Easy to make and so much better than store-bought, this Homemade Italian Dressing recipe is super simple. And even better, there are no additives or processed sugars/oils, just real whole-food ingredients. It’s naturally gluten-free with a dairy-free option as well. You can use this dressing on an Easy Green Salad, make it into a pasta salad, or even use it as a marinade for chicken, pork, and beef.
Do you remember the days when everyone brought a pasta salad to picnics, and Italian dressing was the secret ingredient? I always loved those pasta salads, and pretty much anything with Italian dressing.
So it’s only natural that homemade Italian dressing made from scratch is way better than store-bought! It’s so easy to reach for pre-made bottled dressing, and there’s always a place for convenience.
But once you try homemade dressings, you can’t really go back. You can whisk them together in just minutes, and as I mentioned, the flavor is unbeatable.
Ingredients & Substitutions
- Vinegar – I like to use white vinegar because it has a mild flavor, but champagne vinegar, red wine vinegar, and apple cider vinegar all work here.
- Olive oil – a good quality olive oil adds a lot of good flavor, but you can use avocado oil here as well.
- Dijon mustard – helps to emulsify the dressing and adds a touch of flavor.
- Onion & garlic – fresh onion and garlic add a lot of yummy flavor, but you’ll find my measurements for garlic and onion powder in the recipe. Just be careful not to use anything with added salt, or adjust the amount of salt in the recipe to your taste.
- Red bell pepper – fresh is best here and red bell pepper is what adds the flavor you associate with ‘Italian dressing’.
- Dried oregano – is also key to the flavor here, but you can use fresh if you have it.
- Basil & parsley – chopped fresh herbs take this dressing right over the top. But if you don’t have anything fresh, check out the Italian seasoning substitution in the recipe.
How to make this recipe step by step
Step 1: Start by finely dicing the onion and red bell pepper. Then chop the fresh parsley and basil. You’ll find options in the recipe for how to make this with dried herbs as well.
Step 2: Whisk together the vinegar, Dijon mustard, onion, dried oregano, and bell pepper in a mixing bowl. If you’re using the blender, I like to add the bell pepper at the end as listed in the recipe below.
Step 4: Finally add the optional parmesan cheese if you’re using it, and whisk or blend just to combine.
Ways to serve this
- With my Easy Green Salad and Gluten Free Lasagna.
- Make pasta salad and use this as the dressing. 12 ounces – 1 pound pasta, cooked along with thinly sliced cucumber, tomatoes, bell pepper, crumbled or cubed cheese, and chopped salami. For better measurements, follow my Mediterranean Pasta Salad but use this Italian Dressing and add some chopped thinly sliced Italian salami.
- Use this dressing as a marinade for chicken, so tasty! You’ll find cooking instructions over on my Best Chicken Marinades.
Italian dressing is an oil and vinegar dressing flavored primarily with dried oregano, but with a good amount of flavor from red bell pepper and sometimes parmesan cheese as well.
White wine vinegar has the best flavor for Italian dressing, but red wine vinegar will work as well, it will lightly affect the color. You can also use fresh lemon juice in this recipe, but it doesn’t keep very well. A good quality apple cider vinegar will work here as well.
- To store – place any leftover dressing into an airtight sealed container and refrigerate for up to 1 week. If you try the creamy variation listed in the recipe notes, that only keeps 2-3 days like mayonnaise.
Tips & Tricks
- Try the optional parmesan cheese, it’s my favorite variation and makes this Italian Dressing taste more similar to the classic Olive Garden salad dressing, but way better!
- Make it thick and creamy by adding a raw egg to the blender along with the vinegar. (Eating raw eggs is at your own risk!) Caesar salad dressing is made this way and it’s so creamy and good when you try the same thing with Italian dressing flavors.
- Use the leftover red bell pepper to make my Red Pepper Spinach Feta Frittata or these Balsamic Glazed Red Pepper Green Beans.
I really hope you enjoy this Homemade Italian Dressing! If you do get a chance to make this recipe, please leave a rating below, I’d love to hear from you in the comments.
Homemade Italian Dressing
- 2 tbsp white wine vinegar
- 2 tsp Dijon mustard
- 1 clove garlic, minced - or 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1 tbsp minced white onion - or 1 teaspoon onion powder
- 1/2 tsp dried oregano
- 1 tbsp chopped fresh parsley
- 1 tbsp chopped fresh basil
- 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil - or avocado oil
- 2 tbsp finely diced red bell pepper
- 1/2 tsp sea salt
- 1/4 tsp black pepper
- 1-2 tsp Grade A maple syrup - or honey
- 1/4 cup grated parmesan - optional
- You can whisk this dressing together in a bowl, or in a blender. Start by adding the white wine vinegar, Dijon mustard, garlic, onion, oregano, fresh parsley, and basil into a medium mixing bowl or blender.
- Whisk or blend on low just to combine. Then add the olive oil in a thin steady stream until it's emulsified.
- Add the diced red bell pepper and blend on low speed to combine, or whisk well.
- Season the dressing to taste with sea salt and pepper, then add maple syrup to taste.
- Add the optional parmesan, if using, and serve!
- Or transfer the dressing to a glass storage container like a Mason jar and store in the fridge for up to 1 week. The dressing will separate over time, just shake it up well before serving.