Zesty Italian Dressing and Marinade Recipe

I have a bit of a love affair with salad dressings, and Italian dressing is no exception. Before my switch to healthier foods, ranch was about all that got me to eat raw broccoli. Thankfully my journey to real food brought me to love all kinds of salads even without a lot of dressing.

A green salad doesn’t need much dressing when it’s freshly homemade and full of dried herbs and spices. A simple homemade dressing takes an ordinary salad to a completely different level.

And it’s worth it from a health perspective too. Most store-bought dressings have dangerous vegetable oils (high in omega-6, which we already get too much of in the American diet), MSG, and preservatives.

Homemade Italian dressing only takes 2 or 3 minutes to mix up. Plus it has healthy, real ingredients like olive oil, fresh garlic, and dried or fresh herbs. I also love that it stores well for weeks at a time. It’s a win-win!

Italian Salad Dressing in the Kitchen

This homemade salad dressing is one of my favorite vinaigrettes. It not only makes a great addition to almost any salad, but it also serves as a simple marinade for most meats. And not just meat… marinate fresh vegetables for an hour or two and then grill them! The smoky flavors of the grill and the herbal flavors in the dressing combine perfectly for a complex flavor blend.

I love using leftover dressing on a big salad with some chicken for a quick lunch or as a condiment alternative for dipping raw veggies. The healthy oils give an energy boost and the flavor is amazing! You can also use it to make Italian pasta salad along with some black olives, parmesan cheese, and red pepper flakes for delicious Mediterranean flavors.

Not an Italian dressing fan? You can also check out more of my favorite DIY alternatives to bottled dressing in this post.

How to Make and Store Homemade Italian Dressing

This dressing will last about 2 weeks in the fridge, but I highly suggest making it in small amounts as needed as the flavor is definitely the best in the first few days. Sometimes I’ll double the batch if I’m making it for a crowd.

For a great shortcut, make a batch of homemade Italian seasoning mix to replace the thyme, basil, and oregano. Just use 1 ½ teaspoons of the Italian seasoning mix instead of the herbs listed in the recipe. Then it’s easy to make this recipe from memory. You may not even need to measure after a few practice runs!

They make shaker bottles for homemade dressing, but I prefer a glass mason jar. I love these tops to give any mason jar a pour spout.

Ingredient Substitutions

I use white wine vinegar here, but you could also use apple cider vinegar, balsamic vinegar, or red wine vinegar. They all add some acidity to counterbalance the olive oil. I prefer the smoother flavor or white wine vinegar in this recipe.

This recipe calls for all dried herbs but you could use fresh if preferred. And I use fresh garlic, but a little garlic powder will work if it’s what you have. Check out below the recipe for some favorite salads with Italian dressing.

Italian dressing

Homemade Italian Dressing Recipe

A better-for-you Italian salad dressing recipe without the highly processed vegetable oils! This also works well as a marinade.

  • Combine all ingredients in a small mason jar, close the lid tightly, and shake vigorously. Serve immediately.

  • You can also use an immersion blender for easier mixing.

Nutrition Facts

Homemade Italian Dressing Recipe

Amount Per Serving (2 Tablespoons)

Calories 127
Calories from Fat 126

% Daily Value*

Fat 14g22%

Saturated Fat 2g13%

Polyunsaturated Fat 1g

Monounsaturated Fat 10g

Sodium 306mg13%

Potassium 26mg1%

Carbohydrates 1g0%

Fiber 0.4g2%

Sugar 0.1g0%

Protein 0.3g1%

Vitamin A 12IU0%

Vitamin C 1mg1%

Calcium 16mg2%

Iron 1mg6%

* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.

Store in the refrigerator for up to 1 week. If refrigerated, the dressing may solidify slightly. This is perfectly okay. It happens when olive oil is chilled. Simply remove from the refrigerator and let it come to room temperature about an hour before you need to use it

Salad Combinations to Try with Italian Dressing:

  • Classic chopped salad – Toss with romaine lettuce, carrots, tomatoes, cucumbers, and olives (and a bit of feta if you’re in the mood!).
  • Strawberry spring salad – Try Italian in place of honey mustard dressing on this favorite spring salad concoction with toasted pecans, fresh strawberries, and chicken.
  • Simple summer salad – Splash a little Italian dressing over thinly sliced cucumbers and red onion with a few cherry tomatoes thrown in. Top with fresh basil leaves.
  • Sweet pepper steak salad – Italian dressing isn’t only for chicken!

For other new recipes using Italian dressing, try out my favorite Real Plans meal planning tool!

What’s your favorite salad dressing? Have you tried making your own? I’d love to hear about your favorite dressings to shake up at home!

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