of fruit which consisted of oranges, fresh peaches from my uncle’s tree, figs, and/or grapes.
The ingredients for bottled Italian dressing include soybean or vegetable oil, vinegar, spices, and maybe a touch of lemon and/or some extra virgin olive oil. Actually, many aren't even made with extra virgin olive oil. When I questioned my uncle why his Italian dressing didn't include the same ingredients as the bottled stuff, he yelled in is irritated voice,
“Ah come on-ah Natalina, you know that is American and not Italian! Come on-ah now!”
If my great aunts were present when I asked that question, it would have started an hour long, loud, animated discussion with hands and arms waving in the air that sounded like this: BAH bah BAH bah bah BAH! followed by Mama Mia! or testa di rapa! (figuratively meaning idiot).
This Americanized version of Italian dressing is delicious and versatile and It only takes a few minutes to create. There are no additives, no corn syrup and nothing you can't pronounce. Best of all, the ingredients are likely in your cabinets already. Because this dressing is made with dry spices, it will have a long shelf life in your fridge assuming it lasts that long.
Italian dressing actually tastes better when made with a combination of oils.
You would think I would recommend extra virgin olive oil (evoo), but that's not the case. Using all evoo is heavy and a little overpowering in this dressing. I recommend using a neutral oil such as vegetable or safflower oil in combination with evoo. I bet you'll find it more familiar and similar to the bottled stuff. If you look at the ingredients of the popular brands, evoo isn't even added! Now, If you buy a good tasting evoo, one that you could taste alone and enjoy, then use it. If you want to replicate the bottled Italian Dressing, use a combination of oils.
As for adding Parmesan cheese to the dressing, I don’t. I feel if I wanted Parmesan added, I can mix it in with the salad. I don’t want anything to compromise the dressing. I never knew it to be an Italian thing - at least not in my family who all came here straight from Italy. Also, mixing the cheese with the dressing limits the shelf life.
If you want a no-sugar dressing then simply omit the sugar. It will be a little tart without it but still delicious. The sugar mellows out the acidity of the dressing, but it is optional.
Red wine vinegar is used although using white wine vinegar is fine too. Most bottled brands would use plain white vinegar but to me it's too harsh. Using balsamic isn't recommended for this dressing as it would change the entire characteristic of the dressing and make a balsamic dressing, not an Italian Dressing. That's a vinegar for another time.
Use this dressing on:
- Salads (of course)
- Meats, poultry, pork, or seafood as a marinade
- Sandwiches instead of mayonnaise
- Pasta Salad
For more delicious dressings, try:
- Best Lemon Herb Vinaigrette, Ever
- The Most Delicious Orange Vinaigrette
- Balsamic Vinaigrette
- Creamy Dill Dressing
Life is too short for mediocre food.
This post contains affiliate links for products I use in my kitchen.
Homemade Italian DressingPrint Recipe Pin Recipe
- Add all ingredients in a cruet or a mason jar, cover, and shake to combine.
- Can be kept in the refrigerator for weeks.
- I don’t recommend using all extra virgin olive oil because it will be heavy unlike the Italian dressing we’re all used to in the bottle. A neutral oil such as vegetable or safflower oil mixed with evoo is recommended.
- If using this as a marinade, add another teaspoon of kosher salt to give more flavor to the meat your marinading.