What ingredients are in homemade Italian dressing?

Have you ever made homemade salad dressing? It is amazing! It blows away store bought every single time! But, most people are not privy to how to make their own salad dressing. It’s like it’s some weird, hidden secret and you can only find salad dressing in a bottle on a shelf in the grocery store. Well, today you’ll learn the EASY way to make the best Italian salad dressing that you’ve ever tasted! You’ll go from asking: What ingredients are in homemade Italian dressing to Can I have seconds, please!?

What is Italian dressing?

Italian dressing is an oil-based dressing. It is clear and filled with herbs, spices, and sometimes, Italian cheeses. It’s flavor profile can vary based on what is added to its oil and vinegar base. Its taste is tangy, crisp, and fresh.It’s actually second in popularity to Ranch salad dressing. People that are on a diet prefer Italian dressing because they can literally spray it from a spray bottle onto their salad. It is light compared to some of the heavy cream dressings out there.

Olive Oil

Olive oil is the number one ingredient in Italian dressing. A good quality extra virgin olive oil is needed for a great-tasting dressing. Why extra virgin olive oil? Extra virgin means only one press of the olives. This means maximum lightness and maximum flavor. You’ll usually have 3/4 unit of olive oil compared to all the other ingredients combined. Olive oil is the last ingredient added to the bowl when making homemade dressing.


The best vinegar to use in homemade salad dressing is apple cider vinegar. It has great background flavors and not a harsh finish. White vinegar taste reminds me of Easter egg dying so I don’t like to use white vinegar unless I have to. Apple cider vinegar gives a wonderful pucker and tang, but a richness not found in other vinegars. A good Italian dressing needs a balance of oil and vinegar for a slight pucker and a good mouthfeel. It coats the leaves of lettuce perfectly with oily goodness and sharp acidity.


I also add a squeeze of lemon to my homemade Italian dressing. I like an extra kick so I even add the zest of a lemon to jazz things up! I feel the extra zing gives a pop to my fresh veggies and creates a clean mouthfeel.

Parmesan Cheese?

Hey, any Italian will testify to the fact that Italian cheeses make the meal! Asiago, parmesan, you name it! Add a sprinkle of Italian cheese to your homemade dressing and you’ve got a winner!


Yes! Lots of herbs! Come on, we need extra flavor here, not less! Oregano, Italian Seasoning, Thyme, Rosemary, Parsley. It’s called “dressing” for a reason. We’re supposed to taste it! Be bold with the seasoning.

Salt and Pepper

Like any delicious meal, a good dressing needs seasoning. Salt and pepper your salad dressing to your taste preferences. But, don’t skip this part. Even with herbs, lemon, and so on, without salt and pepper, your homemade dressing will be as bland as the day is long.

Creative additions

Salad can sometimes be cast as a boring dish. But it doesn’t have to be! You can add things to your dressing to bring out its flavor and the flavor of every ingredient in your salad as well. How you might ask? Chop up some scallions or red onions and add them to the dressing. Mince some fresh garlic! Squirt a little hot mustard in your dressing and whisk away. Favoring the sweet side? Honey makes the perfect mix-in to balance all that tartness. Get creative! You’ll need the perfect cuttin gboard for cutting all those fresh herbs, garlic, and onions. I love my Boos block cutting board! I use it every day. I trust it to be balanced and sturdy. Check out the exact cutting board I used for this recipe here.


Are you wondering how long homemade dressing can keep fresh? Good question! I haven’t kept mine past a week. A week is long enough to use it all up. If it’s not, you need to eat more salad, my friend! The acidity in the dressing allows for good storage in the fridge as long as it’s in an airtight container.

So, are you teetering on the edge of making the decision to make your own homemade dressing? I hope you will! It literally takes less than 10 minutes and your first bite will have you hooked! Comment below on if you liked your homemade dressing. Also, try our delicious Italian Salad Dressing recipe below! Share this article with other home cooks who like easy recipes and tasty results!

homemade Italian dressing

Course: LunchCuisine: ItalianDifficulty: Easy


Prep time



This Italian dressing is easy to make and will take the place of your standard store-bought dressing after just one bite!


  • 3/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

  • 2 tablespoons parmesan cheese

  • 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar

  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice

  • 1/2 tablespoon lemon zest

  • 1/4 cup red onion, diced

  • 1 tablespoon hot mustard

  • 1 tablespoon honey

  • 1/2 teaspoon Italian seasoning

  • Salt and pepper to taste


  • Add all the ingredients except olive oil to a bowl.
  • Whisk in the olive oil vigorously.
  • Drizzle over salad and enjoy!


  • Add additional herbs and seasonings to suit your preferences.
  • Can be used as a marinade for chicken or fish.

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