How to make Italian Dressing

This Homemade Italian Dressing is quick and easy to make, 1000X better than store bought, fresh and natural and is wonderfully versatile!

This easy Homemade Italian Dressing is a balanced tangy and zesty blend of olive oil, red wine vinegar, pantry herbs and spices and the best part – Parmesan Cheese!  It elevates and enlivens everything it touches from salads to vegetables and makes an excellent marinade for chicken, fish, pork and steak.  This Italian Dressing also keeps for 2-3 weeks in the refrigerator!

Watch How to make Italian Dressing {video}

Homemade Italian Dressing in a glass mason jar on a wood cutting board with vinegar, oil, garlic, lemon juice, basil, parsley, oregano, salt and pepper

This Italian Dressing takes minutes to whip up!

My blog is full of fun and flirty recipes but I also want it to be a reliable resource for beloved staples that I use on a regular basis such as this sensational Homemade Italian Dressing.  I know it is extremely tempting to pick up a bottle of dressing at the grocery, and I’ve enjoyed my fair share of tasty bottled dressings, but I promise, nothing tastes as fresh and fabulous as your own Homemade Italian Dressing – and it takes MINUTES to whisk together!  As a bonus, you can customize the dressing to your personal preferences as far as acidity, garlic, herbs and Parmesan.

What is Italian dressing?

Italian dressing is a type of salad dressing that originated in Italy but became popular in the United States. The base of Italian dressing is typically olive oil, which provides a rich and flavorful foundation. Vinegar is added to provide acidity and balance the flavors. Common herbs and spices used in Italian dressing include oregano, basil, parsley, garlic powder, onion powder, and black pepper. These ingredients are blended together to create a tangy and savory dressing.

Italian dressing is commonly used as a dressing for salads, particularly green salads, but it can also be used as a marinade for meats or as a flavor enhancer for other dishes. It is known for its versatility and ability to complement a wide range of ingredients.

Showing how to make Homemade Italian Dressing by adding vinegar, oil, garlic, lemon juice, basil, parsley, oregano, salt and pepper to a mason jar

Favorite ways to use Italian Salad Dressing

The obvious use of Italian dressing is on a big leafy green salad – mmmm!  But this Homemade Italian Dressing with its dynamic zippy flavor offers a quick and easy solution to enliven many everyday boring or bland eats.  Try these delectable uses for your Homemade Italian Dressing:

  • Green salads (Antipasto Salad, Garden Salad)
  • Shaved brussels sprouts (salad)
  • Coleslaws
  • Fresh Tomatoes, cucumbers, green beans
  • Pasta salads (Italian Pasta Salad)
  • Green Bean Salad
  • Cowboy Caviar
  • Warm pasta
  • A marinade for chicken, pork, fish, steak, veggies
  • Coating for roasted or steamed veggies
  • Dip or sauce for veggies
  • Spread for sandwiches, burgers or wraps
  • Added to cream, sour cream, cream cheese or butter for spreads/sauces/dips

The possibilities are virtually as endless as Italian Dressing deliciousness!

top view of Homemade Italian Dressing with dried parsley and basil on top

Italian DRESSING INGREDIENTS:

  • Olive oil.  Use quality extra virgin olive oil for superior flavor.
  • Red wine vinegar.  A favorite for its fruity tanginess.
  • Lemon juice.  Adds a fresh, vibrant citrus pop without tasting “lemony.”
  • Parmesan cheese:  use freshly grated Parmesan grated on the smallest hole of your grater so it becomes powdery.
  • Sugar:  balances the vinegar and lemon juice.
  • Seasonings:  dried parsley, dried basil, dried oregano, garlic powder, onion powder, paprika salt and pepper.

Italian Dressing Recipe substitutions and variations

INGREDIENT SUBSTITUTIONS

  • Vinegar: Swap the red wine vinegar for an equal amount of white wine vinegar.
  • Lemon juice: Omit the lemon juice and add additional vinegar to taste.
  • Parmesan cheese: Omit and add additional salt taste (although I HIGHLY recommend Parmesan!).
  • Sugar: Swap for honey, maple, stevia or another favorite sweetener.
  • Seasonings: Swap the dried herbs for 3X the amount of fresh.
  • Garlic: Use 4 cloves minced garlic instead of powder. Note, use the Italian Dressing within a few days if using fresh garlic and herbs.

RECIPE VARIATIONS

  • Creamy Italian Dressing: Reduce the olive oil to ¼ cup and whisk in ½ cup mayonnaise and half sour cream or Greek yogurt.
  • Balsamic Italian Dressing: Swap the red wine vinegar with aged balsamic vinegar.
  • Lemon Italian Dressing: Swap the red wine vinegar for lemon juice.
  • Roasted Garlic Italian Dressing: Swap the powdered garlic for roasted garlic cloves.
  • Herb-infused Italian Dressing: Use all fresh herbs instead of dried. Use the prescribed herbs or mix and match your favorites such as such as thyme, rosemary, or tarragon.

Showing how to make Homemade Italian Dressing recipe by adding vinegar, oil, garlic, lemon juice, basil, parsley, oregano, salt and pepper to a mason jar

How to Make Italian Dressing

This Homemade Italian Dressing recipe uses pantry friendly ingredients so you can whip it up at a moments notice! Here’s how: 

  • Step 1: Add all the ingredients to a mason jar.
  • Step 2: Cover and shake vigorously OR combine add all ingredients to a medium bowl and whisk to combine.
  • Step 3. Taste the dressing and tailor it to suit your personal preferences.  The most accurate taste test comes by dipping a lettuce leaf in dressing as opposed to a spoon.  For less acidity- add more sugar, less tang – add more olive oil, more tang  – add additional vinegar.

shaking Showing how to make Homemade Italian Dressing by shaking vinegar, oil, garlic, lemon juice, basil, parsley, oregano, salt and pepper in a mason jar

Italian Salad Dressing Recipe tips and tricks

  • Parmesan Cheese adds the signature taste to the Italian Dressing and the OH MY YUM factor so I definitely wouldn’t skip it unless you need to make the dressing dairy free.
  • You can substitute the freshly grated Parmesan cheese with canned but it will not taste quite as good because fresh Parm is the best!  Freshly grated Parmesan will also dissolve much better for a smoother texture.
  • As far as the dried herbs and garlic, I don’t recommend substituting them with fresh because you need 3x as much because they aren’t as potent which makes for an unappealing texture.  More importantly, fresh herbs and garlic don’t stay fresh very long once chopped so you would need to use the dressing within a couple days whereas if you use dried, the Homemade Italian Dressing can last for a couple weeks.
  • For a great shortcut, you can whisk up all of the dried herbs and spices in advance and keep them in a sealed container or bag.

Homemade Italian Dressing storage

How long Can I store homemade ItaliaN Dressing?

Homemade Italian Dressing can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 2-3 weeks, just give it a good stir or shake before using.  If you use fresh garlic and fresh herbs  (as opposed to powders), it is good for up to three days. 

whisked together Homemade Italian Dressing on a wood cutting board

Italian Salad Dressing FAQs

What’s the difference between Italian dressing and vinaigrette?

The main difference between Italian dressing and vinaigrette lies in their composition:
· Italian dressing typically includes oil, vinegar (often wine vinegar), herbs, spices, and sometimes additional ingredients like garlic or Parmesan cheese. It tends to have a more pronounced and complex flavor profile.
· Vinaigrette is a broader term that refers to a simple dressing made by emulsifying oil with an acidic component, such as vinegar or citrus juice. It usually consists of a basic ratio of oil to acid, along with salt and pepper. Vinaigrettes are often more straightforward and lighter in flavor compared to Italian dressing.

Is oil and vinegar dressing the same as Italian?

No, oil and vinegar dressing is not the same as Italian dressing. While both oil and vinegar dressings can be used in Italian cuisine, Italian dressing specifically refers to a dressing that includes oil, vinegar (usually red wine or wine vinegar), herbs, spices, and sometimes additional ingredients like garlic or Parmesan cheese. Oil and vinegar dressing, on the other hand, typically consists of a basic mixture of oil and vinegar, without the additional herbs and spices found in Italian dressing.

Why did my dressing firm up?

If your dressing has firmed up, it is likely due to the emulsification process. Emulsification is the process of combining two liquids that do not naturally mix, like oil and vinegar, into a stable mixture. The emulsification can break or separate over time due to various factors such as temperature changes, prolonged storage, or improper mixing, causing the dressing to firm up or become thicker.
To restore the consistency of the dressing, try whisking or shaking it vigorously to re-emulsify the ingredients. If the dressing doesn’t come back together, slowly add a small amount of vinegar while whisking to help re-establish the emulsion.

Is Italian dressing a healthy salad dressing

Italian dressing can be a healthier option compared to some other salad dressings. It is typically oil-based, often using olive oil, which contains heart-healthy monounsaturated fats. Italian dressing can also include herbs and spices which provide flavor, without extra calories, and vinegar may offer certain potential health benefits, such as helping with digestion or managing blood sugar levels. However, it’s important to be mindful of the sodium and sugar content, and reduce as needed. Additionally, portion control is crucial to avoid excessive calorie intake.

 You might also like these salad recipes:

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Homemade Italian Dressing in a glass mason jar on a wood cutting board with vinegar, oil, garlic, lemon juice, basil, parsley, oregano, salt and pepper

Homemade Italian Dressing Recipe

This Homemade Italian Dressing is quick and easy to make, 1000X better than store bought, fresh and natural and is wonderfully versatile!It's a balanced tangy and zesty blend of olive oil, red wine vinegar, pantry herbs and spices and the best part – Parmesan Cheese!  This Italian Dressing recipe elevates and enlivens everything it touches from salads to vegetables and makes an excellent marinade for chicken, fish, pork and steak.  This Italian Dressing also keeps for 2-3 weeks in the refrigerator!
Servings: 1 cups
Total Time: 5 minutes
Prep Time: 5 minutes

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Ingredients

  • 3/4 cup olive oil
  • 1/4 cup red wine vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1/4 cup finely freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 tsp EACH dried parsley, dried basil, garlic powder, onion powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 tsp EACH dried oregano, paprika, pepper
  • 1/2-1 teaspoon sugar or more to taste

Instructions

  • Add all the ingredients to a mason jar, cover and shake vigorously OR combine add all ingredients to a medium bowl and whisk to combine.
  • Taste (most accurate taste comes by dipping lettuce in dressing) and adjust according to taste. For less acidity- add more sugar, less tang – add more olive oil, more tang – add additional vinegar.
  • Cover and refrigerate for up to 2 weeks. Shake to recombine before serving.

Video

Notes

  • The sugar mellows out the acidity of the dressing, but you may add more or less to taste.
  • Grate the Parmesan on the smallest hole of your grater.
  • You can substitute the freshly grated Parmesan cheese with canned but it will not taste quite as good because fresh Parm is the best!  Freshly grated Parmesan will also dissolve much better for a smoother texture.
  • Don’t  substitute the garlic for fresh unless you expect to use your Italian Dressing within a few days because minced garlic does not keep very long.
  • For a great shortcut, you can whisk up all of the dried herbs and spices in advance and keep them in a sealed container or bag.
Use Italian Dressing on:
  • Green salads
  • Shaved brussels sprouts (salad)
  • Coleslaws
  • Fresh Tomatoes, cucumbers, green beans
  • Pasta salads (My Italian Pasta Salad coming soon is out of this world!)
  • Warm pasta
  • A marinade for chicken, pork, fish, steak, veggies
  • Coating for roasted or steamed veggies
  • Dip or sauce for veggies
  • Spread for sandwiches, burgers or wraps
  • Added to cream, sour cream, cream cheese or butter for spreads/sauces/dips

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46 Comments

  1. Debra says

    Love this recipe! So amazing and tasty – never buying the packets again! Don’t forget the parmesan, that really makes it!!

    • Jen says

      Thank you so much, Debra! I am so glad this was a success!

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